“In the summer of 1970,” begins Andy Lewis in the Hollywood Reporter, “Orson Welles started filming The Other Side of the Wind, about an aging director (played by John Huston) returning to Hollywood to make one last great picture after a self-imposed exile. Welles thought he could shoot the film in eight weeks; it took six years. He was still editing it when he died in 1985—though to be fair, Ayatollah Khomeini, claiming revolutionary Iran owned the film because the shah’s brother-in-law was an investor, had it impounded in Paris in 1979. Journalist Josh Karp retells this wild story in the supremely entertaining Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind, an early contender for this year’s best book about Hollywood.”
Karp has turned an excerpt from his book into a rollicking article for Vanity Fair that takes us up to 1975. You may remember that, at the end of last October, news broke that previously warring factions had come to terms and will allow the pieces of this unrealized film to be put together. As Ray Kelly reports at Welles.net, “The goal is to deliver a theatrical release of a film close to what Welles would have wanted when he completed principal photography in 1976.”
Kelly’s posted several videos from a panel on The Other Side of the Wind that took place in February at the Sedona International Film Festival. Here’s Karp opening the proceedings:
As it happens, Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s just posted his 2006 review of the second volume of Simon Callow’s biography of Welles: “[I]t’s no discredit to Callow to assert that he’s every bit as biased in Hello Americans as he was in his first volume, The Road to Xanadu, even though the nature of his slant has substantially changed. In fact, this is a far better book in the depth of its sympathetic understanding of Welles. Without ever discussing it, Callow has responded so well to criticisms regarding his first volume—notably his inadequate treatment of Welles’s leftist politics and some unwarranted slurs on his ethics, flaws that are in fact interconnected—that some of the most solid strengths here derive from his thoughtful and conscientious attention to these issues.”
The Guardian‘s asked seven philosophers to pick a film and address a timeless question:
- “How can we do the right thing?” Julian Baggini on Ruben Östlund‘s Force Majeure (2014).
- “What makes a life worth living?” Christine Korsgaard on Frank Capra‘s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
- “Can anything really be justified?” Ursula Coope on Pawel Pawlikowski‘s Ida (2013).
- “Is there more to us than biology?” Peter Singer on Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca (1997).
- “Are the things we imagine real?” Susan Haack on Dean Parisot’s Galaxy Quest (1999).
- “What is the enduring self?” Kenneth Taylor on Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000).
- “Is the quest for good a road to evil?” Slavoj Žižek on Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring (2003).
On a related note, Zach Lewis in the Notebook: “Was Adieu au langage crafted as a ‘thinking’ film in the same manner that Emerson’s essay or the Dostoyevsky’s novels are of interest to professional philosophers? I’d need a few more visitations with Godard’s film and its legion of verbal and visual citations in order to be comfortable classifying it as philosophy.”
To mark the recent passing of film scholar Sam Rohdie, “a hugely important, if at times also a divisive figure in our discipline,” Catherine Grant‘s posted an entry at Film Studies for Free collecting a tribute from Adrian Martin and links to writing by and about Rohdie.
“There’s always a difference between life and cinema. But it’s a conversation, an attempt to balance something. In cinema I think I can balance better than in life.” That’s Pedro Costa, talking to Stoffel Debuysere.
At Slant, Clayton Dillard argues that Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels (1941) “mounts rigorous philosophical and sociological inquiry through ironized consciousness raising, in which a brief taste of reality and a false epiphany for its protagonist are ambiguously put forth as a solution to the film’s dense and almost impossibly reconcilable bevy of representational issues.”
“While Shirley Clarke was filming The Connection, a New York independent film that captures the blistering intelligence and roiling emotions of jazz and the cold sweat of heroin addiction, Hollywood was churning out virgin cocktails like Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” notes Steven Boone at RogerEbert.com. “Clarke was on a whole ‘nother level. Milestone Films is putting out new DVD’s and Blu-rays of The Connection so pristine that we can’t miss the genius this time around.”
Yusef Sayed at Little White Lies on Sidney Lumet’s The Offence (1972): “There are fewer influential films among British crime cinema of this period, but we might reasonably presume that, despite its relative obscurity, Lumet’s vision here has resonated as far as Japan providing no small degree of inspiration for the 1990s films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa.”
Kim Morgan on Stanley Kubrick‘s The Killing (1956): “Dark humor simmers underneath this picture directly alongside the dread during which, like many heist movies, we root for the robbers knowing they’re not gonna make it…. We foresee the demise, but never mind, we tense up along with the characters and drag down further as their ends becomes ever painful. And the ends of The Killing are damn painful, and in many ways, darkly funny.”
“Since 1993 HBO’s Static Intro for original programming has been like a Pavlovian experiment that’s been conducted on millions of people. We hear the sound of that TV flip on, and we salivate for the red meat of well-made fiction. We crave it.” Zaron Burnett III for Playboy via Jason Kottke.
IN OTHER NEWS
“The 34th annual Istanbul Film Festival cancelled all of its film competitions at the behest of the various juries, given the extraordinary circumstances at the film festival this year. The festival was forced to withdraw a programmed screening of a Kurdish documentary, Bakur (North, Çayan Demirel and Ertugrul Mavioglu, 2015) from the festival, which resulted in all of the domestic competition films except for two being pulled from the festival by the filmmakers.” Alisa Lebow‘s full report for FIPRESCI follows.
Movie Mezzanine editor Sam Fragoso has announced a partnership with To Be Cont’d, founded by Andrew Welch and Peter Labuza and co-edited with Abbey Bender. The occasion revives a good handful of conversations that’ve run at To Be Cont’d in the past year or so. Also, “in honor the release of Bert Cardullo’s book Forward Observer: Stanley Kauffmann at the Cinema, 1999-2013, we’ve collected five of his most interesting, scathing, and/or profound reviews, small, but sure indicators of Kauffmann’s acumen as a critic.”
New York. With KINO!, a festival of German cinema, on through Thursday, Twitch‘s Dustin Chang talks with Christoph Hochhäusler about The Lies of the Victors: “I’d say from all my films, this is the closest to a genre cinema I’ve done.”
From Danny King in the Voice: “In collaboration with BAMcinématek, the programmer C. Mason Wells—currently the brain behind the IFC Center’s 35mm-exclusive Celluloid Dreams series—has constructed The Vertigo Effect, a two-week program of movies that wear the traces of Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal 1958 work.” It opens Thursday, runs through April 30, and Wells has a terrific introduction to the series on BAM’s blog.
Berlin. On Thursday at the Zeughaus Kino, Brigitta Wagner will be presenting her new book, DEFA after East Germany, and introducing Volker Koepp’s rarely screened documentary Sammelsurium—ein ostelbischer Kulturfilm (1992).
Essen. Opening on Friday and on view through August 16 at the Museum Folkwang: Robert Frank: Books and Films, 1947–2014.
IN THE WORKS
“George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures production company has acquired the film rights to FBI body-language expert Joe Navarro‘s latest book, Three Minutes to Doomsday,” which “recounts how Navarro used a shaking cigarette to ultimately uncover the most dangerous security breach in U.S. history.” Hilary Lewis has more in the Hollywood Reporter.
Lone Scherfig will direct Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin in the romantic comedy Their Finest Hour and a Half, reports Leo Barraclough for Variety.
Listening (81’37”). In his second SXSW 2015 episode on Filmwax Radio, Adam Schartoff talks with Ondi Timoner (Brand: A Second Coming), Ross Partridge and Jennifer Lafleur (Lamb) and Luke Meyer and Tom Davis with (Breaking a Monster).