Senses of Cinema 83 and More

The Daily — Jun 22, 2017

The new issue of Senses of Cinema opens with a whopping dossier on Budd Boetticher (1916–2001). In his introduction, Dean Brandum notes that “in 1960, at the very moment he seemed destined for A-list status, he walked away from Hollywood, never to return. And although well regarded by critics, his career and oeuvre had never been the subject of thorough assessment, with scholars preferring to feast on the series of seven westerns he made with Randolph Scott and rarely extend the courtesy to the rest of his filmography.” Refocus: The Films of Budd Boetticher, a collection edited by Gary D. Rhodes and Robert Singer, “has righted this critical oversight.” This dossier won’t hurt, either.

  • Two interviews: Andrew J. Rausch and Wheeler Winston Dixon.
  • Dixon also writes about The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), “Boetticher’s one and only real ‘gangster’ film.”
  • Brandum focuses on Arruza (1972), a documentary about bullfighter Carlos Arruza. It took seven years to make and “Boetticher would lose his marriage, be bankrupted, imprisoned and would spend time in a sanatorium after suffering a nervous breakdown.”
  • The editors have smartly revived Sean Axmaker’s 2006 primer on Boetticher’s life and work. John Flaus wrote a more compact one in 2001.
  • “It’s entirely apt that Boetticher is so prominently quoted in Laura Mulvey’s seminal article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,’ for he’s one of Hollywood’s great scopophiles,” writes Paul Jeffery.
  • David Melville on The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951): “It is hard to think of another classic Hollywood film . . . in which aggressive masculinity and latent homosexuality seem to be so deeply, if inevitably, intertwined.”
  • Lone Pine, a California town near the Alabama Hills, Burt Kennedy’s screenplays, and Randolph Scott “brought the best out of Boetticher,” writes Geoff Mayer.
  • Jeremy Carr on the bad guys in Boetticher’s westerns: “If not stealing the film entirely, which they regularly did, their presentation was such that what the marginal hero did or believed was of little consequence or interest by comparison to their own engaging, flamboyant, and fascinating personas.”
  • Boetticher wrote the story for Don Siegel’s Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970), “a key film in the trajectory of the Western film,” argues Eloise Ross.
  • Amy Taylor tracks the transformation of Annie Greer (Gail Russell) in Seven Men from Now (1956) “from an Easterner to a Western woman.”
  • From 2001, Bruce Hodsdon on The Bullfighter and the Lady, Seven Men From Now, The Tall T (1957), Ride Lonesome (1959), and Comanche Station (1960).
  • Plus program notes: Riccardo De Los Rios on Behind Locked Doors (1948), Robert J. Read on Decision at Sundown (1957), and Adrian Danks on Comanche Station.

As the editors note, the second dossier, “Contemporary Cinema Studies: A Discipline with a Future?” gathers “interviews with six distinguished scholars in the field, with their roots in different national traditions: Jacques Aumont (France), Francesco Casetti (Italy), Dana Polan (USA), Vinzenz Hediger (Germany), Weihong Bao (China) and Angela Ndalianis (Australia). While these scholars offer a diverse range of viewpoints on the cinema and its study, they all show a wariness towards preemptive pronouncements about the ostensible ‘death of cinema’ or the ‘death of film studies.’”

Sally Shafto introduces two interviews with Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet appearing now for the first time in English: “The first, from 1976, with Claude-Jean Philippe holds a special place in exchanges with Straub and Huillet. The frequent laughter signals complicity and a longstanding friendship with their interlocutor, dating back to November 1954, when all three were students in a preparatory class to enter the national film school, IDHEC.” Edoardo Bruno and Riccardo Rosetti’s interview was originally published in Filmcritica in 1984.

To the features:

  • Lilia Kilburn on Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012).
  • Thomas Austin interviews Marianna Economou (The Longest Run, 2015).
  • Kaveh Bassiri on Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (2016) and Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (2016).
  • Iván Zgaib talks with Eduardo Williams about The Human Surge (2016).
  • Ivan Kreilkamp on Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann (2016)—and Whitney Houston.
  • Si Mitchell on “VR Documentary and Deep Connection.”
  • Peter Verstraten on Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone (2016).
  • Samm Deighan on the “Pagan Pastoral in Powell and Pressburger.”
  • Sam Twyford-Moore on Nash Edgerton’s music videos with Bob Dylan.

