• [The Daily] Martin, Minnelli, and More

    By David Hudson

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    The big news to catch up with here is the launch of Film Critic: Adrian Martin, “almost 20 years, on and off, in the making.” Adrian Martin has been writing essential film criticism for four decades now, and what’s collected here in this new searchable database are not, of course, the books or chapters contributed to collections and so on, but the reviews and shorter essays—thousands of them. The index of tags alone suggests the breadth and depth of this new and vital freely accessible resource. Maintaining and expanding it, though, won’t be cost-free, so the option of supporting the project via Patreon is also available.

    Martin and Cristina Álvarez López have two new audiovisual essays up at the Notebook. The Brotherhood of Opale (6’40”) draws connections between Jean Renoir’s The Experiment of Dr. Cordelier (1959) and work by Chaplin, Marcel Carné, and Leos Carax, while Proximity: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Creepy (5’09”) comes without spoilers.

    Speaking of audiovisual essays, Michael Witt has put together an archive of twenty made by undergraduate students between 2005 and 2015. The collection accompanies his article for the Spring 2017 issue of NECSUS European Journal of Media Studies, “Taking stock: Two decades of teaching the history, theory, and practice of audiovisual film criticism.”

    “I’m leaving Metro after four-and-a-half-years as the film editor and the section’s chief (and sometimes only) writer,” announces Matt Prigge. “Over that time I’ve done hundreds of interviews,” and he’s put together a list of his favorites—a lot of them, with notes. Terence Davies, for example, “who is as hilarious as his films are sad,” or Liv Ullmann (he didn’t ask “a single Ingmar Bergman question but did ask her at some length about Charles Bronson”), and his “favorite interview ever was with Tilda Swinton.

    As always, we have a couple of tips from Catherine Grant. The new issue of Cinema Journal focuses on “Videographic Criticism.” And Screening Sex, an academic blog curated by Darren Kerr and Donna Peberdy, has been presenting a round of articles and interviews each month since April.

    For the current series “Klute Your Enthusiasm,” HILOWBROW editor Joshua Glenn has invited twenty-five contributors “to share their passion for neo-noir movies of the Sixties (1964–1973, according to my infamous periodization schema) about which they’re particularly excited.”

    At JSTOR Daily, Peter Feuerherd gathers four essays on Marilyn Monroe: “Belittled and objectified in life, her complexity could only be appreciated after her death.”

    MORE READING

    In a piece up at Sabzian, James Naremore argues that Vincente Minnelli’s films are “a fascinating mixture of Kunst and kitsch, challenging the distinction between commerce and artistic legitimacy. At every level, they problematize the old and perhaps never valid distinction between authenticity and commercialism, reminding us that the Kantian aesthetic faculty was born during the industrial revolution.” Image above: Minnelli and Judy Garland on the set of Meet Me in St. Louis (1945).

    On a related note, Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted his 1995 review for Cineaste of Naremore’s book, The Films of Vincente Minnelli, in which he notes that “Naremore’s work shows an interest in style and pleasure that runs against the puritanical grain of most American Marxists, without ever losing sight of the social and political issues avoided by most American auteurists.”

    In the clip (3’03”) posted here from his discussion of “Chaplin’s Comedy of Murders” on FilmStruck, David Bordwell talks about why it’s taken him “forty years to appreciate” Monsieur Verdoux (1947). In an entry at Observations on Film Art, he elaborates on what makes the film “perversely unlovable.” Also up at the blog, Kristin Thompson examines how Christopher Nolan parcels out information in Dunkirk—and discusses his palette as well.

    Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948) “was a favorite of my college film professor,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times, “and as a class projectionist I saw it many times—running scenes in slow motion or playing only the soundtrack. As a result, I know the movie nearly by heart. And its emotional power is undiminished. I may be recalling my own youth (as well as Ray’s), but just thinking about this film can choke me up.” Also, Joshua Z. Weinstein’s Menashe is but one example of “the belated rebirth of a venerable tradition. . . . [A]s portended by the supernatural prologue of Joel and Ethan Coen’s comic horror film, A Serious Man (2009), the 21st century has brought Yiddish back to life onscreen—with a difference. Never the audience for Yiddish films, the Hasidim, who typically shun popular entertainment, have now become its subject.”

