The title of the first part of Tom Paulus’s projected three-part essay for photogénie, “The Love Connection: Another Jam Session on Narrative,” references “Jam Session on Non-Narrative,” a conversation that took place between film critics Jonathan Rosenbaum, David Ehrenstein, and Raymond Durgnat in 1978 and published in Film Comment. Paulus notes that the discussion “quickly turns into a denunciation of story, plot and narrative and their proposed values of coherency and meaningfulness.” Paulus suspects that “the perennial search for the new in art cinema, especially the strand deemed ‘political,’ is still grounded in a fundamental suspicion towards narrative and its association with popular mass-consumption, perhaps today more than ever now that ‘narrative complexity,’ once the prerogative of the art film, has been adopted as the standard for blockbuster sci-fi and episodic television.”
“For some time now, Jim Jarmusch has been operating as an autocritical dialectician in his fictional features,” writes Jonathan Rosenbaum for the new issue of Trafic. “Politically as well as commercially, The Limits of Control  offers a sharp rebuke to his preceding film, Broken Flowers ,” and he elaborates. “But even more striking is the radical contrast between Jarmusch’s most elitist feature (and in many ways my least favorite), Only Lovers Left Alive  . . . and Jarmusch’s most populist feature (and one of my favorites), Paterson .”
“Today, there is no question that [Philippe de Broca’s] King of Hearts  is a you-had-to-be-there experience, whether ‘there’ was the ’60s or the ’70s,” writes Mark Harris for Film Comment. “Its combination of smugness and sentimentality has aged poorly, and its take on mental illness as a delightful gift to a universe in need of fractured viewpoints is cringe-inducing. As a movie, it’s the equivalent of the despairing tweet/meme ‘lol nothing matters,’ but longer and more Gallic.”
“That axiomatic Hollywood principle, action is character, takes a strange turn in [Alan J. Pakula’s] All the President’s Men ,” writes Mark Feeney in an excerpt from Nixon at the Movies: A Book About Belief now up at Slate. “The Woodward and Bernstein we get to see—so dutiful, so serious—are Butch and Sundance gelded. It wasn’t as if Woodward and Bernstein and the Post were out to get the president and his men (the party line of Nixon apologists). They don’t bring down the government out of any animus. They don’t even do it because it’s fun. (The only person in All the President’s Men who ever seems to be enjoying himself is Jason Robards’s Ben Bradlee.) They bring down the government because it’s a great story, and getting great stories is their job. . . . What’s so charismatic about journalism here isn’t its practitioners (Bradlee once again excepted); it’s the idea of journalism.”
“To examine the vanguard of documentary theory and practice over the last thirty years,” writes Erika Balsom in the new issue of e-flux Journal, “is to encounter a deep and pervasive suspicion of its relationship to the real and, more particularly, a robust rejection of its observational mode, a strain that minimizes the intervention of the filmmaker, eschews commentary, and accords primacy to lens-based capture. In the glare of the present, these arguments must be revisited and their contemporary efficacy interrogated.”
In a dispatch to frieze from documenta 14, Amy Sherlock writes about the work of, among others, Naeem Mohaiemen, Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and Douglas Gordon, whose portrait of Jonas Mekas, I Had Nowhere to Go, screened at the New York Film Festival last year.
For the Notebook, James Slaymaker writes about Abel Ferrara’s King of New York (1990), which “marks a significant turning point in its director’s oeuvre, marking the transition between the shoestring-budget B-pictures that kicked off his career and the beginning of the series of semi-reputable projects that brought him into the spotlight during the 1990s.”
“Through three decades of funding struggles and bureaucratic red tape, [Peter] Brosnan spearheaded efforts to unearth from the sandy coast of Central California the remains of one of DeMille’s most monumental undertakings: the Egyptian city constructed for his first biblical spectacle, 1923’s The Ten Commandments.” Sheri Linden for the Hollywood Reporter: “For anyone who cares about Hollywood history—or, for that matter, California history—The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille is an irresistible detective story, told with a sense of wonder, a sense of humor and a mild exasperation over the ‘permit people,’ as Brosnan wryly calls them.”
“Tay Garnett and writer Howard Higgin spent the months of February and March, 1930 on Catalina Island writing Her Man, sharing a house with Lewis Milestone, who was working on the script of All Quiet on the Western Front with George Cukor, George Abbott, Del Henderson, and Maxwell Anderson.” So begins John Andrew Gallagher’s story on the making of Her Man and its reception in Film International.
