“Nelson Mandela has been a role to be approached reverently, a difficult part and a career hurdle in some ways, like a royal figure in a Shakespearian play, a figure with fewer lines than the younger principals, but with richly poetic speeches—like the exiled Duke Senior in As You Like It.” Peter Bradshaw surveys the attempts in an overview for the Guardian punctuated with clips. “It is perhaps because Mandela himself entered the general conscience as a prisoner: someone who was able to impose his legend on the world in enforced and martyred inactivity. British filmmaker Peter Kosminsky got into hot water a couple of years ago by proposing a film called Young Mandela, when Mandela was a fiery ANC soldier who very much did not believe in non-violence. The film has not yet been made, although Idris Elba’s performance in Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom touches on the subject.”
As for that film—the unwitting subject of a quintessentially Nikki Finke tweet that’s led to a storm of #FinkeObits—Andrew Schenker, writing in Slant, notes that it “covers the range of the man’s life, from his early days as a lawyer in the 1940s to his election as South African president in 1994. But though the film shows him engaging in somewhat less than heroic behavior (committing adultery) and submitting to all too human moments (a tearful visit with his daughter while he’s imprisoned), Idris Elba’s Mandela nonetheless comes across more as superman than man, while the movie perfunctorily ticks off the major events in his life and the life of his country. The most interesting question at the heart of the film is whether or not a politically active individual should deal with the problem of an oppressive regime violently or pacifistically.”
Reviewing J. Michael Lennon’s new biography Norman Mailer: A Double Life and Mind of an Outlaw, a collection of Mailer’s essays, for Bookforum, Christian Lorentzen gives us a fun preview of Matthew Barney’s seven-part film opera River of Fundament: “Here was the appropriately bizarre second coming of Norman Mailer: celebrity laden, anally fixated, overlong (it’s said that the film will be five hours in full when it premieres in February at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), and very expensive (the Detroit performance alone had a budget of $5 million).”
Luis Buñuel mixes up the perfect dry martini
“Cleopatra producer Walter Wanger had surely seen it all,” writes Kim Morgan for the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Having lived and worked through the silents, the talkies, and Todd-AO, the movie veteran understood the art and commerce of Hollywood, the deals and decadence. The eminently erudite and sophisticated producer also understood the infidelities—the groin-crushing infidelities—and with a cinematic vengeance, he shot a man for it.” So opens her review of My Life with Cleopatra: The Making of a Hollywood Classic.
How does James Billington, the 13th Librarian of the United States Congress, decide which 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films” are entered into the National Film Registry each year? There’s a board of advisors, of course, the National Film Preservation Board, who, thanks to the government shutdown, met via email this year. For the Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Ford looks into the process—and the politics.
The Playlist‘s selected its “15 Best Film Scores.”
Ten films have been shortlisted for this year’s Visual Effects Oscar, and Amid Amidi‘s got the list at Cartoon Brew.
David Poland’s November interview with Justin Chadwick,
director of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
David Lynch “is presenting two decades of photographs of factories in decay,” reports Allison Meier for Hyperallergic. “In January, The Factory Photographs will open in an exhibition at Photographers’ Gallery in London and will be published in a book by the same name from Prestel. Unlike Lynch’s paintings, with their intriguingly messy surrealism, his photographs have a starker, more dream-like atmosphere, similar to his films.”
IN THE WORKS
“Dustin Hoffman has joined the cast of Stephen Frears’ untitled Lance Armstrong film, which is moving from Europe to the US for its final stages of shoot,” reports Screen‘s Andreas Wiseman.