“Tati’s triumph was to employ formal experimentation to intensify hilarity, to wrest rapture from rationality,” writes James Quandt for Criterion. “Both a backward-looking performer, mining the traditions of silent cinema, mime, the music hall, and variety, and a foremost modernist in the history of cinema, Tati has been celebrated as one of the screen’s greatest comedians, but his work has also been endlessly analyzed for its spatial and aural innovations, his gags examined for their ‘marks of rupture’ and ‘syntactical disequilibriums.’ That he belongs to conflicting cinematic lineages, from Buster Keaton and Mack Sennett through Mr. Bean on one hand, and on the other Robert Bresson, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Jean-Luc Godard—’Tati and Bresson are the twin giants of French cinema,’ Marguerite Duras once proclaimed—only confirms the complexity of his achievement.”
“Part of the problem in figuring out the gender biases of the French New Wave and its audiences is differentiating boys’-club thinking in much of western culture during this period—for example, not just early features by Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard, but also such Beat manifestos as Kerouac’s On the Road—from specific French inflections and versions of that mindset,” wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum in a 2009 essay for Film Quarterly. “Sometimes the inflections are not merely French but 1960s French.”
For Flavorwire, Jonathan Sturgeon lists the “35 Best Books by Cinema’s Greatest Auteurs.”
Flicker Alley‘s launched a campaign give to rare and out-of-print films new life on DVD with Manufactured-on-Demand (MOD) technology
“Gather old-movie buffs around to ask them what they miss, and one answer will be character actors. Jack Carson, who packed nearly 100 movies into a career cut short by stomach cancer at the age of 52, was one of the greatest.” An appreciation from Farran Nehme.
Contributors to the Dissolve have written up a list of the “30 Best American Independent Horror Films.”
Writers at the AV Club argue the cases for “18 directors who haven’t made a horror film, but should.”
At Sound on Sight, Greg Cwik writes up “40 Great Horror Films for the Halloween Season.”
Reviewing Robert Wiene‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) for Slant, Clayton Dillard attempts to “align form and content as a means to reveal how Hermann Warm’s vertiginous sets, as emblems of non-normative time and space, synthesize with the film’s more rudimentary narrative of doubling to achieve radically luminous social ends.”
Reverse Shot‘s A Few Great Pumpkins IX series rolls on with Michael Koresky on Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983: “Hilarious and harrowing in equal measure, [Joe] Dante’s segment is an effective condensing of the trademark cartoonish horror of his best work, and it scarred many a child of the eighties—this one included—who made the mistake of happening upon it”) and Jeff Reichert on Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960: “[W]hen we meet Christiane, alive, sequestered in the Doctor’s remote clinic, Eyes jumps into another, haunting register of the uncanny”).
“In spite of its reputation as a children’s classic, or maybe because of it, Babes in Toyland stands out as a very frightening movie.” At the Chiseler, Tony Sokel suggests that the 1934 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy vehicle, once “a holiday tradition in America” around Thanksgiving and Christmas, is actually more appropriate for Halloween.
IN OTHER NEWS
“Revolutionize” isn’t a word to be tossed around lightly, but D.A. Pennebaker, along with Robert Drew, Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles and their teams, certainly did just that to documentary filmmaking in the late 50s and early 60s. The terms “direct cinema” and “cinéma vérité” each has its own set of nuances, but, by whatever name, the innovation inarguably had a profound impact on narrative filmmaking as well. Pennebaker met Chris Hegedus in the late 70s—they married in 1982—and, as Cara Buckley reports in the New York Times:
Now Mr. Pennebaker, 89, and Ms. Hegedus, 62, are looking for a new home for their ever-expanding trove: vintage camera equipment, hundreds of file folders and boxes and crates filled with outtakes, correspondence and many, many reels of 16-millimeter films, all of it housed either in their Upper West Side townhouse or an underground, James Bond-like cold-storage warehouse called Iron Mountain, in upstate New York….
The couple want to keep all of the archive in one spot and, crucially, the footage preserved and intact. Many of the reels include outtakes of noted figures that have never been seen: a strikingly young Richard Avedon at an art show, Janis Joplin wailing at a recording session, Jimi Hendrix playing mournful guitar after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, Truman Capote working on an unreleased film about death row.
The piece—essentially a call for some institution to step forward—is accompanied by Samantha Stark‘s video (4’04”) featuring rare clips.
Marco Mueller has confirmed that he will not be renewing his contract as head of the Rome Film Festival. Ariston Anderson has details in the Hollywood Reporter.
Los Angeles. Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy (1986) screens tonight at the Crest Westwood. In the Weekly, Amy Nicholson suggests you “stick around for a post-screening discussion with five legendary scenesters who survived the era: rock photographers Edward Colver and Angela Boatwright, plus musicians Alice Bag, Tequila Mockingbird and Helen Killer—the latter of whom famously punched Vicious in the face.”
Minneapolis. Derek Jarman‘s Blue (1993) screens tomorrow as part of the Commemorating Derek Jarman program at the Walker Art Center, where Ilsa Leaver-Yap writes: “As Blue fluidly migrates between the medium of celluloid, digital, audio, and the printed page, the primary concern of the work—the depiction of Jarman’s experience of HIV and AIDS—also leverages its power from the ineffable. The virus, and the experience of it, lacks an iconic image, body, or definition that can fully convey the overwhelming devastation and the complexity of its occurrence.”
IN THE WORKS
“Blue Sunshine is getting an updated remake with original director-writer Jeff Lieberman and producer Edgar Lansbury,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. Katie Rife at the AV Club: “The original Blue Sunshine starred Zalman King as a man falsely accused of murders committed by ex-hippies feeling the lingering effects of a batch of bad acid (the ‘Blue Sunshine’ of the title) which causes its victims to become bald homicidal maniacs a decade after ingestion.”
“DreamWorks has tapped three-time Tony Award winner and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance to play the title character in Steven Spielberg’s The BFG.” Tatiana Siegel has details in the Hollywood Reporter.
The Emperor’s New Clothes will unite “comedian, provocateur and aspiring revolutionary Russell Brand with director [Michael] Winterbottom in a polemical documentary about the financial crisis from international banking centers in London’s City and New York.” Rhonda Richford has more in the Hollywood Reporter.
Marcia Strassman, who played Julie on Welcome Back, Kotter and Rick Moranis’s wife in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, was 66. Again, the Hollywood Reporter has details.
Yet more listening (7’09”). On NPR, James Ellroy discusses some of his favorite films—noirs, mostly.
And then there’s the Gorilla vs Bear Halloween Mix (50’06”).