Daily | Senses, Brooklyn Rail, Five Dials

John Flaus

Jon Lewis’s 1988 portrait of John Flaus

Issue 72 of Senses of Cinema is out and, as the editors announce right at the top, it’s “dedicated to one of the true legends of Australian screen culture, John Flaus, who turned 80 in April this year. The extensive ‘tribute’ dossier that dominates this edition of Senses of Cinema marks a little over 60 years since the start of John’s involvement in ‘cinema’ in Australia, and tracks his extraordinary contribution to the field as a scholar, teacher, poet, cinephile, actor, broadcaster, tireless board member, mentor, script advisor, much in-demand voiceover artist, archivist collector, writer and, always, anarchist.”

Also in this new issue: Tony McKibbin on the films of Alain Robbe-Grillet, a piece accompanied by an interview that originally appeared in 1986 as “Confessions of a Voyeur: Robbe-Grillet and the Nouveau Roman” in the arts magazine Tension; Yvette Biro on Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs; Marko Bauer on Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street; and Michael Green on Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Plus, of course, the festival reports, a half dozen book reviews, a fresh round of program notes and a new inductee into the Great Directors Database: Jeremy Carr writes about the life and work of Samuel Fuller.


Pasolini’s St. Paul is a richly intertextual document that looks back to the New Testament and ahead to Paul’s contemporary rehabilitations like those of Alain Badiou (who wrote this volume’s forward),” writes filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane in a review of a new release from Verso. “But this is also a document through which all of Pasolini’s films are figured explicitly, from the criminality of Accattone to the fascism of Salò (here transposed to Vichy France). In this sense, the ‘unfinished film’ that this text outlines has already been made in the body of Pasolini’s work.”

Also in the new issue of the Brooklyn Rail: David Gregory Lawson talks with Christopher Williams about the “Carte Blanche slate of programs he’s organized for MoMA’s film department. Each of the seven evenings runs at least three hours, each is adorned with purposefully broad but suggestive titles ranging from ‘Tenderness’ to ‘Economy,’ and each begins with a flicker film followed by Andy Warhol’s Screen Test of Penelope Palmer. It’s a diverse and provocative series that bestows a tacit, loving commentary on the practice of film curation and viewing.” That series has come and gone, but MoMA’s exhibition Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness is on view through November 2.

William Friedkin picks out a favorite Criterion release

As noted in the entry on The Princess of France, Paul Felten interview Matías Piñeiro.


Joanna Walsh has guest-edited the new issue of Five Dials, the extraordinary little magazine that’s freely downloadable as a PDF. Among other fine features in Number 33b, you’ll find a centenary appreciation of Marguerite Duras, a collection of Susan Sontag‘s lists, Masha Tupitsyn’s story, “Reel Men,” and Agata Pyzik on Věra Chytilová’s Daisies (1966), which “remains one of the rarest and strongest satires and subversive fantasies of a life under socialism which never really took place.”

“Both Gone Girl and Eyes Wide Shut are deeply twisted, satirical and borderline maniacal erotic thrillers that seem to be made my a snickering auteur,” writes Richard Kelly (yes, the director of Donnie Darko and Southland Tales). “Both films deconstruct the patriarchal, heteronormative surface world with the introduction of a dangerous psychopath intent on preserving it.” Via the Talkhouse Film.

Roland Barthes “likes to leave a movie theater.” Luke McKernan‘s posted an extract from an essay in which Barthes describes “coming out of hypnosis”—but also willfully heading right back in.

“Margaret Thatcher’s reign coincided with my Peak Cinema Attendance years, 1979-90—roughly speaking from Alien to Thelma & Louise,” writes Paul Duane at MostlyFilm. “It was the era of Video Nasties, Merchant-Ivory, Palace Pictures, it was peak Puttnam and the beginning of the end for Lindsay Anderson & Nic Roeg. But for me none of these filmmakers sum up how it felt to live through that time. Nor does the overripe cheese of Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners, the overstuffed turducken of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, or the chipolata sausage of Alan Parker’s entire cinematic oeuvre. For me, it’s all about Alan Clarke.”