    “Reading Dorothy B. Hughes’s novel In a Lonely Place for the first time is like finding the long-lost final piece to an enormous puzzle,” writes Megan Abbott for the Paris Review. Nicholas Ray would direct the adaption in 1950. “From Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson to Bret Easton Ellis and Thomas Harris, nearly every ‘serial killer’ tale of the last seventy years bears its imprint—both in terms of its sleek, relentless style and its claustrophobic ‘mind of the criminal’ perspective. But its larger influence derives from Hughes’s uncanny grasp of the connection between violence and misogyny and an embattled masculinity. And its importance extends beyond form or genre and into cultural mythos: the birth of American noir.”

    “The evening concluded with no fatalities.” Noir Alley host Eddie Muller recently mentioned a tale he couldn’t tell on air; here it is.

    Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel “went unseen in the United States for more than a year after its May 1962 debut at Cannes,” writes Mark Harris for Film Comment. “In the fall of 1963, it was selected as the opening-night attraction of the first-ever New York Film Festival—part of a spectacular lineup that also featured new movies by Ozu, Polanski, Resnais, and Bresson—but the festival wasn’t yet anything more than an interesting experiment; who knew if there would even be a second? . . . Not until the summer of 1967, after he had already completed the movie that would permanently return him to international attention, Belle de Jour, did The Exterminating Angel finally get a New York theatrical release. And by then, its time seemed to have passed.” Now, it “does not seem like a movie behind the times so much as a movie of no particular time.”

    “In the archive I look at the research photographs Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange team took of modernist architecture in and around London to research the buildings they could use to create Anthony Burgess’s future landscape.” Artist Sarah Wood writes about her residency. Two related notes: Phaidon pulls quotes from Bill Krohn’s book on Stanley Kubrick regarding the influence of eighteenth-century art on Barry Lyndon; and then, Kubrick himself: “Margaret Stackhouse's speculations on [2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)] are perhaps the most intelligent that I’ve read anywhere, and I am, of course, including all the reviews and the articles that have appeared on the film and the many hundreds of letters that I have received. What a first-rate intelligence!” She was all of fifteen when she put her thoughts down in outline form.

    Greg Allen is wondering whether any of Derek Jarman’s capes might still be around. He’s found a photo of two “captioned in Jarman's dramatic hand: ‘The Skycapes 1971 blue pigment on canvas destroyed in the fire in 1979’” and writes: “By retrospectively titling them with the sky, and using the term ‘blue pigment’ instead of paint, Jarman also seems to be linking the capes to one of his clearest references, Yves Klein. Klein the outrager who said his first artwork was signing the sky. Whose International Klein Blue appeared throughout Jarman’s notebooks in the 80s. Jarman filmed an IKB monochrome painting and projected a loop of it for a 1987 live poetry/music performance event he called Bliss, which became his last, greatest film, Blue, in 1991-3. . . . There is a lot of work to do.”

    Writing about Mother (1952), Craig Keller observes that “more often than not Naruse's signature lies in recurring narrative tropes and dramaturgic strategies (including predilections with regard to subject material), as opposed to mise-en-scène moves.”

    “Germaine Dulac’s La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman) was arguably the first surrealist film ever made,” writes Chelsea Phillips-Carr for Another Gaze. “Admired today for its innovative camerawork and engagement with gender politics, it focuses on a priest who covets another man’s wife. But it is the story surrounding the film that, as much as its plot, allows it to take its place in the realm of the surreal. At its first screening, in 1928, before an audience of surrealist artists and bohemians at the legendary Studio des Ursulines, Dulac’s film caused a literal riot.”

    Film preservationist Mark Toscano has posted a detailed entry on Fire of Waters (1965), “one of Stan Brakhage’s more elusive films,” focusing on its “extremely striking, minimal, black and white imagery and very atypical and unusual use of sound.”

    That President Trump “has gone on record, more than once, as saying his favorite film of all time is Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941)” is a fact that “continues to bedevil” Michael Atkinson. Writing for the Believer, he suggests that “the avatar for Trump, for all practical purposes, isn’t Kane at all, but Thatcher, the film’s hidebound personification of mega-capitalism. . . . Divorced from most aspects of fragile human reality, Thatcher never asked the questions of himself that haunted, and ruined, Kane—the questions about happiness and fulfillment and meaning and love.” And the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum revisits The Apprentice, the show that “made him electable.”

