Dargis, Bordwell & Thompson, and More

Let’s begin today with the listening and viewing tips, because New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis is Peter Labuza’s guest on The Cinephiliacs (85’38”). Among the topics discussed are “her childhood movie love of watching objects without inhibition and her writing as a form of translating the way of watching films,” the past and future of the paper she works for, and Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1978; image above). This fifth anniversary episode also features a conversation with James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir about their new film, The Republic.

Fieldnotes is an ongoing project conducted by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies, a series of “interviews with pioneers of film and media studies.” The latest is Charlie Keil’s conversation with David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, embedded below. As Bordwell notes, they discuss, of course, Film Art: An Introduction and several other books they’ve authored, but also “‘neoformalism’ and its relation to continental structuralism, as well as strategies of film analysis, the importance of norms, the roles of institutions in shaping film history, and cognitive film theory.”

Meantime, see the Fieldnotes page for further conversations to watch with the likes of Scott MacDonald (Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor) and Laura Mulvey (“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”), plus audio recordings of interviews with Thomas Elsaesser (New German Cinema: A History), Tom Gunning (The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity), James Naremore (Acting in the Cinema), and more.

Talk Easy host Sam Fragoso chats with Jenny Slate about Landline, Gillian Robespierre’s Sundance hit;“an intensely bad date”; and more (66’46”).


“As a black southern woman who has an overall tepid response to [Sofia] Coppola’s work, I had my guard up when I first saw [The Beguiled], given the outrage that swelled around it,” writes Angelica Jade Bastién for Vulture. “Could The Beguiled have taken a more unflinching approach to the history of the Civil War–era South and its lingering scars that affected black people most acutely? Undoubtedly. But Coppola isn’t the filmmaker to do so—her greatest strength and weakness has always been her myopia.” Further in: “It’s important to consider The Beguiled in the context of cinematic southern belles, from the romantic leads of classic Hollywood to the brutal savagery of Sarah Paulson’s plantation mistress in 12 Years a Slave, because the film’s power comes into focus when doing so.” Special attention is paid to John Huston’s In This Our Life (1942) with Bette Davis.

Milos Forman’s Taking Off (1971) has come to New York’s Film Forum and gone again, though the series Ford to City: Drop Dead—New York in the 70s runs on through July 27. Still, you’ll want to see Steve Lippman’s appreciation at the Talkhouse Film: “His first U.S. English-language work, after Loves of a Blonde and The Fireman’s Ball made his reputation while a Czechoslovakian citizen under Communist rule, Taking Off belongs to a unique subgenre of late ’60s/early ’70s film (Demy’s Model Shop, Varda’s Lions Love, Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, Lester’s Petulia, Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, for example) in which, observed through the lens of a foreigner, (then) contemporary traditional capitalist American life collides head-on with a sea change of politics, underground cinema, music, theater, the sexual revolution, women’s liberation, civil rights, and the hippie and anti-war movements. As seen by these directors, the U.S. feels mysterious, liberating, curious, uptight and often absurd, but never threatening as it felt to the American establishment.”

For Film Comment, Imogen Sara Smith looks back on this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

“Straub-Huilet make me want to turn off the image, and listen quietly to what is being said,” writes Nadin Mai.

Writing for the Notebook, Landon Palmer considers “the conundrum of the short-lived disco musical, a sub-genre that ended as soon as it began.”

At Avidly, a “channel” of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chris Shirley notes that “in the past months, The Babadook has been claimed as an important queer film. It’s true that my appreciation of the movie does have to do with my queerness. But not in the way that recent discussions would have you think.”

Tomorrow, the Locarno Film Festival will announce the lineup for its seventieth edition (August 2 through 12) and, at Ioncinema, Nicholas Bell is already thinking ahead to Venice (August 30 through September 9) and Toronto (September 7 through 17) and scanning a list of dozens and dozens of contenders for those lineups.


Experimental Cinema alerts us to the forthcoming publication of Slow Writing: Thom Andersen on Cinema, edited by Mark Webber. From The Visible Press: “His critiques of artists and filmmakers as diverse as Yasujirō Ozu, Nicholas Ray, Andy Warhol, and Christian Marclay locate their work within the broader spheres of popular culture, politics, history, architecture, and the urban landscape.”

“In 2007, photographer Adam Bartos visited Marker's apartment in Rue Courat,” writes Rodney Perkins at ScreenAnarchy. “Bartos did not take photos of Marker, who was famously reclusive. Instead, Bartos captured beautiful photos of Marker's densely cluttered studio, which was jam-packed with books, video tapes, editing equipment, computers and movie memorabilia.” Reminder: On Friday, Bartos, Michael Almereyda, Susan Howe, and Ben Lerner will be discussing the new book Studio: Remembering Chris Marker as part of the Metrograph series that start’s tomorrow, In Chris Marker's Studio.

This summer has seen a second adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 novel My Cousin Rachel, chalking up du Maurier’s fifty-fourth writing credit at the IMDb. The most famous of these are, of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and The Birds (1953) and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973). “Like Wilkie Collins before her and Sarah Waters today,” writes Parul Sehgal in an appreciation in the New York Times, “du Maurier had a preternatural understanding of how to engineer suspense; she knew how to make you wait and want and when to deliver the final blow.”

In the Works

Barry Jenkins will direct his adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk. The Hollywood Reporter’s Mia Galuppo notes that it’s “set in ‘70s Harlem and follows engaged couple Fonny and Tish. When Fonny is falsely accused of rape, Tish, who is pregnant, races to find evidence that will prove Fonny's innocence. . . . Jenkins, who has worked closely with the Baldwin estate on the project, wrote the screenplay during the same summer in 2013 when he penned Moonlight.” Jenkins is also currently writing and will direct an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, a limited series for Amazon Studios.

Gael Garcia Bernal, Rosa Salazar, Michael Chernus, Anna Baryshnikov, Daisy Tahan, Samrat Chakrabarti, and Ajay Naidu have joined Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Kindergarten Teacher, based on the film of the same name by Nadav Lapid, reports Variety’s Dave McNary. “Sara Colangelo is directing from her own adapted screenplay in which a kindergarten teacher who grows more and more numb each day she remains stuck in her mundane Staten Island life. When she discovers what may be a prodigious five-year old poet in her class, she becomes obsessed with the child and his talent—risking her career, family, and freedom.”

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hugo Weaving will play Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents in Melrose, a limited series based on Edward St. Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels, reports Joe Otterson for Variety.

A flurry of tweets brings the first wave of critical reaction to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and Zack Sharf’s gathered some of the more notable yelps of enthusiasm at IndieWire. Citing a new interview in Playboy, many Nolan fans are thrilled to hear that he’d “definitely” consider taking on James Bond: “I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You’d have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need reinvention; it has to need you. And they’re getting along very well.” The Guardian’s Ben Child mulls over what a Nolan Bond film might look like.


“Tiger Joe Robinson, a real-life British judo, karate and wrestling champion who famously engaged Sean Connery in a fierce fight in an elevator in Diamonds Are Forever, has died.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Mike Barnes: “Robinson also jumped in the ring to wrestle the Italian giant Primo Carnera in director Carol Reed’s A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), which competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.” Robinson was ninety.

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