We open today’s round with a Nick Pinkerton double. First up, he closes out the Reverse Shot in Space symposium with an essay on Luc Moullet’s Une Aventure de Billy le Kid (A Girl Is a Gun) (1971), “a mad movie, so nothing unlikely that I hear about it surprises me.” Moullet “sold his third feature to foreign markets under the pretext that it was a proper Euro Western. What he was delivering, however, would almost certainly be inscrutable to anyone who walked into it expecting something from the kill-’em-all Franco Nero school…. The film is a comedy of camera mismanagement in which every 1.85:1 aspect ratio framing is ever so precisely wrong—or fails, rather, to be in the ‘right’ place…. Only with closer scrutiny does it become apparent that Moullet’s seemingly slapdash approach conceals a sort of precision—as Pauline Kael perspicaciously wrote of The Mother and the Whore, by Jean Eustache, who cut Moullet’s film: ‘It took three months of editing to make this seem unedited.'”
The second piece is a follow-up to his Film Comment column in early December, an appreciation of George Armitage, who’s “directed a few of the finest American genre movies of the last 40-odd years.” Armitage responded, and so now we have an interview.
“At 92 years old, [Jonas] Mekas maintains a mischievous twinkle in his eyes that sharpens into a laser beam as he makes a joke or declares his position—a pointed reminder that you are speaking to one of the giants of 20th century art.” Dylan Kerr interviews him for Artspace; and in the second part of their conversation, they discuss “the ‘invisible technology’ of digital videos, his plans for the Anthology Film Archives, and why he’s ready for people to stop calling his films ‘experimental.'”
Ousmane Sembène was, of course, “one of the most important film directors to come out of the African continent,” and for BOMB, Pamela Cohn interviews Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo, who “have spent the last seven years ensconced in a very delicate, and ultimately, finely balanced co-directing partnership to make the documentary film, SEMBÈNE!“
Benedict Morrison for the Oxonian Review:
Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” was first published in Screen in 1975. It was not written by Laura Mulvey the distinguished professor of film and media studies, because such a Laura Mulvey did not yet exist. It was, rather, written by Laura Mulvey the political activist, the holder of a third from Oxford in History and no postgraduate degree. The dynamic political investment of its writer may go some way to explaining the passion and urgency of the text, while her non-academic status perhaps hints at how the essay is able to escape the sometimes stultifying timidity of scholarly writing. Instead, the essay tackles its subject—the representation of the body, particularly the female body, in popular cinema from Hollywood’s “Golden Age”—with the insights of political theory and the thrilling verve of a manifesto. And it is as a manifesto for a series of essential changes to gendered screen representations that the essay still resonates; the Hollywood conventions so wittily and so unsentimentally scrutinised by Mulvey remain in place in so much of the highly conservative output of Anglo-American film.
Here’s a tumblr that’ll get your blood boiling. Via Aisha Harris at Slate, Shit People Say To Women Directors (& Other Women In Film).
Alfred Hitchcock died 35 years ago today, occasioning Tim Robey‘s ranked and annotated list of Hitch’s top 52 films. Also in the Telegraph, Martin Chilton looks back on the filmmaker’s many pranks, which “varied from ostensively harmless japes, through mind games, and on to sadistic humiliation.” And for Time, Eliza Berman notes that, of all his films, Shadow of a Doubt (1943) was “one of Hitchcock’s most frugally made.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The 50th anniversary edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, running from July 3 through 11, “will include a retrospective of Lebanese films from the last 25 years, and tributes to late Soviet-Ukrainian auteur Larisa Shepitko and American actors John Cazale and Chris Penn.” Ryan Lattanzio has details at Thompson on Hollywood.
“The startling 1929 surrealist silent film Un Chien Andalou made by Luis Buñuel in collaboration with Salvador Dalí is now a deeply unsettling video game,” reports Allison Meier for Hyperallergic. “If the infamous eye slicing scene makes you recoil at its memory, wait until a digital moon soundtracked by hideous stretching noises morphs into a gaping oculus, and your only release from its revolting gaze is to slash it down the pupil. The Tender Cut by No, Thanks Games was released for free this month for Mac and Windows.”