Budd Wilkins reviews The Jacques Rivette Collection, “three fascinating fusions of diverse genres and mythological fantasies,” for Slant.
In the City Paper, Brandon Soderberg tears through the oeuvre of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
The Guardian’s posted its 1961 review of Shirley Clarke’s The Connection.
Writing for AnOther, Hannah Tindle admires Tilda Swinton’s Lady Ottoline Morrell in Derek Jarman’s Wittgenstein (1993)—costumes by Sandy Powell.
“So why is Hollywood churning out so many movies where technology leads to painful, terrifying death, but is reluctant to make movies where that same tech leads to love?” asks Glen Weldon for NPR.
For Sabzian, Mattijs Driesen and Quinten Wyns talk with Charles Burnett about his 1978 film Killer of Sheep and his 1973 film The Horse before the conversation turns to Johan van der Keuken, the Flaherty Seminar, and Samira Makhmalbaf’s The Apple (1998).
If both Bookforum and New York have sex issues out, it must be summer. For New York, Christopher Bonanos talks with Molly Haskell about a piece she wrote for the magazine in 1976, “The Night Porno Films Turned Me Off.” She now tells Bonanos, “I don’t call myself a feminist film critic—I’m a film critic first and then a feminist.” Via Movie City News.
Introducing her interview with Bill Morrison here in the Current, Hillary Weston notes that Dawson City: Frozen Time, rolling out into theaters across the country this summer, allows the filmmaker “the chance to explore the ghostlike qualities of cinema through the story of a small town in Canada’s Yukon Territory, where five hundred lost reels of nitrate film were buried in permafrost in a swimming pool.”
For the TIFF Review, Andrew Tracy talks with Phyllis Nagy, who wrote the screenplay for Todd Haynes’s Carol (2015), based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt. The focus here is on Highsmith’s series of Tom Ripley novels.
In Other News
The National Film Preservation Foundation has announced this year’s round of grants that will allow thirty-six institutions to preserve fifty-seven films. “The selections range from Broken Barriers (1919), the first motion-picture adaptation of the Sholem Aleichem story that inspired Fiddler on the Roof, to Code Blue (1972), a recruitment film aimed at bringing minorities into the medical field made by Henry Hampton’s Blackside Inc., the Emmy-winning producer of Eyes on the Prize.”
As Artforum reports, Dave Kehr, “author, journalist, film historian, critic, and curator of film at New York’s Museum of Modern Art," has been awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
This year’s Lumière Award will be presented to Wong Kar-wai on October 20 during the ninth edition of the Lumière festival organized by Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux and Bertrand Tavernier.
To celebrate the premiere of Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying at this year’s New York Film Festival (September 28 through October 15), Gabe Klinger is making his 2013 documentary Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater viewable for free for one week.
New York. Il Boom (1963), Vittorio De Sica’s “portrait of a different aspect of the Italian early ’60s ‘dolce vita,’ in which the entrepreneurial middle class rubs elbows with, and tries to wheel and deal with, the obscenely wealthy, is packed with trenchant observation and mordant wit,” writes Glenn Kenny in the New York Times. Screening at Film Forum through June 27.
“Ira Sachs’s touching debut feature The Delta, about a Memphis teenager coming out and trying to make sense of relationships, was commercially released 20 years ago,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz, introducing his interview with the filmmaker for RogerEbert.com. “The Delta arrived after a wave of stylish, often spiky LGBTQ-themed independent films, grouped by scholars under the heading ‘New Queer Cinema’ and characterized by such directors as Gregg Araki (The Living End), Tom Kalin (Swoon) and Todd Haynes (Poison). The Delta was comparatively gentler and more rooted in the everyday reality of an extremely specific time and place: late ‘90s Memphis, Tennessee. In retrospect it feels like the perfect announcement of Sachs’s distinctive temperament as a writer-director, which he would develop such follow-ups as Forty Shades of Blue, Married Life, Keep the Lights On, Love is Strange, and Little Men.” The Delta screens tonight at the Quad.
Austin. The Film Society is presenting the new restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) through Wednesday, and programmer Lars Nilsen suggests that it’s “immediately relevant to our unsettled political reality because it shows us an iteration of reality and asks if we believe it—or if we even want to believe it.”
Portland. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Bruno Dumont’s The Life of Jesus, and tonight, the Northwest Film Center presents a 35 mm print.
