• [The Daily] Montenegro, Rohmer, and More

    By David Hudson

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    At Shadowplay, David Cairns has posted David Melville Wingrove’s tribute to Conchita Montenegro, whose career in theater and film took her around the world from the late 1920s through the mid-40s. Her “triumphant final film” would be the 1944 Spanish version of Lola Montes, which “may be the greatest camp masterpiece that even Susan Sontag never saw.” And though she appeared in “a string of movies that can be described politely as Fascist propaganda,” she may have “helped to keep Spain neutral throughout the Second World War.”

    “Rohmer’s films foreground conversation, but, more importantly, they explore the ways in which discussion can serve as a substitute for the gratification of furious desires.” In the Notebook, James Slaymaker revisits Eric Rohmer’s final feature, The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (2007).

    Few films “have gone quite so far in expressing a woman’s experience of connubial bliss as a kind of torture chamber as has Gerd Oswald’s 1957 vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck, Crime of Passion,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Film Comment, suggesting that “though Oswald’s filmography is too slim to warrant an argument that he is an overlooked major figure, this little-documented semi-German who spent most of his life in Southern California does intriguingly suggest a bridge between the individual struggles with fatalism in Lang and Fassbinder—both filmmaker maudit and missing link.”

    Clint Eastwood “may not be the most overtly cinephilic, homage-bound director,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody, “but Sudden Impact [1983] resounds with some conspicuously Hitchcockian elements (specifically, hints of Vertigo, Marnie, The Birds, and Strangers on a Train). I think that the allusions are no accidents—that there’s an essential element of Hitchcockian guilt woven into the fabric of Sudden Impact.

    Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Jeffrey Fleishman traces a lineage from Hal Needham’s Smokey and the Bandit (1977) to Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky: “Both movies cleverly explore a South that often feels maligned by a Hollywood it sees as sensitive to minorities, gays, immigrants, extraterrestrials and anyone who’s not white, doesn’t go to Bible study or speak with a drawl. [Burt] Reynolds’s Bandit and [Channing] Tatum’s Jimmy Logan defy perception and are wiser than the joke aimed at them.”

    For the TIFF Review, Alicia Fletcher writes about how much Walt Disney’s “famous animated films owed to their silent-cinema forebears. As conveniently rights-free, highly recognizable properties that would resonate with international audiences, fairy tales and fables were frequent fodder for adaptation to the silent screen, and they inspired future filmmakers such as Disney with their elaborate production design, groundbreaking special effects, and the promise of the magical and wondrous that defined the appeal of the motion picture in the early years of the medium.”

    With Paul Bartel: The Life and Films, Stephen B. Armstrong “has delivered a refreshing, anecdote-filled account of Bartel’s life and work, which includes directing the cult classics Death Race 2000 (1975) and Eating Raoul (1982),” writes Irv Slifkin for Film International.

    INTERVIEWS

    Criterion’s own Hillary Weston talks with Bertrand Bonello about one of the best-reviewed films currently in theaters, Nocturama—see the reviews gathered at Critics Round Up—and about horror movies, Jim Jarmusch, soundtracks, and more.

    With Fast Times at Ridgemont High turning thirty-five tomorrow, Susan King talks with director Amy Heckerling for Variety, as well as with writer Cameron Crowe, who recalls meeting first with David Lynch. “He had a very wry smile on his face as I sat talking with him. He went and read it. We met again. He was very, very sweet about it, but slightly perplexed we thought of him. He said this was a really nice story but ‘it’s not really the kind of thing that I do, but good luck.’ He got into the white VW bug and drove off.”

    Aubrey Plaza not only stars in but she’s also co-produced Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West, and Elise Nakhnikian, who’s spoken with her for Slant, finds her to be “as sincere as her early characters seemed snarky.”

    Ray Pride talks with An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk for Newcity Film. Shenk notes that Al Gore’s “optimism has no apparent bounds. Every day we saw people moved by Al to the point of deciding to change their lives and we were equally moved.”

