“Repetition” is the theme of the new issue of Screen Machine, introduced by editor Huw Walmsley-Evans. I’m plucking out just one sentence here, as it’s relevant to another item below: “Repetitions in theme or style between the discrete films of the one filmmaker are perceived as the signature of authorship, and become attributable as that filmmaker’s ‘concerns.'”
Along with a special collection of remembrances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Issue 6 also features Anders Furze and Andrew Gilbert on repetition, Melanie Ashe on the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Aaron Cutler on Aleksei German‘s Hard to Be a God.
Auteurism is back in the air, you’ll have noticed. Following Kent Jones‘s assessment of the theory’s impact on film criticism past and present in Film Comment, Nick Pinkerton, writing for Artforum, calls Auteurs Gone Wild, the series currently running at New York’s Anthology Film Archives through Sunday, “the ideal program for a moment when many movie lovers have begun to dismantle auteurism in order to save it.” Now Stoffel Debuysere has translated Jacques Rancière‘s “La politique des auteurs, ce qu’il en reste” (“Politique des auteurs, what is left of it”), originally published in the July-August 2001 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, and posted it at diagonal thoughts: “The ‘disjunction’ between the will of the author and what it does is also the disjunction between the criticism that makes cinema the art that is not an art and that which is supposed to tell us why beautiful films are beautiful. Attempting to get to grips with it would not necessarily indicate a lack of taste.”
Sixteen features in three decades. “What’s truly remarkable is that every one of their films are well worth watching.” At the Dissolve, Mike D’Angelo surveys the oeuvre of Joel and Ethan Coen, noting that “each picture, regardless of personal opinion, fits snugly into a long-term argument that can finally, after all the dull debates about their sincerity or their derisive lack thereof, be clearly perceived.”
Here’s the question Sam Adams has most recently posed to the Criticwire network: “Jazz critic Ted Gioia recently lodged a complaint that ‘music criticism has degenerated into lifestyle reporting’ because most most critics lack a musical background and theoretical tools. Do movie critics need filmmaking experience or an understanding of film theory to do their jobs?” As Matt Zoller Seitz notes at RogerEbert.com, this one’s “inspired an especially rich batch of answers.” And then he expands on his own: “Analytical writing about movies and TV should incorporate some discussion of the means by which the plot is advanced, the characters developed, the themes explored. It should devote some space, some small bit of the word count, to the compositions, the cutting, the music, the decor, the lighting, the overall rhythm and mood of the piece.”
John Wayne: The Life and Legend, Scott Eyman’s “detailed and at times long-winded new book… makes very clear, the man Duke Morrison—born in 1907 with the unlikely name Marion Robert Morrison in the small town of Winterset, Iowa—was not synonymous with the John Wayne character he created on screen,” writes Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. “‘In Wayne’s own mind,’ Mr. Eyman writes, ‘he was Duke Morrison. John Wayne was to him what the Tramp was to Charlie Chaplin—a character that overlapped his own personality, but not to the point of subsuming it.'”
Kaleem Aftab talks with Jacqueline Bisset for the Independent: “Welcome to New York is directed by Abel Ferrara and will be Bisset’s highest profile film role since 1981’s Rich and Famous. Still, she cast doubts on whether she is actually playing [Dominique] Strauss-Kahn’s second wife, Anne Sinclair, or not. ‘I keep saying to Abel, “People keep asking me about this film—am I playing her?”‘ she says. ‘He says, “You know more than me, who you are playing.” It didn’t help with answering my question, but that was typical of him, he never answered a question.'”
Phillip Lopate for Criterion on Paolo Sorrentino: “With his seven features, he has amassed a body of polished, ambitious work that has made him the leading Italian auteur at international film festivals, and The Great Beauty is his best film so far, a culmination of his inquiries into the clash between man as social animal and introvert.”
The Baffler has just made Heather Havrilesky‘s 2012 piece “Sit-Cons: Class on TV” available.
Fernando F. Croce‘s “Movie of the Day” is Renoir’s Night at the Crossroads (La nuit du carrefour, 1932).
IN OTHER NEWS
Richard Lawson is Vanity Fair‘s new film critic, reports Sam Adams at Criticwire. Meantime, the AP reports that Nielson’s found that “80 percent of moviegoers refer to movie reviews at least some of the time when deciding what to see. The survey found that 40 percent say they value social media recommendations.”
New York. On Thursday, Albert Serra will introduce a screening of Alexander Rastorguev, Vitaly Mansky, and Susanna Baranzhieva’s Wild, Wild Beach (2006) at Light Industry.
London. “Abounaddara is a collective of filmmakers working towards providing an alternative image of Syrian society.” Tomorrow, they’ll be presenting a program of shorts followed by a panel discussion on Emergency Cinema.
Berlin. Rouzbeh Rashidi’s experimental feature There Is No Escape from the Terrors of the Mind screens on Thursday and Rashidi, Dean Kavanagh and Maximilian Le Cain’s collaborative feature Forbidden Symmetries screens on Friday. Details here.
IN THE WORKS
First up, Nicholas Bell has put together another Ioncinema “Most Anticipated” list, this one all about the films projected for release in 2015. Looks like we can already start looking forward to new work from Scorsese, Polanski, Herzog, Lucretia Martel, Miguel Gomes, Monte Hellman… 100 in all. And get this title for Guy Maddin‘s next one: The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman.
“Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carlos Reygadas, Vincent Gallo, Gaspar Noé and Dorris Dorrie feature among 31 directors from four continents signed up for Short Plays, a soccer-themed omnibus production shot around the world and created by Mexican director Daniel Gruener (All of Them Witches).” John Hopewell reports for Variety.
TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider reports that Pablo Larraín “is in negotiations” to direct a third Scarface which would “reimagine the core immigrant story told in both the 1932 and 1983 films. Universal’s update will be an original story set in modern day Los Angeles that follows a Mexican immigrant’s rise in the criminal underworld as he strives for the American Dream.”
Adam McKay, who often partners with Will Ferrell on a wide range of comedy projects, “has signed on to adapt and direct Michael Lewis’s best-selling book The Big Short.” Tatiana Siegel has details in the Hollywood Reporter. Subtitled Inside the Doomsday Machine, Lewis’s bestseller follows several key players during the build-up and burst of the housing and credit bubble in the 2000s.
“Fox and Ridley Scott are moving forward on a sequel to the 2012 sci-fi hit Prometheus, with Michael Green on board to script,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. “Green worked with Scott last year on a rewrite of the script for a reboot of Blade Runner.”
“Cheech and Chong have revealed they will be returning to the big screen for the first time in more than 30 years,” reports Alice Vincent for the Telegraph. Says Tommy Chong: “It looks really funny. It’s about us going to a festival called the Burning Joint. All sorts of shenanigans happen. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”