Dorothy B. Hughes’s 1947 novel In a Lonely Place, “about a World War II flyboy, now a serial rapist and murderer, would have violated just about every commandment in the Production Code,” had Nicholas Ray and screenwriter Andrew Solt stuck to the plot in their 1950 adaptation with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. For the Library of America, Carrie Rickey writes about how the film went meta, resonating particularly in the personal lives of Grahame and Ray—who, Adam Batty argues in a piece on They Live by Night (1948), “arrived to direction fully-formed.”
Mark Harris’s “Cinema ’67 Revisited” column for Film Comment turns to Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen—and to a scene in which “an immense number of Germans” are burned alive: “It was the first time in a mainstream American movie that a black good guy was allowed to be visibly responsible for the deaths of scores of white people, even while standing defiantly apart from the system that ordered him to do so. [Jim] Brown’s line to his commanding officer—‘That’s your war, not mine’—was a Vietnam-era sentiment implanted in a World War II movie, although, remarkably, Vietnam went unmentioned in almost every review of the film. But it’s the film’s melding of anti-authoritarianism and team spirit that has proved to be a blueprint for five decades and counting: without The Dirty Dozen, there is no Inglourious Basterds and (for better or worse) no Suicide Squad.”
With Canada turning 150 this year, TIFF has rolled out a site for Canada on Screen, “a celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial, featuring installations, special guests, and screenings based on this list of the 150 essential moving-image works from Canada’s cinematic history.” Poke around in there and you’ll find Piers Handling tracking the history of Canadian cinema and essays on all the works that have made the list.
This week marks another anniversary, the Stonewall riots of 1969, “the go-to historical marker for the point when the movement for LGBTQ rights in the United States stopped asking politely,” as Ignatiy Vishnevetsky puts it at the A.V. Club. And he tracks the history of queerness on film before Stonewall: “If we accept as dogma that only the most literal type of representation matters, then we deny everything that makes movies matter.”
“When, Marni A. Brown argues, ‘coming out of the closet and sharing a disclosure narrative is considered an essential act to becoming gay,’ I wonder how cinematic representations of coming out might end up controlling what sexual identity must look like, and what social processes, codes and agendas it needs to fall in line with,” writes Bryony White, focusing at Another Gaze on April Mullen’s Below Her Mouth and So Yong Kim’s Lovesong.
Two new essays have gone up at Film Criticism. Max Bowens suggests that, because Gus Van Sant’s Elephant (2003) is based on the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, it places the viewer in “a state of perpetual anticipation. Such a mood might most accurately be described as: a mood of dissonance.”
And Christina Gerhardt: “Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven (1975), a remake of Phil ‘Piel’ Jutzi's late Weimar classic, Mother Krause’s Journey to Happiness (1929), could be read as a film that rests at the mid-way point of a genealogy of the workers’ film between the Weimar era to the contemporary Berlin School.”
Jeff Firmin on David Yates’s The Legend of Tarzan (2016): “Only someone who has never known the wrong end of the stick could make a film that invokes the real suffering of a continent as a backdrop for the story of their own journey from impotency to triumph, and then end the film with the insistence that not only did that journey rescue the locally involved bodies, it actually changed the course of history as a whole and eliminated that suffering.”
Also fresh at Bright Lights Film Journal is M. C. Myers on Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, which, “through sheer emotional sensitivity manages to avoid the primal comic book heroine dichotomy, between Barbarella and Lysistrata.”
With The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography opening on Friday, Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey talks with Errol Morris: “I haven’t used this word before, in any of the interviews about this movie or about Elsa, but it’s almost anthropological. There she is in the middle of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Often the people that she is photographing are people who paid money—they’ve come in and wanted her to take pictures, and what emerges is this anthropological, sociological document. It’s very interesting to me, because I know both of them very very well, that Elsa’s first cousin is Fred Wiseman.” Bailey: “Wow. Okay.” Morris: “What do I make of that even. I’m not really sure.”
For this week’s Village Voice cover story, Bilge Ebiri interviews Sofia Coppola, who “has produced one of the most expressive filmographies of any working American director.”
“The history of showbiz spoofery is the history of insanity,” writes Charles Bramesco at Musings, and “the finest entries have used the assorted pressures of filmmaking to push their characters to their wit’s end as an absurd representation of the corrosive forces of Hollywood. Starting from [Kenneth] Anger’s sensationalist tracking of Frances Farmer’s long, sad descent into madness [in Hollywood Babylon], all roads have led to the sanatorium.”
At the Chiseler, Jasper Sharp tells the story of the pearl-diving actresses who helped eroticize Japanese cinema after World War II.
Steven Okazki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai (2015) “presents an ambiguous portrait of an actor who was a mystery to many and remains frustratingly abstruse, even after the credits role,” writes Kimberly Lindbergs for Streamline.