    “My father was a film distributor and theater owner in Amritsar, a city in northwestern India,” writes Deepa Mehta for the TIFF Review. “After school, my brother (filmmaker Dilip Mehta) and I would watch movies while waiting for Dad to finish work. The first film that changed my life was Wadlal Jaswantlal’s Nagin. I remember being mesmerized by Vyjayanthimala’s attempt to outdo a cobra in the dancing department, while swaying to a snake charmer’s flute. Dad took us upstairs to the projection room, and we learned from Ram Lal, the projectionist, how reels for 35 mm film were threaded, loaded, and changed. We then climbed the four steps that took us to the stage. As I touched the fabric the screen was made of, Dad signaled the projectionist. On cue, we were bathed in the distorted black-and-white image of Pradip Kumar and his weird lipsticked mouth—pure magic.”

    “Suddenly, filmmakers, critics, and viewers all became aware that they were functioning in an environment of pop culture, as if fish had suddenly become aware of living in water, and the attention paid to the most prominent productions of mass media further amplified them, turning filmmaking into a mighty feedback machine of cultural self-reflection.” The New Yorker’s Richard Brody has just watched John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988) for the first time.

    “Of all the death-of-the-sixties movies, Last Summer [1969] has to be the most heart-rending, the most deceptive and the most underappreciated,” writes Bruce LaBruce at the Talkhouse Film. And, in a survey of the careers of Frank and Eleanor Perry, he adds: “No film has ever captured so rapturously the desultory, sand-swept sensations of an endless teenage summer, drinking beer as truth serum under an impromptu tent on an overcast day at the beach, or lying languorously in the beating sun on a gently rocking sloop, confessing their deepest, darkest secrets.”

    “It’s difficult to talk about Peter Nestler without talking about historical materialism and the dialectic, which is an interesting problem for a filmmaker to have,” writes Mike Opal. Cristina Álvarez López focuses on Death and Devil (2009): “Nestler has said that he was reluctant to make a film about his grandfather (‘his path along the abyss gave me an eerie feeling’), but the weight and power of the existing materials convinced him.”

    Also in the Notebook: Michael Pattison on Sergei Loznitsa’s The Event (2015), “a people’s history of those few days in which the Soviet Union finally did collapse,” Clare Nina Norelli on Jürgen Knieper’s score for Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire (1987) and Marc Saint-Cyr on Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937).

    For Nadin Mai, Chantal Akerman’s News from Home (1977) is only “complete” when “it meets its viewer . . . Only then do we see just how complex simplicity can be.”

    Revisiting Teorema (1968) for AnOther, Thea Hawlin focuses on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “sprezzatura (or studied carelessness) and the other style lessons to be learned from the auteur's first professional cast.”

    Albert Brooks is “greatly undervalued as a formalist, as he's one of the shrewdest, most economical, and distinctive of American comic auteurs,” argues Chuck Bowen at Slant. And Lost in America (1985) “is as searching and searing an exploration of a relationship in crisis as any that Ingmar Bergman produced.”

    “To watch a Karel Zeman film is to feel that all other filmmakers are impeded, that they were short-changed on the day the Angels distributed the tools of filmmaking,” writes Tim Lucas in a review of The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1961). “Pick a random Zeman film and you will see his mastery of black-and-white and color; live-action and animation; collage and sculpture; sobriety and humor; science and imagination.”

    In 1983, Francis Ford Coppola shot two adaptations of novels by S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. For Jeremy Carr, writing for Film International, the latter is “ a far fiercer, more esoteric, and frankly much more interesting film.”

    “Arthur Penn’s early collaboration with Warren Beatty, Mickey One, is overshadowed in the annals of film history by their later work on the zeitgeist setting Bonnie & Clyde, but in many ways this is the more interesting picture,” writes Adam Batty.

    China Film Insider presents a three-part series—One, Two, Three—by Daryl Chin, “20 Years of Hong Kong Cinema.” Via Movie City News.

    In Newcity Film, Ray Pride considers the future of the entire industry. “How powerful, really, are the exhibitors, like AMC, Regal and Cinemark, to resist the studios that hope to wreck the established windowing system? Who’s got the most money to throw at a crisis to make it even worse?”

    For Film Comment, Dan Sullivan looks back on this year’s Cinema Ritrovato, focusing in particular on Med Hondo and Helmut Käutner.

