The past couple of days have seen a flurry of terrific new entries from Film Comment, beginning with Serge Kaganski‘s review of Friponnes de porcelaine, a new edition of short fiction written by Eric Rohmer in the 1940s, when he was still Maurice Schérer:
Neither bad nor brilliant, these little, dialogue-heavy stories were written in a classical, formal, and precise idiom, and they’re compartmentalized and not without a certain coolness. But if you don’t come to them expecting to discover a lost literary classic, they’re nonetheless fascinating insofar as they reveal the genealogy of a large part of Rohmer’s filmography. Here you can find the first drafts of Suzanne’s Career, La Collectionneuse, My Night at Maud’s, Claire’s Knee, and even The Aviator’s Wife. What’s more, Schérer originally titled the volume Contes Moraux. The first phase of Rohmer’s oeuvre, then, was conceived, outlined and set to paper 20 to 30 years before its realization on the screen—a unique case in cinema history.
Grady Hendrix‘s new “Kaiju Shakedown” column is, once again, chock full of Asian cinema news, but it’s mostly an admiring review of Gareth Evans’s The Raid 2: “Most reviewers have focused on the action and they should, because it’s amazing…. Most shots in an action movie show the actors executing two or three movements before cutting to the next shot, but performers in The Raid 2: Berandal exchange an average of four combinations in each shot, sometimes hitting 19 when the combatants are more skilled. Evan’s great innovation in action filmmaking, however, is his mobile camerawork.” That said: “For all the devoted sons, back-stabbing sons, treacherous fathers, incompetent fathers, and dutiful fathers, it’s hard to put your finger on what story this movie is telling, until you realize that it’s not really an action movie at all.”
For more on The Raid 2, see Jesse Cataldo (Slant, 2.5/4), Cheryl Eddy (San Francisco Bay Guardian), Ray Pride (Newcity Film), James Rocchi (Playlist, B+), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out, 4/5) and Adam Woodward (Little White Lies).
Ode to (21st Century) Cinematographers from Erick Lee.
Meantime, Film Comment editor Gavin Smith posts another round of “in the works” updates with the latest news on projects from the Coen brothers, Mia Hansen-Løve, Terry Jones, Philippe Garrel and more.
New York. WSB100: William S. Burroughs on Film, the Anthology Film Archives series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the man’s birth, opens tomorrow and runs through Sunday. It’s part of a grand slate of WSB100 events and, on a related note, James Parker reviews Barry Miles’s “enormous new biography,” Call Me Burroughs, for the Atlantic: “The Burroughs of Miles’s 600-plus pages is both ghastlier and more impressive than previous models, sliding through the world like a cross between Sam Spade and Flat Stanley.”
Blonde Venus: The Films of Dietrich & von Sternberg opens at BAMcinématek on Friday and runs through April 10. “If she was his protégé, his canvas, the focus of his unapologetic objectification,” writes the Voice‘s Stephanie Zacharek, “she was also his muse, and the degree to which she allowed herself to be molded was tied directly to her own ambition and self-confidence. Even when Dietrich was wearing a gown, she always wore the pants.”
Panorama Europe, “a unique showcase of seventeen contemporary European features and a program of short films,” opens on Friday and runs through April 13 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
New trailer for Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida
Chicago. The Silver Screen: Histories and Theories of Color is a conference taking place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on Friday and Saturday.
The San Francisco International Film Festival (April 24 through May 8) has announced its full lineup of 103 features and 65 shorts. The Centerpiece presentation will be Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto and the following awards will be presented:
- The George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award: Disney and Pixar’s John Lasseter.
- The Kanbar Award: Screenwriter Stephen Gaghan.
- The Mel Novikoff Award: Film critic and author David Thomson.
- The Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award: Filmmaker and artist Isaac Julien.
- And as previously announced, Richard Linklater will be receiving the Founder’s Directing Award.
“It’s Crossroads time again—the annual San Francisco Cinematheque festival of experimental, avant-garde, abstract, and otherwise difficult-to-easily-categorize works carefully curated for adventurous, open-minded filmgoers.” The Bay Guardian‘s Cheryl Eddy surveys the program; it’s happening from Thursday through Sunday.
Los Angeles. Robert Altman: A Retrospective opens on Friday at the Billy Wilder Theater and runs through June 29.
DRESS UP: Velvet Goldmine (trailer) from Cinefamily.
Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer sees its U.S. premiere when it opens the Los Angeles Film Festival (June 11 through 19). Oliver Gettell reports for the LAT.
Greg Allen: “I’m really stoked to contribute a top ten list to UbuWeb this month.”
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