“So,” wrote Chris Marker in 2003, looking back on his school days, “with scissors, glue and crystal paper, I made a faithful copy of the actual Pathéorama reel. After that, frame by frame, I began to draw a series of poses of my cat (who else?), inserting a few comment boxes. In one fell swoop, the cat began to belong to the same universe as the characters of Ben Hur or Napoleon. I was on the other side of the mirror.” And this little story, translated by Sophie Kovel for Daniel L. Potter’s excellent site devoted to Marker, packs a punchline.
Saturday Night Live and The Handmaid’s Tale “are, in their ways, two different answers to the entertainment world’s question of the moment, a.k.a. How Do We Deal With the Present Nightmare?” Mark Harris explains at Vulture: “SNL epitomizes intention: Even when the show fails to execute, it understands that its mission is to reprocess the week’s events into savage counterthrusts, meme-able and/or GIF-friendly social-media moments, and commentary via satire that ‘destroys,’ for a weekend, all the things we know will rise again, resolutely un-destroyed, on Monday morning.” But “The Handmaid’s Tale epitomizes something different: our collective (and unreasonable) desire for art to have figured it all out in advance.”
“American Epic is a project of many parts,” writes Greil Marcus in the Village Voice. Besides the documentary “on the emergence of recorded vernacular music in the U.S.A. in the 1920s and 1930s” directed by Bernard MacMahon and narrated by Robert Redford, who executive produces alongside T Bone Burnett and Jack White, there are a number of albums, packages, a book, and another movie. “There are many dead spots and more highlights.” Marcus breaks them down.
David Lowery’s is “a cinema of narrative ‘displacement,’” writes Noah Gittell at RogerEbert.com, “which in Freudian terms occurs when the mind unconsciously substitutes a new reality for one deemed dangerous or unstable. Lowery’s films react to the profound terrors of this world by arguing that the old conventions no longer suffice.”
“Jean Renoir considered The Southerner (1945) to be his ‘only work of a personal nature carried out in Hollywood,’” writes R. Emmet Sweeney in his tenth piece on Renoir for Streamline. “The Southerner is one of Renoir’s most direct, most simple films, and certainly one of his most moving.”
“In many ways, [Lucio] Fulci’s work has more to do with the visceral manipulation of materials favored by postwar Italian painters than it does with the narrative fantasies of his predecessors (Mario Bava) and contemporaries (Dario Argento),” writes Chris Shields in a terrific piece for Film Comment.
Craig Baldwin has been “hailed as one of the country’s most respected culture jammers, and a brilliant American original,” writes Jim Knipfel at the top of a profile for the Chiseler.
Writing for Kinoscope, Jaime Grijalba argues that Sunao Katabuchi’s In This Corner of the World (2016) “rivals the works of Studio Ghibli in their takes on recent Japanese history, such as Isao Takahata’s The Grave of the Fireflies and Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises.”
Lost in America (1985) is Albert Brooks’s “masterpiece of Reagan-era mockery, one that’s more caustic than his later comedies (Defending Your Life, Mother, The Muse) and more empathetic than his earlier ones (Real Life, Modern Romance),” writes David Sims for the Atlantic. See, too, Scott Tobias’s essay here in Current.
“And you, Mr. Still Waters, Mr. Smiling-on-the-Outside, you had it all figured out and stayed out of it.” That’s John Candy, as recollected by Bill Pullman in an appreciation for the New York Times of the way the brilliant comic actor watched out for him on the set of his first major feature, Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs (1987).
For the Village Voice, Katherine Turman talks with Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan—together, they’re SQÜRL—about their new EP #260, their live scores to films by Man Ray, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, and more.
Matt Fagerholm talks with Michael Cera at RogerEbert.com about working with Dustin Guy Defa on Person to Person, with Janicza Bravo on Gregory Go Boom, and with Sebastián Silva on Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and Magic Magic, and of course, with David Lynch on Twin Peaks: The Return.
In Other News
The Locarno Film Festival will present its Vision Award TicinoModa, “the prize dedicated to those who have used their talents to trace new perspectives in the world of film,” to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine on August 10.
Hilton Als, Robert Christgau, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Manohla Dargis, Gary Giddins, Ed Halter, Molly Haskell, Doug Henwood, J. Hoberman, Dennis Lim, Ed Park, B. Ruby Rich, Carrie Rickey, Amy Taubin, and Stephanie Zacharek are among the writers who have signed an open letter to Village Voice owner Peter Barber: “We are disappointed to learn that you and your leadership want to weaken the Village Voice Union, one of the proudest legacies of the paper.”
