For nearly two years in his column for Sundance Now, Michael Koresky has been revisiting the history of cinema from 1925 on, “one year, three films, no exceptions,” week in, week out. And now he’s run out of years. But he’s posted an index, reshuffling the pieces back into chronological order. It’s a terrific online resource, but it’d also make one helluva book.
Also at Sundance Now: Nick Pinkerton on Michael Snow and on Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-writers and co-directors behind The Lego Movie. And! He’s launched a new column for Film Comment that’ll be focusing on home viewing. First up: Alain Robbe-Grillet‘s Trans-Europ-Express (1967).
Raul Arthuso and Victor Guimarães introduce an interview at Cinética: “Nicole Brenez is a restless historian in her fascinating heterodoxy, a brilliant curator (as shown in her program ‘A free history of cinema,’ that was part of the International Short Film Festival of Belo Horizonte) and a theoretician whose thought is in constant effervescence. At the same time, she is also a person of extreme generosity—willing to joyfully talk to us for more than two hours on a Sunday morning, after teaching two courses at the Festival, as well as answering emails with unbelievable readiness—and of a contagious sincerity (to witness her emotional transformation at the mere mention of John Carpenter’s They Live and Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale remains as one of the most lingering impressions of this interview).”
For more on the new restoration of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), see the BFI’s Samuel Wigley
Dan Sallitt: “Pema Tseden’s misfortune is that he will likely be pigeonholed for the foreseeable future as the most important Tibetan filmmaker; whereas he required only a few films to establish himself as one of the best and most confident filmmakers anywhere in the world.”
“If you really analyze a great film, it can teach you how to make a film, and Chinatown is one of the best blueprints of all,” argues none other than Steven Soderbergh.
At the Dissolve, Nathan Rabin surveys the career of Bill Murray, breaking down into stages, rating the performances, the works. “Of everyone Murray started out with at Saturday Night Live, he’s the only one who has gone the distance, the one who hasn’t died, semi-retired, or been rendered irrelevant by the cruelty of time and a lack of reverence for his comic elders.”
As Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites turns 20, In Contention‘s Kristopher Tapley‘s talks with stars Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn; screenwriter Helen Childress; producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher; cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki; and singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb to create an oral history of its making.
For Guernica, Pamela Cohn talks with Mais Darwazah about My Love Awaits Me By the Sea, a doc “inspired by the short life and creative legacy of Palestinian artist and poet Hasan Hourani,” and for Bomb, Pamela asks Peter Snowden about The Uprising, “a powerful film consisting of almost a hundred amateur videos recorded during the Arab Spring by individuals caught up in various revolutions in the chaotic, crowded, deadly streets of Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt.”
Aharon Keshales’s “Big Bad Wolves is a mashup of Fargo-inspired dark comedy and gore movies like Saw, Hostel, and their countless doppelgangers,” writes Neta Alexander. “The result is almost certainly the most graphically violent Israeli movie ever made.” Also in the new issue of the Brooklyn Rail: Joshua Sperling talks with Hany Abu-Assad about Omar, Jim Supanick considers Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan’s 2007 film Monument of Sugar: how to use artistic means to avoid barriers and Lucy Hunter and R. Lyon talk with “scholar and critic David Joselit about the circulation of images, and the various networks through which art is made, received, and valued.”
Recently at the Chiseler: Dan Callahan on Joe Dallesandro, Imogen Smith on film noir south of the border, Durian Dave on Olive Young, Jim Knipfel on the dark side of Shirley Temple, Phoebe Green on George Raft and Daniel Riccuito on how cinephiles are reacting to the whole Woody Allen brouhaha.
The glitches in Andrew Bujalski‘s Computer Chess “accentuate the intimate relation between the film’s form and its content, which are both something of a fetishist throwback to a past age of computer and video practice long since outdated,” writes David Gunzburg in photogénie. “But again, there’s more to it.”
“If the videos that comprise Any Ever visualized what is at stake in the transformation of humanity into a corporatized cyborg collective,” writes Kareem Estefan for the New Inquiry, “[Ryan] Trecartin’s latest work seems stunned by the fact of technological evolution itself, leaving its not-yet-post-human subjects locked in the prison of a collapsed present.”
“Frankly, it’s difficult to know where to begin when attempting to unravel the mysteries of Terence Nance’s unclassifiable debut feature, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” writes Ashley Clarke in Sight & Sound. “Hyperbolic adjectives such as dizzying, effervescent, kaleidoscopic and exhilarating spring to mind but don’t adequately convey the craft and persistence that have gone into this confessional slice of (semi) non-fiction.”
“The great majority of his roles have borne a strong resemblance to the [Bruce] Dern I knew in high school, in 1954, when we were runners on the New Trier track team.” Robert Hahn at Bright Lights After Dark.
For Criterion, James Naremore revisits Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940), “a mixture of danger, romance, and comedy set against a background of international intrigue. The result seems quintessentially Hitchcockian, rather like a way station between The 39 Steps (1935) and North by Northwest (1959).”
Mark Harris on Foreign Correspondent
“You have a piece for Grantland,” the New Republic‘s Isaac Chotiner says to Mark Harris, “basically arguing that political objections to films used to be based on the fact that they were immoral, with social conservatives objecting. Now a lot of films are being objected to from the left-wing point-of-view.” Harris notes that much of this criticism “is now being directed at movies that are not conservative but are seen as insufficiently of the left.”
“The distance between conspiracy films and actual documented conspiracies has always been paper-thin,” writes Michael Newton in the Guardian.
