19.March.2012: Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival wrapped over the weekend, but not before a few critics offered parting glances at V/H/S, a horror omnibus with segments directed by indie directors Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard, and others. The House Next Door’s Jonathan Pacheco writes that “The uniqueness of each segment’s topic…adds to the suspense and fun of V/H/S, making the start of each tape a sort of guessing game.” Reporting from the film’s SXSW Q&A, The Austin Chronicle’s Richard Whittaker reports on the way the directors rose to the challenge of their lo-fi restrictions: “Because of the POV-effect, West’s camera crew was his cast, so he gave his actors on a pro-sumer camera. Similarly, Bruckner used a mixture of a spy camera in some glasses and a helmet-mounted camera rig (designed by cinematographer Victoria Warren) to simulate the same effect. Meanwhile the wraparound was shot on a real, old school VHS camera. Wingard said, ‘I wanted to shoot it on a real load-in VHS camera, and the camera we actually used was from (scriptwriter Simon Barrett) and it was the exact same camera I had growing up when I was doing martial arts movies in my back yard.’”
New York Times scribe Erik Piepenburg focuses his report on the legacy of queer cinema on the Queer/Art/Film series that tonight features Rose Troche’s presentation of Steve Mclean’s 1994 portrait of artist David Wojnarowicz, Postcards from America. Later this week Hedwig and the Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell inaugurates the Los Angeles edition of the series at Cinefamily with a screening of Jean Vigo’s Zéro de Conduite and 1973 television movie The Girl Most Likely To…. Meanwhile, Piepenburg cites a variety of upcoming retrospectives, preservation projects, and books that signal a resurgence of interest in queer cinema, MoMA’s May program dedicated to German auteur Werner Schroeter; the Film-makers’ Cooperative’s digitization of Jose Rodriguez-Soltero’s 1966 film starring Mario Montez, Lupe; and filmmaker William E. Jones‘ biography of Fred Halstead, Halstead Plays Himself. Spilling onto the Times arts blog, Pipenburg polls several notables about the gay films that changed their lives. Explore Fandor’s LGBT offerings, including several films by legendary activist-filmmaker Derek Jarman.
The latest piece on Abel Gance’s Napoleon ahead of four shows at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre beginning March 24 restoration comes from Manohla Dargis, who lucidly traces the film’s many lives. The article is clear on the historical problems with calling any restoration of the film “definitive,” but she nonetheless points out a few fantastic figures pointing to a unique experience set for Paramount ticketholders: “These four shows, according to the festival’s executive director, Stacey Wisnia, will cost about $720,000. The print and its rights alone run about $130,000; the symphony, conductor and understudy eat up another $240,000…For American cinephiles there’s an indisputable reason to see Napoleon now: film. ‘This print will probably never be seen again in the United States,’ Mr. [Robert A.] Harris said, given that a digital restoration is under way.”
Movie Morlocks published a trove of filmmaking candids by photographers Ruth Harriet Louise and George Hurrell over the weekend. Among the many delights are on-set images of Ernst Lubitsch, director-producer Hal Roach, and Mario Bava, and an unbelievable shot of actor George Raft in drag.