In the Works
“Since 11 May, Romain Gavras has been shooting Mr. Freeze, his second feature-length effort, following Our Day Will Come (2010),” writes Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa. “Well known around the world as a director of music videos (for the likes of Justice, Jay-Z, Kanye West, M.I.A. and PNL, to name but a few) and adverts, Costa-Gavras’s son has assembled a cast toplined by Karim Leklou,” Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel, and Oulaya Amamra. The story “apparently centers on a former drug dealer who wants to set up a small business in Algeria and who is counting on the money he earned while dealing, which his mother is supposed to have hidden away for him. But unfortunately, she has gambled it all away. He is then forced to go back to a life of crime and, together with a friend and his ex, agrees to one last deal to get his plans back on track.”
Martin Freeman is “in early development” on a series adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, reports Screen’s Andreas Wiseman. Dancing Ledge Productions CEO Laurence Bowen: “Paradise Lost is like a biblical Game of Thrones transporting the reader into an internecine world of political intrigue and incredible violence. At stake? The future of mankind.” Freeman: “Paradise Lost is epic, exciting and surprisingly modern. And maybe the first time the devil gets all the best tunes!”
Alison Wright, who plays Martha on The Americans, and Benjamin Haigh “are set as series regulars opposite Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs in TNT’s pilot Snowpiercer, a futuristic thriller drama based on the acclaimed 2013 feature by Bong Joon-ho.” Denise Petski has more at Deadline.
Kevin Smith is currently shooting a horror movie, Killroy Was Here, in Florida, reports Variety’s Dave McNary. “‘This is a monster movie in the sense of a classic morality tale,’ Smith said. ‘No one wants to see you spill the blood of innocents, but when someone crosses the line and goes bad, you get to make them pay in horrible ways, and the audience cheers. We wanted to make an anthology film in the vein of Creepshow. Killroy is like the Golem, the Boogeyman and the Grim Reaper combined.’”
“Anita Pallenberg, an actress and model who starred opposite Mick Jagger in Performance and had three children with his Rolling Stones bandmate, Keith Richards, has died.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Mike Barnes: “In 1968, Pallenberg appeared as The Black Queen in Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda, and as Nurse Bollock with Marlon Brando and Richard Burton in Candy. . . . Years later, Pallenberg portrayed a character named Sin in Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales (2007), a Queen Elizabeth impersonator in Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely (2007), and an opium-den hostess in Stephen Frears’s Cheri (2009).”
“After being expelled from German boarding school aged 16, she began modelling, first in Italy and later in New York, where she spent time at Andy Warhol’s Factory,” writes Gwilym Mumford in the Guardian, where he notes that Pallenberg’s first relationship with a Stone, Brian Jones, “soon turned violent.”
At Flashbak, Ron Baker quotes Marianne Faithfull from her 1994 autobiography: “How Anita came to be with Brian is really the story of how the Stones became the Stones. She almost single-handedly engineered a cultural revolution in London by bringing together the Stones and the jeunesse dorée. . . . The Stones came away with a patina of aristocratic decadence that served as a perfect counterfoil to the raw roots blues of their music. This . . . transformed the Stones from pop stars into cultural icons.”
Back to the Hollywood Reporter, where Vladimir Kozlov has word on the passing of Russian actor Alexey Batalov, who “played the male lead in Mikhail Kalatozov's WWII drama Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes are Flying), which was awarded a Palme d'Or at Cannes and earned two BAFTA Awards nominations.” Batalov, who also appeared in Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears (1980), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, was eighty-eight.
And back to Mike Barnes, who reports that Bruce MacCallum, “a veteran camera operator and longtime union activist,” has died at the age of seventy. “MacCallum served as a camera assistant and operator for more than 40 years, with credits including All That Jazz (1979), Witness (1985), Heartburn (1986), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), I Am Legend (2007), Julie & Julia (2009), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Winter's Tale (2014) and Broadway's Hamilton.”
There’s a new issue of Noir City, the magazine published by the Film Noir Foundation, the organization that stages those roaming Noir City film festivals. Vince Keenan and his wife Rosemarie are Haggai Elitzur’s guests on Noir Talk, discussing all these activities as well as “the Foundation’s role in inspiring the work of our mystery fiction-writing alter ego Renee Patrick” (76’34”). Earlier guests include Imogen Sara Smith (73’32”), Alan K. Rode (58’59”), and of course, Eddie Muller (81’32”).
Mubi and Filmadrid Festival Internacional de Cine’s series The Video Essay continues with Antonion Valenzuela Valdivia’s “The Way of Jim Jarmusch” (3’34”) and Rafael Guilhem’s “Taiwan as a Window. The Cinema of Edward Yang” (5’49”).
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