Cinema Scope 71 and More

On Film / The Daily — Jun 26, 2017

“There can be no debate over the fact that for most of its history Cannes has been the key launching pad for what will account for a fair percentage of the year’s most important films,” grants Cinema Scope editor Mark Peranson. But “the Competition once more mostly comprised an overlong parade of white elephants (or are they superpigs?) genetically engineered from the frozen sperm of Stanley Kubrick in the basement of the Palais. From bloated attempts to take on Russian society to migrants with superpowers to Michael Haneke to an unapologetic trashy French rip-off of De Palma and Dead Ringers (1988) to a thudding and pointless retelling of Greek myth to the second-best film version of The Beguiled to the triumphant return of one Fatih Akin, this was probably the most ham-fisted, loveless, and least subtle collection of films to compete for the Palme d’Or in the full seven decades.” In short, “it was left to the Safdies to save Cannes—which, indeed, they did.”

As an online-only extra, Dan Sullivan talks with Josh and Benny Safdie about Good Time with Robert Pattinson (as seen in the image above). Benny calls it “a genre movie with real emotions.” Josh: “This is a character study, but it happens to be filled with tons of action.”

Also in the Cannes 2017 section of Issue 71:

  • Josh Cabrita on Ruben Östlund’s The Square, winner of the Palme d’Or and “a rambunctious lark, puerile and playful, and too often given to moralistic explanation. It works more as a series of provocations eliciting a wide range of audience responses than a diatribe on inequality, but the always ambitious Östlund wants to have it both ways.”
  • Andréa Picard the two films Hong Sangsoo had at the festival, Claire’s Camera, “rather breezy (literally, with hair blowing in the wind), and even a bit clunky, but never without charm and fascinating idiosyncrasies,” and The Day After, whose “outsized, booze-fuelled passions are consistently cut by the sly subtleties of Hong’s writing and editing and the film’s restrained formal elegance, all of which do not constitute minor Hong.”
  • James Lattimer talks with Valeska Grisebach about Western. She calls her film “more of a dance with the Western—a reflection upon it—a marker placed at the start that merely encapsulates particular themes.”
  • Blake Williams on Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames, which “rejuvenates cinema’s ties to Impressionism by allowing the virtual to have its way with reality.”
  • Jordan Cronk: “Pitched somewhere between Straub-Huillet and Headbangers Ball, Monty Python and Messiaen, Bruno Dumont’s new feature Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc marks an unexpected and near-perfect synthesis of the French iconoclast’s many disparate interests and obsessions.”

Also in this issue, Jason Anderson talks with Matthew Rankin, whose The Tesla World Light “confirms Rankin’s status as one of Canada’s most industrious and inventive filmmakers.”

Phil Coldiron writes about Basma Alsharif and her film Ouroboros, “its slippery movement through a variety of styles ready to be plucked from cinema history, including the reflexive formal distance of contemporary ethnographic film, the quiet comfort of calm portraiture, and the fractured hijinks of classical surrealism.”

Michael Sicinski focuses on Luke Fowler, whose work “moves us further and further into the margins of modernist intellectual history, exploring archives and bringing to light underexposed parts of our shared past. At the same time, it’s important to understand Fowler’s work in the context of experimental cinema, since from a formal standpoint the films have more in common with the post-structural avant-garde than they do with conventional documentary or even the essay film.”

Celluloid Liberation Front on Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy, Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), and Germany Year Zero (1948): “Universally praised for their perceived authenticity, the films that effectively constitute the foundation of Italian neorealism—a supposedly genuine representation of ‘things as they really were’—present a highly debatable version of reality, historical and otherwise.”

Jonathan Rosenbaum writes about no fewer that twenty-four releases in his “Global Discoveries on DVD” column this time around, including Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1967), Ross Lipman’s “brilliant and informative” essay on Samuel Beckett’s Film (1964) with Buster Keaton, Notfilm (2015), Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge (1991) and Holy Motors (2012), Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig (1973), Fernando Birri’s ORG (1979), and Raúl Ruiz and Robert Frank boxed sets.

Chuck Stephens presents “an adjectively enhanced and thoroughly bourgeois taxonomy of the undestroyed materiality remaining in Peter Gidal’s Room (Double Take) (1967), adumbrated accordingly.”

Jay Kuehner reviews Affonso Uchôa and João Dumans’s “epistolic ode to labor, love, and life on the road,” Araby.

