Sérgio Dias Branco alerts us to a new publication, Series: International Journal of TV Serial Narratives, now available as a free download. On a related note, Time‘s James Poniewozik: “The Time Machine: How Mad Men Rode the Carousel of the Past into Television History.”
Reviewing Raymond Cauchetier’s New Wave for the New Yorker, Richard Brody calls Cauchetier “the auteur of set photographers.” And he takes us to the set of Breathless: “Alert to the risky spontaneity and the originality of the proceedings, Cauchetier went beyond the call of [producer Georges de] Beauregard’s assignment; rather than merely taking publicity stills showing the actors in their positions in each scene, he created, in effect, a photographic documentary of Godard’s way of working.” In 2012, cinematographer John Bailey interviewed Cauchetier, and Angelique Chrisafis talks with him for the Guardian.
“While the ‘deus’ is missing from the title of Alex Garland’s incredible film Ex Machina, it figures prominently in its reflection upon the nature of artificial intelligence,” writes Wes Alwan at 3:AM. “Would the advent of conscious machines aid humanity—even save it—by leading to the kind of super-intelligence that we could harness to our own ends? Or would it mean the end of human beings, their replacement by creatures with godlike powers? If the former, the end of the human story is more like the deus ex machina of ancient Greek drama, a plot device in which divine intervention saves characters from an otherwise irredeemable tragedy. If the latter, it has more in common with the contrived ending to which the phrase now generally refers: radically incongruent with the events that have preceded it, to sinister effect.” More from Daniel Mendelsohn in the New York Review of Books: “We have been dreaming of robots since Homer.” And Joe Wright talks with Alicia Vikander for Interview.
Scott Beauchamp recalls the time he was watching DVDs in Iraq. At some point, he realized that they “had been edited according to a variant of Sharia law… What bothered me was that I preferred the depth and ambiguity, however unintentional, of the Sharia-revised versions of the films: I liked familiar cultural products through a filter of strict religious values.”
Also writing for the Paris Review, Ezra Glinter considers the work of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, authors of Roadside Picnic (1972), “a first-contact story that was the basis of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (1979); and Hard to Be a God (1964), a novel about an alien civilization in the depths of its own Dark Ages. Along with a much-praised adaptation of the latter book by Russian filmmaker Aleksei German, we seem to be in the middle of a minor Strugatsky renaissance…. For at least three decades they were the most popular science-fiction writers in Russia, and the most influential Russian science-fiction writers in the world. Their popularity wasn’t without political implications, however.”
From Matthew E. Carter
Boris Nelepo in the Notebook on Visit, or Memories and Confessions (1982): “Oliveira‘s visuals never fail to capture inanimate objects, such as sculptures, paintings, buildings, or even a trivial grapevine, as characters in their own right. Alas, film history is light on movies that have truly altered the way we read the world around us, but here, in Oliveira’s testament, everything has a secret magnanimously to share.”
Have you seen Nick Pinkerton‘s list of the “Hundred Best Ensemble, Secondary, and Tertiary Characters in International Postwar Art-House Cinema”?
From Catherine Grant comes word of a new blog, Transformation and Tradition in Sixties British Cinema.
“In a season of superhero movies, in an era of superhero blockbusters,” John Powers presents “a consideration of The Matrix as a truly singular Hollywood portrait of the avant-garde artist: the artist as superman.”
“Times have gone millennial, and the sense of time in Linklater’s Boyhood meshes with a culture that is disposed to seeing reality, time, and art in ways that we are just beginning to recognize,” writes Joseph Natoli. “The millennial audience does not require a script because the search for meaning is over.” Also in Bright Lights:
- Thomas A. Schwenn on Charles Laughton‘s The Night of the Hunter (1955).
- Gordon Thomas on Fellini Satyricon (1969).
- Thomas A. Foster: “The American Hubris Cycle: A Survey of Recent Survival Narratives and Friends as Collateral Damage.”
- Gary Morris on QDoc: Portland’s Ninth Queer Documentary Film Festival.
“Would it be fair to call Don Hertzfeldt one of our best humanist filmmakers?” Alissa Wilkinson strikes up a conversation with Tim Grierson. Also at Movie Mezzanine, Adam W. Hofbauer: “Homesick for the Past: On the Modern Film Critic.”
