With Jørgen Leth and Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructions (2003) coming out on a special remastered DVD from Kino Lorber on Tuesday, Artforum has posted James Quandt‘s 2004 review: “It begins as wicked comedy, von Trier selecting his favorite Leth film, the classic 1967 experimental documentary The Perfect Human, which he claims to have seen over twenty times, as the material to be subjected to his ‘five obstructions.’ A malevolent taskmaster, von Trier challenges the curiously game Leth to remake the film five times, under a prescribed set of ‘diabolical’ impediments that deliberately cut against the grain of Leth’s sensibility.” All in all, it “makes one cringe, and then cry.” More? See Sverre Raffnsøe‘s entry from 2011.
“When [Abel] Ferrara first emerged from the same downtown milieu that incubated Jim Jarmusch, Madonna and the teenage star of Ms .45, Zoë Tamerlis Lund, he seemed like a CBGB Scorsese.” In the New York Times, J. Hoberman reviews Drafthouse’s release of Ms. 45 and 20th Century Fox’s release of The King of Comedy (1983) “on a welcome but murky-looking Blu-ray.” And for the New York Review of Books, Hoberman reviews Manakamana (see, too, Jonathan Marlow‘s interview with its makers, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez).
Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive “are very different from one another, but both are somber, symbolic, even trancelike. As such, they’re perfect examples of ‘art-horror’ (or ‘arthouse horror’)—a type of film that represents a fascinating byproduct of the collision of art and commerce, of genre convention and personal vision.” Bilge Ebiri looks back to Nosferatu (1922) and walks us through a history of this subgenre right on up to the present.
David Cronenberg’s disturbing (and probably NSFW) trailer for his forthcoming novel, Consumed
Never mind Transcendence. David Ehrlich‘s got an alternative for you at the AV Club: “A philosophical treatise masquerading as cybernetic noir, Ghost in the Shell  immediately looks beyond human civilization as we’ve known it, and does so with a confidence that steals the story away from the speculative and locates it firmly in the inevitable.”
Before turning to the news from the Asian film scene, Grady Hendrix focuses his latest “Kaiju Shakedown” column on Dante Lam: “The uncharitable take would be that Lam makes overstuffed melodramas where women are relegated to supporting roles. The more generous take is that Lam makes movies about overly emotional men working out their feelings by shooting things.”
“What is that quality some films have?” asks Noah Buschel at Filmmaker. “Where the movie’s atmosphere is so thick, every scene feels like it’s been shot at the bottom of the ocean. The air carries a concentration. The trees and buildings are as alive as the actors. It’s an invisible butter soup, and just by watching it, we enter into that soup.”
IN OTHER NEWS
“Elia Kazan’s 1988 A Life arguably remains the most raw, soul-searching memoir ever written about a career in show business,” writes Janet Maslin in the NYT. “Now comes a new and essential companion piece in a very different style: correspondence that shows a stiff, ambitious kid’s naïveté mature artfully and manipulatively as Kazan learns the tricks of his chosen profession. The editors of The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan argue that letters are not inhibited by ‘the formalizing needs of a far-ranging chronicle’ the way the memoir was, and that this book is thus more fresh and far-ranging. That’s simply not true: The letters are all over the map, but that doesn’t make them entirely illuminating…. But with A Life providing context, the letters become fascinating.”
The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age is “one of the most important books of the year,” declares Elisabeth Donnelly, introducing her Flavorwire interview with the author, Astra Taylor, whose films include Zizek! and Examined Life.
IN THE WORKS
“Though he’s still mulling what his next directing gig will be, Steven Spielberg has added another project to his development slate: religious drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, written by Lincoln and Munich scribe Tony Kushner.” Variety‘s Justin Kroll reports that Spielberg will produce this DreamWorks and Weinstein Co. co-production and may yet direct it as well. “The script is based on David Kertzer’s nonfiction book about the true-life story of an Italian Jew who became the center of an international controversy in 1858 when he was removed from his parents at the age of 7 by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Catholic. He went on to become a priest in the Augustinian order.”
“Ask a Filmmaker: Mark Cousins“
“Takashi Miike has started shooting Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld,” reports Jean Noh for Screen Daily. It’ll “the yakuza genre with vampire legend… ‘Take a hike, boring Japanese productions! Against everyone’s wishes, I’m going back to my roots on this one, and plan to go on a real rampage with Yakuza Apocalypse. I hope my cast and crew, and even myself make it out alive,’ said the controversial director.”
“Warren Forma, a documentary filmmaker who profiled nearly two dozen artists for a series of television programs called Artists at Work, died on March 26 in Manhattan,” reports Daniel E. Slotnik for the NYT. “He was 90.”