This is the week we finally get 2015 rolling. Rotterdam opens today, Sundance tomorrow, and Slamdance the day after. Cannes has announced that Joel and Ethan Coen will be presiding over the jury of its 68th edition (May 13 through 24). The bulk of the lineup for this year’s Berlinale (February 5 through 15) is in place and the inaugural edition of Critics’ Week Berlin is set. Before the first flurries blow in, then, let’s scan some of the best reading and viewing to have appeared since the last general roundup. It’s been a while again—just over two weeks.
We begin with a marvelous entry Glenn Kenny posted several days ago collecting his reflections on just over half a dozen films that have meant something to him over years, films that he revisited over the holidays. This is a “going back to the well” entry and it’s a good time for one, too.
In their latest audiovisual essay for the Notebook (7’09”), Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin suggest that we “re-imagine Repulsion as a Béla Tarr film.” And in his latest column for De Filmkrant, Adrian Martin tracks the rise and fall and rise of Walerian Borowczyk—whose The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981), by the way, he and Cristina Álvarez López are presenting as part of the revived Critic’s Choice program at Rotterdam.
Jonathan Rosenbaum on Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs: “If Tsai’s films typically qualify as questions rather than answers, foremost among the questions is how we perform as spectators—a question that we’re obliged to pose in relation to all the materials offered.” Also: Revisiting Twin Peaks.
The Paris Review‘s running a wonderful piece by Jason Z. Resnikoff on, among many things, the contrasting views of the future between Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). Speaking of 2001, Steven Soderbergh explains why he’s posted his own cut (110’42”).
Recent entries at Critics Round Up I recommend exploring:
- Mati Diop‘s A Thousand Suns.
- Paul Harrill’s Something, Anything.
- Michael Mann’s Blackhat.
- Corneliu Porumboiu’s When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism.
Guy Maddin’s “oscillation between seriousness and levity—and between lighthearted eroticism and nightmarish trauma—explains why the two films that haunt me every time I watch My Winnipeg are Andy Warhol’s Blow Job and Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah.” Wayne Koestenbaum for Criterion—where you’ll also find Michael Koresky arguing that, in Tootsie, Teri Garr is “MVP in a supporting cast that’s all potential MVPs.”
Back to Maddin, though. From Sérgio Dias Branco: “Kino Kino Kino Kino Kino: Guy Maddin’s Cinema of Artifice.”
Werner Herzog‘s “sensibility is less like a river, with tangled eddies and tributaries, and more like a wave, powerful because of its simplicity, unity, and scale,” writes Joshua Rothman for the New Yorker.
In his latest “Kaiju Shakedown” column for Film Comment, Grady Hendrix writes about Tsui Hark‘s The Taking of Tiger Mountain: “It’s easy to take Tsui’s talent as a filmmaker for granted, but we really shouldn’t. A mid-movie scene of a snow-covered village being invaded by bandits on skis is executed with clarity, authority, and total confidence. Even the least generous Western critics have noted that the film is a superb showcase for Tsui’s spectacular setpieces, and these days his kind of craftsmanship is so rare that it gives the illusion of a movie that’s nonstop action, when in fact there are only four action scenes in its entire two-hour-and-22-minute running time.”
In the Chiseler:
- A bit of a conversation with Jean Epstein translated by Robert Lamberton.
- Dan Callahan: “One of the major theater actresses of her time, Judith Anderson felt constrained when acting before a camera.”
- And Imogen Smith on Samuel Fuller‘s The Crimson Kimono (1959).
“Double Play, Gabe Klinger’s new documentary about directors Richard Linklater and James Benning, is not a conventional portrait of filmmakers at work, or the sort of glowing career-retrospective clip show that serves as a glorified DVD extra,” writes Michael Sicinski for the Nashville Scene. It’s “a critical intervention, a biographical essay of sorts that aims to provide a new way to consider these very different filmmakers.”
Recently at the Talkhouse Film:
- Robert Greene (Actress) on Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana.
- Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) on Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin.
- Screenwriter Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (10 Things I Hate About You) on Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love.
Michael Betancourt for Bright Lights: “Dread Mechanics: The Sublime Terror of Bill Morrison’s Decasia (2002).”
For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Adam Fleming Petty reviews Patton Oswalt‘s Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film and Tara Ison’s Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies.