Andy Warhol‘s Screen Tests, featuring Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Harry Smith, Edie Sedgwick and many other 60s icons, will be beaming from Times Square’s electronic billboards from 11:57 pm to midnight each night in May.
New York. From Melissa Anderson, writing for Artforum: “The central figure in the mesmerizing films of Bertrand Bonello is the voluptuary, who may be a seeker or supplier (whether professional or otherwise) of pleasure, and whose respective quest or obligation to satisfy sensual appetites can lead to enlightenment, madness, brutality, decline, or even death. Of the sybarites who have populated the writer-director-composer’s seven feature-length works to date, perhaps none is as towering as the title character in Saint Laurent, a thrilling biopic on the legendary couturier whose release on May 8 occasions the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s welcome Bonello retrospective.” I Put a Spell on You: The Films of Bertrand Bonello opens today and runs through Monday.
Mike Hale in the New York Times: “This weekend the Columbia University Film Festival will mark the 100th anniversary of what appears to have been the first academic film-studies class—a Columbia adult-extension course called Photoplay Composition, offered beginning in 1915 in East Hall (now Maison Française), and including classroom study of dramatic structure and visits to local motion picture companies.” The panel One Hundred Years: Film Studies in Past, Present and Future features Peter Biskind, Molly Haskell, Richard Peña and Paul Schrader. Saturday afternoon at 3 at the Walter Reade.
“What transpires in the first five minutes of René Clément’s Forbidden Games is probably the most depressing thing to ever happen in a movie—even a French one.” Time Out‘s David Ehrlich notes that this is a film which “regards the black cloud of death with the ordinariness of all weather.” The new restoration screens at Film Forum through May 7. More from Alan Scherstuhl in the Voice.
Rochester, New York. William A. Wellman‘s A Star Is Born (1937) screens tomorrow at the George Eastman House. In the Notebook, Gina Telaroli, who’ll be conducting a post-screening Q&A with William Wellman Jr. “about the film, his father, and his new comprehensive biography of his father, Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel,” writes: “Wellman’s 1936 take on Hollywood and one woman’s rise alongside one man’s fall isn’t as glamorous as its 1954 successor, instead finding its footing amidst the humble beginnings of its protagonist—a ground that it stands for the full length of the picture, despite rapidly changing sets and social classes.”
London. Magic Mirror: Exhibition of works by Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill is on view at Nunnery Gallery through June 14. Frances Morgan for the BFI: “Despite the many dialogues that could be prompted by Cahun’s work – about the intersection of religious, ethnic and gender identities, about her influence on performance art and queer cinema, about the sexual politics of surrealism, about her prolific writings (few of which are available in English)—the one that emerges most strongly here is that between the two halves of a couple who come, over time, to be one another’s reflections.”
Düsseldorf. On view at the Museum Kunstpalast through August 16: Wenders. Landscapes. Photographs.
IN THE WORKS
Xavier Dolan is setting aside his first English-language feature, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan with Jessica Chastain, to direct Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye and Gaspard Ulliel in It’s Only the End of the World. In the Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing notes that this one’s “based on a stage play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce and portrays a writer returning to his hometown after a long absence to announce his upcoming death to his family.”
Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick will likely join Zac Efron and Adam Devine in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, reports Variety‘s Justin Kroll. As you might suspect, this is indeed “the story of two hard-partying and immature brothers who place an ad online to find dates for a wedding and find a pair of women who can out-party them.” Jake Szymanski will direct.
Via Movie City News, word comes from uniFrance that René Féret passed away late last month at the age of 65. “A discreet and autonomous filmmaker (he produced all his films), for a long time René Féret developed his filmography around the Gravet clan, an imaginary family from northern France, inspired by his own family history, whose adventures and stories would evolve from film to film, set against the backdrop of French history: La Communion solennelle (the film which brought him to the public’s attention in 1977), Baptism (1988), and Les Frères Gravet (1995). He regularly cast members of his own family, as though wishing to extend the exploration of the subject.”
“Suzanne Crough Condray, who played the youngest daughter on 1970s series The Partridge Family, has died,” reports Seth Kelly for Variety. “She was 52.”