Film Quarterly has not only a new issue but also a new site. In her opening editorial, B. Ruby Rich, who, as noted the other day, will be in London from June 22 through 25 for the series of screenings and talks Being Ruby Rich, slips in a story or two about Eleanor Coppola and Lynn Hershman-Leeson.
Josslyn Luckett interviews Billy Woodberry, a key figure of the “L.A. Rebellion,” noting that his “career—both his own new work and the recent critical revaluations of his classic work, such as the naming of Bless Their Little Hearts [1983; image above] to the National Film Registry in 2013—makes words like ‘rebellion’ or ‘revival’ only marginally useful. Any research into the full range of his film work, including his multiple roles as film actor, film narrator, video installation artist, and film history and production professor at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) since 1989, reveals a Woodberry who might be more properly termed an underground ‘renaissance’ man than a rebel.”
Regina Longo introduces her interview with Celestino Deleyto, whose new book is From Tinseltown to Bordertown: Los Angeles on Film: “Using dominant Hollywood films produced from 1992 through 2009, he shows how the mainstream films set in L.A. reflect the changing faces of the city. He foregrounds the settings, locations, and backdrops of the films rather than their characters and narrative arcs to show how Hollywood has reshaped its representation of Los Angeles in the wake of political and cultural upheavals.”
“This August marks the seventieth anniversary of the partition of India, the monumental decision at the end of British rule to divide a once unified region into two nations—Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India.” Bilal Qureshi: “There is an extraordinary body of literature about the event, true, but for a region where cinema reigns supreme, the dearth of films is a glaring absence. The one exception is a nineteen-year-old film by Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta, Earth (1998). Throughout her career, Deepa Mehta has infused the energy of mainstream Indian cinema with fierce political consciousness.”
“The Hero's Journey” is the theme of the new issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room. Only a certain number of articles are freely available to non-subscribers, so choose carefully. Kelsey Ford’s piece on Julia Ducournau’s Raw and Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper, though, is up at RogerEbert.com.
“No one understood the perennial pull of nostalgia better than Raoul Walsh, who made a pair of films in 1941 that look back on the codes and customs of the late 19th century with pangs of fond regret,” writes Steven Mears for Film Comment. “In The Strawberry Blonde and They Died with Their Boots On, Walsh offers more than a retreat to ‘simpler times’: together they form a cinematic Rosetta Stone for understanding the phenomenon of backwards longing.”
Jean Renoir’s La Bête Humaine (1938) is “a moody death-haunted drama adapted from the Emile Zola novel, returning to the author’s work for the first time since Nana (1926),” writes R. Emmet Sweeney for Streamline. “A grimly fatalistic tale about a train engineer’s inbred compulsion to murder, and his desperate attempts to restrain it, it is graced by an iconic Jean Gabin performance that attempts to go beyond good and evil.”
Wonder Woman has Emily Yoshida “thinking of an alternate universe in which the language of blockbuster action was developed primarily by women. . . . If you have any doubt of the indelible mark the patriarchy has left on the modern blockbuster action sequence, you need only look to the repetition of ‘invade the body’ climaxes, which we can probably blame George Lucas for. From Star Wars to Independence Day to the recent Tom Cruise flop Oblivion, our heroes take their vessel through a small hole in a giant mothership, fly deep into its center, than exploit its weakness and pull out before the whole thing explodes around them. You don’t even need to read the foreword of Psychoanalysis for Dummies to see the naked anxiety on display there.”
Also at Vulture, with the fifth and final season of Orphan Black underway, E. Alex Jung talks with Tatiana Maslany about playing nearly a dozen different clones—and with other cast members, the showrunners and so on about what it’s like to work with each of these characters.
“Far beyond the merely shitty and indifferent lies the valley of the bone-deep bad,” writes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, introducing A.V. Club readers to Mark Region’s After Last Season (2009). “Please believe me when I tell you that the movie 1) resembles an attempt at cinema by extraterrestrials; 2) is unlike any other motion picture made since the dawn of sound, and 3) fails in ways that will challenge a viewer’s preconceptions of human error. It may be the most radical and willfully abstract experiment in narrative to ever happen by accident—the Last Year at Marienbad of bad films.”
It’s Pierre Clémenti Day at DC’s.
When was the last time you checked on the Twin Peaks entry? Updates keep rolling in.
