“The closest analog to the Trump campaign currently in theaters, Suicide Squad is linked directly to the candidate through one of its executive producers, Steven Mnuchin, who has gone on to head Trump’s fund-raising efforts,” notes Stuart Klawans in the Nation. “But the money trail is the least of the reasons why this movie seems to emanate straight from Trump World. More to the point, Suicide Squad embodies, to the nth degree, our current standards of mainstream movie entertainment, which it then exposes as utterly bizarre.” After elaborating, Klawans moves on to Marcin Wrona’s Demon, which he finds “imaginative in its approach, faultlessly modulated in execution, and hauntingly faithful to the original subtitle of [Michal Wyszynski’s 1937 Yiddish feature] Der Dibuk: ‘Between Two Worlds.'” Then, Werner Herzog‘s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World: “His commentary is the center, however provisional, of a world that has become a directionless network.” “Much of the cinema I love—Buster Keaton comedies, Fred-and-Ginger musicals, Stan Brakhage avant-garde landmarks, Charles Burnett’s masterpiece Killer of Sheep—was made with film,” writes Manohla Dargis. “What happens to art when its foundational medium disappears? We don’t yet know, because it’s happening right now. If you care about movies, you should be wondering.” What follows is both a profile of Heather Linville, a film preservationist and Michael Pogorzelski, director of the Academy Film Archive, and an investigation into the hows and whys of what they do. Also in the New York Times, J. Hoberman reviews new releases on DVD and Blu-ray of Muriel or The Time of Return (1963)—Alain Resnais‘s “quintessential film” also “appears to be his greatest”—and Cemetery of Splendor (2015), which “may be” Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s “most political movie” as well as being his “most serene film.” “Last week, when Warner Brothers green-lit a new version of the movie A Star Is Born that will pair Bradley Cooper with Lady Gaga, it was as if a roulette wheel that had been spinning for 20 years had finally, improbably stopped,” writes Mark Harris for Vulture. “A Star Is Born has almost not been in development; the story is as old as Hollywood’s sound era, and its real-life origins even predate talkies. It is a romantic tragedy that the movie industry can’t resist, because on some level it’s a perfect representation of the way Hollywood sees itself, as a world in which public popularity and personal frailty are a lethal cocktail and in which everything—fame, success, awards, love—is a zero-sum game. Gaga may be perfect casting; A Star Is Born is American Horror Story: Showbiz.” A history of the versions that were made—and more than a few that weren’t—follows.
With Café Society opening in the UK next week, the Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard talks with Woody Allen: “I’m not one of those people who have a knee-jerk antipathy to wealth. I like to look at rich people. I enjoy taking a tour of a very wealthy estate.” Movie City News points us to a conversation at PEN America between Lynn Hershman Leeson and Laura Poitras. LHL: “I think that the ultimate surveillance now is in DNA, which is in itself a form of encrypted archiving. In Istanbul, for instance, you have to submit to biometric readers on door locks to gain access to some private rooms. These readers can register your blood type and trace what sect you’re from—what your bloodline is—and that will determine whether or not you can enter.” For Poitras, “working on NSA stuff… there is nothing that has put more fear into me.” In his latest column for Sight & Sound, Brad Stevens argues that “the intentionally unsatisfying ending has been rendered virtually redundant, at least in an American context. It has essentially been replaced by the ironic endings of postmodernism, in which we experience not a protest against the conditions preventing radical critiques from being pursued to their logical conclusions, but rather the dandy’s disdain for the very codes that made those critiques possible in the first place.” “I went on only one meeting for Into the Forest, but it was a really good one,” writes Megan Griffiths (Lucky Them), who elaborates on the process of a director coming into a project “mid-build.” But she didn’t score this one. “Patricia Rozema got it. And she did an exquisite job.” Also at the Talkhouse Film, Andrew Matthews explains why “plot blocking”—essentially keeping things from happening in order to stretch a story—is one of episodic television’s greatest weaknesses right now. At Little White Lies, Matt Thrift presents a “guide to the early films of Pedro Almodóvar.” The latest on Sion Sono at In Review Online: Chris Mello on Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013) and Kenji Fujishima on Tokyo Tribe (2014). The BFI has Nikki Baughan write up a “brief history of the BFI London Film Festival.”
New York. The latest piece on Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s 316-minute Happy Hour (2015), screening at MoMA through Tuesday, comes from Jonathan Romney. Writing for Film Comment, he notes that “in the way it patiently teases minor-key emotional and psychological insights out of ostensibly mundane moments studied at length, the film this most reminds me of is Edward Yang’s Yi Yi .”
The first gathering of Ambient Church this evening will feature Paul Clipson projecting new 16mm work, sound artist and filmmaker John Davis performing a live score to Lawrence Jordan‘s Cosmic Alchemy (2010), a sound performance by Leyna Marika Papach, and more. Tokyo. In the Japan Times, Kaori Shoji notes that a Setsuko Hara retrospective begins tomorrow at Jinbocho Theater.
IN THE WORKS
“Sam Mendes in early talks to develop and direct James and the Giant Peach, a live-action project in the works at Disney with Nick Hornby penning the screenplay,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. Also, “Sarah Paulson, who is up for an Emmy for her turn as Marcia Clark in The People Vs OJ Simpson, is in early talks to join the killer cast of Ocean’s Eight, Warner Bros and Village Roadshow’s female-driven caper spinoff directed by Gary Ross. If the deal makes she will join Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina.” And “Demi Moore has joined the cast of Rock That Body, Sony Pictures’ R-rated comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoe Kravitz.” Vincent D’Onofrio and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) are joining Bruce Willis in Eli Roth’s remake of Michael Winner‘s Death Wish (1974) with Charles Bronson, reports Anita Busch, also for Deadline.
Thom Powers previews the second season of Pure Nonfiction, sampling “upcoming conversations with filmmakers John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane), Steve James (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail), and Petra Epperlein (Karl Marx City), who are all debuting their work at TIFF.” (5’45”). Designer Sam Smith hosts a show on WXNA-LP FM 101.5 in Nashville, OST, featuring film soundtracks and scores.