“For a few brief hours after news of Chris Marker’s death on 29 July (his 91st birthday) began filtering around the world, he trended on Twitter second only to the Olympics,” writes Catherine Lupton for Sight & Sound. “It seemed both apt and astonishing that Marker, notoriously so elusive and for many decades one of cinema’s best-kept insider secrets, should have touched the popular heart of this most frivolous and incisive of social-media platforms. For at the core of Marker’s gift as a pioneering multimedia artist, cinematic essayist and relentlessly elegant navigator of the deep structures of memory was his ability to fuse light-hearted enchantment with political acuity, honoring the need for both as indispensable responses to the swift shape-shifting of the modern world.”
The piece introduces appreciations of Marker and his work from nine directors: Thom Andersen, Chris Petit, Jem Cohen, John Gianvito, Patrick Keiller, Sarah Turner, Kodwo Eshun, José Luis Guerín and Agnès Varda. And the occasion, of course, is the exhibition Chris Marker: A Grin Without a Cat, on view at London’s Whitechapel Gallery through June 22. The film series Chris Marker: Memories of a Film Pioneer is on at the Barbican through May 13 and at the Ciné Lumière through June 4.
Mark Kermode has met up with Ken Loach, bringing with him a pile of questions from Observer readers and the likes of Lynne Ramsay, Samantha Morton, Robert Duvall and Nick Broomfield. The first order of business, however, is to dispel rumors that Loach is retiring. True, he won’t likely take on another narrative feature as demanding as Jimmy’s Hall, set to premiere at Cannes, but at 77, he’s still very much in the game.
“I don’t think that Susan Sontag was a great film critic; to hear her tell it, she wasn’t really a critic at all. But it’s still hard to overestimate her importance as an American writer in relation to movies.” Besides that 2005 piece for Synoptique, Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s also posted his 2011 review of A Hen in the Wind (1948), “one of the more neglected films of Yasujiro Ozu.”
Simon Callow, actor and theater director, musician and author of books on Welles and Charles Laughton, is quite impressed with Peter Ackroyd’s Charlie Chaplin. “There have been more analytically incisive books on Chaplin,” writes in the Guardian: “Parker Tyler’s superb Chaplin: Last of the Clowns, for instance—and more comprehensive ones, David Robinson’s monumental biography among them, but Ackroyd’s is the most haunting.”
“Digital amateurism” is fueling “a stratification that mirrors the social and economic inequality undermining our civic life,” argues A.O. Scott. “A concentration of big stars, blockbusters and best sellers—Beyoncé, The Avengers and their ilk—will sit at the top of the ladder. An army of striving self-starters will swarm at the bottom rungs, hoping that their homemade videos go viral, their self-published memoir catches fire or their MFA thesis show catches the eye of a wealthy buyer. The middle ranks—home to modestly selling writers, semi-popular bands, working actors, local museums and orchestras—are being squeezed out of existence.”
Also in the New York Times, a theater review from Rachel Saltz: “How did Hitchcock make cinematic gold out of the demons of his private dreams? David Rudkin’s The Lovesong of Alfred J. Hitchcock pries the lid off Hitchcock’s psyche, the better to peer in and consider the ghosts and ordeals that Mr. Rudkin sees as the fuel of his art.”
Marco Ferreri was born on this day in 1928; he died on May 9, 1997
“Much as I love Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas and Claudia McNeil in Raisin in the Sun,” writes Carrie Rickey, “I would have preferred a mother more like Frances McDormand in Almost Famous or like Marcia Gay Harden in Whip It than the one I had and loved and was more like Debbie Reynolds in Albert Brooks’s Mother. I’ve been reading Richard Corliss’s Mom in the Movies, a sprightly survey of cinemamas, as though it were a catalogue of mail-order moms.” The subtitle is The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate), and Corliss talks about the book on the Leonard Lopate Show.
How ’bout some lists. From Kimberly Lindbergs at Movie Morlocks: “Bad Movie Mothers We Love to Hate.” From Jason Bailey at Flavorwire: “The Best Life Advice From Movie Moms.” And at Indiewire: “10 Films NOT to Watch With Your Mother on Mother’s Day.”
IN THE WORKS
“Friedkin’s explosions are more elaborate, and his ending is more fatalistic than Clouzot’s, but if The Wages of Fear seemed to have something to do with the atomic bomb, Sorcerer is very much a movie about the disaster of its own making,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “Also out later this month from Facets is a DVD of Mr. Friedkin’s first movie, The People vs. Paul Crump, a 1962 documentary about a convicted killer who became a published author and cause célèbre while on death row…. With its mixture of interviews and dramatic re-creations, some staged on actual locations—as well as its open agenda of saving an unjustly condemned man—the movie is a naïve but forceful precursor to Errol Morris’s great documentary noir, The Thin Blue Line.”
Trailer for Cinema Komunisto
The Film Doctor‘s posted another round of links.