Daily | Kaplan, Godard, Seidl

Ronald Reagan

A young Ronald Reagan

Chances are, you’ll have heard that Peter Kaplan, who edited the New York Observer from 1994 through 2009, died on Friday. Appreciations of his voice and impact on media have come from, among others, Nathan Heller (New Yorker), Michael H. Miller (Observer), and Michael Wolff (Guardian). See, too, the “Longform Guide to Peter Kaplan.”

Now the New Republic has posted a delightful piece on Ronald Reagan‘s Hollywood career that Kaplan wrote for the magazine in November 1980, the very month Reagan was elected president. Kaplan recalls projecting Reagan’s movies (remember, this was 1980) in the “somewhat cavernous office” of an editor: “A few of us would sit there in the dark among the film cans and the power of the movies would take over until we forgot we were waiting for Reagan. Then at some point this young man walked across the lit wall carrying a high head of shining hair, great shoulders, and the integrity of a boys’ choir.”


Jean-Luc Godard turns 83 today, and Glenn Kenny points to a collection of pieces he’s written on JLG and adds that “condemnations of late Godard running run across lines of ‘we prefer your earlier cooler films’ are, while perhaps tenable on the ultimately utterly banal grounds of individual taste, built on an essential fallacy. There is no divisible Godard. The idea that you can have A bout de souffle and shrug off Le vent d’est is convenient and comfortable but ultimately impossible. If you are talking about the fashion-industry approved version of Godard you’re not really talking about Godard at all, but of an aspect of Godard that’s been removed from the host organism, so to speak.”

At Making Light of It, you’ll find a very large roundup on Ken and Flo Jacobs.

Jon Jost recently delivered a talk in Rome: “Our topic, ‘Virtual Reality, Cinema and The Body’ is, in my jaded eye, a typically obtuse academic one which luckily offers a loose frame to talk about almost anything. So from that standpoint I wish to offer up an eclectic selection of observations.”

Nick Pinkerton for Reverse Shot on Ulrich Seidl: “Paradise is more a triptych than a trilogy—with all the reference to medieval altarpieces that that implies. Seidl sees the twenty-first century using the compositional values of the fifteenth, as evidenced in his flat, compressed tableaux, in which cell-like interiors are captured at a stationary medium long-shot, figures held flush in their center. Each image is framed much like the last, until the uniformity is interrupted by an outbreak of ragged, heedless handheld and, usually, violent chaos.”

Video by Harun Farocki

Will McKinley talks with filmmaker and restorationist Ross Lipman about Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965) and the doc Lipman’s working on about its making, Notfilm.

When Lubitsch‘s To Be or Not to Be came out in 1942, “critics thought he was failing to be funny about what shouldn’t be laughed at anyway, the German invasion of Poland in 1939,” writes Michael Wood in the London Review of Books. For his part, Lubitsch “thought the critics had failed to see how even Nazism could become a routine, a home for stock figures and therefore mechanical, ridiculous.”

River of Grass (1994), Old Joy (2006), Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Meek’s Cutoff (2010) are four of the most meditative, ambiguously suspenseful movies one could possibly come across in modern cinema,” argues Colin McGuire at PopMatters. Kelly Reichardt “has mastered the art of the long game.”


Five of Variety‘s “10 Directors to Watch” this year are women; the list actually goes to eleven because one of the slots is taken by a pair, but still: Amma Asante (Belle), Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant), Anthony Chen (Ilo Ilo), Paul Duane (Very Extremely Dangerous and Natan), Ben Falcone (Tammy), Maya Forbes (Infinitely Polar Bear), Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly (Beneath the Harvest Sky), Dome Karukoski (Heart of a Lion), Justin Simien (Dear White People), and Gren Wells (The Road Within).

Viewing (11’07”). At, David Ehrlich has put together a smartly edited video countdown of his top 25 films of 2013.

The Millions has launched its excellent “Year in Reading” series.


“Sensuous, generous, affecting and more than a little bit daft, Laure Prouvost’s art often disarms me,” writes the Guardian‘s Adrian Searle. “Her work can be light and deft and joyous. Nonetheless, I am genuinely surprised that she has won the 2013 Turner prize.”

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has announced its nominations and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby leads with 14, followed by Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket with 12. In the television categories, Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake is indeed on top with 12.

“The Los Angeles branch of the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, has announced the nominations for its 41st annual Annie Awards,” reports Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew, where he’s got the full list. “Monsters University and Frozen each scored 10 nominations, and The Croods and [Despicable Me 2] followed with nine apiece. Ernest and Celestine and Turbo each earned 6 nods.”

“The International Press Academy has unveiled its voluminous nominations for its 18th annual Satellite Awards,” reports Anne Thompson. “By my count, Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years a Slave leads with ten nominations, followed by Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity and David O. Russell’s American Hustle with eight.” And she’s got the full list.

Fernando Eimbcke‘s Club Sandwich has won Best Film at the Torino Film Festival, which lists all the award-winners.


Joel and Ethan Coen are planning a film set in ancient Rome, reports Matt Singer at the Dissolve: “Driven by the desire to do something unexpected, they’re exploring a world way out of their comfort zone.”

The full trailer for Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani‘s The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears


New York. “Short and muscular, elegant and acrobatic, the French silent-comedy star Max Linder was one of the cinema’s great prodigies,” writes the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody. “After his death, in 1925, he was largely forgotten, and most of his five hundred films were lost. The retrospective of his work at French Institute Alliance Française (Dec. 3-17) is a welcome reminder of his place in the pantheon.”

At the L, Aaron Cutler recommends Leslie Thornton’s Peggy and Fred in Hell (1984-2013): “Two children play in a post-apocalyptic world. So go the leads of this multiepisode field of narrative possibility for which American experimental filmmaker Thornton has been making chapters since the early 80s.”

Kenji Fujishima will introduce Kinoscope’s screening of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952) this evening.

San Francisco. Films by Fassbinder are screening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through December 21.

Richmond. The exhibition Hollywood Costume is on view at the Virginia Museum of the Arts through February 17.

Vienna. Two series begin tomorrow at the Austrian Film Museum, Satyajit Ray: The First Decade (through January 8) and To India! Projections from Europe and America (through January 7).


“Christopher Evan Welch, who appeared onstage in numerous plays, in films including Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and Lincoln, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, as well as on television, died early Monday at a Los Angeles hospital,” reports Variety. “He is believed to have been 48.”

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