First up today, the National Film Preservation Foundation has launched a new blog, Access Alley. “We’ll be using this space to share preserved films, highlight new preservation initiatives, provide scholarly writing, and spotlight screenings happening around the world. To celebrate this new endeavor we are posting Catskill Honeymoon (1950), a playful feature-length variety revue directed by Josef Berne.”
“I never say ‘it’s well-written’ because I know then people think about dialogue. So, I say, ‘it’s well cine-written.'” That’s Agnès Varda telling Film Comment‘s Violet Lucca what she means when she uses the term cinécriture. The lively, wide-ranging interview took place during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s retrospective in New York—before Cannes announced that it’d be presenting an honorary Palme d’Or to Varda during this year’s closing ceremony.
Karl Ove Knausgaard was also recently at the FSLC to present and discuss The Idiots (1998) and R. Emmet Sweeney was surprised “to hear how much [Lars] von Trier’s film had influenced Knausgaard in his search for a new style of writing.” And “when asked by FSLC director of programming Dennis Lim whether any other films or filmmakers had as much of an impact on him as von Trier, he chose one shot from Solaris. Not the film as a whole, but an image from the section on Earth, of raindrops falling into cups. In this image the story dissolved into something else, something more concrete. ‘How far can you bend a film before it becomes meaningless?’ he asked. He poses a similar question in My Struggle, in which exhaustive detailing of everyday tasks makes up the narrative. My Struggle is the image of those cups stretched to 3,600 pages.”
Also. Knausgaard is writing a screenplay, an adaptation of his 1998 debut novel, Out of the World. “Not accustomed to the format, he at first had all the characters introducing themselves at the beginning of every scene. He’s on the fifth draft of the script now—and feels that he’s made progress by adding a voiceover.”
“One of the delightful surprises arising from the spate of books celebrating Saul Bellow’s centenary is the discovery that, for a brief while, Bellow was a film critic,” writes the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody, who focuses on what Bellow picked up on from Manny Farber:
As contemporaries (Bellow was born in 1915, Farber, in 1917), their very template for the art of movies was established by the prewar works of ironclad studio dominion. Farber, with his vast passion for and knowledge of the cinema, found his own path to recognize and celebrate the art of unjustly unheralded Hollywood directors. If Bellow did so as well, it’s not part of his scant quartet of film essays. But, in their surprising and suggestive connection, they reveal the great, overriding drama of the modern cinema—the preëminence of the art of the director, the foregrounding of the visual voice over the narrative content. For Bellow as a novelist, that tension between voice and character is the very essence of his art.
Back in 2002, when he was still at the AV Club, Scott Tobias called Samuel Fuller’s A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking a “sprawling, passionate, deeply inspiring autobiography.” Now David Davidson has posted a few passages in which Fuller writes about John Ford.
John Strausbaugh at the Chiseler on Mervyn LeRoy’s The Heart of New York (1932): “Except for the pointedly deracinated title, the movie preserves the story’s essential Jewishness.”
Tom Hardy talks with Matthias Schoenaerts for Interview.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Locarno Film Festival (August 8 through 18) will present its Pardo d’onore Swisscom to Marco Bellocchio. “With this award the Festival pays tribute to an extraordinarily rich career, and affirms the strong links between Locarno and Bellocchio, first forged in 1965 with the screening in the Grand Hotel of his debut feature film, I pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket). The stunning anarchy of his film overwhelmed the audience, the critics and the jury, who awarded him the Vela d’argento.”
From Phil Whitehead: “A video essay inspired by Roger Ebert’s essay on Metropolis as part of his ‘Great Movies’ series. Nothing has been omitted from the original essay so I should therefore mention that the 1984 ‘Moroder’ cut is no longer the only version of the film available.
“Avant-garde work has long been a specialty of the New York Film Festival,” writes Stephanie Goodman for the New York Times, “and its next edition, in the fall, will continue that tradition: organizers announced Tuesday that they will mount a special dual retrospective of the experimental filmmakers Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler.”
“Well Go USA Entertainment has taken all North American rights to Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien‘s martial arts epic The Assassin ahead of its Cannes competition premiere on May 21,” reports Ryan Lattanzio for Thompson on Hollywood.
“Werner Herzog‘s Queen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco has been picked up by Atlas Distribution Co., marking the first time the entity will distribute a movie without Atlas Shrugged in the title.” Paul Bond has more in the Hollywood Reporter.
Black Souls leads the nominations for the the 59th David di Donatello awards, often referred to stateside as Italy’s Oscars. As Vittoria Scarpa reports at Cineuropa, Francesco Munzi’s film has scored 16, followed by Mario Martone’s Leopardi (14), Nanni Moretti’s My Mother and Gabriele Salvatores’s The Invisible Boy (10 each), Ermanno Olmi’s Greenery Will Bloom Again (8) and Saverio Costanzo’s Hungry Hearts and Edoardo Leo’s Noi e la Giulia (7 each).
“Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov’s detention by the Russian authorities has been extended by yet another two months to July 11,” reports Screen‘s Martin Blaney.
More than any other single avant-garde filmmaker, Jacobs has explored the pulsating, tremulous frontier where images hit the eyes, and a great deal of his exploration over the last 30+ years—beginning with his experiments with the Pulfrich filter and his development of the dual projection “Nervous System”—has involved three-dimensional illusionism, that ambiguous perceptual space where flatness and depth wrestle in the optical mind. Historically, aesthetically, and technologically, it would make no sense to consider cinema in three dimensions without including Jacobs’s contributions.
And Jodie Mack on her own film in the program: “Let Your Light Shine is kind of an imposter within this series because, well, it’s not actually 3D. It’s something more like 3.5D or 7D when you consider the sole principle of the diffraction grating glasses it utilizes: to split light into colors. In either case, it’s a visual feast, not unlike a show of fireworks.”
Kenji Mizoguchi’s Home Town (1930) “kicks off the Museum of Modern Art’s series Japan Speaks Out! Early Japanese Talkies—a program offering proof that the abundant genius of the Japanese moviemaking system responded eagerly to the new possibilities of sound cinema whenever available.” For Artforum, Nick Pinkerton surveys the series running through May 20.
Portland. Cinema Project presents Japanese Experimental Films of the Late 1970s & 1980s tomorrow evening.
Manchester. In the run-up to the conference hosted by the University of Salford on May 21 and 22, I’ll See You Again in 25 Years: The Return of Twin Peaks and Generations of Cult TV, Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin present their contribution in the Notebook, Short-Circuit: A “Twin Peaks” System, an audiovisual essay focusing “on the ‘micro’ level of Twin Peaks“:
We look (and listen) to isolate material clusters of elements, pockets of feeling, poetic configurations—constantly in motion across the total work, metamorphosing and transforming. For the cinema (or TV) of poetry—as Pier Paolo Pasolini well understood when he first investigated this term in 1965—is, at its best, never a matter of static, unchanging symbols that rise above the work and call for a “legend” or key (mythological or otherwise) to decipher them; rather, a good piece of audiovision (whatever the medium) invents its own systems, and sets them perpetually spinning.
Barcelona. “José Antonio Maenza, a brilliant, ground-breaking filmmaker and fabulist from Aragon, is a vital yet almost unknown figure in Spanish independent cinema of the sixties.” His first film, El lobby contra el cordero (1967-68), screens tomorrow at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània.
IN THE WORKS
“Speaking at a Maryland Film Fest panel, Taylor Branch, Ta-Nehisi Coates, David Simon, and James McBride—all of whom are working on adapting Branch’s America in the King Years—revealed more details behind their HBO series, as well as how the show relates to the recent Baltimore protests and larger racial issues.” Sean Fitz-Gerald reports for Vulture.
Alicia Vikander, known at the moment to most as Ex Machina‘s Ava, will take the lead in James Ponsoldt’s The Circle. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tatiana Siegel and Pamela McClintock: “Based on Dave Eggers’s 2013 novel, the story centers on a recent college graduate (Vikander) who lands a job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man. [Tom] Hanks is eyeing the role of mysterious man (Hanks recently starred in another Eggers-based book, [Tom Tykwer‘s] A Hologram for the King).”
Before this year is out, by the way, we’ll be seeing Vikander in Justin Chadwick’s Tulip Fever (also with Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench, Jack O’Connell and Zach Galifianakis), Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans (with Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz), Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (with Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant), John Wells’s Adam Jones (with Bradley Cooper, Lily James, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl and Emma Thompson) and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl (with Eddie Redmayne, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw).
Variety‘s Scott Foundas interviews legendary producer Christine Vachon
More from Siegel and McClintock: “Jim Broadbent will star in the drama The Sense of an Ending, which marks director Ritesh Batra’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed romantic drama The Lunchbox…. Based on Julian Barnes’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Sense of an Ending centers on Tony Webster, who, when presented with a mysterious legacy, finds himself contending with a past he had never thought much about. As he delves back into his personal history, he is forced to reassess his relationships with those closest to him and revise his understanding of his own nature. Playwright Nick Payne (Constellations) adapted the screenplay, marking his first feature film.”
“Laura Dern is in negotiations to star opposite Michael Keaton in The Founder, the drama detailing the rise of the McDonald’s fast food empire.” THR‘s Borys Kit has more.
“Liam Neeson is in final negotiations to star in another action cat-and-mouse film called A Willing Patriot which will be directed by Martin Zandvliet (Applause),” reports Deadline‘s Anita Busch. “Neeson will portray a CIA agent who tries to outsmart and capture a terrorist who is planning an attack.”