Let’s start with a fun piece in the Nation in which J. Hoberman looks back a few decades to the days when movies and weed were a match made in stoner heaven: “Infuse your mind with sufficient cannabis and Gidget Goes Hawaiian turns into Last Year at Marienbad, while Last Year at Marienbad—which I first saw with a brain full of fumes in a Berkeley classroom—becomes a stone goof.”
For its Kino-Agora series, the Montreal-based publishing house caboose “invites leading scholars and new voices to explore novel or neglected micro-topics in film theory and history, issue manifestos or challenge received ideas, free from the strictures of conventional academic writing. Journal articles are too short for such projects, and the typical academic book too weighty; the 20,000-word format of these volumes balances depth and accessibility.” Three titles are currently available as free PDFs: Jacques Aumont’s Montage, a survey of the theory and practice; André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion’s The Kinematic Turn: Film in the Digital Era and its Ten Problems; and Lesley Stern’s Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing.
Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith introduce an interview for the new issue of Artforum: “Ben Rivers, who lives and works in London, is perhaps best known for his meditative portraits of alternative ways of living, from the sylvan hermitage of his feature Two Years at Sea to the post-apocalyptic island ecosystems of his science-fiction film Slow Action (both 2011). In sharp contrast, Ben Russell, a former Chicagoan who has until recently split his time between Paris, Finland, and Suriname (the setting of many of his films), favors an intensely visceral and disorienting cinematic mode he terms ‘psychedelic ethnography,’ which he pursued in a series of short films entitled Trypps 1–7 (2005–10) and in a feature film, Let Each One Go Where He May (2009). Combining methods and ideas that each has explored in his individual efforts, hybridizing documentary, avant-garde, and narrative forms, the feature-length A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness is a three-part odyssey in search of a better present.”
“While vigilant against absolutism,” writes Adrian Martin in his latest column for De Filmkrant, “I did, myself, recently experience such violent distaste against a particular movie that I found myself wanting to immediately write a manifesto denouncing ‘a certain tendency in modern cinema’—perhaps the greatest occupational hazard tempting the contemporary critic.” But he ends up decided that critics should steer away from “spurious, artificial systems of absolute value.” The film, by the way was Only God Forgives by Nicolas Winding Refn, “whose Drive (2011) I watched repeatedly and admired enormously for its craft.”
“There is within American literature and cinema a subgenre of horror focused on buildings, buildings that are themselves the sources of evil, without ghosts or ghouls, but which, through some flaw of design—some peculiar arrangement of space and mass, some technology gone awry—manifest a malign awareness that targets occupants.” And Keith Eggener explores it at Design Observer.
At Electronic Beats: “The recent publication of Life and Work: Films, Writings, Stills & Polaroids sees famed Russian auteur Andrey Tarkovsky recast in an increasingly holistic artistic context. The director’s images maintain a singular poetic and spiritual resonance on the printed page—one that his son, Andrey A. Tarkovsky, traces back to his grandfather, the poet Arseny Tarkovsky. Max Dax visited the caretaker of the family archives in Florence, Italy to find out how personal memory and artistic legacy, immortalized on film, have become one.”
At AnOther, Nicolas Roeg tells Ray Bennett why he believes “mirrors are the essence of movies.”
Woody Allen has written an open letter in support of greater recognition of the work done by casting directors—particularly his own, Juliet Taylor.
Film Quarterly‘s posted Paul Julian Smith‘s piece on Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited; and a related pointer, via Bookforum, Alicja Khatchikian‘s paper, “Performance and Gender in Almodóvar’s Bodies.”
Meantime, here we go again. Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin argues that “film is not an interior medium, whereas, on the most essential level, interiority is all literature has.” Which is why some books are simply unadaptable. “Let’s call this type of book the iconic novel: a work of fiction driven less by action than by voice. Under the Volcano, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Naked Lunch, Ask the Dust: There’s a long line of such works that have failed as films, lacking both the depth and nuance that define them on the page.”
Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have posted their holiday movie preview packages; on a related note, Tom Shone for the Guardian: “If you hadn’t noticed, 2013 is the year of the survival movie.”
IN OTHER NEWS
MUBI‘s currently presenting the 2nd Dialogue of Culture International Film Festival. Through November 14, you can watch—for free, no less—work by Lav Diaz, Jonas Mekas and José Luis Guerín, Noël Burch and Allan Sekula, Heinz Emigholz, and many others.
