Ever since the nine reels of Too Much Johnson, the filmic elements shot by Orson Welles for his Mercury Theater’s 1938 production of William Gillette’s farce, were rediscovered last summer, you’ve probably read quite a bit about it—you may even be among the lucky few, relatively speaking, who’ve actually seen the restored print. At any rate, no matter how much you already know about last summer’s sensation, you’ll want to take in Joseph McBride‘s article at the newly redesigned Bright Lights Film Journal (and it’s looking great, guys!).
McBride, who plays “a satirical version of myself as an earnest young film critic” in Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind (1972) and who’s written two books on Welles (among other biographies as well as screenplays), recalls discovering 1934 short The Hearts of Age (much to Welles’s chagrin), discusses Welles’s “other early film ventures” prior to Too Much Johnson and the evolution of the directorial style—and just generally places the project in historical and biographical context: “Using an exuberantly naughty sex farce from the Victorian era (complete with repeated phallic jokes around the name ‘Johnson’) as a vehicle for a late-1930s stage production was also a means of having sport with sexual anxieties at a time when the twenty-three-year-old Welles was himself an energetic philanderer like the play’s central character, a dapper New York lawyer.”
David Davidson‘s been looking into the significance of Hitchcock in office debates in the early days of Cahiers du cinéma and has posted English translations of Jean-Luc Godard‘s 1952 piece on Strangers on a Train (1951) and Eric Rohmer‘s 1959 article on Vertigo (1958). On a related note (that actually belongs in the “Goings On” section), the Cinémathèque française in Paris begins celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary film archivist and cinephile Henri Langlois tomorrow when it throws the doors open on an exhibition and a series of screenings and events.
“I’ve been making films for so long, for over 50 years now, but I really think I have two paths of work—cinema and installation. They overlap, of course. My installations use films and, one might say, my recent film—Les Plages d’Agnès—is a kind of installation.” That’s Agnès Varda, talking in 2010 to Lauren O’Neill-Butler, who, in today’s piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Agnès Varda in Californialand, an exhibition on view at LACMA through June 22, writes that “it’s easy to see how her short yet formative experience of being in Los Angeles, meandering its cinematic streets and scenes, prompted her to expand both of these paths, from the immaterial space of cinema to the material world.”
Laurent Kretzschmar has translated Serge Daney‘s review of Robert Kramer’s Diesel published at the time of the film’s release in France (1985) and, at The Vulgar Cinema, Otie Wheeler argues that “not even Daney could understand Diesel,” which “is that most auteurist of treats, the interesting failure.”
Via Tom Shone, Clive James on Farran Nehme, the Self-Styled Siren: “In my estimation, the Siren has better judgment than [Pauline] Kael, and a wider range of appreciation, and loses nothing by having left the print medium behind, bringing nothing of it with her except its rules of discipline.” She “is helping to set the standards of a new critical medium.”
Roman Polanski’s Waiting for Godot, David Cronenberg’s Frankenstein, Martin Scorsese’s Gershwin, Terrence Malick’s The Moviegoer, Antonioni‘s Suffer or Die and Hitchcock’s Kaleidoscope are among the 47 films that never saw the light of day collected by Dennis Cooper in a terrific post at DC’s.
Pablo Ferro has designed landmark opening titles for Dr. Strangelove, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt and dozens of other films. The Art of the Title has just posted the first part of a three-part feature on Ferro, an interview with the graphic designer and his son, Allen, covering “Pablo’s beginnings as an illustrator and animator in New York, his first agency, and his move into film through his friendship and collaboration with Stanley Kubrick.”
As previously noted, a collection of restored films by John and Faith Hubley is currently touring the States, marking the 100th anniversary of John, the subject of an appreciation at Indiewire by Greg Cwik: “His experimental animation seemed uncontainable—wildly singular visions that owed more to Hans Hoffman than Max Fleischer.”
Just up at Notes on Metamodernism: Abigail Ann Schwarz on “Shia LaBeouf’s Metamodern Performance Art.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The Cannes Film Festival‘s announced that Pablo Trapero will preside over the Jury for Un Certain Regard. The lineup for the Competition and UCR will be announced on April 17.
“Steve McQueen has thrown his support behind demands for planned anti-slavery laws to be toughened up and for extra protection to stop victims being turned into criminals,” reports the Press Association.
“Roman Polanski, Jean-Claude Carrière and Jean-Xavier de Lestrade are among nearly 200 names added to a petition protesting a cash squeeze on English-language subtitlers in France.” Stuart Kemp has details in the Hollywood Reporter.
IN THE WORKS
Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli reports that Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) “will write and direct his first TV series, working-titled The Young Pope, about an imaginary pontiff who is the first Italian-American Pope in history.”
Spike Lee’s directing the video for Eminem’s “Headlights,” reports Edward Davis for the Playlist.
“Greta Gerwig has found time in her increasingly busy schedule for the stage: she’ll star as a pregnant, sexually adventurous young wife in Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike for MCC Theater,” reports Scott Heller for the New York Times.
Minneapolis. “Darjeeling Unscripted, the improv show in the style of a Wes Anderson film, blends written and extemporaneous art forms into a harmonious matrimony that delights and perplexes,” writes Maggie K. Sotos for L’étoile Magazine. Saturdays at HUGE Theater throughout April and May.
Los Angeles. The Indian Film Festival opens today and runs through Sunday.
“Mary Anderson, a redheaded actress who auditioned for the part of Scarlett O’Hara in the 1939 epic Gone With the Wind but wound up playing a supporting role as Maybelle Merriwether, died Sunday,” reports Claire Noland for the Los Angeles Times. “She went on to appear in films in the 1940s and ’50s, including Cheers for Miss Bishop, The Song of Bernadette and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.” Anderson was 96.
Benjamin Sampson’s “Layers of Paradox in F for Fake” (2009), currently being featured at [in]Transition, “the first peer-reviewed academic periodical specifically given over to videographic film and moving image studies.”
“Richard Brick, a filmmaker and teacher who as the film commissioner of New York City in the early 1990s helped repair the city’s strained relationship with Hollywood and bring film crews back from Toronto and other faux-New York locations, died on Wednesday,” reports Bruce Weber in the NYT. “He was 68.”
Kent Jones remembers Josh Strauss, who worked in the programming department at the Film Society of Lincoln Center: “His Pam Grier and Raquel Welch tributes were high points. With those shows and with his tribute to Steve McQueen (the actor), Josh evoked the allure of an earlier era in movies: the tacky, broad-stroked, full-colored world of commercial moviemaking in the 70s.”
“Leee Black Childers, the photographer who captured a generation of the New York underground culture, in the 1970s has died in Los Angeles,” reports P.C. Robinson for Artlyst.
Browse and read, listen and watch your way through David Cronenberg: Virtual Exhibition.