10.January.2012: The Mainichi Daily News reports that longtime Japanese action star Hideaki Nitani died of pneumonia on Saturday. He was 81. Though cast as a supporting player in classics like Koreyoshi Kurahara’s I Am Waiting (1957) and Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter (1966), Nitani was undoubtedly one of the faces that defined the Nikkatsu studio bold output of the 1950s and 1960s. Chris MacGee explains how the actor got his start for Nikkatsu after working as a radio personality on the J-Film Pow-Wow page.
Good news regarding indie theatrical exhibition doesn’t come often, so better enjoy this: Anne Thomson reports that Alamo Drafthouse and Landmark Theatres saw box office revenues increase 2.6 percent and 4 percent this past year (this in marked contrast to the major studios’ 3.4 percent decline in domestic box office). Landmark’s Ted Mundorff notes that the theaters’ box office was more evenly dispersed throughout the year: “’We didn’t have to rely on the fourth quarter. This year was a 52-week business, led by Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life in May. Who says you can’t program against the summer blockbusters?’”
Terrence Malick is one the names not on the Directors Guild of America’s 2011 nominations, though Woody Allen makes the cut along with David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Martin Scorsese (Hugo). Melena Ryzik points out that “only six times in more than 60 years has the DGA winner not gone on to win the Oscar,” which makes the shortlist’s omissions all the more striking. Michael Cieply considers the art of the snub for the New York Times. Meanwhile, Hazanavicius is banking on his frontrunner status to lock up his next project. Variety reports the Hollywood-smitten French director’s next feature will be inspired by Fred Zinnemann’s postwar drama, The Search (1948).
Critic R. Emmet Sweeney posts an eclectic list of the films he’s most anticipating in the new year. He’s looking for new art-house fare by Christian Petzold, Leos Carax, Manoel de Oliveira, as well as a 3-D movie by Hong Kong wuxia master Tsui Hark and wider releases by Walter Hill, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the Farrelly Brothers.
Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme debuts on Fandor today. Once you catch up with Kevin B. Lee‘s linguistically inclined video essay on the Keyframe blog, steer over to Indiewire for Eric Kohn‘s extended discussion with critics Kent Jones and Jonathan Rosenbaum about Godard and Robert Bresson (the subject of a travelling retrospective currently showing at New York’s Film Forum). “We haven’t really figured out how to talk about Godard,” says Jones. “He is engulfed by polemics, either celebrated or dismissed. The newer films are interpreted, decoded, in certain cases annotated, but not quite described…I agree with Alain Bergala that from Passion on, the work has come to us in an endless stream, resisting finality, drifting toward and away from cohesion—I once saw this as a limitation, but I no longer do.”