22.Feburary.2012: Geoff Dyer’s latest idiosyncratic panorama, this one about Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Stalker, came out from Random House yesterday via Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room. Rose McLaren begins her take on the book for The White Review with a line from Dyer: “So what kind of writer am I, reduced to writing a summary of a film?”—a question some of us have paused over often enough. At Movie Morlocks, R. Emmett Sweeny describes the book as “a pellucid scene-by-scene ramble through Tarkovsky’s sci-fi head trip, alive to the film’s textures as much as its ideas” and draws a rather specific connection to the autobiographical lens of Dyer’s brief: “He first gazed upon Stalker on February 8th, 1981, which is also the day I was born. A transformative day for us both, although perhaps more life-changing for Dyer, who says that if he had not seen the film in his twenties, ‘my responsiveness to the world would have been radically diminished.’” The Russian auteur is also the subject of Michal Leszcylowski’s documentary Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, one of Fandor‘s featured films this week.
Referring back to the Los Angeles Times study published over the weekend about Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences’ demographic skew—94 percent white and 77 percent male out of the 89 percent accounted for—Indiewire’s Peter Knegt deconstructs this year’s Best Picture nominees along similar lines: “In terms of race, class and gender, the 2012 best picture lineup is astounding white, male and upper-class in a way it hasn’t been in awhile. Take out The Help, and all we’ve got left for 2012’s Oscars are films about a singular, white male and often filthy rich characters on some sort of journey of privileged self-discovery.”
British artist and Shame director Steve McQueen takes a rather narrower route towards Oscar outrage, railing to the Press Association, “In America they’re too scared of sex, that’s why [Michael Fassbender] wasn’t nominated. If you look at the best actor list you’re saying, ‘Michael Fassbender is not on that list?'” If The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody misses Fassbender among this year’s nominees, he’s not saying: “I’ve often greatly admired [Brad Pitt’s] performances but have found him a better silent actor than a speaker; [in Moneyball], though, the dialogue seems to emerge from within—it’s a performance of rare spontaneity.”
For a more sustained appreciation of an actor’s charms, classical Hollywood fans will want to take a look at “The Ballad of Linda Darnell,” Farran Smith Nehme‘s latest essay at her Self-Styled Siren site. “Her sheer normality breaks through at odd, sometimes inconvenient moments,” Nehme writes. “She was always divine to behold, but the more stripped-down and simple the look, the more Darnell dazzled. As an actress, it often worked the same way; the less you loaded Darnell with costumes and up-dos, the more she could loosen up on camera.”