Andrew Tracy in Reverse Shot on The Color of Money (1986): “Scorsese’s ambivalence toward the film is well known: he made no bones of the fact that he accepted Paul Newman’s offer to direct this belated sequel to Robert Rossen’s 1961 The Hustler as a means of proving his commercial bona fides to the studios after the successive box-office disappointments of Raging Bull and The King of Comedy. Yet the director’s investment in this seeming job of work is evident: in the film’s carefully curated soundtrack…; in Michael Ballhaus’s rich, smoky-dark cinematography, which makes clear that Scorsese, after initially flirting with the idea of shooting the film in black and white, was determined that the film should have a look and texture of its own rather than being a mere Hustler manqué…; and, three decades down the line, in the director’s defensiveness about the film in Steve James’s Roger Ebert tribute Life Itself, wherein Scorsese takes energetic exception to Ebert’s disappointed review of the film.”

An 1982 interview with Frank Capra

“Blood and gore and free-floating viscera have their place and I’m grateful to live in a world where they can hang out,” writes Richard Harland Smith at Movie Morlocks. “But not Halloween to me. I want to be haunted. I want to be beguiled and charmed. I want to be beckoned and warned and to ignore that warning and follow that sound from downstairs, that light in the attic, those whispers behind the wainscoting, the footsteps on the stairs. I want crisp Autumn nights and days in which the sky is the color of gunmetal.”

In his piece on immersive theater for the Nation, Ricky D’Ambrose recaps the stands taken by Sartre, Bazin, Cocteau and Jacques Feyder in the “now-perennial debate about the relationship between theater and cinema.”

Stoffel Debuysere‘s posted a note Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet sent to Jean Narbori in 1981 for the Cahiers du Cinéma Hors Série on Pasolini.


The Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell talks with Xavier Dolan and discovers that the young filmmaker is a fan of neither the Beatles nor Godard: “He’s the grinch from Switzerland in the mountain.” Via Movie City News.

Tad Friend goes ukulele shopping with William H. Macy, who tells him, in the New Yorker, “I can’t see never acting again, but directing is my priority.”

For the Guardian, Sam Wolfson talks with Richard Ayoade about his “latest work—a book, Ayoade on Ayoade—is an interview itself, in which two fictional versions of the man antagonize one another.”

“Basically, Petersen has a PhD in celebrity gossip.” For the Washington Post, Soraya Nadia McDonald talks with Anne Helen Petersen about her new book, Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema.


“That’s a wrap!”, launched in 2006, has announced that it’s ceasing publication. There’s still no indication that MTV has the vaguest idea as to what it’ll do with the domain name.

Man Ray’s The Return to Reason (1923)

I never expected to be linking to the Daily Mail, but their story on Gérard Depardieu‘s new autobiography has been making waves. In it, the 65-year-old French actor reveals that “he was once a rent boy, a petty thief who served three weeks in prison for stealing a car and also turned his hand to grave robbing before being saved from destitution by a gay theatre talent spotter who paid for him to study French drama.” The book also addresses his friendship with Vladimir Putin and the death of his son Guillaume in 2008.


New York. “If comedy crossed borders as easily as noodle soup or cellphone operating systems, Stephen Chow would be in America what he is in Asia: an integral part of moviegoers’ lives, the man who makes them laugh so hard that they’re embarrassed the next day.” For the New York Times, Mike Hale previews the eight-film BAMcinématek series Stephen Chow: The King of Comedy (today through Sunday) and suggests that one possible reason for Chow’s relative obscurity is that we might not have seen “the right Stephen Chow movies.”

Tomorrow night’s double feature at Light Industry: Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment (1949) and Alla Nazimova’s Salomé (1923).

The Vancouver International Film Festival is on through Friday and Kristin Thompson‘s posted an entry with thoughts on Merzak Allouache’s The Rooftops, Philippe Lacôte’s Run, Ann Hui’s The Golden Era and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2014, the 33rd Pordenone Silent Film Festival, running through October 11, is dedicated to Peter von Bagh.


Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston are set to star in David Farr’s (Hanna) adaptation of John le Carre’s 1993 novel The Night Manager. Lesley Goldberg has details in the Hollywood Reporter.


John Wyver posts a fresh round of links.

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