For the Awl, Sharan Shetty talks with Whit Stillman about the Oscar-nominated screenplay for his debut feature, Metropolitan (1990), which, “chiseled to a subtle perfection, is a thing of beauty. Of those screenwriters who depict the lives of neurotic, privileged youth, he’s the oft-overlooked link between Woody Allen and Lena Dunham. Metropolitan‘s entire narrative consists of conversations between outspoken, embittered students bound by a temporary camaraderie; the dialogues are crisp, biting, and imbued with a playful intelligence. We’re introduced to eight characters, know them for only 98 minutes, yet they each loom large in memory.”
More reading. In the Bangkok Post (and via Movie City News), Kong Rithdee talks with Ying Liang about his “quietly moving film” When Night Falls, which won the Best Director and Best Actress awards at Locarno a couple of weeks ago. Which can’t have pleased Chinese authorities. As we noted in early May, if Ying, currently living in Hong Kong, returns to mainland China, he’ll likely be arrested. “I don’t really know what the [Chinese] government is thinking. Before they threatened me, I doubt hardly anyone knew of a director named Ying Liang, or wanted to watch a film called When Night Falls. But everything they do seems to confirm my status as a director. It’s awfully strange…. I have only two choices at present: stay outside of mainland China, or return. The first choice can ensure my safety. If I were to take the second option now, I would lose my freedom. I’m not all that worried about this, but I need to carefully consider whether this decision would result in something worthwhile. I will continue to wait and consider.”
For the TLS, James M. Murphy reviews John Sbardellati’s J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the origins of Hollywoods Cold War and finds that it seems “rather going too far to argue, as he does, that Hoover’s anti-Communist crusade ‘brought to an end a brief, though vibrant, period of filmmaking in which liberal reform and social criticism from the left found its way onto American screens.’ After all, a vast assortment of influences tempered popular culture during these Cold War years in America—10 million servicemen re-entering civilian life, revelations of Soviet espionage, unprecedented economic growth and wealth accumulation which changed public attitudes towards leisure and work, the relentless growth of the mass media—to name only a few. Whatever Hoover’s many bureaucratic sins, it is a stretch to indict him for Doris Day’s escapist comedies or Annette Funicello’s beach parties.”
Or, perhaps, monster movies. Dennis Cooper collects images and clips from ten from the 50’s.
MetaFilter‘s got people talking about Captain EO (1986) again. That would be the 3D sci-fi short featuring Michael Jackson and Anjelica Huston that Francis Ford Coppola directed and George Lucas executive produced as an attraction for Disney’s parks. Wade Sampson tells the “untold story” of the film’s making in two parts: 1 and 2.
DVD/Blu-ray. “The big noise for me on Criterion’s Lonesome Blu-Ray,” writes John McElwee, “was not the main attraction, but the Broadway extra that finally gives us access to a historic 1929 musical that Universal by their account sunk a million into.”
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s La Promesse (1996) and Rosetta (1999), out now from Criterion, “remain the building blocks of the Dardenne oeuvre and perhaps the best illustrations of the central tension in their films between simplicity of means and richness of effects,” writes Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times.
At Movieline, Alonso Duralde posts a guide to some of the month’s most interesting releases.
New York. All day tomorrow, Light Industry will be screening films by Chris Marker “with introductory remarks and remembrances by Paul Chan, Thomas Keenan, Tom McDonough, Molly Nesbit, Martha Rosler, Jason Simon, and Amy Taubin, among others.”
Orientation: A New Arab Cinema is on at the Film Society of Lincoln Center through Wednesday and, for Cinespect, Mónica López-González talks with programmer Richard Peña and, for the FSLC, Channing Davisson asks Susan Youssef about her debut feature, Habibi.
In the works. From Jordan Zakarin in the Hollywood Reporter: “‘I have to say that when I first heard Toby’s [Jones] voice as Alfred Hitchcock, my body just froze,’ Tippi Hedren told reporters at the TCA press tour earlier this month; with the release of this first narrated preview of HBO’s The Girl, Hedren’s shock is now quite understandable.”