“In his black and white movies, that almost unparalleled run of masterpieces from The White Sheik (1952) to 8½ (1963), Fellini stands as the Charles Dickens of cinema,” argues Michael Newton in the Guardian.
“In effect,” writes Rumsey Taylor, Philip Marlowe “would become diminished when fashioned from [Raymond] Chandler’s template, into an assembly of increasingly contemporary and superficial attributes. Marlowe adapts to an evolutive future in the films, and yet in some respects remains a tragic adaptation of his very author.”
Farran Smith Nehme “awards Claude Rains the prize as The Greatest Side-Eye of All Time.” And she’s also posted her piece on Henri Decoin’s 1952 noir, La Verité sur Bébé Donge, that appears in the June issue of Sight & Sound.
Jim Knipfel notes that “looking at Sinatra’s film career as a whole, in and amongst the silly fluff and the searing dramas a strange little quasi trilogy reveals itself, and one that seems all the stranger today given Sinatra’s close friendship with both John F. Kennedy and the Reagans. Between 1954 and 1967, Sinatra would star in three films focused on political assassination, and in two of those films, he starred as the assassin in question.”
Also at the Chiseler, Phoebe Green considers the career of Wynne Gibson, who came from Broadway to Hollywood as a pert, sensible redhead… and was quickly transformed to a peroxided moll.”
A collection of 43 feature and medium-length works by Rouzbeh Rashidi, Dean Kavanagh, Michael Higgins and Maximilian Le Cain is now available on VOD to stream or download
“Nathan Silver’s films are thorny postmodern love poems,” writes Ela Bittencourt at Reverse Shot. “His second feature, Exit Elena (2012), about a young woman who is hired by a family as a live-in nurse and experiences her first romantic pangs, and his third, Soft in the Head (2013), about a troubled outsider who flirts with alcoholism and self-destruction, offered glimpses of impossible infatuations, set against backgrounds of familial rifts. His latest film and fourth feature, Uncertain Terms, is perhaps Silver’s most mature depiction of imperfect love to date.” More from Chuck Bowen (Slant, 3.5/4) and Forrest Cardamenis at Movie Mezzanine.
FIPRESCI’s Senay Aydemir presents “A Brief History of Censorship of the Cinema of Turkey.”
An essay in nine parts from Dayna Tortorici for n+1: “Los Angeles Plays Itself.”
MEANS OF PRODUCTION
“I’ve been looking forward to the moment when 3D emerges as a mode unto itself—not a gimmick or a money-making adjunct to the standard fare but an art form of its very own,” writes Daniel Engber for the New Yorker, citing recent films by Godard, Scorsese, Wenders and Herzog. “With some notable exceptions, the new breed of uppity 3D seems less like an exploration of the format than an exercise in camp appropriation—a way of punching up at corporate greed and spoofing Hollywood excess.”
Chicago’s Odd Obsession Movies, currently moving its library of approximately 20,000 DVDs and 5,000 VHS titles to a bigger, brighter space, could use a little help, so they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign
“Historically, any art form goes through cycles,” writes Kristin Thompson. “Hugely successful films will give rise to many imitators, and imitation eventually leads to cliché. The question is, will the filmmakers called upon to make big effects-heavy films make the effort to use CGI in an imaginative way? With sequel after sequel in the largest franchises already planned by the studios for years into the future, will the apparent assumption that flashy CGI is enough to attract the action-movie crowd prove wrong?”
Meantime, here’s Alex French and Howie Kahn‘s big, big history of Industrial Light & Magic for Wired.
“Over at the Creative Capital blog, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men have posted a sober essay about the changes they’ve seen in the documentary funding landscape since 2000,” notes Scott Macaulay. “Filmmaker has certainly preached a DIY gospel for years, and we’ve urged directors and producers to crowdfund and cultivate social media. So, the palpable fatigue expressed here is bracing.”
“Twelve hours of work and a twelve-hour turnaround should be mandated and instituted immediately on all film and television productions, period,” argues Gavin Palone at Vulture.
