“Since the late Sixties and early Seventies, when filmmakers were first hired for university teaching positions, the academy has become crucial to the sustaining of experimental film in the United States,” writes Genevieve Yue in an extensive survey of the current scene for Film Comment. “Colleges and universities serve as hubs to which renowned filmmakers and their circles gravitate, and, for most of the country, they’re the only places where avant-garde films can be viewed. With the decline of public funding for the arts, and lacking substantial means of support from the art world or otherwise, the academy provides a structure of employment and production resources that allow many filmmakers to continue making work.”
“Since the turn of the millennium, those radical film organizations in Britain that remained from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s (such as Amber, Leeds Animation Workshop, the London Socialist Film Co-op and Exploding Cinema) have been joined by a litany of others dedicated to the production, distribution and exhibition of films broadly aligned with the politics of the radical left.” For Film International, Steve Presence outlines the development of the relatively new international Radical Film Network, whose inaugural conference will take place in Birmingham in February.
“As Hollywood films are made by an increasingly international capitalist class, and sold to an increasingly international audience, they will tend to reflect the viewpoint of international capital more than that of any particular national group,” writes Willie Osterweil for the Baffler.
Via Catherine Grant, a new issue of Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies.
It’s a good week for DVD/Blu-ray releases. At Slant, see Chris Cabin on Frank Capra‘s It Happened One Night (1934), Jake Cole on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970) and Clayton Dillard on Michelangelo Antonioni‘s L’Avventura (1960).
Jürgen Fauth—full disclosure: a friend—began reviewing movies on a manual typewriter back in the early 1990s for his hometown newspaper, the Wiesbadener Kurier, before moving to About.com. RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz, who bonded years ago with Jürgen over Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, talks with him about his new collection, Raves, which delivers on the title’s promise: Jürgen’s most enthusiastic reviews. They also discuss how writing his first novel, Kino, changed Jürgen’s perspective on criticism.
Farran Smith Nehme’s debut novel, Missing Reels (more here), “faithfully recreates the repertory movie scene in late 1980s NYC, focusing specifically on the silent movie nut crowd,” writes R. Emmet Sweeney at Movie Morlocks. “It begins as a bittersweet screwball romance about being young and poor in the city, and develops into a shaggy dog mystery involving a lost silent feature that may yet be found.”
J.C. Gabel for the New York Times on Criterion Designs: “Like any great retrospective, the book includes works-in-progress, alternate covers and cutting-room-floor drafts of the 100 original interpretations represented, like Rossellini’s War Trilogy, early Cronenberg, select Hitchcock, vintage Charlie Chaplin, the complete Wes Anderson and more. For now, the first printing of 5,000 copies are already sold out—but another 5,000 are set to ship before the end of the year.”
Filmmaker editor Scott Macaulay talks with our CEO, Ted Hope, about his new book, Hope for Film, which “traces the evolution of his thinking produced by the collision of personal history with economic and cultural change.”
New York. “Nastassja Kinski is my all-time favorite actress,” declares Peter Sobczynski at the top of a RogerEbert.com overview of Nastassja Kinski: From The Heart, a nine-film retrospective running from tomorrow through Wednesday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
How to explain her appeal to those who are not that familiar with her or her work? Well, at first, there is her incomparable physical appeal—she could toggle between innocence and pure carnality in the blink of an eye with a timeless look that could be absolutely of the moment while simultaneously evoking such classic screen beauties as Garbo and Bergman. (If nothing else, no one has ever managed to wear a snake with as much grace and élan as she displayed in that infamous 1981 Richard Avedon photograph that did as much as her films to put her into the pop culture consciousness.) Then there was her equally striking screen presence—a pose at once open and tantalizingly aloof that set her apart from most other stars of her time and which made them want to know more. This would have been enough to make for a solid career in many cases, but Kinski was also a gifted actress who turned in performances that were touching, powerful and hypnotic.
