Daily | Marker, Lynch, Powell

1957 photo by Chris Marker

1957 photo by Chris Marker

Chris Marker: Koreans, an exhibition of photographs at Peter Blum in New York, is on view through October 18 and, writing for Chris Marker: Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory, John Fitzgerald‘s come away with more than a few questions: “Between the photographs being set apart from the original text that accompanied them, the digital alteration of the original images, and even the added confusion about what language the text had originally appeared in, the various levels of removal was reminiscent of the first time that I had been introduced to Marker’s work at a screening of Sans Soleil: a French film, dubbed in English, and largely about the Japanese, in which an unnamed woman seems to read letters she has received from an unnamed man across great gaps of distance and time. In everything that Marker touches, there are layers.”

“Not that it should surprise anyone who’s seen how Lynch depicts ostensibly idyllic small-town America, but the director’s avowed love for his adoptive hometown is hardly reflected in his work.” In “Muted Golden Sunshine: David Lynch’s Los Angeles,” a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Michael Nordine considers Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001) and Inland Empire (2006).

Part 3 of Darren Hughes and Michael Leary‘s discussion of the work of Claire Denis is happening at To Be (Cont’d).

“There’s a cut late in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ that does more than connect, surprise, or demonstrate: it quakes and shifts the ground below.” Eric Hynes: “The entire film anticipates this cut, as do we, because of our expectations of the climax to the greatest—or, at least, most repeated—story ever told, but still there’s no preparing for it. Image yields to image, and the very concept of Christ—son of God, son of man—achieves an articulation more potent than in two thousand years of adamant theology.”

As Reverse Shot‘s Scorsese symposium heads into the late 80s, Michael Koresky revisits Life Lessons, “the first of a trio of shorts that makes up the 1989 omnibus feature New York Stories, a project that first came to Scorsese via Woody Allen…. It gave Scorsese a chance to make a film inspired by a favorite story, Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler.”

“For director Michael Powell, The Red Shoes was ‘mostly a sketch for The Tales of Hoffmann,'” notes R. Emmet Sweeney at Movie Morlocks. “So far the sketch has eclipsed the full painting,” but now that a new restoration is making the rounds—it screened at the New York Film Festival last week, its “relative obscurity should begin to lift…. The Tales of Hoffmann is a deliriously beautiful film about male fantasies of female perfection.”

Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 2005 review of Jean-Luc Godard‘s Notre musique (2004).

“Poor Fail-Safe,” sighs Ari N. Schulman at Slate. “Released 50 years ago this week, it remains the redheaded stepchild, destined forever to be known as that movie that’s just like Dr. Strangelove, only not funny and nobody’s seen it…. This is too bad, because as brilliant and grotesquely funny as Dr. Strangelove is, the neglected Fail-Safe is the more mature and damning take on the nuclear enterprise. It feels like it could have really happened, and it’s terrifying as a result.”


“It’s anyone’s guess how many films and videos George Kuchar made before his death in 2011 (Portland’s Yale Union is valiantly attempting a comprehensive retrospective, which they estimate will take seven years), but there’s material for at least a hundred more in The George Kuchar Reader,” writes Max Goldberg in the San Francisco Guardian. “Tracing a singular life in movies from the Bronx-bound 8mm melodramas Kuchar made with his twin brother, Mike, on through the boundlessly nutty video conflagrations emerging out of his classroom at the San Francisco Art Institute, the book collects handwritten screenplays, letters, underground comics, meteorological observations, and UFO diaries.”

“Born in Salé, Abdellah Taïa was the first Moroccan author to come out as homosexual.” Taïa directed an adaptation of his autobiographical novel Salvation Army, and Rebecka Bülow talks with him for the Believer.

Megan Abbott at Vulture: “As someone who recently published a novel about a small town, a stricken girl, and secrets, I’m strikingly aware how much Twin Peaks has influenced my writing—has, in some ways, written itself on my writing.”

The TLS has posted Christopher Hitchens‘s 1997 review of Garry Wills’s book, John Wayne’s America: The Politics of Celebrity.

At Vulture, Bilge Ebiri asks David Cronenberg whether he’d consider adapting his first novel, Consumed: “At first I thought, of course I’m going to want to make a movie of my own novel, because how many directors get a chance to do that, or how many novelists get a chance to do that? And I have like five producers who I’ve worked with before who all tell me, ‘We’d like to make a movie of this with you.’ But then I realized it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, actually, because it feels complete. I feel like I’ve done it [already], and I think it would be actually kind of boring for me to do it again. And that surprised me.”

