“2013 feels like it gave us more visions of the apocalypse than any year prior,” writes Ed Halter for Artforum:
After Earth, Oblivion, Elysium, World War Z, Pacific Rim, and Ender’s Game all served up illustrations of the end of the world as we know it, their stories taking place before, after, or during. This tendency could even be found in no fewer than three comedies released this year: This is the End, The World’s End, and It’s a Disaster….
This eschatological efflorescence is yet another way cinema continues to compete with small-screen media. Post-9/11, post-Iraq, post-Katrina, post-tsunami, post-Great Recession, post-Fukushima, post-Sandy, we’re more familiar than ever with the documentation of chaos and its long aftermath, and so Hollywood must up the ante. More insidiously, the boom in apocalyptic entertainment suggests that we now have no viable concept of our collective future other than collapse, be it ecological, economic, or both.
Victor Morton and Tina Hassannia, whose “family is originally from Tabriz but now primarily based in Tehran,” are discussing Iranian cinema at To Be (Cont’d). “Who are the Iranian Ozus and Naruses still waiting for retrospective discovery?” asks Morton. Hassannia: “I’d strongly recommend the chapter entitled ‘A Dissident Cinema’ in Hamid Naficy’s A Social History of Iranian Cinema Volume 2: The Industrializing Years, 1941-1978. Of course I’d also recommend the whole series. Naficy has chronicled the entire history of Iranian cinema from 1897 to 2010 across four volumes. Keep in mind that the New Wave is only one story in a long and complex history, and by no means is it even necessarily the most interesting.”
In an exchange for the New York Times, writers Daniel Mendelsohn and Zoë Heller (Notes on a Scandal) discuss what Mendelsohn calls “the tricky—some would say impossible—exercise of adapting literature to the screen, a process that often leaves both literati and cineastes groaning.”
Two pieces on Andrew Bujalski‘s Computer Chess happen to have popped up in the past couple of days. J.J. Murphy calls the film “wildly inventive, especially in how it cleverly connects the various plotlines that initially appear to be a series of tangents.” And at the AV Club, Mike D’Angelo focuses on a particular scene (4’26” and not the clip above) and its video glitches: “At the time Computer Chess is set (roughly 1980), those would have been considered annoying distractions. Here, they’ve become the text, every bit as important as the dialogue being spoken. They subtly suggest that something isn’t quite stable.”
“Wojciech Kilar, a Polish pianist and composer of classical music and scores for many films, including Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning The Pianist and Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, died Sunday,” reports Monika Scislowka for the AP. “A modest man who often avoided public attention, Kilar’s main love was composing symphonies and concertos… But it was film music, especially for Coppola’s 1992 erotic horror movie, that brought this prolific vanguard composer to the world’s attention and commissions from other celebrity directors, including Jane Campion and her Portrait of a Lady. Kilar once said the three criteria that made him write film music were, in this order: the name of the director, the salary and the script.”
More from Anne Billson in the Telegraph: “A contemporary of Górecki and Penderecki, he was a member of the Polish avant garde movement of the 1960s, but largely abandoned avant garde techniques in the film scores for which he is now best known.” Kilar’s score for Polanski’s The Ninth Gate is a “spine tingler, the ominous sawing strings evoking the gathering of satanic forces, and the soaring voice of South Korean soprano Sumi Jo, in the Vocalise segment, striking a blissfully uneasy balance between beautiful and sinister.” Wojciech Kilar was 81.
“Romanian director and writer Dinu Cocea, who made popular historical adventure movies before being forced into exile by the Communists, has died,” reports the AP. “He was 84.”
“Indian actor Farooq Shaikh, the plump unlikely hero of scores of Bollywood films, has died,” reports the AP. “He was 65.”
More browsing? Here’s another fine round from John Wyver.