Drawing on Don DeLillo‘s observations about the distinctions between film and television, Norman Mailer’s thoughts on the public image of JFK, and the history of cinéma vérité, A.O. Scott considers the Zapruder film and the reasons “it has been unable to resist interpretation. It is surely, frame by frame, the most closely studied, exhaustively analyzed film ever made, and also one of the most widely imitated. It has become, in spite of itself, an aesthetic object.”
Also in the New York Times, Robert Ito tells the story of Different From the Others, quite the hit in Germany in 1919. Starring Conrad Veidt and Reinhold Schunzel, the feature essentially argues, in the words of UCLA Film & Television Archive director Christopher Horak, “that homosexuality isn’t a sickness or a pathology, it’s in fact just another expression of human sexuality. It’s the kind of enlightened theory that you wouldn’t see in this country probably until the 70s or 80s.” Despite critical acclaim and box office success, censors banned Different in 1920, and of course, the Nazis “destroyed every copy they could find.” 40 minutes, though, survive. Unfortunately, Oscar Wilde’s cameo is gone for good.
John Anderson reports on “a new and newly independent strain of Greek cinema, a movement—called the Greek Weird Wave by the Guardian of London—that recently has shown a great deal of rough health.” And this, of course, despite the devastating economic crisis. Interestingly, Yorgos Lanthimos, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and that whole circle aren’t even mentioned. Instead, Anderson focuses on producers Konstantinos Kontovrakis and Giorgos Karnavas and directors Alexandros Avranas, Yorgos Servetas, Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Elina Psikou, and Ektoras Lygizos.
Eric Grode: “For American moviegoers who got their first glimpse of Leigh on the porch of Tara, The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection offers an intriguing survey of a blossoming talent, no less glamorous but far more tentative.”
“In the 1980s, when the home-video revolution turned backyard directors into VHS auteurs, Chester Novell Turner lived his childhood dream of making horror movies,” writes Erik Piepenburg. Now, at 67, he “learns to his surprise that he is a niche horror star who is being cheered by fans at sold-out screenings across the country and is the subject of a new DVD boxed set.”
Nick Pinkerton considers what the sophomore features of Wes Anderson (Rushmore, 1998) and Alexander Payne (Election, 1999) have in common—and what they don’t: “In Anderson’s universe, ‘the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life’ is the opportunity to create something that everyone can partake in and benefit from, as in the conclusion of Rushmore. In Payne’s, no opportunity exists without someone else being stepped over.”
Also at Sundance Now, Michael Koresky: “There’s something perfectly perverse in that the most enduring American screen musical of the eighties is probably This Is Spinal Tap.”
“Few filmmakers can be said to work in a style so singular that any given frame is instantly identifiable,” writes Mike D’Angelo at the AV Club. “Sweden’s Roy Andersson, however, has carved out a niche so distinctive that he has no imitators, no descendants, and no disciples.” And there’s a scene (2’26”) in Songs from the Second Floor (2000) that’s still a baffler.
With the Gothic season rolling on through December throughout the UK, a string of new related titles have been appearing in the BFI Film Classics series of books. PD Smith recommends Mar Diestro-Dopido’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Roger Luckhurst’s The Shining.
Also in the Guardian‘s books section, Will Self revisits Guy Debord’s 1967 landmark: “Many of its most sympathetic readers experience The Society of the Spectacle as a concerted howl of disgust. I cannot agree—for me it is the Spectacle that, far from being the creation of some malevolent or false god, emerges instead as the hero of the piece, inasmuch as any hero can be conceived of as the unconscious product of insensate historical processes.”
Rob Humanick in Slant on Ida Lupino‘s The Hitch-Hiker (1953): “Notable in the film noir canon for both a lack of chiaroscuro and for being the first of the genre to be helmed by a woman, the film is an efficient, microcosmic examination of humanity under duress and how depravity illuminates the not always obvious distinction between cowardice and resilience.”
At PopMatters, Soheil Rezayazdi and Hubert Vigilla write up “12 films we think should have a place in the Criterion canon.”