And Variety‘s Leo Barraclough has news of a new Gala section, presenting UK premieres, for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “Artistic director Chris Fujiwara is also bringing in a number of other new strands for the 2014 edition, which runs June 18 to 29.” These’ll include German Focus, For the Family, New Perspectives, and another for genre films.
It’s been a year, but guest curators are listing their UbuWeb top tens again.
New York. On Wednesday, Nick Pinkerton and Nicolas Rapold will introduce a screening of Abel Ferrara’s Dangerous Game (1993) at BAM, and the first Nick has quite a piece on the film at Sundance Now: “Ferrara doesn’t make movies for an evening’s entertainment, but movies that endeavor to rip a hole through the fabric of the screen, like a fight that starts on a barstool then spills out onto the street and down the block.”
The Asia Society series Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s is on through November 22.
Los Angeles. Tonight and tomorrow at REDCAT: Bruce Baillie: Two Nights of 16mm Treasures.
London. “When the Jarman Award for avant-garde filmmaking announces its winner on Wednesday at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London it will be the end of a nine-month process involving more than 300 scouts,” writes the Financial Times‘ Antonia Quirke at the top of her overview of the work of the ten artists—seven of them women, by the way—who’ve made the shortlist. If you’re in the city, you have a few hours more to swing by Whitechapel to catch some of that work, too.
IN THE WORKS
First, let me recommend Sean O’Hagan‘s review of Jane Rogoyska’s new book, Gerda Taro: Inventing Robert Capa: “With two films about Capa and Taro’s relationship in the offing, it may be an opportune time to acquaint oneself with this well-researched, and meticulously recreated, story of their overlapping lives before the myth takes over.” One of the two films, by the way, is Close Enough, to be directed by Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton) and starring Tom Hiddleston and Hayley Atwell. As for the other, as O’Hagan noted in a longer (and just as fascinating) piece on the couple for the Observer back in May, Michael Mann’s optioned the rights to Susana Fortes’s Waiting for Robert Capa.
Trailer for Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive
“Paramount Pictures has acquired Little Black Dress, a script by The Sopranos creator David Chase that will be fast-tracked to be the next film Chase directs,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. “I’m told that this is a character-driven film about a twentysomething female war veteran who comes back from Afghanistan grappling with a disability. While working a potentially lethal investigation at a post-war job, she gets involved with a superstitious NYPD detective who helps bring her back from a personal precipice.”
Also: “Christopher Walken has signed on to star with Lenny Kravitz in Little Rootie Tootie, the next film from writer-director Dan Algrant.” And Jason Bateman will direct Nicole Kidman in The Family Fang, the adaptation of the Kevin Wilson bestseller.
Variety‘s Justin Kroll: “Ellen Barkin is set to co-star with Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez in the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone.”
Just the other day, we learned that Robert Zemeckis will be taking on an adaptation of Jeff Malmberg‘s 2010 documentary Marwencol; now Variety‘s Dave McNary reports he’ll also direct adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 young adult novel The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Also: Dustin Hoffman’s joining Alfred Molina and Kathy Bates in Francois Girard’s Boychoir; screenplay’s by Ben Ripley (Source Code). And: Alejandro Amenábar will direct Ethan Hawke in Regression. And one more: “Scott Rudin and Seth Rogen are teaming up for an untitled movie project with the actors on Comedy Central’s Workaholics.”
More listening (80’56”). Paul Clipson introduces Notebook Soundtrack Mix #4: “Fragments of the Mirror: The Music of Bernard Herrmann”: “This kaleidoscopic compilation of soundtracks by Bernard Herrmann scored for film, television and radio presents a feature-length overview of this incredibly unique composer’s wide-ranging and distinctive style. Working with directors such as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese, during a career that spanned over forty years, Herrmann created scores of such innovative and emotional magnitude that notions of sound and music in cinema have never been the same.”
Viewing (4’40”). A.O. Scott talks about what it’s like being a critic for the New York Times.
More viewing (54’18”). Above, the Hollywood Reporter Actors roundtable: Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners), Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Josh Brolin (Labor Day), and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station).
Recently updated entries: Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Žižek‘s The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyer’s Club. As for other films that’ve opened this weekend, see the Critics Round Up entries on Davy Chou’s Golden Slumbers and Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq’s These Birds Walk.