For Tony Williams, writing for Film International, the new release of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971) is “especially valuable for the excellent audio-commentary by Stephen Prince whose important 1998 study Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rose of Ultraviolent Movies still remains a work of indispensable scholarship.” Williams also writes about Alfred Hitchcock’s collaborations with Ivor Novello, The Lodger and Downhill, both from 1927.
Anna Leszkiewicz introduces Harry Potter Week at the New Statesman.
It’s Carol Kane Day at DC’s.
The Guardian’s Gwilym Mumford and Andrew Pulver have drawn up a list of the “best films of 2017 so far.”
In Other News
Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 683 new members, and this year, the number’s been upped to 774. “The academy has insisted that it can broaden the membership without lowering its standards,” writes Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times, “and only an observer with little to no interest in the wider world of international cinema could possibly look at the two most recent sets of invitees and suggest that they amount to a failure of discernment.”
Among the directors invited this year are Barry Jenkins, Joanna Hogg, Pedro Costa, Lav Diaz, Jessica Hausner, Takashi Miike, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Mohammad Rasoulof, and Alejandro Jodorowsky.
New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the lineup for Shot by Carlo Di Palma, From Rome to New York, a retrospective of work by the late cinematographer running from July 28 through August 3.
Los Angeles. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation Carne y Arena opens at LACMA on Sunday and, as Carolina A. Miranda notes in the Los Angeles Times, it “takes the visitor on the harrowing desert journey made by tens of thousands of undocumented Latin American migrants every year. It is a visceral and astonishing work. It is also vital.” When it premiered in Cannes, Jason Farago wrote for the New York Times: “One reason the experience of migration and helplessness feels so potent in Carne y Arena is because you experience it alone. In this way, VR is completely different from Imax projections, or from cinema watched through 3-D glasses. Directors and artists have to choreograph narratives in space rather than in frames, and they must also calculate for a constantly shifting point of view. When you wear a virtual-reality headset, you become the lead actor, but you’re also, in a way, the director of photography as well.”
Chicago. “The Music Box 70mm Festival is five years old, with twelve features weighing in at close to two tons of large-format celluloid,” writes Ray Pride, introducing his interview for Newcity Film with technical director and assistant programmer Julian Antos. “The effort’s as much a celebration as a well-orchestrated archival feat.”
The sixty-first BFI London Film Festival will open with Andy Serkis’s feature directorial debut, Breathe, with Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy.
The Locarno Film Festival has announced that Olivier Assayas will preside over the International Competition jury of the seventieth edition running from August 2 through 12. Yousry Nasrallah will head up the Filmmakers of the Present jury, and Sabine Azéma will be president of the Pardi di domani Competition jury.
The Rome Film Fest, whose twelfth edition runs from October 26 through November 5, will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to David Lynch, who’ll also take part in the the Close Encounters series of onstage conversations. The series will also feature Ian McKellen, Xavier Dolan, Chuck Palahniuk, and Vanessa Redgrave.
Brussels. The program for Cinea’s Summer Film School with sessions on Abbas Kiarostami and the classical Hollywood comedy is now set. July 9 through 15.
Michael Nyqvist, who starred with Noomi Rapace in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) and its two sequels, has died at the age of fifty-six, reports Zack Sharf for IndieWire. “The Swedish actor was currently filming Thomas Vinterberg’s submarine disaster thriller Kursk, and had recently shot a supporting role in Terrence Malick’s WWII period drama Radegund, which is expected to be released sometime this year or early next.”
“Michael Bond, creator of Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear from deepest darkest Peru, has died,” reports Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione. “Publisher Harper Collins UK announced the news this afternoon, saying Bond passed away at home on Tuesday after a short illness.” Bond was ninety-one.
Cinematologists Neil Fox and Dario Llinares talk with B. Ruby Rich about “her initial entry into film criticism, her promotion of the cinema as a social space, the legacy of her concept of New Queer Cinema, and the possibility of a political cinema in the digital age.” They also interview Sophie Mayer and Selina Robertson of Club Des Femmes, which organized Being Ruby Rich, a recent event at the Barbican in London (119’32”).
On the latest Film Comment Podcast (71’13”), Ashley Clark, Shonni Enelow, Michael Koresky, and Violet Lucca discuss “Bad Scenes in Good Movies, Good Scenes in Bad Movies.”
Guest hosts Heather Drain and Joe Yanick join Mike White in the Projection Booth to discuss Andrzej Zulawski’s On the Silver Globe, begun in 1977 but not released until 1988 and “based on a series called The Lunar Trilogy by Zulawski's great uncle Jerzy.” Special guest: Daniel Bird, a writer, filmmaker, and programmer who worked with Zulawski (134’15”).
Illusion Travels By Streetcar #142: The Unedited Commentary Track: Shampoo (Hal Ashby; 1975) (108’47”).
Leigh Singer has not only spoken with Baby Driver director Edgar Wright about what makes a great car chase movie, he’s also turned the conversation into an exceptionally entertaining video for Sight & Sound (9’46”).
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