Writing for Artforum, Howard Hampton recalls seeing Paul Schrader’s Cat People for the first time in 1982: “Much as I might have wanted to dismiss it as an orgy of hopeless cross-purposes, its discomfiting images, performances, sounds, and even imaginary smells stuck in my head the same way the David Bowie/Giorgio Moroder ‘Theme from Cat People‘—aka ‘Putting’ Out Fire (With Gasoline)’—did. You could make fun of it, disdain it, sneer, giggle, throw the reels under the bus of aesthetic propriety: It knew something the viewer didn’t and yet maddeningly refused to disclose exactly what that knowledge consisted of. You could resist it, but the movie would win out eventually: It possessed the luster of sin, Eros as incurable disease.”
Wheeler Winston Dixon for Film International: “I get stacks of new titles every day from publishers, and it takes a lot for a book to really jump out of the pile and interest me, particularly on a topic that has been researched as thoroughly as the Hollywood Blacklist. But Rebecca Prime’s Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture (2013) is exceptional, and part of an equally exceptional series of books from Rutgers University Press, New Directions in International Studies, ably edited by Patrice Petro.”
“I recently read a terrific film studies book that I could not recommend more highly,” writes Michael Smith: “Shell Shock Cinema by Anton Kaes. Not only is this academic study an impeccably researched work of scholarship, it also offers penetrating and new insights into its subject matter—the massively influential and already much-written about movies of Germany’s Weimar era.”
At Movie Morlocks, David Kalat suggests that “before we wonder why the French love Jerry Lewis, we better first figure out do the French love Jerry Lewis?”
“Kristin Scott Thomas has had enough,” writes Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian. “She has been working flat out for 30 years, and made 65 films… Last September, for the first time in her life, she reached a point where she could no longer go on. ‘I just suddenly thought, I cannot cope with another film,’ she says. ‘I realized I’ve done the things I know how to do so many times in different languages, and I just suddenly thought, I can’t do it any more. I’m bored by it. So I’m stopping.’ Having always been a workaholic, she now likes to think of herself, she jokes, as a ‘recovering actress.'”
IN OTHER NEWS
“I want an environment—like art museums—that when I show up I know I can leave with both a memory and an object that captures, preserves and expands upon my love of cinema.” That’s our new CEO, Ted Hope, responding to a query from Adam W. Kepler, who’s asked, in the New York Times, “what a 21st-century Film Society should look like.” Further: “Are there other ways to think of a digital-era Film Society of Lincoln Center? The Times’s chief film critics, A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis, offer answers.” And Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn takes issue with them.
Harvey Weinstein has “vowed to back away from making ultraviolent movies,” and Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir is taking this change of heart seriously. “[B]efore we get to the mixed feelings, the footnotes and asterisks, and the heavy scrim of doubt, moral posturing and ideological murk that surrounds the relationship between pretend violence and real violence, I want to start by applauding Harvey Weinstein for his courage. (There’s a first time for everything!)… I have no better way to put it than this, speaking as a critic with a high tolerance—maybe even a preference!—for carnage, amorality and unhappy endings: The unprecedented level of graphic violence in contemporary entertainment, however it gets explained or framed or bracketed, does not seem healthy.”
“Whoever is ultimately at fault in the conflict between actor Steven Berkoff and director William Friedkin that led to the postponement of the Geffen Playhouse’s much anticipated production of The Birthday Party,” writes Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times, “there’s no denying that the botched handling of the situation was a loss for the Geffen, the artistic company and Los Angeles theater.”
A lot of them were handed out on Saturday night. Among the winners of the Writers Guild Awards: Spike Jonze for Her (original screenplay), Billy Ray for Captain Phillips (adapted screenplay) and Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell (documentary screenplay).
“Emmanuel Lubezki won top honors from the American Society of Cinematographers for his work on Gravity,” reports Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt. This is “his third win from the group after Children of Men and The Tree of Life, and bodes well for his chances at winning his very first Oscar come March 2nd.”
At the Annie Awards, “Disney’s Frozen won the prize for best animated feature and best directing, as well as three other awards,” notes Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew, where he has the complete list of winners.
