DAILY | Rome and Bertolucci, News and Reviews

La commare secca

The Rome Film Festival has unveiled the bulk of its lineup today. “Headed for the first time by former Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller, the programming is certainly more high profile than any of the festival’s previous editions,” notes Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt. Among the films he mentions are Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Larry Clark’s Marfa Girl, Takashi Miike’s Lesson of Evil, and Marjane Satrapi‘s The Gang of the Jotas. Let’s also note that Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Celestial Wives of Meadow Mari, Kira Muratova’s Eternal Homecoming, and Valerie Donzelli’s Hand in Hand are in there, too. Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov’s Waiting for the Sea, an epic six years in the making, will open the festival on November 9 (and it runs through November 17). The press kit‘s got all the titles and jury members announced so far. The International Jury, by the way, will be headed up by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud).

In other news. Bernardo Bertolucci’s having a moment. Yesterday, the European Film Academy announced that it’d be presenting him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and today, the AFI Fest‘s named him Guest Artistic Director for this year’s edition. Bertolucci’s programmed four films for his sidebar, Lloyd Bacon’s 42nd Street (1933), Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939), F.W. Murnau‘s Sunrise (1927), and Jean-Luc Godard‘s Vivre sa vie (1962). The festival runs from November 1 through 8.

Music Box Films will release Mark Cousins‘s epic 15 hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey on VOD, Digital Download and in a 5-disc deluxe DVD release, all beginning November 20th,” reports Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt.

“The deal for Variety is done.” Alexander Abad-Santos at the Atlantic Wire: “The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Penske Media, which bought from Nikki Finke, has acquired the 107-year-old showbiz news source and trade publication for a cool $25 million.” Comments Indiewire‘s Dana Harris: “We all know that Nikki got Variety. And here comes the heresy: Variety is lucky for it.” Claude Brodesser-Akner for Vulture: “As a former Variety reporter for eight years, I still root for the institution. However, at this point, after seeing it rendered nearly obsolete, bragging about my time there to a young blogger is like bragging that I once served on the Pony Express. So I have to wonder: Is trying to save Variety something that’s possible, or should it be sent to the glue factory?”

Pamela Hutchinson is at the 31st Giornate del Cinema Muto, known to many as the Pordenone silent film festival, on through Saturday, and reports in the Guardian on the newly restored Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoé, the 12-and-a-half-minute long film Georges Méliès made in 1903.

Woodstock Film Festival

The Woodstock Film Festival is on from today through Sunday, and, in his overview for the AP, Michael Hill notes that a “restored version of the Beatles’ 1967 made-for-British-TV psychedelic romp Magical Mystery Tour… and a new documentary about how it was made will be among 130 narrative and documentary films.” Allan Kozinn has more on Magical Mystery Tour for the New York Times and, in the Guardian, Anthony Nield considers “the multifaceted and often downright bizarre impact the Beatles have made on the moving image.” With clips.

Reading. Film Quarterly editor Rob White and Mark Sinker debate Chris Marker‘s A Grin Without a Cat (1976) and the role of the critic.

Before posting an avalanche of links, Girish Shambu explains “what disconcerts me” about Rodney Ascher’s Room 237, namely, that when it “represents film analysis in a manner that treats it as little more than a clever puzzle-solving exercise, it gives no hint as to the social value and political/aesthetic worth of this public activity. It never intuits what is truly at stake in the activity of paying close, analytical attention to films.”

It’s John Carpenter Day @ DC’s.

The AV Club‘s just counted down the “50 best films of the ’90s,” while Wildgrounds lists the “Essential Japanese Films of the 1970s.”

For Salon, Scott Timberg talks with David Denby about that book, Do Movies Have a Future?

The Telegraph‘s Tim Robey reviews David Thomson’s The Big Screen: “The argument throughout is one of decline, and Thomson is sad enough about it that even the book’s first half is steeped in foreboding—as if this Golden Age of cinema were already sowing the seeds of its own ruin.”

Foreign Policy‘s asked a round of pundits a single question, “Who Won the Recession?” And Stephen Galloway answers, “These are actually boom times in Hollywood, thanks to the American entertainment industry’s secret new weapon: foreigners.”

Los Angeles. Doug Cummings for the LA Weekly: “On the 50th anniversary of Les Films du Losange, the French indie production company established by the recently deceased—and sorely missed—filmmaker Eric Rohmer and his colleague Barbet Schroeder, LACMA presents two new prints of rare Losange treats.” Both Jacques Rivette‘s Le Pont du Nord (1982) and Rohmer’s 4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (1987) screen tomorrow.

Madonna of the Seven Moons

New York. The series Born in Flames: New Queer Cinema is on at BAMcinématek through Tuesday. “The films of the NQC, bold, incendiary, sexy, and indebted to avant-garde traditions,” writes Melissa Anderson in the Voice, “seem to have been beamed in from another planet—certainly not the one that made a theatrical release of Gayby possible.”

DVD/Blu-ray. “Impudent where other films were cautious, fanciful where others embraced verisimilitude, Gainsborough Pictures’ melodramas of the 1940s were inveterate unspoken-rule breakers,” writes Criterion’s Michael Koresky. “The realism and upstandingness for which British cinema has long been variously championed and criticized are conspicuously absent from these racy costume pictures, which ran roughshod over all questions of propriety.” Eclipse Series 36: Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures features, as Dave Kehr notes at his site, “Leslie Arliss’s The Man in Grey (1943), Arthur Crabtree’s Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and, by common consent the greatest Gainsborough of them all, Arliss’s Wicked Lady, with Margaret Lockwood (best remembered here as the virginal heroine of Hitchcock’s 1938 The Lady Vanishes) as a 17th century adventuress who becomes bored with her aristocratic husband (after having stolen him from her best friend) and takes to the road in male garb as a highwayman. It’s overheated, highly entertaining stuff, with, particularly in the case of Wicked Lady, some catty dialogue that would make Joseph L. Mankiewicz jealous, and a transgressive feminist subject that clearly had great appeal to the unexpectedly independent women of World War II Britain.” And of course, he reviews the package for the New York Times.

In the works. “Alec Baldwin says the documentary he’s making with filmmaker James Toback, Seduced and Abandoned, continues to take shape,” reports Frank DiGiacomo at Movieline. “Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski and Bernardo Bertolucci will comprise the core of the project. ‘They are the pillars of the film,’ said Baldwin, who described Seduced and Abandoned as a ‘meta’ documentary about filmmakers who venture to the carnival-like [Cannes Film Festival] to raise funds for their latest projects.”

Uma Thurman has joined Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, and Christian Slater in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, reports the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth.

Nicolas Winding Refn insists there’ll be no Drive sequel, “But the character of the Driver might return in another film. We’re playing with that idea. We’ll see what happens.” The Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard reports.

Obit. “‘Exotic’ is the epithet most frequently used to describe the series of Technicolored escapist movies produced by Universal Pictures in the 1940s,” writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. “These profitable films, often set in a North African or Arabian desert recreated on the studio backlot, featured the Dominican actor Maria Montez; Sabu, the Indian teenage boy; Jon Hall (son of a Swiss actor and a Tahitian princess); and Turhan Bey, who has died aged 90. Bey was often cast as wily, ‘foreign’ villains, or romantic leads in thrillers and Arabian Nights fantasies, for which he was dubbed by fan magazines ‘the Turkish Delight’.”

Viewing. First up, a grindhouse double, in a way. Two trailers, one for Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, written by Bret Easton Ellis and starring Lindsay Lohan and James Deen, and the other for Tarantino XX, a Blu-ray package of eight films on ten discs.

And then there’s new trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, and Jessica Biel.

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