Daniel L. Potter posts a text recently discovered and translated by Chris Darke: “In 2001, the French jazz fanzine Le Journal des Allumés du Jazz asked a number of people, including Chris Marker, to respond to the question: ‘Images gravitate around music. Which has marked you the most?’ Unusually, Marker replied.” Marker’s answer does indeed relate to jazz, but also to politics—and a specific moment in history: “I’m willing to wager on all the holy icons that I was the only one to make the connection.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted an essay he wrote for the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2003: “‘Whenever you recount a history,’ I said to Godard in a 1997 interview, ‘there’s an implication that something is over, and it seems to me that one implication of Histoire(s) du Cinéma is that cinema is over.’ ‘The cinema we knew,’ Godard stressed in response. ‘We also say that of painting.’ And the two or three things Godard knew about cinema contained in his monumental video series are predicated on a canon set by himself and his colleagues almost half a century earlier.” And “even as we acknowledge its multifaceted brilliance as a kind of summation of Godard’s critical enterprise, we also have to recognize, in spite of its advanced form and methodology, that it addresses a ‘myth of total cinema’ belonging to a particular past that is no longer our own—or, more precisely, a past that becomes our present and future only if we persist in ignoring all the contradictory and ambiguous evidence we have comprising what cinema is in the 21st century.”
With The Nutty Professor (1963) restored and now out on Blu-ray—see Noel Murray‘s sharp review at the Dissolve—the Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg has a wide-ranging talk—health problems, Oscars, fans, the loss of his son—with Jerry Lewis. “How does he feel about his return to the limelight? ‘It’s annoying the shit out of me!’ he says with a twinkle in his eye.”
For the Quietus, Colm McAuliffe talks with Peter Strickland, who had Broadcast record the soundtrack for Berberian Sound Studio (2012), about some of his favorite albums: “Apart from a couple of totemic choices from the canon of musical influences, Strickland’s thirteen albums range from the odd to the downright outré, with a little bit of high camp thrown in for good measure. More importantly, his recollections are filled with personal insight, factual precision and an unlikely cavalcade of characters, not least Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom reimagined as Hollywood’s Golden Couple, a gay porno with the magnificent working title Gang of Four Skins, and the sounds of Bowie’s Low as if it were recorded in Humberside.”
“Nihilism isn’t a belief but is rather the default process of modernity,” writes Richard Marshall in a piece on Béla Tarr‘s The Turin Horse (2011) for 3:AM. “The bearded man and his woman—maybe daughter—who each day live through a fixed routine as if holding existence in a form of sturdy equilibrium, holding it to a harsh purpose of their own making, find the world of their routines withdrawing daily…. The wind roars out an accumulating perspective of drowning noise—for the circumstances of their life quickly fall into that of a predicament, a plight—and covers the land with mystery which will eventually be nothingness. Something else is happening. It is the incomprehensibility of that ‘else’ that Tarr films.”
The late Aleksei German’s final film, Hard to Be a God, “almost instantly recalls Andrei Rublev (1966), Soy Cuba (1964) and the films of Béla Tarr, but that the body experiences like the sensory avalanche that is Leviathan (2012),” writes Fábio Andrade for Cinética.
Writing for Critics at Large, Kevin Courrier notes that though the “walking dead scene” in Abel Gance‘s anti-war drama J’Accuse (1919) “was not designed to scare viewers, but to wake them from their own complacent slumber, the sequence itself wasn’t without its own particular horror. ‘The conditions in which we filmed were profoundly moving,’ Gance told Kevin Brownlow. ‘These men had come straight from the Front—from Verdun – and they were due back eight days later. They played the dead knowing that in all probability they’d be dead themselves before long. Within a few weeks of their return, eighty percent had been killed.’ … It’s hard to say whether George Romero… ever saw Gance’s J’Accuse, but the film he made in America’s most violent year since the Civil War, certainly demonstrates that he might have.” What follows, of course, is his analysis of Night of the Living Dead (1968).
Clip from Jean Epstein’s La Glace à Trois Faces (1927)
Michael Smith presents “A Silent British Cinema Primer.”
“I do not like the term ‘hybrid’ to describe formally ambitious documentaries and I’m here today to try to kill it,” announces Robert Greene in Sight & Sound.
In his latest “Bombast” column for Film Comment, Nick Pinkerton recalls a recent conversation in which the central question ran along the lines of: “[I]f film criticism can’t do anything to get people out for James Gray, what can it do?” And this leads to thoughts on rapidly shifting means of film distribution and viewing, after which: “No, I’m afraid that I don’t understand the emerging business model. But the good news is—and it is good news—that nobody else does either, and anyone who acts like there’s such a thing as ‘conventional industry wisdom’ right now is most probably a charlatan who is trying to push ahead their own agenda by pretending it’s a foregone conclusion.”
He’s also just written for Artforum on the BAMcinématek series All Hail the King: The Films of King Hu, which is on through June 17 and is not limited to films by King Hu. Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003), for example, screens this coming Saturday. Nick Pinkerton: “If Goodbye, as Tsai has often said, bids farewell to a certain kind of communal cinematic experience, then King Hu’s cinema represents for him the quintessence of what that experience could offer. He’s not alone.”
James Marsh (Man on Wire) at the Talkhouse Film: “A couple of times in any given year, if I am lucky, I get to see a great film—best defined as a film alive with new possibilities for the medium, audacious in its techniques and ideas, and one that is gripping in the moment then expands in your mind for days after you’ve seen it. A great film humbles you to try harder, to do better, absorb its lessons—and almost always you want to see it again, as soon as possible. There is already one new film this year that I have seen twice—Jon Glazer’s Under the Skin and another that I can’t wait to see again: Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida.”
“In his penultimate feature, the 1958 masterpiece A Time to Love and a Time to Die, [Douglas Sirk] confronted Nazism more directly than ever before, creating one of his most psychologically perceptive and profoundly personal works,” writes David Sterritt. Also in Film International, Wheeler Winston Dixon addresses what he considers to be “The Trouble With Hitchcock.”
In something of a reply to Amy Nicholson‘s recent LA Weekly cover story, Tony Ortega argues that Tom Cruise’s long and deep association with Scientology has been far more harmful to his career than that jump on Oprah’s couch.
Indiewire‘s /bent has polled its readers and come up with a list of the “25 Most Important LGBT Films.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The Seattle International Film Festival‘s wrapped and Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood has won the Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress (Patricia Arquette). Here‘s the full list of winners.
IN THE WORKS
Peter Bogdanovich will direct a television miniseries based on Edward Ball’s The Inventor and the Tycoon: The Murderer Eadweard Muybridge, the Entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and the Birth of Moving Pictures. Kevin Jagernauth as details at the Playlist.
“I want to tell the story of the island of Lampedusa and its inhabitants, beyond the tragic arrival of migrants, whose presence will however be felt, like an echo.” That’s Gianfranco Rosi, who won the Golden Lion at Venice last fall for his documentary Sacro GRA. As Camillo de Marco reports at Cineuropa, Rosi will move to Italy’s southernmost island in the fall. “I need to immerse myself in what I want to tell before I start shooting, and only then slowly, slowly find my narrative process. It is a very complex challenge. I hope to be up to the challenge.”