“Not exactly films noir, mid-’50s B movies like New York Confidential, The Phenix City Story and New Orleans Uncensored were inspired by the hearings, held in 1950 and 1951 by the Senate’s Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, led by Estes Kefauver, the crusading Democrat from Tennessee,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “The 1951 New York hearings were telecast in their entirety to sensational reviews.” The home video releases Hoberman’s reviewing here are Fred F. Sears’s The Miami Story (1954), Bretaigne Windust and Raoul Walsh‘s The Enforcer (1951) and Joseph Kane’s Hoodlum Empire (1952).
Philipp Kadelbach’s Generation War, the German WWII mini-series being released in two parts theatrically in the U.S. has come in for both praise and condemnation. For the New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma argues the case for the defense.
Wide Screen has a new issue out: “The Unseen Century: Indian Cinema 1913-2013.”
Brian Russell Graham for Film International: “‘Illusion and Reality’ Films: Genre and Apotheosis.”
For T Magazine, Jaime Wolf profiles Agnès Troublé, best known for the clothes she designs as Agnès B. She’s also a director (Je m’appelle Hmmm… screened at the New York Film Festival and opens in France this spring), runs a DVD label and her company Love Streams has backed and co-produced work by the likes of Claire Denis, Gaspar Noé and Harmony Korine.
In The Ipcress File (1965), director Sidney Furie and cinematographer Otto Heller “made every foreground object a ‘framing device’ that actively composed the shot,” writes Vashni Nedomansky. “This technique was used to both reveal specific story elements on screen and also to visually express the claustrophobic and unsettling tone of the film.”
Back in the New Republic, David Thomson explains why he’s disappointed in Dheeraj Akolkar’s doc Liv and Ingmar.
IN OTHER NEWS
Variety‘s Patrick Frater reports that Palisades Tartan has sold U.S. distribution rights to its library, “which includes the iconic ‘Asian Extreme’ movie collection,” to Kino Lorber. 90 titles in all, including work by Park Chan-wook, Johnnie To and Shinya Tsukamoto as well as the likes of Carlos Reygadas’s Battle in Heaven and Ulrich Seidl‘s Import Export. As it happens, Richard Lorber is Adam Schartoff‘s latest guest on Filmwax Radio.
Clayton Dillard at the House Next Door on Continental Strangers: German Exile Cinema 1933-1951: “In spite of a subtitle that suggests a survey of German exile cinema over an 18-year period, Gerd Gemünden’s new book cunningly circumnavigates the typical pitfalls of cinema historicism by turning his focus to a variety of themes, influences, and industrial forces, rather than singling out only one. While canonical films such as 1942’s To Be or Not to Be and 1943’s Hangmen Also Die receive chapter-length studies, so too do less exhausted works like 1934’s The Black Cat, 1939’s The Life of Emile Zola, and 1949’s Act of Violence, each with precise and comprehensive results.”
IN THE WORKS
The team behind Slumdog Millionaire (2008)—director Danny Boyle, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Colson—are preparing a biopic based on the life of tennis legend Billie Jean King, reports Ian Mohr in the New York Post. “It will focus on King’s famous ‘Battle of the Sexes’ against Bobby Riggs in 1973.”
“Ben Kingsley has joined the cast of Anton Corbijn’s period drama Life, opposite Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. Also: “Meryl Streep will play British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst in historical drama Suffragette opposite Carey Mulligan.”
“Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster and Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer lead the nominees for this year’s Asian Film Awards,” reports Peter Martin at Twitch. “The former received 11 nominations, while the latter earned five nods.”
James Schamus accepting his award from the Writers Guild
Captain Phillips and American Hustle are the big winners for the American Cinema Editors. In Contention‘s Kristopher Tapley has the full list of winners of this year’s Motion Picture Sound Editors‘ Golden Reel Awards.
David Davidson‘s posted Positif editor Michel Ciment’s top twelve films of the year for every year from 1981 through 2013 and followed up with another round of Ciment‘s lists of his favorite films of the Oughts, the 80s and the years 1952-1981.
This year’s Skandies countdown is complete. Scroll down Mike D’Angelo’s Listen Eggroll to see what’s been voted up Best Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actor and Actress, Screenplay and Scene. Each list runs from #1 to #20.
At Wildgrounds, you’ll find the two lists of the top Japanese films of 2013, one from Kinema Junpo, the other from Eiga Geijutsu.
Via Open Culture: Eddie Muller‘s list of “25 Noir Films That Will Stand the Test of Time.” More lists: “The 25 Best Time-Travel Movies Ever Made” (Flavorwire) and “The 25 Best Romantic Comedies Since When Harry Met Sally” (Vulture).
“In April 1988,” writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian, “a week before his 70th birthday, the film director Gabriel Axel, who has died aged 95, walked up on stage at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles to receive the best foreign language film Oscar for Babette’s Feast (1987), the first Danish movie to achieve that honor. In a mixture of Danish and French, the slim, grey-bearded, bespectacled Axel quoted a line from the character of the General in the film: ‘Because of this evening, I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.’ It was the pinnacle of Axel’s long career and marked the beginning of a resurgence of Danish cinema.”
For Miu Miu’s short film series Women’s Tales, So Yong Kim directs Riley Keough
“Japanese-American animation legend Jimmy Murakami, who played an important role in the development of Ireland’s animation industry, has died at the age of 80,” reports Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew. “A restless creative soul who directed numerous award-winning shorts and the much-admired feature When the Wind Blows (1986), Murakami hopscotched the globe as few other artists. In the span of a few years during the late-1950s, he worked at United Productions of America in Los Angeles, Pintoff Productions in New York, Toei Animation in Japan, and TVC Studio in London, and then followed that with stints in Italy, France and The Netherlands.”