“It is a cross between a film set, a theme park and a folly.” The Financial Times‘ Peter Aspden visits Andricgrad, a town in Serbia built over the course of three years by Emir Kusturica. “The high street is dominated by a cinema and opens out into a wide square containing a café called Goya, after [Serbian author Ivo] Andric’s favorite painter. Opposite there is an ice-cream parlor, inside which there are giant portraits of the Apache leader Geronimo, Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Vladimir Putin. When I tell Kusturica it is one of the most surreal locations I have ever seen, he laughs out loud.”
The occasion of Aspden’s visit is the unveiling of a mosaic portraying Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, setting off the chain of events that would lead to World War I. “For Serbs, Princip was a revolutionary hero whose actions constituted an act of rebellion against an empire that was suppressing his people.” Naturally, Aspden gets a few words from Kusturica regarding his films, such as the Palme d’Or-winning Underground (1995), but the tour alone is worth your time. Via Movie City News.
“Pictures Ought Not to Move,” argued Stephen Paget in 1916.
J. Hoberman in the New York Times: “Perhaps the cinema’s first great mythmaker was Louis Feuillade, whose fantastic World War I-era adventure serials—most famously Fantomas (1913-14) and Les Vampires (1915-16)—were beloved both by the French masses and the Surrealist cognoscenti and, as later preserved by the pioneer cinema archivist Henri Langlois, were a touchstone for generations of French filmmakers, including Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette and Olivier Assayas. Irma Vep, Mr. Assayas’s 1996 tribute to Feuillade, remade Les Vampires by cleverly dramatizing a disastrous attempt to do so. But not every nouveau Feuillade was a failure. George Franju’s 1963 Judex, out in a dual DVD/Blu-ray edition from Criterion, is a convincing distillation of Feuillade’s 1916 five-hour serial of that title, and in some ways is an improvement.” Hoberman also reviews Shout! Factory’s The Angela Mao Ying Collection. Mao “was, along with Slaughter, Django and Cleopatra Jones, a deity inhabiting the 42nd Street grindhouses of the early 1970s.”
At Movie Morlocks, David Kalat notes that “there’s a default understanding of [Robert Wiene‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)] that it represents an intrusion of avant garde art into the conventional mainstream expression of commercial cinema—I dare you to find a discussion of Caligari that doesn’t proceed from this assumption. But there’s a fundamental problem with that—and let’s go find it together.”
“As much as Martin Scorsese, Fassbinder was a maverick in his use of pop music in narrative film,” writes Glenn Kenny in a terrific piece for Criterion in which he considers the use of Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 single “Albatross” in World on a Wire (1973).
It’s not often that the Nation allows non-subscribers to see Stuart Klawans‘s film reviews. This week, he writes about Josh Boone’s The Fault in Our Stars, Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child, Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, Mohammad Rasoulof‘s Manuscripts Don’t Burn and Marco Bellocchio‘s Dormant Beauty.
“Almost perfectly in synch with Cahiers du Cinéma’s 700th anniversary number celebrating the cinephiliac moment, Photogénie kicks off its series of Belgian moments, in which homegrown talents wax poetic about their cinematic epiphanies: be it lines, scenes or dreamlike experiences. Budding director Gust Van den Berghe takes the lead, revealing his fetishes for clowns, death and thus, ideally, dead clowns.” He discusses Fellini‘s The Clowns (1970) and Pasolini‘s contribution to the omnibus film Ro.Go.Pa.G. (1963), La ricotta.
“Possibly more than the previous feature and short work produced by Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, which includes the groundbreaking Sweetgrass and Leviathan, [Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez‘s] Manakamana marks a crucial intersection of the three of the most interesting developments in contemporary cinema.” Robert Koehler explains at filmjourney.org.
Lee Siegel is convinced that there was “a simmering tension” between T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx. For the New Yorker, he explains.
Patrick Harrison in the New Inquiry: “When I say that Godzilla represents the threat of catastrophe that is always present in modern societies, it’s not just a matter of societies being dependent on technology, but of societies in which all aspects of social and technical life are organized around the intensification of industrial and/or post-industrial production.”
Bright Lights editor Gary Morris revisits Deepa Mehta’s Fire (1996).
At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf introduces a conversation (65’51”) between Michael Eisner and House of Cards screenwriter Beau Willimon, who says at one point, “I don’t give two shits if someone likes my characters. I do care whether they’re attracted to them. And there’s a big difference. I don’t mean sexually attracted. I mean attracted so that you can’t keep your eyes off them, you’re invested in them. He’s not likable, but you have to know where he ends up, you have to follow his path.”
IN OTHER NEWS
“Sophia Loren has written a memoir to be published in December,” reports William Grimes in the NYT. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: My Life as a Fairy Tale “makes use of letters, photographs and memorabilia from her long career in film to introduce each chapter.”
“Film4 FrightFest, the UK’s leading event for genre fans, has unveiled its biggest line-up ever, with 64 films plus 20 shorts.” Leo Barraclough reports for Variety. The festival runs from August 21 through 25.
“NewFest, New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival, unveiled details for its 26th edition,” reports Brian Brooks for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which presents the festival in partnership with Los Angeles’ Outfest. NewFest 2014 will open on July 24 with Karim Aïnouz’s Futuro Beach and close on July 29 with Bruce LaBruce‘s Gerontophilia. Both are New York premieres.
Chicago. The Reader‘s J.R. Jones highlights this week’s best options.
San Francisco. It’s been a while since we’ve linked to the Bay Guardian‘s excellent listings.
Los Angeles. Tonight at the Egyptian: Mike Kelley: Psychosexual Pantomime, or: Character Development in the Emotional Homunculus.
Amsterdam. In April, a trailer for David Cronenberg’s forthcoming first novel, Consumed, appeared. Turns out, it’s also something of a preview of a new short, The Nest (embedded above), commissioned by EYE Film Institute for David Cronenberg – The Exhibition, now on view through September 14.
Filmmaker and film historian Michael Henry Wilson passed away on Thursday at the age of 67. A frequent contributor to Positif, wrote several books, including a portrait of Clint Eastwood, and edited another on Martin Scorsese.
Jacques Bergerac, who appeared in George Cukor’s Les Girls (1957) and Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi (1958), died on June 15 at the age of 87, reports Jordyn Holman for Variety. Having been married to Ginger Rogers and then Dorothy Malone and appearing on a slew of American television shows, he retired from acting in 1969.
“Mary Rodgers, author of the best-selling children’s book Freaky Friday, has died at the age of 83,” reports the BBC. “The daughter of legendary Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, Mary had her own musical hit with Once Upon a Mattress.”
“Bobby Womack, who has died aged 70, was one of the great soul singers, who, in a professional career that lasted nearly six decades, worked closely with leading musicians ranging from Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and Sly Stone to Damon Albarn and Gorillaz,” writes John Lewis in the Guardian. “Yet for many years, he was better known as a songwriter and session musician. The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, George Benson and Chaka Khan were among the many who recorded his songs and his funky guitar flourishes can be heard on records by Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin. But he will be primarily remembered for his voice, a rugged and emotive baritone holler that came straight from the gospel church.”
I’ve added an update on Snowpiercer to the entry on BAMcinemaFest; meantime, Bong Joon-ho‘s listed his top ten Criterion releases. Two more festivals wrap today, Frameline and Edinburgh, where the awards have been announced. More recent updates: Robert Gardner, Eli Wallach and Spike Lee; Transformers and They Came Together.