IN OTHER NEWS
Ted Hope was CEO of Fandor throughout 2014 and it was a very good year. Now, as Filmmaker‘s Scott Macaulay reports, Ted is the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies, a division of Amazon Studios that “will produce and acquire up to 12 films a year for theatrical release and then early window play on Prime Instant Video four to eight weeks later.”
New York Film Festival director and renowned critic Kent Jones has been named Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters.
Filmmaker Jon Jost was robbed a few weeks ago and a few friends have launched a fundraising campaign to help him out.
Experimental Response Cinema has announced its Spring 2015 program: “Roger Beebe returns to Austin with his mind-blowing, multi-projector performances; Dani Leventhal will be joining us to show her videos that ‘capture the banal and the horrific to reveal the transcendent beauty and pain of daily life’; curator and filmmaker Warren Cockerham will be here to present a rare grouping of work from New England, with films (and slides!) by Luther Price, Jodie Mack, Robert Todd, Jonathan Schwartz, Jo Dery, and Colin Brant; Jesse McLean will be our guest in April, presenting her found footage meditations on the power of pop culture; finally, Mary Helena Clark will join us from Oakland to screen her hypnotic and mysterious films and videos.”
“Lyon’s Institut Lumière is teaming with France’s CNC film agency to organize Lumiere! Le Cinéma Inventé, a major Paris exhibition-restoration initiative marking the 120th anniversary of the invention of cinema—or at least cinema as we have known it over nearly all of the last 120 years.” John Hopewell for Variety: “Not just a commemoration, however, Lumière! will attempt to deliver a corrective to the legend of two technical geniuses of little vision, ignoring the importance of their invention, and of little art.”
As Brian Steinberg reports for Variety, John Waters is hosting a new show on Playboy TV, Groundbreakers, a showcase of classic porn.
Rob Christopher has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help him complete Pause of the Clock, a film he began working on in 1994, which he now sees as “a message from the past about how our society has changed in 20 years, while also exploring those things about us and our relationships that technology can’t touch. A living time capsule.”
Richard Linklater and Boyhood “won big at the London Critics’ Circle awards on Sunday evening,” reports the Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard. “There was bittersweet news for Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh’s biopic of the artist J.M.W. Turner, which had started the evening with the most nominations (seven), but only managed to convert one into an actual award: best British actor for Timothy Spall.”
New York. At Indiewire, Cahiers du Cinéma deputy editor Jean-Philippe Tessé writes about the films being presented in Eccentrics of French Comedy, an ongoing series at the French Institute Alliance Française.
Los Angeles. Tomorrow, the Goethe-Institut and the Filmforum present Wie man sieht (As You See) – In memory of filmmaker Harun Farocki.
And on Thursday: “Mush! to the Movies! Is a selection of films spanning over 90 years of glacial activity and handpicked by Los Angeles Filmforum’s Director Adam Hyman and members of The Velaslavasay Panorama.”
“Guy Gallo, whose screenplay for Under the Volcano was directed by John Huston, died at the age of 59 on January 13,” reports Annette Insdorf at Thompson on Hollywood. “A playwright, screenwriter, poet and essayist, he was an adjunct professor of Screenwriting at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and Barnard College, as well as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Among his former students are James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line) and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland).”
From Mike Barnes in the Hollywood Reporter: “George Dickerson, who played police detective John Williams in David Lynch’s bizarre crime drama Blue Velvet, has died, his son, Finnish film writer-director Dome Karukoski, announced on Facebook. He was 81. Dickerson, who also had a recurring role as Police Commander Swanson in the first season of the acclaimed 1980s NBC cop drama Hill Street Blues, died Jan. 10 after a long illness, Karukoski said.”
From Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This #28: Star Wars Episode II: Carole Lombard and Clark Gable (41’36”).
The second part of Brandon Schaefer and Sam Smith‘s discussion of the work of Saul Bass is up (121’43”).
Marc Maron talks with Mike Judge about Beavis and Butt-head (mid-90s), King of the Hill (1997-2010), Office Space (1999), Idiocracy (2006) and more (112’15”). And then he talks with Jason Schwartzman (84’34”).
Christopher Frayling, author of Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death, is a guest in the Projection Booth for a discussion of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). That special 200th episode (201’21”) is followed by a conversation (204’36”) with John Badham and Lloyd Kaufman about Saturday Night Fever (1977).
Illusion Travels By Streetcar #42: Vincente Minnelli: The Melodramas (1958-1965) (148’45”) and #43: The Stage Adaptations of Robert Altman (1982-1988) (122’58”).