Alphaville 13 and More

On Film / The Daily — Jul 24, 2017

In Issue 13 of Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, editors Loretta Goff and Caroline V. Schroeter “bring together eight articles from around the world that interrogate the representation of race, ethnicity and identity on screen.”

Kenta McGrath writes about Abe Forsythe’s Down Under (2016), “the first narrative feature film about the Cronulla riot—the infamous event on 11 December 2005 where over 5000 white Australians, responding to a minor local incident, descended on Cronulla Beach in Sydney and proceeded to harass, chase and bash anybody who they perceived to be of Middle Eastern appearance.”

Loretta Goff “applies theories of humor” to interrogate the “depiction of racial, national and cultural stereotypes and differences” in John Eyres’s Irish Jam (2006) and John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard (2011).

Zeynep Koçer and Mustafa Orhan Göztepe consider how Kurdish characters, “neutralized” in Turkish cinema prior to the “Kurdish Initiative” (2005 – 2015), would become more “multi-layered” in independent films made during while the Initiative was in effect.

Marcos P. Centeno Martín: “From the origins of cinema, Ainu people were an object of interest for Japanese and foreign explorers who portrayed them as an Other, savage and isolated from the modern world.” His piece traces historical shifts in that representation.

Emily Torricelli writes about how Ken Loach’s Ae Fond Kiss… (2004) and Pratibha Parmar’s Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) “construct hybrid, plural Scottish identities by first considering the way the two films construct these identities, and then by considering the how the identities constructed were received by film critics.”

Michael L. Wayne “examines the ways in which depictions of race and racism in some prime-time historical dramas promote contemporary postracial ideologies,” focusing specifically “on the portrayals of overt racism and interracial relationships in Hell on Wheels (2011–2016) and The Knick (2014–2015).”

Emiel Martens and Débora Povoa seek “to demonstrate to which extent the ‘color-blind approach’” of the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder “reinforces the post-racial illusion in the United States.”

Caroline V. Schroeter argues that, although Nate Parker attempts in The Birth of a Nation (2016) “to set his film up as an oppositional force to D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), his employment of a style that is heavily reliant on the conventions of classical narrative storytelling makes such aspirations problematic.”

Issue 13 also features book reviews and reports on last fall’s Consuming Heritage: Identity, Culture and Heritage conference, another on last month’s Sheffield Doc/Fest Film Festival, and a third on this year’s Berlinale Retrospective, Future Imperfect. Science · Fiction · Film.

More Reading

“Is Daughters of the Dust ‘useful’?” asks Carina del Valle Schorske in an essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books on the 1991 film, the first by a black woman to be distributed in the U.S. nationwide (image above). “In light of its revival, we might be tempted to ask: ‘Is it politically relevant to our contemporary moment?’ These questions, narrow-minded as they are, have followed Julie Dash throughout her career. . . . Anxieties about the costs of non-instrumental creativity under racial capitalism often attend even the most widely celebrated work by marginalized artists. But Audre Lorde famously insisted that ‘poetry is not a luxury.’”

Also writing for the LARB, or rather, its Avidly channel, Lisa Woolfork warns that HBO’s Confederate “has a rocky road ahead. The fantasy element of this revised history seems much less speculatory when you live in a Southern town that’s had a white supremacist event every month since May.”

Writing for Sight & Sound, Simran Hans looks back on the Black Film, British Cinema Conference that took place in London in 1988: “To call a conference ‘historic’ is possibly to overstate its reach outside of academia, but this one (and the invaluable dossier that accompanied it, recently republished in digital form by the ICA) attracted interest, as scholar Erica Carter put it in her introductory address, ‘far beyond the restricted circles of film practitioners, theorists and critics.’ . . . This year’s two-day anniversary event, organized by the University of Greenwich’s Clive Nwonka and Goldsmiths’ Anamik Saha in collaboration with the ICA, was both a reflection on the original conference and a consideration of the politics of race in contemporary British cinema.”

