The top item of the past two days would have to be the latest video essay Kevin B. Lee has added to his outstanding series at Press Play in which critics discuss their personal choices for the greatest films of all time. The impetus for the series is, of course, the upcoming Sight & Sound poll of critics and directors conducted just once every ten years, with results of the next one due to appear in August.
Kevin: “What distinguishes [Adrian] Martin‘s scholarship for me is his passion for all that is improbable or even impossible about the cinema; how cinema breathes life into things that can’t exist or last in reality. This spirit of vital, celebratory defiance in cinema came through in his presentation on dance in film that I attended: instead of doting on the familiar instances of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, he showed breathtaking clips from Leos Carax’s Mauvais sang, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and John Waters’s A Dirty Shame that reconceive the meaning of cinematic dance as a gesture that somewhat defies meaning. That spirit of dancing at the fringe of our understanding can also be sensed in Martin’s love of Philippe Garrel and especially L’Enfant Secret, a chronicle of a tortured, fragile existence that embodies those qualities in its material properties: a film that at times ‘threatens to disintegrate.'”
Catherine Grant alerts us to the publication of the second volume of Cine-Files, the bi-annual online journal produced by the graduate students of the Cinema Studies master’s program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The theme this time around is the French New Wave, and Catherine “particularly liked the really interesting take on this well-worn topic—the interviews with luminaries (including Dudley Andrew, Richard Neupert, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Sylvie Blum-Reid and Timothy Corrigan) were an especially nice touch.”
“For some reason we seem particularly fascinated with the dread possibility of a massive asteroid striking the Earth.” Jim Knipfel on George Pal’s When Worlds Collide (1951) and Paolo Heusch’s The Day the Sky Exploded (1958), two films that “set out the rules that would govern all subsequent asteroid pictures, with only a few minor variations.” Also at the Chiseler: William Charles Morrow on Alfred E. Green’s The King’s Vacation (1933) and Imogen Smith on the films Joseph Cornell.
In the works. Mark and Jay Duplass may write and direct a remake of Robert Mulligan’s Same Time, Next Year (1978) in which Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn played an accountant and housewife whose annual one night stand grows more intimate over the years. Deadline‘s Mike Fleming has more.
Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas will be making cameos together in Pedro Almodóvar’s Standby Lovers, reports the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth.
Debbie Reynolds will play Liberace’s “imposing but frail mother” in Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, reports Alison Willmore for indieWIRE. She “joins Michael Douglas as the flamboyant performer, Matt Damon as his live-in lover Scott Thorson and Dan Aykroyd as his manager Seymour Heller.” And the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth reports that Rob Lowe, Cheyenne Jackson, and Boyd Holbrook have joined the cast of the HBO project as well.
DVD/Blu-ray. For Sight & Sound, James Bell reviews the Masters of Cinema releases of Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and The Lost Weekend (1945). And Criterion gives us Philip Kemp‘s essay on Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave (1994).
San Francisco. Frako Loden at the Evening Class: “My first-ever peek into the National Historic Landmark Old Mint Building at Fifth and Mission Streets was to preview a new exhibit there running only for nine days: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: San Francisco and the Movies. From June 16 to 24, the ground-floor rooms of this institution will display posters, photographs and artifacts of the love affair between cinema and one of its most photogenic cities, hosted by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society (SFMHS).”
In other news. The International Film Festival Rotterdam has announced the Hugo Bals Fund Spring 2012 selections.
Obits. “If Henry Hill,” writes Glenn Kenny, “who died Tuesday at the age of 69, had himself been able to summon the ability to be nothing but himself and harnessed that ability into performance as himself, and then took the role of himself in GoodFellas—I know I’m dealing in a lot of rank implausibilities here, but bear with me, and also that’s the whole point—the movie would have been a stone drag to sit through. Because, from all available appearance, Henry Hill really was a schnook, albeit one who hit and shot people a fair amount more than schnooks such as you and I.”
“Ann Rutherford, an actress whose small role as Scarlett’s younger sister Carreen in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind was her most enduring, has died,” reports Valerie J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times. She was 94 and, in the Guardian, Ronald Bergan adds that she “was adept at portraying pluck and persistence. As Polly Benedict, Andy Hardy’s ever-faithful girlfriend, in 13 of the 15 Hardy family film series made between 1937 and 1946, she had to wait around for Mickey Rooney’s accident-prone adolescent to return to her after some dalliance with another girl. Andy would seek advice on romance from his stern but wise and fair father, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone). ‘Dad, can I talk to you man to man? Can a guy be in love with two girls at once?’ Inevitably, Andy would realise, with hints from his dad, that Polly was his own true love.”