Daily | Hou, Maddin, Martinez

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Hou Hsiao-hsien

This weekend, I’ve been updating a good handful of entries on films that screened in Cannes last month. Some of the additions are rather minor, but others aren’t—such as Nicolas Rapold‘s conversation with Apichatpong Weerasethakul about Cemetery of Splendour or pieces from Vashi Nedomansky and Adrian Martin on Max Mad: Fury Road.

An update in a league all its own, though, comes from David Bordwell. He’d been invited to take part in Just-Noticeable Differences: The Cinema of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, a symposium held at the end of May in Antwerp, but couldn’t make it. “I had prepared a talk, dammit, and I chafed at the prospect of junking it.” So Bordwell has revised the talk, opening it up to an audience of more than just “Hou specialists,” and posted “Hou Hsiao-hsien: Constraints, Traditions and Trends” (68’51”) for the benefit of all of us.

Jean Harlow “was the successor to Clara Bow and a kind of bridge to Marilyn Monroe, and she was more good fun than both of them combined,” argues Dan Callahan. “Very few film stars made such an impression in such a brief time as Harlow, or grew as a performer so quickly…. The distinctive thing about Harlow is her total lack of shame about sex on screen, her sheer anticipatory enjoyment of it as an idea, and an ideal of pleasure, a force that totally loosens her up. Harlow’s relation to sex in her movies makes Bow seem slightly jittery and insecure about it in comparison, and makes Monroe look like a sexual basket case.”

Also at the Chiseler, David Cairns: “The first Czechoslovak stop-motion animated film was Ferda the Ant (Ferda Mravenec) in 1944. Disney’s popular toons had stopped coming to Europe, so the Nazi-occupied nations tried to make their own…. Hermína Týrlová’s animated ant epic seems much more innocent, and therefore more enjoyable to read sinister undertones into. Though the piece is cinematically sophisticated, with animated tracking shots and focus pulls, the timing, sound, characterization and look fall somewhere between the genuinely charming and the wonderfully creepy roadkill fables of Starewicz. In that hinterland between charm and its Gothic obverse, nothing good can happen.”

John Walter would appreciate your help as he completes The Earth Moves, a documentary “about Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Einstein on the Beach, and the connection between physics, opera, and human imagination

From Nick Pinkerton‘s latest “Bombast” column for Film Comment: “The Western is a genre that, more than any other, has been connected to white chauvinism, but it’s also the only genre that, during its heyday, consistently gave the impression of the United States being what it actually was and is—an ethnically diverse polyglot experiment in democracy in which misunderstandings and outrages abounded and violence was frequently the first resort.”

“In a world where we often doubt whether female characters can still be perceived as ‘strong’ if they long for romance or babies, [Noah] Baumbach offers a vision of femininity in which there is power in being gentle,” argues Arielle Bernstein at Press Play.

In the Berlin Film Journal, Jack Howard has nine questions for Joshua Oppenheimer.


The Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York will be presenting a fascinating exhibition from June 18 through July 31. John Ashbery & Guy Maddin will be showing collages they’ve made in the past year. “Maddin and Ashbery were mutual fans from a distance until they were introduced a few years ago. Soon they were collaborating. Ashbery wrote his own adaptation of the long-lost Dwain Esper exploitation film How to Take a Bath, which Maddin then filmed. The finished film, a short, is now included in Maddin’s latest feature The Forbidden Room, which has been described as ‘a film treatment in collage.'”

The New York Asian Film Festival has announced the full lineup and schedule for its 14th edition, running from June 26 through July 11.


At HitFix, Katie Hasty talks with composer Cliff Martinez, who tells her a bit about the second season of Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick: “It’s got drugs and gruesome surgeries…. The theme of massive integration at the turn of the century, technological innovation, racism, male chauvinism…. It seems to me that it’s not quite as Clive Owen-centric. It seems like everybody else is getting in on the act now and it has a bigger, longer grander storyline. Steven directed all ten of these episodes, too, so it’s really got the same flavors.” Hasty tells us that Martinez is also “mulling music for Nicolas Winding-Refn’s The Neon Demon and has at least seen the script for Harmony Korine‘s next The Trap, which is perhaps his next firm gig.”

The Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth passes along word that Patrick Read Johnson’s 5-25-77, a movie completed in 2007 that’s essentially about the world’s first Star Wars fan, is finally lining up a theatrical and VOD release.


Viewing (4’29”). Richard Brody on Charles Chaplin‘s Limelight (1952): “The story, though set in 1914, begins where Chaplin more or less found himself at the time of the shoot—an elderly has-been, both well-known and unpopular—and it reveals him to be endowed with an ironic loftiness of character that was out of synch with the new tastes of the times.”

Exposition Antonioni, aux origines du pop, on view at La Cinémathèque française through July 19

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