“The hypocritical farce that protest art has become seems to me self-evident in Okwui Enwezor’s plan to have all of Karl Marx’s Capital read at the Venice Biennale which he has curated this year.” In the new June issue of the Brooklyn Rail, Donald Kuspit explains. And the Guardian‘s Charlotte Higgins notes that this marathon reading is directed by British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien: “If contradictions are, in Enwezor’s view, central to Das Kapital, then they are certainly central to the biennale, where global capital and art meets. It is impossible not to notice, for example, that Julien himself is simultaneously presiding over the Marx readings and being supported by the ultimate luxury brand: Rolls-Royce, who threw him a glamorous party on the Grand Canal, to produce his latest film.”
Back to the new Brooklyn Rail: Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa talks with Irene Lusztig about The Motherhood Archives (2013), Jesse Cumming looks back on this year’s Hot Docs and: “If you’re keen on knowing which films are screening in New York City on any given day, Jon Dieringer is your man.” Carolyn Lazard talks with the founder and editor of Screen Slate.
IN OTHER NEWS
Bernardo Bertolucci, Wim Wenders, Fernando Meirelles, Walter Salles, Atom Egoyan, Bob Rafelson and Pablo Trapero are among the directors who have pledged their support to Film4Climate, “an initiative to encourage the film and entertainment industry to take action on climate change,” reports Variety‘s Leo Barraclough.
Movie City News has word from France: “Wes Anderson, award-winning screenwriter and director, will be awarded Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Lettersby Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Bénédicte de Montlaur on June 9 in New York. Anderson receives the award in recognition of his unique and influential contributions to American film. Having drawn on French movies and culture in making his films, he brings a distinctly French sensibility to American theaters.”
“The 50th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July 3-11) has unveiled the competition titles in its Official Selection, East of the West, Forum of Independents and Documentary sections.” And Michael Rosser‘s got ’em all at Screen.
The Japan Society in New York has announced the lineup for “North America’s largest festival of Japanese cinema… Premiering a thrilling slate of blockbusters and independent features never before seen in NYC, Japan Cuts redefines itself with fresh sections on documentary, new classics, avant-garde and more special guest stars and auteurs than ever, with a focus on the rebellious edge of contemporary Japan.”
Twitter aside, we haven’t yet caught up with the story, broken overs a week ago now by Variety, that the New York Times is changing its review policy. In brief, the paper will no longer consider itself obligated to review every theatrical release in the city, a policy widely cited as the prime motive for “four-walling,” i.e., distributors renting out theaters to guarantee coverage. Criticwire‘s Sam Adams has contacted critic A.O. Scott “directly to get clarification on what’s changed at the Times.”
The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody agrees with Scott that “being a film critic now entails paying attention to VOD releases…. That’s why—with both widely advertised studio productions and with microbudget independents—there’s no formula for critical usefulness, no policy that can establish a view of the cinema that sees into the future of the art. Only individual critics can do that. Criticism is, in its own way, a unique variety of artistry that is no more confined to a format, a platform, or an outlet—and no less personal—than the art of filmmaking is.”
“Nearly two years after it opened at the Venice Film Festival, Xavier Dolan’s drama Tom at the Farm has finally landed U.S. distribution,” reports Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh. “Amplify Releasing, which launched in 2014s, will not be submitting the film to the MPAA, and will be showing the movie unrated.”
New York. Today’s the last day for Samuel Fuller‘s Pickup on South Street (1953) at Film Forum. Writing for the Paris Review, Willie Osterweil notes that “the most sympathetic character in the film is an old spinster living in a Bowery flop house, selling her friends out to the police so she can afford a nice grave plot. It’s a horrible world that these small-time hustlers are begrudgingly attempting to protect. And indeed, that’s always been the rub with anti-commie propaganda. If the USSR in the 1950s wasn’t always a fun place to be, neither was America.”
MoMA film curator Josh Siegel and writer James Layton are on the Leonard Lopate Show talking about Glorious Technicolor: From George Eastman House and Beyond, opening tomorrow and running through August 5.
Frankfurt. The 15th Nippon Connection Film Festival is on through Sunday.
Vienna. On through June 15 at the Austrian Film Museum: The Syrian Modernists: Omar Amiralay, Mohamad Malas, Ossama Mohammed.
A Coruña, Spain. The (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico, a festival of experimental films, expanded cinema, film performances, Super 8 and 16mm, is off and running through June 7.
IN THE WORKS