    For ScreenAnarchy, Michele “Izzy” Galgana talks with Steve Mitchell about his documentary, King Cohen, “an informative and entertaining look into Larry Cohen's life and work.”

    LISTS

    For the BFI, David Parkinson writes about the “10 best Alfred Hitchcock films never made.” You may have already known about the “account of the Titanic disaster, which was to have been Hitchcock’s Hollywood debut (1939-40), and The Bramble Bush (1949-52), David Duncan’s novel about a thief who steals a murderer’s passport. But Hitch was also linked with such unlikely projects as The Saint in New York, The War of the Worlds, Les Misérables, and Treasure Island, as well as tales about Labour leader Keir Hardie, a bigamous ventriloquist, a beleaguered nuclear bomber pilot and the plot to crucify Christ. And how different screen history might be if Ian Fleming had managed to land Hitch for the first Bond movie.”

    Anna Biller, director of The Love Witch, has tweeted her newly revised list of favorite musicals.

    For Grasshopper Film, Kogonada lists his ten favorite films from the last ten years, plus a round of five directors: “Twenty-two films were made by these five filmmakers in the past ten years and all are worthy of attention.” Kogonada’s own first feature, Columbus, is being well-received (Critics Round Up).

    Dustin Guy Defa writes about his top ten Criterion releases; track reviews of his latest feature, Person to Person, at Critics Round Up.

    GOINGS ON

    New York. “While the summer science fiction series is a common repertory staple, MoMA’s Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction stands apart from the rest with its interest in the uncommon,” writes Jon Hogan, introducing his interview with curator Josh Siegel for Hyperallergic.

    The series runs through August 31 and Dana Reinoos recommends catching Invasión (1969), which “uses a mix of film noir, political thriller, nouvelle vague, and science fiction elements to retell the story of The Iliad.” Reinoos notes that “director Hugo Santiago was an assistant to Robert Bresson, who worked on The Trial of Joan of Arc.” The film stars “Argentine composer Juan Carlos Paz and high-profile Argentine actors Olga Zubarry and Lautaro Murúra.” And it was “scripted by literary titan Jorge Luis Borges and his frequent collaborator Adolfo Bioy Casares.” Screens tomorrow afternoon.

    Also at Screen Slate, Chris Shields notes that Bruce W. Smith’s Bébé’s Kids (1992), screening Monday at the Alamo Drafthouse, “is the product of a high watermark in the 1990s when black aesthetics were finding wider audiences in popular visual media with shows like In Living Color and in films like House Party and the work of Spike Lee.”

    NPR’s Rick Karr talks with Museum of the Moving Image curator Barbara Miller about the new permanent Jim Henson Exhibition (4’47”).

    Meantime, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s series ’77 rolls on through August 24.

    Los Angeles. A possible forerunner to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Carne y Arena, a virtual reality experience currently installed at LACMA, “be the films of Michael Haneke,” suggests Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

    “Mário Peixoto was only 22 years old when he made Limite, a landmark experimental feature that offers an intensely subjective vision of two men and a woman lost at sea,” writes Nathaniel Bell for the LA Weekly. Los Angeles Filmforum presents the 1931 film tomorrow at the Egyptian. Bell also previews The Man Who Would Be King (1975), screening tomorrow as part of John Huston: A Retrospective at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater; Charles Walter’s Easter Parade (1948) with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, a Tuesday Matinee at LACMA; and Louis Malle’s Murmur of the Heart (1971), screening Wednesday as part of Laemmle Theatres’ Anniversary Classics Series.

    London. The first part of the BFI’s season Jean-Pierre Melville: Visions of the Underworld is on through September, with Le Doulos (1962) screening through August 24. “The title means ‘hat,’ slang for informer, stoolpigeon, rat or grass,” notes the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, “and it’s a moody, ruminative lowlife crime drama winding up with as many corpses on the floor as Hamlet, and pungent with the sweaty maleness of Melville’s tough-guy pictures.”