In his latest column for Sight & Sound, Brad Stevens sets Sidney Lumet’s Q & A (1990) next to Otomo Katsuhiro’s Akira (1987): “Both films start with seemingly quotidian acts of violence—fights between rival street gangs, a police officer casually executing a hoodlum—but subsequently expand their frames of reference in virtually every scene, resulting in narratives so complex they are almost impossible to follow on first viewing. . . . These films, already so rich individually, seem much richer when considered in tandem, readings which take note of their similarities potentially illuminating areas which would otherwise have remained obscure. One way or another, context is everything.”

David Bordwell’s posted a round of book recommendations: Christine N. Brinckmann’s essay collection, Color and Empathy; a new edition of Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (Bordwell’s updated his introduction, too); Joseph McBride’s Two Cheers for Hollywood, a collection of interviews and critical pieces, “many of them magnificent”; William Paul’s “landmark study” When Movies Were Theater: Architecture, Exhibition, and the Evolution of American Film; Steven Rybin’s “rich and varied” anthology The Cinema of Hal Hartley: Flirting with Formalism; and Bradley Schauer’s Escape Velocity: American Science Fiction Film, 1950-1982, in which “the historian unearths surprises.”

Updating the entry on Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I came across Forrest Cardamenis’s thought-provoking review, and it has me keeping a closer eye on Vague Visages now. Posted over the past few days: Joel Blackledge on Todd Haynes’s Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988), Jeremy Carr on Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1954) and Q. V. Hough on (1963), Max Covill on Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), Inês Lebreaud on Victor Erice, and Mónica Belevan on Agnès Varda’s Le bonheur (1965).

“Those who argue that L’argent [1983] is Bresson’s attack on capitalism seem to have watched another film,” writes Christopher Sharrett for Film International. “Where is there any critique of an economic system, in whatever form of metaphor? In Le diable problement [1977] we do get images of ecological holocaust, but they are mediated by young minds giving up on things, without much sense of the holocaust’s roots in political-economy. By L’argent, Bresson has simply rendered an unargued case-closed judgment on humanity.”

“Is it not possible for photochemical and virtual moviemaking to live side by side?” asks the Badlands Collective, outlining six “simple resistance tactics” toward the future of film “as a physical entity” at Little White Lies.

Interviews

“The really clever people used to do film,” Jane Campion tells Simon Hattenstone in the Guardian. “Now, the really clever people do television.” The conversation focuses on Top of the Lake: China Girl, the series starring Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman, whose performance, as Tom Shone notes in the course of his interview with her, “joins a growing throng of mothers she has played in recent years, from her saintly adoptive mother in Lion, to her Medea-like, murderously fierce mother in Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others. Kidman’s moms are as indomitable as Pacino’s gangsters.”

For the New York Times, Kathryn Shattuck talks with Kevin Bacon about working with his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, on Story of a Girl and about his work on I Love Dick and the return of Tremors.

In Other News

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is among the first keynote and featured speakers lined up for SXSW 2018.

For the Chicago Reader, Ben Sachs talks with Neil Calderone of the Chicago Cinema Society about distributing “pristine 35-millimeter prints of two beloved cult classics, Dario Argento's Italian horror feature Suspiria (1977) and the new-wave sci-fi film Liquid Sky (1982).”

Now that it’s bought its own digitization technology, the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s Israel Film Archive aims to digitize all 30,000 or so films it’s currently housing within the next five to seven years, reports Screen’s Tom Grater.

Goings On

London. Arthur Jafa: A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions is on view at Serpentine Sackler Gallery through September 10, and fette sans alerts us to Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with the filmmaker, artist, and music video director for 032c: “The first time I was acutely aware of a person making a film that had a profound impact on me was certainly Stanley Kubrick. 2001: A Space Odyssey rocked me. I think to this day whenever I make something, I’m trying to replicate the experience that I had from viewing that film.”

Berlin. “Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller has lensed some of the most innovative, visually enticing films of the last half century, from Wim Wenders’ inimitable on-the-road adventures Alice in the Cities and Paris, Texas, to Jim Jarmusch’s ingenious odes to American misfits Down by Law and Dead Man,” writes Daisy Woodward at the top of an overview of his work for AnOther. Robby Müller – Master of Light is on view at the Deutsche Kinemathek through November 5.

In the Works

Spike Jonze, Frank Ocean, and Brad Pitt may or may not be working on something. The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth and the Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas speculate.

