Conspiracies, Memoirs, and More

Jonathan Rosenbaum’s posted a revised version of his 1999 essay on the “Origins and Legacy of the Conspiracy Thriller”: “It’s a tradition that harks back to Louis Feuillade’s silent serial of 1915-1916, Les vampires, about a gang of ingenious working-class criminals headed by a beautiful woman and preying on the rich—a crime thriller evoked in Olivier Assayas’s 1996 dark comedy about a contemporary remake, Irma Vep. All the basic elements that we associate with movie conspiracies are fully present, at least in some rudimentary form: high-tech surveillance techniques, secret lairs, hidden wall panels, intricately concealed weapons, elaborate disguises, and diverse forms of mind and memory control.”

“Idiosyncratic and biased, obfuscatory and boastful, even unctuous and vain, the Hollywood memoir is not going to portray the past in a clear light,” writes Los Angeles Times book editor Carolyn Kellogg. “But like Sriracha on the table, it’s going to bring the heat and make the meal better. So much better.”

For the Guardian,Simon Hattenstone asks Laura Poitras if it surprised her that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has tried to censor her documentary about him, Risk: “Yes it absolutely did, considering what WikiLeaks stands for. I was surprised on the ideological level—not only did he demand that things were removed, but more recently he sent ‘cease and desist’ letters to my distributors demanding that they stop releasing the film. He was really angry and he tried to intimidate.”

Jordan Raup talks with Bong Joon-ho about Okja for the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

“Despite being expensive, labor-intensive and notoriously badly paid, the anime industry is booming,” reports Steve Rose for the Guardian.


For Grasshopper Film, Andrew Rossi, director of Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) and Bronx Gothic (2017), lists his favorite films of the last ten years.

Nicholas Ray “was a square peg trying to fit into the cylinder of Hollywood, but completely unwilling to round his sharp corners,” writes Chris O’Falt, introducing an annotated list at IndieWire. “While there are strong elements and greatness in many of his films, these seven represent the essence of Ray’s cinematic vision.”

An omnibus film with contributions from Jia Zhangke, Walter Salles, Madhur Bhandarkar, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, and Aleksey Fedorchenko

At ScreenCrush, Matt Singer, Erin Oliver Whitney, and Britt Hayes write up a list of the ten best movies of 2017 (so far). More from Peter Martin at ScreenAnarchy and from Time Out.

In the Works

Paul Thomas Anderson has been working as his own director of photography on his latest—and Daniel Day-Lewis’s last—film, reports Graham Winfrey for IndieWire. “Written and directed by Anderson, the movie is set in 1950s London and stars Day-Lewis as a dressmaker commissioned by royalty and high society.” The working title has been Phantom Thread, “but that will not be the title when the film hits theaters on Christmas Day.”

The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth points us to Adrian Gomez’s story in the Albuquerque Journal on the Coen Brothers’ next project, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. First, it’s not a television series, as many had believed, but rather “a feature-length omnibus consisting of six separate stories, all Westerns.” And Gomez has single-sentence synopses for all of them. Principal photography “will take place mid-July through the end of September” near Santa Fe.

This year’s second season of Sense8 ended on a cliffhanger; then Netflix announced that it was cancelling the show. Now, via the Sense8 Twitter account, co-creator and showrunner Lana Wachowski has tweeted a letter announcing that support from fans has led to Netflix agreeing to a two-hour special to be released next year. Many assume it’ll tie up loose ends and that’ll be that, but Wachowski writes that “if this experience has taught me anything, you NEVER know.”

Michel Gondry shot Détour on an iPhone

“HBO is developing a biopic of pioneering African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux that has Tyler Perry on board to star,” reports Variety’s Cynthia Littleton. The project is based on Patrick McGilligan’s 2007 biography Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker. “Conceptually, the casting is almost a little too perfect,” finds Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the A.V. Club. “Micheaux, the most prominent producer of what were once called ‘race films’ (a forgotten part of American culture that this website looked into earlier this year), was a jack-of-all-trades of all-black melodrama, part of a generation of multi-hyphenates and entrepreneurs who sought to create entertainment for the burgeoning, underserved audiences of pre-Depression black, urban America.”


On the latest episode of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Close-Up (46’08”), Errol Morris and Elsa Dorfman discuss The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography and Chuck Klosterman talks about Peter Watkins’s Privilege (1967).

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