The London Film Critics’ Circle has presented its awards and, at In Contention, Guy Lodge finds that “it’s fair to say the wealth was generously spread.” 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture and acting awards for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o. “The British Film of the Year award went to Clio Barnard’s devastating social-realist fable The Selfish Giant, beating the multi-Oscar-nominated Philomena, among others; Barnard’s film also took the Young Actor of the Year award for magnetic 13-year-old novice Conner Chapman.”
New York. Krzysztof Zanussi’s Camouflage (1977) screens on Wednesday and Friday at the Walter Reade as part of Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema.
“Brilliantly staged and flawlessly enacted,” writes Ela Bittencourt at the House Next Door, Camouflage is “first and foremost, a precisely modulated satire whose abrasive edges continually test our discomfort.”
“In an effort to add installation and gallery work to their long tradition of theatrical screenings and performance work, the Filmmakers’ Cooperative will become a gallery for 2 weeks in February 2014 to present a series of lightbox collages and a 2 channel video installation by the artist Mark Street.” Wednesday’s opening features a program of his films, too.
Nancy Buirski’s Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq opens on Wednesday at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center and, writing for Artforum, Amy Taubin finds that “it is the clips of Le Clercq in motion and some stunning still photographs that elevate the film.”
London. Coinciding with Jarman2014, the year-long celebration of Derek Jarman twenty years after his death, Queer Pagan Punk: Derek Jarman, Part One: Jarman and the Occult opens at BFI Southbank on Wednesday. Alex Davidson writes up five of his best works.
Meantime, the first part of the BFI’s Al Pacino season is also on throughout the month.
Toronto. The TIFF Cinematheque retrospective Godard Forever: Part One is on through February 23.
IN THE WORKS
“Liam Neeson will star with Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe in Silence, the Martin Scorsese-directed adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about 17th century Jesuits who to try bring Christianity to isolated Japan,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr.
“Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz have come on board to play the lead roles in The Lobster, the first film in the English language by Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps),” reports Leo Barraclough in Variety. “Farrell and Weisz join the previously announced Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed and Aggeliki Papoulia. Several other roles in the ensemble are being finalized.”
And also in Variety, Justin Kroll: “Bill Hader is in talks to co-star with Amy Schumer in Universal’s Judd Apatow pic Trainwreck.”
“Jesse Eisenberg is to play super-villian Lex Luthor in Warner Bros’ Superman-Batman—a casting that has taken fans by surprise.” In the Independent, Antonia Molloy gathers evidence of that surprise from a couple of tweets and then notes that Jeremy Irons will be playing Alfred, “Bruce Wayne’s butler and loyal guardian—a part that went to Sir Michael Caine in the Dark Knight trilogy.”
“The acclaimed Brazilian film director Eduardo Coutinho has been stabbed to death at his home in Rio de Janeiro,” reports the BBC. “Police say they believe the 80-year-old film maker was killed by his son, who then allegedly attacked his mother, before injuring himself.”
Fernando Toste at Twitch: “Coutinho is considered one of the most important and influential filmmakers of all time in Brazil and was recently inducted in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Still active after a career of more than 45 years, he was planning to direct a new film about the wave of protests that happened in Brazil last June. Best known for his work in documentaries such as Twenty Years Later (1984) and Edificio Master (2002), widely recognized as two masterpieces, Coutinho began his career close to the Cinema Novo movement in the 60’s. He moved to television in the 70’s, where he and a group of filmmakers shot 16mm documentaries that revolutionized the format.”
“René Ricard, an influential poet, painter, art critic and actor in Andy Warhol‘s films, has died,” reports Kory Grow for Rolling Stone. “His age was estimated to be 67…. In the Seventies and Eighties, his articles for Artforum magazine helped launch the careers of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente.” Ricard appeared in Warhol’s Kitchen (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966). “Later, he played Warhol in Warhol’s own Andy Warhol Story in 1967. ‘It’s a black-and-white movie, so you better wear black and white,’ Ricard recalled Warhol had told him.”
“Craig Lahiff, a stalwart of the Australian film industry, has died,” reports Patrick Frater for Variety. “A writer, director and producer, Lahiff was 66.”
“Arthur Rankin, Jr., a prolific animator, producer and director behind holiday TV classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, has died at his home in Bermuda at the age of 89, a close friend and associate said on Saturday.” Reuters reports.