    IN THE WORKS

    “The road to Hayao Miyazaki’s new movie continues to be a slow effort,” writes Zack Sharf at IndieWire, “but each new development is well worth celebrating. The latest news as reported on Studio Ghibli’s official website is that the company has officially reopened its production department to begin work on Miyazaki’s first feature since 2013. . . . Additional details on Miyazaki’s new film have not been released. It’s been widely speculated the movie will be a feature adaptation of his first CGI short film, Boro the Caterpillar.

    Donald Sutherland is joining Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ruth Negga in James Gray’s Ad Astra. The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Ford notes that the sci-fi project has been “described as an adventure film about one man’s (Pitt) journey across a lawless and unforgiving solar system to find his missing father, a renegade scientist who poses a threat to all of mankind.”

    “Spike Lee is gearing up to shop around a new TV series with tech entrepreneur and multi-hyphenate rising star Chad Sanders,” reports Elizabeth Wagmeister for Variety. “The series, titled Archer, is a dark comedy and sociological thriller capturing the life of a 20-something African-American coding genius and iconoclast living in Brooklyn who has developed a dating app that reads sexual chemistry. The central character is described as a ‘young, black Mark Zuckerberg-like protagonist,’ and the story will travel between New York, Silicon Valley, and”—hoo-boy—“Berlin’s famously sexual environment.”

    “The Munsters are back!” exclaims Nellie Andreeva at Deadline. “NBC is rebooting the 1960s comedy series about a family of lovable monsters with Odd Mom Out creator Jill Kargman and Seth Meyers.” The new Munsters will be “determined to stay true to themselves but struggle to fit in in hipster Brooklyn.”

    OBIT

    “For a time in the late 1960s,” writes Andrew Roberts for Sight & Sound, “the name of Hywel Bennett ranked alongside that of David Hemmings as the epitome of the ultra-fashionable leading man. In 1969, he was described by Roger Ebert as ‘one of England’s best young actors’ but, as Bennett subsequently reflected, by the early 1970s he found himself ‘with nowhere to go.’ However, the figure associated with ‘Swinging London’ was to reinvent himself as a major character actor, a transformation anticipated by his remarkable performance in Twisted Nerve (1968).” Bennett, who passed away on July 25, was seventy-three.

    LISTENING

    Here’s a major tip from Allison Meier at Hyperallergic: “The PEN America Digital Archive launched on July 26 with over 1,500 hours of audio and video material newly accessible to the public, from the inaugural visit of Pablo Neruda to the United States, to Haruki Murakami’s first public speaking event. The archive chronicles 50 years of PEN America’s programming on literature and freedom of expression, featuring the voices of authors and advocates like Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, and Salman Rushdie.” A few finds: Andrew Sarris, Peter W. Kaplan, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz discussing film criticism (49’53”); Richard Price, Paul Schrader, Joan Micklin Silver, Paul Theroux, and more in 1994 on book-to-movie adaptations (126’14”); Françoise Mouly’s interview with Marjane Satrapi (30’47”); and a conversation about surveillance with screenwriter Walter Bernstein (20’56”), “who was blacklisted and monitored during the McCarthy era.”

    On the new Talkhouse Podcast (47’32”), Patrick Brice (The Overnight) and Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck), “both currently editing films produced by the Duplass brothers, have a lively talk which encompasses everything from Jason Schwartzman’s reticence to take off his shirt to a nightmare TV project Arteta worked on with Martin Scorsese, but focuses most on two major topics: parenthood (Brice recently became a father for the first time) and the current political climate (Arteta’s new film is the very prescient and Trump-inflected Beatriz at Dinner).”

    TIFF Long Take hosts Rob Kraszewski and Geoff Macnaughton talk with You Must Remember This creator Karina Longworth about Ida Lupino’s “story, struggles, and influence on a profession that is still, sadly, overwhelmingly male.” (28’41”).

    For the Ringer, Sean Fennessey and K. Austin Collins talk with Josh and Benny Safdie about making a movie starring Robert Pattinson, capturing New York City on-screen, and the frenetic pace of Good Time (34’33”). See the reviews at Critics Round Up.

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

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