Three directors have been entered into the Great Directors database: Jeremy Carr on Béla Tarr, James Robert Douglas on George Miller, and Wheeler Winston Dixon on Phil Karlson.

And, as always, there are the festival reports, book reviews—including Brandum on that Boetticher collection, Refocus, and Adrian Schober on Molly Haskell’s Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films—and a fresh round of program notes.

More Reading

“Rivette arrived at my apartment in early afternoon, and with disarming directness put himself entirely at our disposal.” In 1974, Jonathan Rosenbaum invited Gilbert Adair and Lauren Sedofsky to join him for an interview with Jacques Rivette that would appear later that year in Film Comment. By way of introduction, the three provide something of a primer on Rivette’s work up to an including Celine and Julie Go Boating.

Writing for the New York Review of Books, Sue Halpern notes that, when Risk was released last month, Laura Poitras “was loudly criticized by [Julian] Assange’s supporters for changing it from the hero’s journey she debuted last year at Cannes to something more critical, complicated, and at best ambivalent about the man. Yet ambivalence is the most honest thing about the film. It is the emotion Assange often stirs up in those who support the WikiLeaks mission but are disturbed by its chief missionary.”

Philippa Snow revisits Frank Perry’s Mommie Dearest (1981), starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford and writes for the Paris Review that “Faye-as-Joan is a perfect bitch and an absolutely flawless lunatic, which makes her as good at being an icon as it makes her awful at being a parent. If the Crawford mouth—a red, Fontana canvas slash of a maw—does not convey the image of a mother or a woman, it may be because Joan Crawford never wanted to be either: only a big, indelible star. To be a star, you also have to be a bit of a monster, which is why ‘the smear’ resembles, variously, the scowl of a clown, the pout of a scheming drag queen, and the bloodied mouth of a bear in a wildlife photograph.”

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is posting trailers for films lined up for its 52nd edition running from June 30 through July 8

Kimberly Lindbergs at Streamline on Rupert Everett and Colin Firth in Marek Kanievska’s Another Country (1984): “Their youthful floppy-haired beauty is quite frankly, breathtaking. They resemble 1980s New Romantic pop stars more than typical screen actors at the time but it’s their multilayered performances that make the film such a joy to revisit.”

Margy Rochlin chats with Will Ferrell for the New York Times.

Talking with Ana Lily Amirpour about The Bad Batch are Sean Nelson (Stranger) and Lars Nilsen (Austin Chronicle).

For the Hollywood Reporter, Pete Keeley has put together an oral history of John McTiernan’s Predator (1987).

At the Film Stage, Tony Hinds presents an annotated list of the “Greatest Revisionist Westerns of All-Time.”

The TLS has asked its contributors to recommend books for the summer, and Becca Rothfeld plans to “indulge my taste for the hardboiled, sampling In a Lonely Place, Dorothy B. Hughes’s chronicle, from 1947, of a depraved Hollywood. NYRB Classics are re-printing the book—which was adapted into a wincingly wry blockbuster by Nicholas Ray in the 1950s—this August.”

Goings On

New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center retrospective A Vision of Resistance: Peter Nestler opens Saturday and runs through Wednesday. Writing for Kinoscope, Ela Bittencourt argues that the title of the series is right on the money, because the postwar Germany of Nestler’s films “is a land of the defeated, the dispossessed, and the weary. It is almost as if the clock had turned, and time cycled back to the Depression Era Germany of economic woes that had made Hitler’s rise possible, in the first place. ‘Resistance,’ in this sense, can be read as the quiet dignity summoned from bleak landscapes, from portraits of small towns and villages, with hardly any glimpses of the prosperity and might with which Germany is associated today.”

