Daily | Poitras, Kurosawa, Adorno

Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras, photographed at work in Berlin by Olaf Blecker

I want to start another overdue roundup of news and views by pointing to a few interviews and profiles. First, via Movie City News, I’ve only now caught up with Lauren Cornell‘s interview with Laura Poitras in the current issue of Mousse. It’s a  transcript’s been put together from a phone call and a few email exchanges that took place this summer as Poitras and Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Edward Snowden was pretty much the top story around the world. Poitras, still at work on the third film in her post-9/11 trilogy, this one focusing on surveillance, tells Cornell that she’s turned down several other requests for interviews: “Speaking to you and Mousse gives me a chance to talk about my work from an art making perspective. This is obviously a huge news story that I’m reporting on, but in addition I’m also doing it in the context of making films, or cinema, and I’m interested in talking about how those things intersect.”

“Tom Allen was one of the first New York critics to give serious consideration to the work of John Waters, George A. Romero, Clint Eastwood, and John Carpenter.” So begins a magnificent tribute from Nick Pinkerton for Moving Image Source. Allen was a Jesuit monk and “a self-styled connoisseur of movies orphaned by the critical establishment… Lest I paint a picture of a mad monk roaming between fleapit theaters on the Deuce with a beatific grin and a stained habit, it should be noted that Allen was equally adept in elucidating the merits and demerits of official film artists, though he treated them with no categorical difference. Allen did some of his strongest work on known quantities like Ichikawa, Ettore Scola, Elio Petri, Mizoguchi, and Roberto Rossellini.”

Film Archives UK has a new site; via Luke McKernan.

Then there’s Maureen Orth‘s extensive story on Mia Farrow and her sprawling family for Vanity Fair. The first paragraph alone, a bullet-point overview of an eventful life, is dizzying; the pages chronicling the scandal that ended Farrow’s relationship with Woody Allen are deeply disturbing: “The general public today has no memory of how complex, intense, and ugly this battle became.”

On a much lighter note, Noah Charney talks with Bill Murray for Esquire about Slovenia, vodka, baseball, and you know, whatever.

Criticwire‘s Sam Adams asks Dave Kehr taking on the position of Adjunct Curator at MoMA’s film department. Kehr, in the meantime, has announced that he’ll be closing down his landmark blog. His latest home video column for the New York Times, by the way, is all about Orson Welles, the PBS documentary American Experience: War of the Worlds and Kino Lorber‘s release of The Stranger, “a 1946 production that remains Welles’s most seriously underestimated work.”

Moira Finnie saw the US premiere of Welles’s newly rediscovered and restored Too Much Johnson (1938), files a full report at Movie Morlocks, and notes that the film will see its NYC premiere on November 25.

For Sight & Sound, Nick Wrigley has updated his enormous collection of stories about and notes on Stanley Kubrick‘s favorite films and viewing habits.

From the Festival International du Film Indépendant de Bordeaux

Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López introduce a new series at Transit: “To make a move: it means (in cinema as in life) to scramble the bases, rearrange the given elements of a scene or situation. For a film, it especially means imaginatively exploiting, from moment to moment, all the resources of surprise—from sly wit to outright shock—on all available levels of cinematic form and content.”

Albert Serra is the first truly religious filmmaker since Dreyer and Bresson,” argues Vladimir Lukin in the Notebook.

“Though not as well known as low-budget contemporaries like Edgar G. Ulmer or Joseph H. Lewis, director John Brahm cultivated a macabre noir style that’s ripe for rediscovery,” argues Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club.

“Kurosawa is part of a contentious tradition now with Bergman and early Fellini in cinephilia for not making ‘open’ movies,” writes Peter Labuza. “The main claim would be that their perfectly executed, pictorial frames do not allow for interpretation beyond what they present…. Kurosawa’s images tell you how to read them. He explains emotions, power relations, and other abstract elements made literal by the camera placement. The mistake, it seems, to describe ‘straight forwardness’ as a lack of complexity in the filmmaking.”

“Years ago, New York City had many stores that catered to avid collectors of movie memorabilia,” writes Jeremiah Moss for the New Yorker. “Today, there’s only one store left in the city that specializes in movie photos, and it’s not going to be here much longer.” Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store will close up shop and sell online only in just a couple of months. “This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s.”

NYFF51 from The Mutiny Company.

Some time back, David Cairns had a hard time warming up to Alain Resnais’s Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968), but now, his admiration for “one of the most original science fiction movies of the 60s” is “practically boundless.”

Sean Gilman on Green Snake (1993): “Tsui Hark merges the punk outrage of his early films with the lavish, effects-driven wuxia of his later, much more financially successful works in this pointed denunciation of the hypocrisies both sexual and racial of China’s religious traditions, the backward superstitional blindness of Taoism and the calcification of Buddhism into a rules-based organizational structure that has forgotten the most basic rule of all major religions and moral philosophies: ‘Be excellent to each other.'”


Brandon Konecny for Film International: “In what is, to my knowledge, the first full account of Adorno’s significance for the analysis of film, [Brian] Wall’s Theodor Adorno and Film Theory: The Fingerprint of Spirit moves beyond the caricature of the German thinker as a curmudgeonly aesthete and explores his sociology, aesthetics, and philosophy in relation to cinema, providing us with a new way to view the filmic object as art.”

