Founded in 1974, the legendary film journal Jump Cut has published just one issue a year since 1982. But what thumpers they are. I doubt many of us will make it all the way through the latest issue, No. 55, over the Thanksgiving weekend; we’ll be returning to this TOC through Christmas at least.
Skimming that page now, a few pieces leap out at first glance. Kevin P. McDonald‘s history of Netflix seems unexpectedly timely given Blockbuster’s recent demise. A high school project has our family researching the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so Inez Hedges‘s piece on how Japanese filmmakers have responded to those catastrophes will surely be one of the first pieces we’ll be reading around here. Roxanne Samer reviews B. Ruby Rich’s New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. For those looking to supplement their reading with viewing, there’s Caroline Guo on Wong Kar-wai‘s Happy Together (1997) and Timothy Kreider on Kelly Reichardt‘s Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Béla Tarr‘s The Turin Horse (2011).
And Chuck Kleinhans introduces what looks to be a fascinating dossier: “Forty years ago Screen (UK) published a translation of a landmark Cahiers du cinéma article on John Ford’s 1939 film Young Mr. Lincoln. The recent occasion of the release of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, directly following the Presidential election, invites reconsidering Young Mr. Lincoln in light of the new Lincoln film, the topic of historical bio films and their relation to present political events, and the fate and fortunes of the Cahiers ideological analysis.”
David Bordwell on Otis Ferguson: “Maybe you, like me, hear some of Agee’s lilt and Farber’s barrelhouse slang in Ferguson’s sentences. Whatever the extent of his influence on them, he belongs to the same vein of journalistic demotic that made the 1940s the first, perhaps the only, great age of American movie criticism. In Ferguson’s case, that’s partly because like his peers he remained open to being surprised by the ‘strange and beautiful’ movies he met. He was also curious as to how they achieved the qualities he most respected.”
Noah Isenberg‘s book Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins will be out in January, and the Los Angeles Review of Books is running a generous excerpt: “Running parallel to the films Ulmer was making in Europe in the 1950s—resulting in a string of transatlantic passages and a passport littered with entry and exit stamps—were several offbeat American productions, the kinds of movies that would later be released on DVD from companies like Something Weird Video or Sinister Cinema. They encompass three science fiction features, a last return to horror, and an especially outré nudist film.” Stories of their making follow.
Also in the LARB: Rolf Potts on Cannibal Tours, “Dennis O’Rourke’s 1988 documentary about the absurdities of global tourism.”
Marcel Hanoun “was a major filmmaker, whose near total critical eclipse after an initial burst of critical interest is an indictment of cinema history as a function of canon,” writes Wheeler Winston Dixon. “It’s true that Hanoun’s films are difficult, but no more so than Jean-Luc Godard’s, who was a fan of Hanoun’s work.” Dixon revisits the life and work, noting along the way that “for me, Hanoun’s most sublime films are his quartet of works revolving around the seasons; L’Été (Summer, 1968), L’Hiver (Winter, 1969), L’Automne (Autumn, 1971) and Le Printemps (Spring, 1972), films which today are almost impossible to see with any reasonable image quality.” Also in Film International, Oana Chivoiu on Pedro Costa‘s Colossal Youth (2006).
Pointing us to a 1969 piece in which Alan Schneider looks back on making Film (1965) with Samuel Beckett and Buster Keaton, Dennis Cozzalio notes that this story “might indeed be as compelling in its own way as the film itself, the opportunity to see and reflect upon the essentially contrapuntal styles of two major artistic presences engaged in the act of creation. And it seems now that such an opportunity might finally be realized.” He’s referring, of course, to Notfilm, a documentary project by Milestone Film and Video and restorationist Ross Lipman currently seeking funding via Indiegogo.
More from Richard Harland Smith: “Apparently the notion to cast Buster Keaton came from one of Film‘s bit players, a young stage actor named James Karen, and here’s where the story gets a little weird.”
Also at Movie Morlocks, David Kalat: “As far as I’m concerned, Claude Chabrol launched the French New Wave with Le Beau Serge —and then he went and ran off in a different direction away from the very movement he helped found. For aficionados of the New Wave, here is a seminal work—for aficionados of Chabrol’s own unique brand of cinema, here is a frustratingly unfamiliar work…. Chabrol followed up his debut hit by negating it…. Chabrol made Les Cousins  just three years out from the brilliant Japanese teen drama Crazed Fruit , which inaugurated a Japanese New Wave much like the French one Chabrol launched. For that matter, if we take Chabrol at his word on when he first started scheming Les Cousins, he was putting the story together within a year of seeing Crazed Fruit, so the similarities are worth noting.”
“A thoughtful, insightful and gently engaging ambulation through Paris as seen through the eyes of French director Eric Rohmer, Richard Misek’s smartly constructed [Rohmer in Paris] is an amiable pleasure,” writes Screen‘s Mark Adams.
Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn reviews Andreas Johnsen’s documentary Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, which “explores Ai’s yearlong period of probation after his release in 2011,” and Ai’s own Stay Home!, “a touching portrait of a strong-willed young woman with AIDS fighting the government for better care” that “screened earlier this month at the CPH: DOX festival in Copenhagen, where Ai—currently banned from leaving his country by Chinese authorities—also remotely curated a series about ‘the role and responsibility of artists’ that included everything from Dr. Strangelove to Sicko and Leni Riefenstahl‘s Olympia. In light of that productivity, he might be the most insuppressible suppressed artist of his time.”
For POV Magazine, Adam Nayman reports on “At the Heart of the Sensory Ethnography Lab,” a panel held at the just-wrapped Montreal International Documentary Festival focusing on “a body of work that has recently taken international film culture by storm…. [O]ne of the sticking points for certain critics about the SEL’s films—including Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilsa Barbash’s Sweetgrass (2009) and Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s Leviathan (2012)—is the general paucity of spoken language; the irony of convening a roundtable to talk about the lack of talking in a group of documentaries was not lost on anybody in the room.”
“Welles was the Shakespeare of cinema,” writes Richard Brody in the New Yorker. And by that he means: “With Welles, movies no longer merely evoked the inner life. The movies displayed this inner life and amplified it in a distinctively Shakespearean way: by connecting and infusing the mind with history, by filming life and death as the rise and fall of power.”
Probably the last TV interview Derek Jarman gave to the BBC; via Dangerous Minds
“Overheatedly lurid and clinically chilly at the same time, the 1978 telekinesis-and-paranoia thriller The Fury is, for both devotees of its director, Brian De Palma, and hard-core horror fans (two groups that intersect more than a bit), something of a classic.” For the New York Times, Glenn Kenny compares and contrasts two releases on Blu-ray, one from Twilight Time, the other from Arrow Video.
Imogen Smith at the Chiseler on Delmer Daves’s 1947 noir Dark Passage: “Perhaps only in San Francisco, where Hitchcock would achieve a similar effect in Vertigo, could an actual metropolis look so much like the inside of someone’s mind.”
IN OTHER NEWS
“In the early 1980s, movie producer Arnon Milchan presided over a string of hits, collaborating with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Sergio Leone and Ridley Scott,” writes Tim Walker for the Independent. “But what his film industry friends didn’t know was that while his Hollywood career flourished, Milchan was also winding down a secret double life as an arms dealer. The mogul behind hits such as Pretty Woman, Fight Club, and LA Confidential also spent about 20 years as a leading Israeli intelligence agent. Although Milchan’s clandestine career was widely known, he had never confessed to it in public until now.”
Jorge Mourinha‘s posted an update on the crisis that Portuguese cinema is somehow still enduring.
“Lana Del Rey and rapper Mac Miller are among the financiers for a new film starring Daniel Johnston,” reports Sean Michaels in the Guardian. “Both musicians have contributed money to Hi, How Are You, a short film looking back on Johnston’s ‘most prolific and maddening era.'”
Farran Nehme has put together a delightful annotated list of “Ten Classics for People Who Don’t Know Classics” and supplemented it with a walloping batch of further suggestions that came in when she threw out a request for them to her cinephilic friends.
How many of Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s top 100 films have you seen?
— Brian Darr (@HellOnFriscoBay) November 23, 2013
“Victor Kossakovsky is an underseen nonfiction master,” writes Robert Greene for Sight & Sound. “With the release of his spellbinding ¡Vivan las Antípodas!, Kossakovsky has ascended to his proper place in the gallery of world directors to watch…. Kossakovsky has a list of Ten Rules for Documentary Filmmaking that has become increasingly cited and shared among nonfiction filmmakers and enthusiasts.” Greene “thought it would be fun to apply the tenets on the list to ¡Vivan las Antipodas! to see how Kossakovsky follows his own rules.”
Indiewire‘s posted a Sundance wishlist, “30 Films We Hope Will Head To Park City In 2014.”
IN THE WORKS
Takashi Miike will direct Sota Fukushi, Hirona Yamazaki, and Ryunosuke Kamiki in a live-action film adaptation of the popular manga Kamisama no Iutoori, reports Kevin Ouellette at Nippon Cinema. The “story revolves around a group of seemingly ordinary teenagers living a mundane high school existence until they’re suddenly thrust into a desperate struggle for survival.”
“Danish writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen, who has scripted 49 films, is readying his fourth feature, Men & Chicken, almost 10 years after his last drama-thriller-comedy,” reports Jorn Rossing Jensen for Cineuropa. “Described as a black comedy about two outcast brothers, who reunite with their relatives to learn a cruel truth about themselves and their family, Men & Chicken will have Mads Mikkelsen in the lead.”
David Gleeson, “a Tolkien superfan and scholar of sorts about the Middle-earth creator,” is currently working on a biopic, reports Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times. “Tolkien, as the project is tentatively called, will examine the author’s life, particularly his formative years at Pembroke College and as a soldier in World War I, and how it influenced him and his work.”
“Marc Breaux, choreographer for the films Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who also occasionally directed films, died Tuesday,” reports Carmel Dagan for Variety. “He was 89.”