At Slate, Karina Longworth finds that Consumed “at first seems to delight in the cool, futurist potential of the present, and then slowly reveals itself to be a cautionary tale.”

It’s Joe Sarno Day at DC’s.


For the New York Times blog Sinosphere, Shelly Kraicer has put together an annotated list “of Hong Kong films that he says provide context for the Umbrella Revolution (or Occupy Central, as it is sometimes called), its goals of political and social change and its demand that Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing allow Hong Kong to hold fully democratic elections.”

Melinda Welsh goes long in the Bay Guardian on Kill the Messenger, “the true story of Sacramento-based investigative reporter Gary Webb, who earned both acclaim and notoriety for his 1996 San Jose Mercury News series that revealed the CIA had turned a blind eye to the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras trafficking crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere in urban America in the 1980s.”


New York. Recommendations from the L: Henry Stewart on Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Julius Caesar (1953; tonight, NYFF), Ashley Clark on Michael Roemer’s The Plot Against Harry (1969; tomorrow, Film Forum), Zach Clark on Jack Hill’s Spider Baby (1968; Saturday, Nitehawk), Aaron Cutler on Tengiz Abuladze’s Repentance (1984; Saturday and Tuesday, MoMA), Jake Cole on Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness (1989; Sunday, MoMI) and Justin Stewart on Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941; Monday, Film Forum).

Minneapolis. Commemorating Derek Jarman opens today at the Walker Art Center and runs through October 29. Franny Alfano looks back on Jarman‘s visits to the Center and Isla Leaver-Yap takes a close look at Vivienne Westwood’s Open T-Shirt to Derek Jarman… (1978), a response to Jubilee (1977).

Brussels. The experimental film festival L’Âge d’or opens today and runs through Tuesday.


On the day that the Berlinale‘s announced that the European Film Market will be opening up to creators and producers of television series, Elsa Keslassy reports in Variety that Tom Tykwer’s becoming a showrunner. Babylon Berlin, based on Volker Kutscher’s bestselling crime series, is set in the 1920s and “centers on the investigations of a police inspector Gereon Rath. The show delivers an ‘atmospheric portrayal of the most exciting city in the world, a hotbed of drugs and politics, murder and art, emancipation and extremism,’ according to Beta Film,” which is teaming up with X-Filme, ARD and Sky Germany.

Talking with Mia Hansen-Løve for the Film Stage, Nick Newman asked about her next project. The focus will be on her mother, “a philosophy professor. This ‘portrait,’ scripted last year, is said to have grown during the wait for Eden‘s financing…. Better yet that it may not be a great deal of time away: while no financiers were mentioned, she hopes to begin production next summer.”

“Alexander Sokurov hopes to premiere his latest feature project Francofonia, Louvre Under German Occupation at Cannes next May,” reports Martin Blaney for Screen.

“Gore Verbinski will direct a paranoid thriller starring Steve Carell with shooting starting in March,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary.

Antoine Fuqua will direct a film based on Jeff Hobbs’s true story of a friend of his, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. Rebecca Ford has details in the Hollywood Reporter.

Also in THR, Ariston Anderson reports on Ombra Amore. Joe Dante “has chosen underground Rome as the setting for the vampire-werewolf love story that puts a classical Romeo and Juliet tale into today’s financial-crisis-ridden Italy.”


“It was only when she reached her sixties that Marian Seldes finally started to become appreciated for what she was: a rare and sensitive actress who was a beacon and example for everyone who worked in the theater.” Dan Callahan at “She approached the theater like a nun approaches Christ, with reverence, awe, wonder. ‘The theater is my utopia,’ she once told me…. She was the daughter of Gilbert Seldes, a major cultural critic whose book The Seven Lively Arts is still a staple of film studies…. In Nicholas Ray’s The True Story of Jesse James (1957), [Marian] Seldes is there and acting away but wooden pretty boys Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter clasp their hands so that her face is obscured for quite some time in one scene, and this was symbolic of the way she was often treated in film and in the theater. She told me that Frank Borzage, that great director of romance, gave her no direction in The Big Fishermen (1959) but simply grabbed her behind and pushed her into her scene…. And then, finally, as she came up on sixty, Seldes started to get parts on stage that were worthy of her talent.”


Listening (35’57”). From Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This #17: Theda Bara, Hollywood’s First Sex Symbol.

More listening (200’46”). The Projection Booth #186: Grace Smith talks with Lizzie Borden and Amanda Goodwin, the director and star of Working Girls (1986).

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