Yes, Scorsese again, and for three reasons. First, Tom Shone has a new book out, Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective, and the New Statesman and New Republic have run his piece on masculinity in Scorsese’s work. About Goodfellas (1990), Shone writes: “Underneath all the carpeting and double-breasted suits is a dream of what it is to pass muster with thugs.”
Second. In the latest entry in Reverse Shot‘s Scorsese symposium, Eric Hynes, a born-and-raised New Yorker, revisits Gangs of New York (2002). “Cities are always undergoing shifts and evolutions, migrations and reinventions, but those months after 9/11, like the ones that followed the draft riots of July 1863, were seismic.” And while Scorsese couldn’t have foreseen what NYC would be going through when Gangs was released, “the resonance the film had in light of what happened has plenty to do with the depth of the director’s understanding of the city, which he’s exhibited in everything from Who’s That Knocking at My Door through The Wolf of Wall Street.”
And third. The New Yorker‘s Joshua Rothmans and Erin Overbey have gathered six profiles of directors from the archive and one of them is Mark Singer‘s piece on Scorsese, written in 2000, as Scorsese was preparing to shoot Gangs. The other five are profiles of Mira Nair, Jean-Luc Godard, Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter and Woody Allen.
At BOMB, Katie Bradshaw introduces her interview with Laida Lertxundi: “There is a mysterious quality to her films that is both natural and unpretentious. I watch her films over and over again, the same way I’ve rewound a mix-tape over and over again to a specific track that pulls me out of myself.”
“Pee-wee’s Playhouse (broadcast for five seasons, starting in fall 1986, in the Saturday-morning cartoon ghetto) was a fully realized private universe,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “It was also, as demonstrated by the complete 45-episode series and one Christmas special out on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, a series of strongly conceptualized individual pieces. As packed as each episode is with outlandish props, linguistic pranks—many based on each week’s meant-to-be-screamed ‘secret word’—and running gags, Playhouse is far too rich to binge-watch.”
At Movie Morlocks, Richard Harland Smith presents a “highly subjective and far from comprehensive list… of my favorite brother and sister acts in fright films.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 1976 review of three books on Jean Renoir—by André Bazin, Raymond Durgnat and Penelope Gilliatt—and Renoir’s own memoir. “A central aspect of Renoir’s art, and one which anticipates an important strain in contemporary modernist narrative cinema, is the inscription of the experience of making a film onto the illusionist experience of watching one.”
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Martin Woessner writes that “if the cinema is our contemporary cave, its allegorical meaning is still up for debate, as Paul W. Kahn’s Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation and Nathan Andersen’s Shadow Philosophy: Plato’s Cave and Cinema demonstrate.”
William J. Mann’s Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood “is at least the fourth book to be written about a murder that, unless you’re a silent-movie buff, you’ve probably never heard of,” writes Dennis Drabelle in the Washington Post. “On the morning of Feb. 2, 1922, William Desmond Taylor, one of Hollywood’s leading directors, was found lying on the floor of his apartment, dead from a bullet to the chest. Although the case became a national sensation, it was never solved…. Mann tells his story expertly, if a bit breathlessly, jumping back and forth from suspect to suspect and pausing occasionally to make a telling observation. Example: ‘Hollywood knew how to manipulate a crime. Their scenarists had been doing it for years.’ When it’s all over, Mann has argued so ably for his killer-candidate that he finally may have put this controversy to rest.”
More from Akiva Gottlieb in the Los Angeles Times, where he also reviews Anne Helen Petersen’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama From the Golden Age of American Cinema, which “chronicles the making and unmaking of several leading lights from the height to the eclipse of the studio era…. In particularly strong chapters on Clara Bow, Dorothy Dandridge, Jean Harlow and Mae West, Petersen is attuned to the ways the celebrity female body can serve as an unwitting battleground for societal discomfort about sex.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Federico Fellini‘s Toby Dammit (1968)
Keith Uhlich launches a new Saturday column at To Be (Cont’d): “Expect to see thoughts (not necessarily organized, never the final word) on the major new releases and zeitgeist flatterers of any given week, situated alongside older and/or obscure titles that warrant a fresh look.”
New York. “John Zorn, who would become a crazily prolific avant-garde composer, musician, producer and record-label owner, also became an aficionado of Japanese movies (as well as that country’s music, calligraphy and cooking),” writes Mike Hale in the NYT. “As if he wasn’t busy enough already, Mr. Zorn, 61, has found time to indulge that affection by programming a five-part monthly series at the Japan Society called The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema.” And there’ll be one film a month through February.
Lav Diaz‘s Batang West Side (2001) screens this afternoon at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Jordan Cronk: “With its elaborately integrated flashback structure and ambiguously motivated protagonist, this classically paced, five-plus-hour procedural is at once more akin to the serialized television which was then taking hold in American home entertainment than the durational cinema which would soon make Diaz’s name, as well as a spiritual and political predecessor to the director’s recent, highly acclaimed Norte, the End of History.”
London. The BFI’s Jacques Tati retrospective, on through November, occasions Ian Thomson‘s piece in the Financial Times: “Allegedly modelled in part on the giraffe-like physique of General de Gaulle, Hulot endures in Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling Mr. Bean and the contortions of John Cleese and Lee Evans. Idiot beanpole comics were nothing new in 1950s France, but Monsieur Hulot combined in his awkward, rain-coated person the unsmiling comic genius of Buster Keaton and a Samuel Beckett-like absurdist vaudeville.”
Kristin Thompson wraps the Vancouver International Film Festival with notes on Lech Majewski‘s Field of Dogs, Dietrich Bruggemann’s Stations of the Cross, Lisandro Alonso‘s Jauja, Alejandro Fernández Almendras’s To Kill a Man, Rolf De Heer‘s Charlie’s Country, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan and Joanna Kos-Kralize and Krzysztof Kralize’s Papusza.