“A good haircut can be more than mere fashion or part of a glamorous appearance. It can also connote something about a character’s persona, and in some cases, tap into a larger social significance.” Susan Doll looks back at some of the more notable ‘dos throughout cinema’s history at Movie Morlocks.
“Whenever a friend asks me if I have any interesting tales involving text-messaging, I think of Jeremy.” This week’s “Shouts & Murmurs” piece in the New Yorker comes from Michael Cera.
IN OTHER NEWS
Among the artists whose work will be a part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial: Andrew Bujalski; Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, and Sensory Ethnography Lab; the late Allan Sekula; and David Foster Wallace.
Ioncinema will be spending the week making its Sundance 2014 lineup predictions.
Los Angeles. Tonight at REDCAT: “Iran’s most celebrated female filmmaker, Rakhshan Banietemad, screens two passionate and fascinating explorations of the impact of the recent electoral processes in her country. We Are Half of Iran’s Population (Ma Nimi Az Jameiate Iranim, 2009) shows a diverse coalition of women’s rights activists engaged in the political debate. In the world premiere of See You Tomorrow Elina! (Farda Mibinamet Elina, 2013), Banietemad returns to the kindergarten where she had enrolled her daughter, Baran—now an actress and activist who has appeared in many of Banietemad’s narrative films.”
And this happens on Thursday:
The second part of Anthology’s The Middle Ages on Film series, focusing on Shakespeare, opens on Wednesday and runs through December 1.
Chicago. This week’s Cine-File.
Vienna. On Thursday and Friday, David Gatten will introduce two programs of his work at the Austrian Film Museum.
IN THE WORKS
“Dakota Fanning has been attached to star in Gerardo Naranjo’s untitled coming-of-age story, which he will direct from his screenplay,” reports Deadline. “Naranjo’s English-language debut, is set to begin filming in February. It centers on Viena (Fanning), a roadie who’s on a journey of self-discovery and survival as part of a punk band’s convoy, traveling through America circa the 1980s.”
“Despite several setbacks, Faye Dunaway is as determined to direct her first feature film—a biopic on Maria Callas—as she was to become an actress.” Kaleem Aftab talks with her for the Independent.
Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave are to star in an adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s novel The Secret Scripture, reports the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth: “The late Johnny Ferguson (Gangster No. 1) penned the story about a 100-year-old mental patient whose decision to investigate her past shakes loose some troubling memories.”
“Doris Lessing, the Nobel prize-winning author of The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing, among more than 50 other novels ranging from political to science fiction, has died at her London home aged 94,” reports Maev Kennedy. Also in the Guardian, Lorna Sage: “She lived through some momentous transformations of her own vocation, from communist social realist to reluctant feminist, to Sufi seeker, to Cassandra, to self-appointed cosmic anthropologist…. This restless power of self-invention may prove to have been her most distinctive quality.”
“Syd Field, known as ‘the guru of screenwriting,’ died yesterday,” reports Michael Rosser for Screen Daily. “Field was the author of eight best-selling books on screenwriting. The first of these, Screenplay, was initially published in 1979, has been published in 23 languages and is used in hundreds of colleges and universities around the world.”
“Veteran character actor Al Ruscio, who appeared in countless film, television and stage productions across half a century, has died at age 89,” reports the AP.
Listening (99’19”). In the latest Cinephiliacs podcast, Peter Labuza talks with Imogen Sara Smith, author of Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy and In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City, about Buster and noir, of course, but also about “her love of Pre-Code’s subversive pleasures. The two also dive deeply into the many ends and odds of the strange cycle of film noir, engaging with questions of genre, psychology, and some underrated hits, before ending with one of noir’s canonical masterpieces: Nicholas Ray’s In A Lonely Place, a film so brutal in its depiction of love by being at first so intoxicating.”
The Rome Film Festival wrapped over the weekend, and I’ve updated that entry with news of the award-winners and the first reviews of new films by Takashi Miike, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and the late Aleksei German. Meantime, DOC NYC rolls on through Thursday.
And John Wyver‘s gathered another round of great links.