On the day after the day after the Oscars, we’ve still got a bit of cleaning up to do. First up, the Skandies countdown is complete. Landing at #1 in the informal poll of critics organized by Mike D’Angelo is Under the Skin—and Jonathan Glazer is 2014’s best director, too. Browse the lists of best performances, screenplays and scenes as well. We’ve also got a fresh list from James Hansen and it looks pretty sharp. #1: Jean-Luc Godard‘s Goodbye to Language.
David Bordwell takes a close look at the structure, technique and intentions behind this year’s Oscar winner: “I’ve never cared much for González Iñárritu’s films; they always seem too close to their influences. (My remarks on Babel are here.) Still, Birdman seems to me a fascinating example of how traditions can be revisited, or at least repackaged.”
Much attention is paid, of course, to Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s long shots, the choreography and framing—and the eventual hiding of the edits. I’m reminded of the excerpt from Karl Brown‘s Adventures with D.W. Griffith that Luke McKernan posted the other day:
What unfolded on that screen was magic itself. I knew there were cuts from this to that, but try as I would, I could not see them. A shot of the extreme far end of the Confederate line flowed into another but nearer shot of the same line, to be followed by another and another, until I could have sworn that the camera had been carried back by some sort of impossible carrier that made it seem to be all one unbroken scene. Perhaps the smoke helped blind out the jumps, I don’t know. All I knew was that between the ebb and flow of a broad canvas of a great battle, now far and now near, and the roaring of that gorgeous orchestra banging and blaring battle songs to stir the coldest blood, I was hot and cold and feeling waves of tingling electric shocks racing all over me.
“American Sniper could be read as what the late Marxist critic Robin Wood defined as an ‘Incoherent Text,'” suggests Niles Schwartz, who then goes on at RogerEbert.com to outline the ideas that Wood laid out in the fourth chapter of his book, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan… and Beyond. “While art strives to make coherent meaning out of human experience, the maker of the ‘incoherent text’ perceives the chaos that art represses and reorders…. American Sniper, while classical enough to satisfy millions of middle American viewers and infuriate others, seems in its very design to function through schizophrenic entropy, its narrative of violent stalwart heroism riddled with cancerous doubts that malignantly enfold it.” And by the way, Schwartz has also just posted his 2014 top ten. #1: Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Florian Weghorn moderates a conversation with Darren Aronofsky and Claudia Llosa at the recently wrapped Berlinale
In a piece for the New York Review of Books, Alexander Stille writes about Paolo Virzì’s Human Capital, why it might not have made the Academy’s foreign language Oscar shortlist and the challenges currently facing Italian filmmakers.
Via Catherine Grant, a new essay by Pam Cook for Sequence Two: “The persistence of stories of maternal desire, sacrifice, obsession, violence and blame suggests they touch on profound, submerged feelings and fantasies. I shall try to uncover what makes maternal melodrama culturally significant by focusing on the different versions of Mildred Pierce (novel, film and miniseries) and including one or two other titles along the way.”
“Much-loved German film critic Michael Althen died in 2011 at age 48,” writes Jessica Ellicott at 4:3. With Then Is It the End? The Film Critic Michael Althen (Was heißt hier Ende? Der Filmkritiker Michael Althen), [Dominik] Graf has constructed a film that acts as both documentary and obituary,” which “is as much about Althen as it is about an insatiable, lifelong obsession with cinema.” And it’s “a real, one-of-a-kind delight.”
Leo Braudy for the Los Angeles Review of Books: “I’ve been told I’m cranky on the subject, but I still think it’s worth pointing out how often a performance signals a special Oscar-enticing glow through what I would call not acting so much as impersonation.”
With Maps to the Stars set to open, Calum Marsh (Dissolve) and Kiva Reardon (AV Club) interview David Cronenberg. At Movie Mezzanine, Angelo Murreda writes about “Cronenberg’s Comedies of Physical Frailty.”
Ralph Eue moderates a discussion with Marcel Ophüls and Joshua Oppenheimer
IN OTHER NEWS
MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have announced the full lineup for the 44th New Directors/New Films, opening on March 18 with Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and closing on March 29 with Rick Alverson’s Entertainment. All in all, the program sports 26 features and 16 shorts.
“Following Marco Mueller’s exit from the troubled Rome Film Festival last year, Antonio Monda is stepping in to fill his shoes as the new artistic director.” Ariston Anderson in the Hollywood Reporter: “Similar to Mueller, Monda has both a production and academic background. He is currently an associate professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, lecturing on Italian cinema and Hollywood auteurs. He has directed a number of documentaries, as well as the feature comedy Dicembre, which debuted in Venice.”
Playboy‘s posted a preview of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club 2, six pages from the forthcoming graphic novel illustrated by Cameron Stewart. Jonathan Diaz at Flavorwire: “The sequel will pick up with the original unnamed narrator ten years after the events of Fight Club; he’s now unhappily married to Marla Singer (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the movie adaption), and has a ten-year old son who spends his time creating homemade gunpowder in his bedroom.”
Luc Moullet’s The Land of Madness (2009) screens tonight at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York and Indiewire‘s premiering the English translation of Serge Bozon‘s review, which originally ran in the January 2010 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma.
Toby Ashraf moderates a discussion of architecture in film with Joanna Hogg and Matthias Sauerbruch
IN THE WORKS
A sequel to Boyhood? Naturally, Richard Linklater spent most of 2014 dismissing the idea straight off. But recently, as Rodrigo Perez notes at the Playlist, pointing us to Linklater’s conversation with Jeff Goldsmith, the notion’s been nagging at him. “I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘the 20s are pretty formative, you know?’ That’s where you really become who you’re going to be. It’s one thing to grow up and go to college, but it’s another thing to… So, I will admit my mind has drifted towards [this sequel idea]… It wouldn’t have to be twelve years. It wouldn’t have to be… I mean, who knows. I mean, if I learned anything on the Before trilogy it took five years to realize that Jesse and Celine were still alive and had anything to say. This one would probably be more accelerated, but who knows.'”
“Notorious for successfully juggling multiple projects at the same time, the insanely prolific Japanese director Miike Takashi is about to venture back into the science fiction genre with Terra Formars, a live-action adaptation of a popular Japanese manga.” Patryk Czekaj has details at Twitch.
“Kathy Bates and Danny Glover are joining Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon in director Joshua Marston’s first English-language feature,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. “Marston’s Maria Full of Grace won the Alfred Bauer Award at Berlin, and his The Forgiveness of Blood won the Silver Berlin Bear for best screenplay.”
Rainer Rother interviews Wim Wenders
Timothy Spall and Juno Temple “have boarded Away, which starts shooting in the U.K. on March 2.” Alex Ritman for the Hollywood Reporter: “The two are set to play kindred spirits who form an unlikely friendship in the drama about love, loss and hope set in the north English seaside town of Blackpool. Double-BAFTA and Emmy-award winner David Blair (Best Laid Plans, Accused) is directing from a script written by Roger Hadfield.”