In her preview for Artforum, Melissa Anderson focuses on Kinski’s performances in Roman Polanski’s Tess (1979), Paul Schrader’s Cat People (1982) and Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984). And David Ehrlich adds Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart (1982) and James Toback’s Exposed (1983) to Time Out‘s shortlist.
“When the world gets you down,” writes Stephanie Zacharek in the Voice, “the most surefire cure might be Anna Magnani—in a blond wig and a skintight evening dress dotted with flirty crystal fringe—traipsing from one end of Rome to the next, desperately in search of New Year’s Eve fun. She’s the shimmery, shimmying center of Mario Monicelli‘s 1960 farce The Passionate Thief, which has never been released in the United States on VHS or DVD. But che fortuna! It rolls into town, newly restored, for a one-week run on December 5, as part of Film Forum‘s two-week celebration of the Italian comedy maestro. Monicelli, along with Dino Risi and Pietro Germi, was one of the foremost figures of the commedia all’italiana, or Italian-style comedy, a genre he helped usher into the world with 1958’s Big Deal on Madonna Street.” Friday through December 11.
“As Mike Davis and others have written, noir is often misunderstood as merely a marriage of hard-boiled fiction on the one hand and a certain breed of left-leaning director on the other,” writes Gabriel Kahane for BAM. “But for noir to come to life, the juxtaposition of light and shadow—a binary endemic to Los Angeles—is necessary. Put another way: Southern California’s sunny climate belies its seedy underbelly; put on the screen, that contradiction gives birth to noir.” The BAMcinématek series Sunshine Noir opens today and runs through December 9. Time Out‘s Joshua Rothkopf writes up a few highlights.
Home Movies opens on Saturday and will be on view through January 15. “The new exhibition of Chris Verene, his second at Postmasters, will consist of a group of photographs and a series of projected short videos, all depicting his family and other families in the small city of Galesburg, Illinois, whose lives were drastically altered in the 2008 economic downturn.”
IN THE WORKS
Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant) is adapting Rose Tremain’s 2010 novel Trespass, reports Screen‘s Michael Rosser. “Currently writing a second draft of the script, Barnard said of the planned film: ‘It’s about someone in their 60s who, as a teenager, was abused within their family…. What I’m trying to do is describe memory on film in a way that’s informed by all these conversations I’ve had with scientists. Part of what has been fascinating about those conversations is that scientists use the term ‘flashback,’ which comes from film—so art is informing science and science is informing art.'”
Geoffrey Macnab, also reporting for Screen, has the latest on Ulrich Seidl‘s next project, Herr Grasl. It’ll be set in the late 18th century “in ‘the milieu of the poorest of the poor.’ These are young people, returning from war and having to engage in criminal activities to survive. Its main character is Herr Grasl, a real-life Robin Hood-like figure who lived in the northern part of Austria fought back against the authorities and was eventually hanged at the age of 26. The film promises to be Seidl’s most ambitious yet.”
“Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have signed on to star in a limited series based on Liane Moriarty’s book Big Little Lies written by David E. Kelley.” Lesley Goldberg for the Hollywood Reporter: “The novel centers on three mothers to kindergartners whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to a murder-mystery that takes place during a disastrous parents’ night at an elementary school fundraiser.”
“Less than a week after Sony Pictures put the high-profile Steve Jobs movie into turnaround, Universal Pictures has stepped up and adopted the project.” THR‘s Gregg Kilday has more on the biopic written by Aaron Sorkin. Danny Boyle will direct Michael Fassbender.
Variety‘s John Hopewell reports that Paul Schrader is planning “a 10-episode web-series, Life on the Other Side, each seg 10-minutes long, inspired by the episodic structure of La Dolce Vita.”
“I squelched that!” Joni Mitchell tells the Sunday Times. So there’ll be no biopic starring Taylor Swift. Lindsey Weber has the story at Vulture.