New York. Robert Mitchum, the face of this year’s Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, will receive a twenty-four-film centenary tribute during the fifty-fifth New York Film Festival, running from September 28 through October 15. Read descriptions of all the films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; here’s an overview in chronological order:
- William Wellman’s The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), 35 mm
- Edward Dmytryk’s Till the End of Time (1946), 16 mm
- Vincente Minnelli’s Undercurrent (19460, 35 mm
- Raoul Walsh’s Pursued (1947), 35 mm
- Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire (1947), 35 mm
- Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947), 35 mm
- Robert Wise’s Blood on the Moon (1948), 35 mm
- John Farrow’s His Kind of Woman (1951), 16 mm
- Josef von Sternberg and Nicholas Ray’s Macao (1952), 35 mm
- Nicholas Ray’s The Lusty Men (1952), 35 mm
- Otto Preminger’s Angel Face (1953), 35 mm
- Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954)
- William Wellman’s Track of the Cat (1954), 35 mm
- Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955), 35 mm
- Arthur Ripley’s Thunder Road (1958), 35 mm
- Robert Parrish’s The Wonderful Country (1959), 35 mm
- Vincente Minnelli’s Home from the Hill (1960), 35 mm
- Lee Thompson’s Cape Fear (1962), 35 mm
- Howard Hawks’s Eldorado (1966), 35 mm
- Peter Yates’s The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
- Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza (1974), 35 mm
- Dick Richards’s Farewell, My Lovely (1975), 35 mm
- Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991), 35 mm
- Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995), 35 mm
“Michael Snow’s 2002 digital film *Corpus Callosum is a whole lot of movie,” writes Chris Shields at Screen Slate. “First, it holds the, some might say, rare distinction of being a successful, continuously engaging feature-length experimental film. Second, and this might have a significant bearing on the first point, it engages in cinematic trickery while also laying its artifice bare for the audience to see (or rather hear, as Snow’s direction is heard on the soundtrack). Third, *Corpus Callosum, as the name might hint at, gives a visual-metaphoric life on screen to our minds, and more specifically, to the pulsing ballet of neural blasts in our brains which both interpret and create our realities.” Screens this evening and tomorrow afternoon as part of MoMA’s series Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction.
Milan. The exhibition TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai is on view at Fondazione Prada through September 24. As Barbara Casavecchia notes, writing for frieze, the project finds the artist “rummaging through the archives of Rai, the Italian public broadcaster. . . . Politics, arts and entertainment cross paths throughout the exhibition. . . . Vezzoli’s Trilogia della Rai (Rai’s Trilogy, 2017) is on view in the cinema, a 15-minute video montage of his favorite TV memories, including excerpts from Rai series produced by Bernardo Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Ermanno Olmi and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.”
In the Works
“Daniel Craig will play James Bond in at least one more film, which will be released in November 2019,” reports Brooks Barnes in the New York Times.
“Netflix has given a 20-episode pickup to the Matt Groening animated comedy Disenchantment,” reports Variety’s Cynthia Littleton. Says Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama: “Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.”
“John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal, Thomas Haden Church, and music artist Yelawolf will join newcomer Zachary Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and Bruce Dern in The Peanut Butter Falcon.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Ford: “Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz (The Moped Diaries), the film follows Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome who has been confined to live in a retirement home for most of his life. One day he breaks out and takes to the road to try to find his hero, a retired wrestler named The Salt Water Redneck. Along the way Zak joins forces with a desperado crab fisherman and a kind nurse.”
Also, Danny Huston, Rosemarie DeWitt, Zoey Deutch, Devon Terrell, and Odessa Young are joining Johnny Depp in Wayne Roberts’s Richard Says Goodbye, which “follows the story of Richard (Depp), a world-weary college professor who is given a life-changing diagnosis and decides to throw all pretense and conventions to the wind and live his life as boldly and freely as possible with a biting sense of humor, a reckless streak, and a touch of madness.”
“Jacqueline Bisset has joined Sarah Jessica Parker’s romantic drama Best Day of My Life and will portray the mother of Parker’s character,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. “Renee Zellweger, Common, Isabella Rossellini, Simon Baker, Taylor Kinney, and Gus Birney are also starring. . . . Parker portrays a jazz vocalist in New York City who receives a diagnosis that shatters her world as she prepares for a world tour.”
Adrian Martin points us to an entry from Geoffrey Gardner, who notes that editor and filmmaker Cécile Décugis passed away last month. Born in 1930 (or maybe 1934), “Décugis started work in the late 50s her first credit being on Francois Truffaut’s Les Mistons (France, 1957) and after that she was an integral element of many of the films that remain the key markers of the French New Wave. Her next films were a short for Jean-Luc Godard and then, in the same year the legendary features A Bout de Souffle/Breathless (Godard, 1960) and Tirez sur la Pianiste/Shoot the Piano Player (Francois Truffaut, 1960).” She worked with Eric Rohmer on nine films and with, among others, Luc Moullet and Werner Schroeter.
1A host Joshua Johnson talks with Wesley Snipes about his debut novel, Talon of God, which “pits an intelligent heroine against a drug epidemic that creates demons on Earth.” He’s quite the interviewee (35’12”).
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