Wallace Shawn has a new collection out, Night Thoughts, and the Literary Hub’s running an excerpt: “Revenge and punishment both imply, ‘Even if I’d been you, and I’d had your life, I would never have done what you did.’ And that in turn implies, ‘I wouldn’t have done it, because I’m better than you.’ But the person who says, ‘I’m better than you’ is taking a serious step in a very dangerous direction. And the person who says, ‘Even if I’d had your life, I would never have done what you did’ is very probably wrong.”
Godfrey Cheshire, an early champion of Iran’s post-revolutionary cinema, has launched an Indiegogo campaign in order to complete and release In the Time of Kiarostami: Writings on Iranian Cinema.
Hanif Kureishi, novelist and screenwriter (My Beautiful Laundrette, Le Week-End), has a new novella, The Nothing, in which a wheelchair-bound septuagenarian filmmaker suspects his younger wife is having an affair. Writing for 3:AM, Jude Cook argues that “it’s something of a return to form, though a rash of censorious responses in the British press might beg to differ.”
“The best thing about lists is that they inspire other lists,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody, and we’re currently seeing several lists being drawn up in response to the one from New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, “The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century. So Far.” At the top of Brody’s is Jean-Luc Godard’s In Praise of Love (2001).
There’s another exercise making the rounds, and few will pull it off better than Brian Darr: Top twenty-five films released between 1900 and 1917.
The Putin Interviews
Showtime is rolling out Oliver Stone’s The Putin Interviews over four nights this week and, for James Poniewozik in the New York Times, “Mr. Stone’s view from the left is a break from the usual news media vantages on Russia, either tough-talk centrism or the defenses of Putin enablers-come-lately in the conservative media. But it is embarrassingly generous.” For K. Austin Collins at the Ringer, it’s Poniewozik who’s being generous. The Putin Interviews, he argues, is “boring, anesthetized claptrap: four hours of ass-eating masquerading as informed, even politically groundbreaking access journalism.”
Matt Zoller Seitz, author of The Oliver Stone Experience, reads more criticism in a similar vein—to Oliver Stone himself in the course of his interview with the filmmaker for Vulture. Stone’s response: “These people obviously don’t want people to watch the documentary and hear it for themselves, but even if what they saw represented there was Putin’s point of view, what’s to prevent them from reading something from the West that completely destroys him? There’s no shortage of pieces like that.”
For the Nation, Ed Rampell talks with Stone about “Edward Snowden, the new McCarthyism, Syria, Donald Trump, Ukraine, MSM, Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange, Bernie Sanders, the Cold War redux, Megyn Kelly, war and peace, and Putin.” Dominic Rushe talk with Stone as well, for the Guardian. And then there’s Stone’s appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
In Other News
France’s prestigious Prix Jean Vigo, the 65th, goes to Mathieu Amalric this year for Barbara. As Fabien Lemercier notes at Cineuropa, the film won a Prize for the Best Poetic Narrative when it premiered in the Un Certain Regard program in Cannes last month. The 2017 Jean Vigo Award for a Short Film goes to Emmanuel Marre for Le Film de l'été and an honorary award has been presented to Aki Kaurismäki “for having invented a social and poetic brand of cinema like no other, which straddles humor and terseness, and which is simultaneously enchanted and disenchanted.”
New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying with Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne will open the 55th New York Film Festival, running from September 28 through October 15. NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones: “Last Flag Flying is many things at once—infectiously funny, quietly shattering, celebratory, mournful, meditative, intimate, expansive, vastly entertaining, and all-American in the very best sense. But to isolate its individual qualities is to set aside the most important and precious fact about this movie: that it all flows like a river.”
Meantime, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2017 is on at the FSLC through Saturday.
Chicago. On Wednesday, the Chicago Film Society will present a 35mm print of Ernst Lubitsch’s Cluny Brown (1946).
London. In September, Christie’s will present the sale of the personal collection of Audrey Hepburn, including her “extensive personal wardrobe and her own annotated copies of film scripts from her best-loved films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
On the latest Film Comment Podcast, Ashley Clark, K. Austin Collins, Michael Koresky, and Violet Lucca discuss the movies they watch again and again—and why (66’04”).
Mubi and Filmadrid Festival Internacional de Cine are presenting a series of seven audiovisual essays, including work on Chantal Akerman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Setsuko Hara and Yasujiro Ozu, and more. And there’s another one in the Notebook as well, from Christopher Small and James Corning: “Ernst Lubitsch: The Object of My Affection” (9’43”).
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