    The festival’s an inspiration for Cinema Rediscovered, whose 2017 edition ran for a few days last week in Bristol. Pamela Hutchinson for Sight & Sound: “Alongside the screenings, in the Archive Sessions, sidebars, producers, curators, artists and critics wrestled with the question: how can we get more people to see these films?”

    Longreads has put together a movies-related reading list.

    It’s Lucrecia Martel Day at DC’s.

    The new issue of Zoetrope: All-Story, founded in 1997 by Francis Ford Coppola, has been designed by Jeff Bridges.

    INTERVIEWS

    “I feel that most of the questions about open form and polyvalence have been settled well over fifty years ago,” Jerome Hiler tells Martin Grennberger and Daniel A. Swarthnas in Lumière. “At this point, television advertising is polyvalent. I wish we could escape from it. . . . Don’t strain to read the film, as if there is a message that I’m hiding from you for some reason. I’m actually your friend and I trust your mind-stream.”

    At Eye for Film, Anne-Katrin Titze looks back on an interview she conducted last year: “In the second installment of my conversation with Wim Wenders on the 25th anniversary of his masterwork from 1991, he discussed the influence that Sam Shepard had on Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt) and how it was his ‘dream come true’ that Jeanne Moreau ‘accepted to travel all the way to Australia with us and spend months and months in the Outback.’”

    With the campaign to restore Alexandre Rockwell’s In the Soup (1992) in full swing, Interview has posted Brooke Smith’s 1996 conversation with Steve Buscemi.

    “Mario Adorf has had one of the most deliriously diverse careers of anyone in pictures,” writes Nick Pinkerton, introducing his interview for Film Comment. Adorf has “worked with a staggering array of filmmakers, including Robert Siodmak, Gerd Oswald, Sam Peckinpah, Antonio Pietrangeli, Valerio Zurlini, Dino Risi, Dario Argento, Jerzy Skolimowski, Liliana Cavani, Fernando Di Leo, Volker Schlöndorff, R. W. Fassbinder, Straub and Huillet—believe it or not, I am not making this list up—building a body of ineffable, sometimes rattlingly eccentric performances.”

    For the Guardian, Ryan Gilbey profiles Sally Hawkins, currently appearing in Aisling Walsh’s Maudie and soon to be seen in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Paul King’s Paddington 2.

    Aziz Ansari is on the cover of GQ; Mark Anthony Green met him in Paris.

    LISTS

    The “List of the Month” at LaCinetek is actually three lists, one by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the other by his brother, Luc Dardenne, and then the combined list. The directors of Rosetta (1999) and Two Days, One Night (2015) have selected films from the twentieth century that have meant the most to them.

    Moving into the twenty-first, Sean Baker (Tangerine, The Florida Project) has a few words for each of his ten favorite films from the last ten years at Grasshopper Film. Two directors appear twice on this list, Lee Chang-dong and Ulrich Seidl.

    For Vulture, Emily Yoshida writes about the “Best Dystopian Films Released Between Blade Runner [1982] and Blade Runner 2049.” And Angelica Jade Bastién argues that the genre “hyperconsumes the narratives of people of color—which read as allegories for slavery and colonialism—yet remains starkly white in the casting of major roles, and often refuses to acknowledge race altogether.”

    MovieMaker has put together a panel of filmmakers and programmers to draw up a list of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.”

    Jonathan Rosenbaum’s posted his 2006 list of “Ten Overlooked Noirs.”

    From Paul Corupe: “Canuxploitation's 100 important Canadian films: Towards an Alternative Canon.” Also at the Toronto Film Review, Stephen Broomer lists “99 films that informed my sense of Canadian cinema’s scope ’n’ variety.”

    For the BFI, Simon McCallum writes about “10 great lesser-known British LGBT films.”

    And from Lou Thomas at Little White Lies, “10 of the most kick-ass female assassins in film.”

    IN OTHER NEWS

    “Olivia de Havilland is a living legend who would like to sue Ryan Murphy—before her 102nd birthday, thank you very much.” As Tolly Wright explains at Vulture, she’s none too pleased with the way she’s been represented in Feud: Bette and Joan.

    Accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Odesa International Film Festival last month, Agnieszka Holland spoke in defense of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who, as Anna Yakutenko writes in the Kyiv Post, “was sentenced to 20 years in Russian jail on bogus charges.” Holland: “I am a Polish filmmaker and I know that Polish cinema was kind of a model for Ukrainian colleagues. Now in Poland we live through quite dark moments, when our young democracy is practically being destroyed by actual Polish ruling party. And it will be a challenge for all of us to show courage to fight for it again. I think that Ukraine can become a model for us somehow. I am talking about Oleg Sentsov, whose courage, and strength, and human beauty is a lesson to all of us.”

    Movie City News points us to a Russian report on a new monument to Andrei Tarkovsky in Suzdal, a town of around 10,500 inhabitants.

    “South Korean prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into award-winning filmmaker Kim Ki-duk on Thursday amid allegations that he hit an actress while shooting a movie,” reports the AP. The film was Moebius (2013) and the accusation includes insulting the “actress whose identity is being withheld” and “forcing her into a nude scene.”

    OBITS

    Voice actor June Foray, who has passed away at the age of ninety-nine, “was a giant,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. “Whether you’re 7 or 70, and whether you first encountered her voice in Looney Tunes shorts or on The Simpsons, on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle or Baby Looney Tunes, in Disney’s Cinderella or Disney’s Mulan, in Disney and Warner Bros. shorts and on recent Fox and Cartoon Network series, Foray has been a part of your imaginative development. If you were any sort of animation buff, she was one of the voices that you heard in your head.”

    Hervé Le Roux, who launched his career as a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma and would direct three films, has died at the age of fifty-nine. Jean-Michel Frodon has posted a remembrance (in French).

    “Known for his roles in BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, and the Harry Potter movies—as well as myriad portrayals of Winston Churchill—British actor Robert Hardy has died,” reports Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione. “In 2002, Hardy appeared as Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, reprising the role in three other films of the franchise. . . . In 1965, he appeared with [Richard] Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.” Hardy was ninety-one.

    “Lois Laurel Hawes, the only daughter of famed comedian Stan Laurel, has died.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Mike Barnes: “She was married to actor Rand Brooks—who played Scarlett O'Hara's first husband, Charles, in Gone with the Wind and sidekick Lucky Jenkins in a series of Hopalong Cassidy films—and then to writer-actor Tony Hawes. Her mother was the first of Laurel's four wives, silent-movie actress Lois Neilson.” Hawes was eighty-nine.

    LISTENING

    Simon Howell and Kate Rennebohm, hosts of The Lodgers, a podcast dedicated to Twin Peaks: The Return, talk with Glenn Kenny about “the upside of frustration, as well as many, many other tangents, including the show’s possible riffing on Lynch’s real-life persona and the new series’ sneaky ties to soap-opera aesthetics.” (70’08”).

    Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham discuss HBO’s Confederate, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, and Dana Schutz’s Open Casket on the latest episode of Still Processing (48’57”).

    For the new Talkhouse Podcast, Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) meets “two of her biggest fans, Jenny Slate and Gillian Robespierre, the star and writer-director of Obvious Child and the newly released Landline.” (39’50”).

    On the new episode of Live at Politics and Prose, Ann Hornaday talks about her new book, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies (66’58”).

    At the Literary Hub, Paul Holdengraber talks with Wallace Shawn “about his new book, Night Thoughts, the infinite appetites of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, taking yourself seriously, and what’s in store for civilization.” (51’45”).

    Illusion Travels By Streetcar #144: Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - Ein Bild der Zeit (Fritz Lang; 1922) (80’11”).

    ENDNOTES

    “In 1966, as the underground film wave was sweeping the country, a Boston off-shoot of New York City’s Film-Maker’s Cinematheque opened at a performance space at 53 Berkeley Street,” writes Mike Everleth, introducing a batch of posters from the Cinematheque’s two-year run. “Underground films were shown on weeknights, while on the weekends the space transformed into a music venue called The Boston Tea Party. . . . Andy Warhol was a semi-regular figure at the Boston Cinematheque, both for screenings of his films and for performances with the Velvet Underground at the Tea Party. On April 18-20, 1967, the Cinematheque screened Warhol’s The Life of Juanita Castro (1965), which starred fellow underground filmmaker Marie Menken in the title role and was one of Warhol’s collaborations with the screenwriter Ronald Tavel.”

    The Film Doctor’s posted a round of “captive attention links.”

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

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