For the New York Times, Logan Hill talks with J.J. Abrams about S., the novel he’s conceived that’s been actually written by Doug Dorst. Hill: “Inside a black slipcover stamped with the title, there’s an old library edition of a novel titled Ship of Theseus, published in 1949 by a certain V. M. Straka. The author and novel are the fictional creations of Mr. Abrams and Mr. Dorst, but the book’s edge-worn spine, labeled with a faded Dewey decimal sticker, is scuffed, and its corners dented…. Tucked among the pages, readers will find handwritten letters and notes, a college newspaper clipping, a purple mimeographed telegram, photocopied book pages, postcards, an old photograph, a map scrawled on a coffee shop napkin, and even a throwback decoder ring.” More from Stuart Kelly in the Guardian.

First trailer for James Gray’s The Immigrant

In the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Cheryl Eddy talks with Greg Merritt about Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal that Changed Hollywood, a “page-turner that explores not just the trial, but the often-misunderstood lives of both Arbuckle and Rappe.”


An early round of six European Film Award winners has been announced. The Prix Carlo di Palma for cinematography goes to Asaf Sudry for his work on Rama Burshtein’s Fill the Void; Cristiano Travaglioli wins for editing Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty; production design: Sarah Greenwood for Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina; costume design: Paco Delgado for Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves; sound design: Matz Müller and Erik Mischijew for Ulrich Seidl‘s Paradise: Faith; and the European Composer 2013 is Ennio Morricone, selected for his work on Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer.

The nominations for the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards are out. 12 Years a Slave received three on Thursday, while Blue Caprice, Concussion, Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Upstream Color each scored two. The winners’ll be announced on December 2.

Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best! has won the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix at the 26th Tokyo International Film Festival. Mark Schilling reports for Variety.

Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox has won the top award at the Zagreb Film Festival, reports Vladan Petkovic at Cineuropa.

David Poland talks with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy about Before Midnight

Indiewire‘s Steve Greene and Eric Kohn have sorted through the grades over 500 critics have given films released in 2013 so far and drawn up a list. Topping it right now is Richard Linkater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke’s Before Midnight.

Selected articles from the new Fall 2013 issue of Filmmaker are now online.


Roman Polanski has confirmed that he is to direct a new film version of the Dreyfus affair, the political scandal that divided France at the turn of the 20th century.” Matt Lewis has more in the Telegraph.

“The Wachowski siblings say they’re hoping to again surprise audiences with the science-fiction movie Jupiter Ascending, starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis,” reports Ryan Pearson for the AP. “‘It’s a science fiction space opera,’ Lana Wachowski said outside an Australians in Film awards dinner. ‘It has a lot of things from a lot of genres that we love. It’s got a lot of original action, it’s got a lot of romance.'”

Ben Affleck plans to direct and star in an as-yet-untitled feature “set in Africa, where a bunch of mercenaries are hired to kill a warlord who has been victimizing his own people,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. Affleck’s also featured “with Rosamund Pike in the David Fincher-directed Gone Girl, and he’s directing and starring in Live by Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. Affleck is also going to star with Henry Cavill in the Zack Snyder-directed Batman vs. Superman for the studio.”

‘Breakfast With Curtis’ Trailer from The Playlist.

Robert Zemeckis is set to direct a feature based on Jeff Malmberg‘s 2010 documentary Marwencol. Matt Singer has details at the Dissolve.

“Ken Loach is making his final feature film,” reports the Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver, and he’s “put out an appeal for fast-vanishing stocks of old-style analogue editing tape as he works on postproduction for Jimmy’s Hall.”

Tom Hardy has signed on to play Elton John in Rocketman, reports EW‘s Samantha Highfill.

“The upcoming TV adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s very enjoyable (if possibly unfilmable) novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which has been described as a combination of Jane Austen and Harry Potter, has found its stars,” reports Alison Willmore at Indiewire. And they are Bertie Carvel (Strange) and Eddie Marsan (Norell).


It doesn’t stop with Lou Reed, Antonia Bird, and Hal Needham.

Philip Hobel was also a producer whose credits included Tender Mercies (1983).

“Marcia Wallace, who starred as receptionist Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show and voiced teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, died Friday,” reports Pat Saperstein for Variety. “She would have turned 71 on Nov. 1.”

“Arthur C. Danto, a philosopher who became one of the most widely read art critics of the Postmodern era, championing avant-garde artists like Andy Warhol and proclaiming the end of art history, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan,” reports Ken Johnson for the New York Times. He was 89. The Art Newspaper has posted a 2002 essay on the end of art; in August, Joseph Tanke reviewed Danto’s last book, What Art Is, for Art in America; and you can browse through an archive of reviews Danto wrote for the Nation.


Gizmodo takes us on a photographic tour of Russia’s disappearing Soviet-era cinemas.

Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant has opened in the UK, so that entry’s been updated. So, too, have the entries on Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave; Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor; Abdellatif Kechiche, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Léa Seydoux’s Blue Is the Warmest Color; and Jehane Noujaim’s The Square.

More browsing? John Wyver‘s posted a fresh round of links.

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