As noted yesterday, João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Ornithologist begins its theatrical run tomorrow at the IFC Center and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Glenn Kenny in the New York Times: “Mr. Rodrigues is an accomplished director whose best-known films in the United States—O Fantasma (2002) and To Die Like a Man (2011)—were stylistically distinctive, relatively realistic treatments of queer themes. The Ornithologist, while containing imagery that’s influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky and Luis Buñuel, is very much Mr. Rodrigues’s own.”

At the A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky finds that “even if The Ornithologist doesn’t amount to much of an allegorical or mystical experience, it’s reliably watchable as an attempt at creative devotion. . . . Like so many of the major arthouse filmmakers who have come out of Portugal, including Pedro Costa (Colossal Youth, Horse Money) and the late João César Monteiro, Rodrigues has the kind of internalized relationship to classic American cinema that would put their American peers to shame, with the films of Nicholas Ray being a particular favorite.”

Los Angeles. Michael Ritchie’s Smile (1975) screens Sunday and Monday at the New Beverly, and Kim Morgan notes that it’s “been compared to both Robert Altman’s masterpiece Nashville and to Christopher Guest’s great Waiting for Guffman, but it’s less ambitious than Nashville, and a lot nicer and deeper than Guffman. It’s also something that feels distinctly Ritchie—the Ritchie of Prime Cut, The Candidate, and The Bad News Bears—movies that are alternately funny and pessimistic, joyously profane . . . while being brutal, adult and smart.” Smile’s on a double bill with Ritchie’s Diggstown (1992), and Garret Mathany interviews character actor Kim Robillard.

In the Works

“New Paramount Pictures chairman Jim Gianopulos confirmed in an interview that David Fincher has in fact signed on to direct World War Z 2,” reports Brian Gallagher for MovieWeb. “Brad Pitt will reprise his role as Gerry Lane . . . Steven Knight, who came aboard to write the script in 2014, revealed in early 2015 that this sequel ‘is not quite like the other,’ while teasing that this follow-up, ‘starts with a clean slate.’”

“Ron Howard has been named as the new director of Lucasfilm and Disney’s untitled Han Solo movie.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit and Kim Masters: “The move comes two days after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the movie they had spent over four-and-a-half months directing.”

Trailer for this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, running from June 30 through July 16

Pierre Schoeller has begun shooting Un peuple et son roi, “an ambitious historical epic about the French Revolution” starring Gaspard Ulliel, Adèle Haenel, Olivier Gourmet, and Louis Garrel, reports Fabien Lemercier for Cineuropa.

Also, Arte France Cinéma is backing Alice Rohrwacher’s third feature, Heureux comme Lazzaro, which begins shooting next month. “Through the adventures of Lazzaro, a naïve man born in a farming hamlet that has thoroughly steered clear of the modern world, the director intends to adopt the style of a poetic tale as she studies the profound, major changes that have taken place in Italian society over the last thirty years.”

David Mamet is in talks to adapt Don Winslow’s The Force for James Mangold, reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr., who suggests that “the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter seems an ideal match for the gritty cop banter that drives a procedural that revolves around an elite group of detectives galvanized by their tough-guy leader Denny Malone. Much in the spirit of Sidney Lumet’s Gotham-based thrillers, the top cop slowly crosses moral lines, justifying them with results, until he eventually finds himself way on the wrong side of the line with little choice but to become a rat against his crew of crooked cops if he wants to stay out of prison.”

Also, “Highwayman, the drama that once had Paul Newman and Robert Redford poised to play the veteran Texas Rangers who put an end to the violent robbery spree of Bonnie & Clyde, might finally find its way into production. Sources said Netflix is in early discussions to team Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner as the lawmen who hunted down Depression Era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, with John Lee Hancock directing.”

And, as Deadline’s Diana Lodderhose reports, yes, there will be a Downton Abbey movie.


Sofia Coppola is Marc Maron’s guest on the WTF Podcast (71’53”).

Slate’s Mike Pesca talks with Wallace Shawn about his new collection, Night Thoughts(28’59”).


Luís Azevedo’s “Greta Moves” is a study for the Notebook of Greta Gerwig, whose “lanky figure and mesmerizing expression” belong “to a category all her own” (3’23”).

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