More Reading

With My Journey Through French Cinema making its way through the country this summer and a retrospective on at the Quad Cinema in New York through Thursday, Bertrand Tavernier has written an appreciation of filmmaker gone for fifty years now for Film Comment: “It would be hard to find a more fascinating body of work than Edmond Gréville’s, filmed in both France and Great Britain and utterly foreign to the rules of cinema governing each of these two countries, as well as to the aesthetic revolutions that transformed them. . . . Gréville’s films stand apart from trends of the day, showing an obstinate faithfulness to certain formal principles inherited from the silent era, a period that marks his work indelibly.”

Sophie Mayer introduces a selection of writing by B. Ruby Rich for Sight & Sound: “Always ahead of the game, Rich practiced trenchant, socially informed film criticism and curation—what she calls ‘curatorial advocation’—from the second wave of feminism to its return to fashion in the fourth wave. Starting out by arguing for women’s filmmaking and Latin American cinema at the Village Voice in the 1970s, she subsequently wrote for the Chicago Reader, programmed Chicago’s Women and Film festival, funded filmmakers from marginalized communities via the New York State Council for the Arts in the 1980s, and then celebrated when some of those filmmakers broke through to form what she termed—in a Sundance report for Sight & Sound in 1992—the New Queer Cinema.”

Matthew Flanagan’s posted his list of the twenty-five best films of the twenty-first century (so far).

Walerian Borowczyk’s Goto, Isle of Love (1969) is “a voluptuously shabby Punch and Judy show anticipating the work of the Brothers Quay or the great Czech animator Jan Svankmajer,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “Mise-en-scène also trumps narrative in Jacques Demy’s underappreciated fairy tale The Pied Piper [1972] . . . As a wandering minstrel with an enigmatic hippie smile, the Scottish folk singer Donovan seems vaguely embarrassed in the title role, while Donald Pleasence and John Hurt run boisterously amok as the villainous baron and his evil son. But, however uneven the performances, the production design by Assheton Gorton (whose previous credits included two Richard Lester films and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up) is outstanding.”

“Deliciously weird for 1919 or any other year” is how Farran Smith Nehme describes Ernst Lubitsch’s The Doll in an essay that’s just gone up at the site for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. “When he arrived in Hollywood in 1921 to make a movie for Mary Pickford, Lubitsch was asked to name his favorite of his films; he answered The Doll.

In Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story “built on ether with set designs keyed to non-corporeal forms,” as the Lumière Sisters put it, writing for Silent London, “dramaturgy becomes séance.”

“Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is not about Watergate,” writes Jonathan Kirshner at Slate. “Nevertheless, with eleven months of postproduction, the film was not released until 1974, and it touched a nerve. Although it was indelibly influenced by Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up and the films of Alfred Hitchcock, as writer Mark Feeney has argued, no other film ‘is so atmospherically Nixonian.’”

“When the fifth James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, premiered in Japan 50 years ago on June 17, 1967, audiences were treated to a 007 adventure more spectacular than anything they had ever witnessed, and one that exploited to the maximum its ‘exotic’ Japanese locale, incorporating sumo wrestling, a ninja training school and seductive Japanese girls,” writes Damian Flanagan in the Japan Times. “But what has remained little known to this day is that the novel holds the key to an even more extraordinary real-life story of international espionage that had a profound impact both on the course of World War II and the Cold War.”

“As a film director, [Bob] Fosse may be underrated to this day,” suggests Lisa Rosman at Signature. “Fosse’s secret, or one of them, anyway, was a syncopation that defined his cinematography as well as his editing. With jump cuts, subliminal blips, and unique perspective shots, he really did direct like a dancer.”

Rosman also argues that The Witches of Eastwick (1987), the adaptation of John Updike’s 1984 novel directed by George Miller, “holds up not only because of its eternally arched eyebrows and fabulous design but because it distills the pit-pedestal intersection of misogyny and philogyny—as well as the glittering narcissism of men who will say whatever necessary to fill their bottomless holes.”

“How can a powerful, wealthy American man hold affection for the tyrannical, corrupt leader of a hostile power?” asks Masha Gessen in the New York Times. She suggests that Oliver Stone’s The Putin Interviews, while failing as both journalism and entertainment, does “provide psychological and intellectual answers to that question.”

“Fathers & Daughters” is the title of Elaine Blair’s piece for the New York Review of Books on Louis C.K.’s Louie, his standup comedy special 2017, and his web series, Horace and Pete.

At Streamline, Susan Doll recommends Therese Grisham and Julie Grossman’s new book, Ida Lupino, Director: Her Art and Resilience in Times of Transition.

And writing for Film International, Tony Williams recommends this month’s release of Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948).

More Interviews

Interview’s posted Christina de Liagre’s conversation with Daniel Day-Lewis from its April 1988 issue.