“Sarah Paulson has joined M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller Glass opposite James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary.Glass is a sequel to Shyamalan’s thriller Unbreakable [2000].”

Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago will likely be in Creed II, the sequel to Ryan Coogler’s Creed (2015) that Sylvester Stallone’s currently working on. Danette Chavez has proof at the A.V. Club.

Ioncinema’s Eric Lavallée reports that Atom Egoyan has written an adaptation of Geling Yan’s 2001 novel The Lost Daughter of Happiness, which “chronicles the life of a Chinese prostitute named Fusang, who became a celebrity in 1870s San Francisco. Kidnapped from her village in China to be sold as a prostitute in ‘Gold Mountain,’ as the Chinese immigrants dubbed San Francisco.” Speaking on the new CBC program The Filmmakers, Egoyan says, “[W]e’ll see if the film is going to get made.”

Rossy de Palma, known primarily for her work with Pedro Almodóvar, will make her U.S. film debut in Rodrigo Bellott’s I Miss You, reports Variety’s John Hopewell. She’ll play Rosaura, “billed by the film’s producers as ‘an extravagant Spanish woman,’ who befriends a wealthy Bolivian, Jorge [Oscar Martinez], whose gay son has recently committed suicide in the U.S.”

Obits

“Claude Rich, recipient of the prestigious César award for his lead role in [Édouard Molinaro’s] Le Souper [1992], died on Friday,” reports Presse Canadienne. “He acted alongside Italian actor Lino Ventura in [Georges Lautner’s] cult classic Les Tontons flingueurs in 1963. He was also in [René Clément’s] 1966 movie Paris brûle-t-il? as both Gen. Leclerc and Lt. Pierre de la Fouchardière. . . . He landed his first major role in Alain Resnais’s 1968 science-fiction film, Je t’aime, je t’aime. In the years that followed, he collaborated with several famous directors, including François Truffaut, Claude Miller, Ettore Scola, and Bruno Podalydès. . . . Bertrand Tavernier wrote a short homage to Rich in France’s Huffpost. He compared him to ‘a jazz musician constantly looking to reinvent himself, add a harmony, a chord, fine-tuning, a nuance. Or, on the contrary, he could suddenly change the tempo, always surprising, always right. Profoundly right.’”

“When he was blacklisted in Hollywood, Clancy Sigal got in his car, pulled out of L.A. and drove toward New York in a soul-searching journey across the back roads of America,” writes Steve Marble in the Los Angeles Times. “The trip would provide the roadmap for Going Away, a memoir of a young man’s explorations of his own past and the mood of a nation, captured in visits with old friends, former enemies, union activists, radicals, oddballs and those whose life momentum had been upended by the so-called Red scare in 1956. . . . When he died July 16 in Los Angeles at the age of 90, Sigal had recently completed his latest—and still unpublished—novel, a look back on his decades as an expatriate in London.”

In the New York Times, Sam Roberts notes that Sigal “represented Barbara Stanwyck and Humphrey Bogart as a Hollywood agent (but improvidently rejected James Dean and Elvis Presley as clients). During a 30-year self-imposed exile in Britain as an antiwar radical, Mr. Sigal was the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing’s lover and flirted with suicide as a sometime patient of R. D. Laing, the iconoclastic psychiatrist. In short, in a mixed-bag life of almost a century, Mr. Sigal had enough rambunctious experiences to fill a novel—or, in his case, several of them.”

Hans Hurch, director of the Viennale since 1997, suffered a heart attack in Rome yesterday, reports Der Standard. He was only sixty-four and, in a statement, the Viennale team has expressed its shock and sense of personal loss. As a critic and programmer who worked with Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Hurch was a major figure in Austrian film culture even before the became the festival’s director. More from Screen’s Tom Grater.

Jacques Nahum, who produced the popular French television series Arsène Lupin, has died at the age of ninety-six, reports the AFP.

Listening

Talk Easy host Sam Fragoso meets up with Robert Downey Sr. (Putney Swope, 1969) to chat about his life and career (59’08”).

Endnote

Hey, John Wyver’s back with a fresh round of links.

And have a look at the Straw Camera, “an experimental analogue camera made from 32,000 drinking straws.” Via Daniel Bennewirth-Gray.

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