“For me,” Adrian Martin tells Jeroen Sondervan at Open Access in Media Studies, “open access is not primarily or solely about making formerly ‘closed’ academic research available to all—although that is certainly one important part of the field. Open access is about—well, open access, in the strongly political sense of making people feel that they are not excluded from reading, seeing, learning or experiencing anything that exists in the world.”

“I’ve always been used to a certain amount of struggle and that prepared me wonderfully for a mature age,” Holly Hunter tells the Guardian’s Benjamin Lee.

Here in the Current, Michael Sragow talks with Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion) about Francesco Rosi’s The Moment of Truth (1965).

For the NYT, Cara Buckley talks with Bong Joon-ho about Okja. And via Movie City News, Luke Buckmaster’s conversation with Bong for the Daily Review: “I feel the masters of movement are three-fold: Akira Kurosawa, George Miller, Hayao Miyazaki.”

In Other News

“Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films are forming a multi-year strategic alliance to co-acquire four to five features per year,” reports Anthony D’Alessandro for Deadline. “These titles will be marketed and released by Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo’s Zeitgeist Films while Kino Lorber will become the exclusive home entertainment distributor of Zeitgeist’s library of 130 titles.” And fans of Adrian Curry like myself will be pleased to hear that he’ll be the Design Director for both Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films.

“A new study by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) says that films with more diverse casts perform better at the box office than less diverse ones, confirming what people and actors of color have been saying for years,” reports Jake Nevins for the Guardian. “The data, which studied 413 films released between January 2014 and December 2016, catalogued the ethnicity of the top 10 actors per film, noting that those with at least a 30% non-white cast have tended to financially outperform films that fail to reach that threshold.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto has described his new solo album async as a “soundtrack for an imaginary Andrei Tarkovsky film,” and now he’s announced his first first international short film competition. Deadline: September 30.

Goings On

New York. Tonight, Microscope Gallery premieres Marriage of Remakes, “a new project and conversation in moving images between Lynne Sachs and Mark Street in which the New York-based filmmakers remake works of the other. Three previous works by each will be followed by the other’s interpretations, which are not meant to be literal recreations, but rather responses and reflections to the work in part or in whole.” Chris Shields at Screen Slate: “Is there a shared idea or approach, or is this experiment in ‘remaking’ evidence that a relationship creates it’s own intersubjective perspective, where two independent visions meet? At the very least, Sachs and Street’s project is an intriguing and worthwhile attempt to give this phenomenon a unique expression and form of its own.”

For more goings on, see yesterday’s entry.

In the Works

Tommy Lee Jones is “in final talks” to join Brad Pitt in James Gray’s Ad Astra, reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. “Details are being kept close to the vest, but here’s what I’ve heard: In Ad Astra (which means ‘to the stars’ in Latin), Pitt would play the slightly autistic space engineer Roy McBride. Twenty years after his father left on a one-way mission to Neptune in order to find signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence, McBride travels through the solar system to find him and understand why his mission failed.”

Also, “Kyle Chandler will co-star with Ryan Gosling in First Man, the Damien Chazelle-directed film about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. Chandler will play Deke Slayton, the WWII flyer, aeronautical engineer and test pilot who was selected as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts and became NASA’s first Chief of the Astronaut Office. Gosling plays Armstrong.”

Listening

The conversation (38’33”) between Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Bad Batch) and Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) for the Talkhouse Podcast “covers the breadth of the filmmaking process, from the trials of writing to post-production anxieties, and takes in cinematic boners, being a ‘frame fucker,’ their respective metaphors for making movies, Rian’s experiences making his upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and much more.”

For its latest episode of the Close-Up, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s posted audio from its recent Evening with Sofia Coppola (71’37”). Recently writing about The Beguiled are Richard Brody (New Yorker), Cassie da Costa (4Columns), Allyson Johnson (Notebook), Christian Lorentzen (New Republic), Carrie Rickey (NYT), and Ella Taylor (NPR). For more, see Critics Round Up. IndieWire’s Anne Thompson, in the meantime, talks with Eleanor and Roman Coppola and Fred Roos, a producer, casting director, and family friend. And at Hazlitt, Sorarya Roberts: “Like so many of her heroines, Sofia Coppola seduces to control. She learned this, no doubt, being surrounded by men—father, brothers, cousins—ensconced in an industry guided by their sex.”

Viewing

At the Playlist, Charles Dean has posted video of an onstage conversation with Guillermo del Toro that took place at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival earlier this month (92’03”).

Ray Pride’s posted a much, much shorter video, this one documenting the ritualistic burning of the program for the recently wrapped twenty-fourth Chicago Underground Film Festival in anticipation of the 25th.

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