Soderbergh, Sopranos, and More

On Film / The Daily — Aug 19, 2017

“So about Logan Lucky: I knew in the first shot that I was going to love this movie,” Amy Taubin tells Steven Soderbergh during her interview with him for Film Comment. “I call it the three-shot rule,” says Soderbergh. “After the first three shots, I know whether this person knows what they’re doing or they don’t.”

The interview covers a lot of ground: the “color space” of the film, Logan in this particular political moment, the ways a “shot is a story,” how “transformative digital has been for documentaries,” Mosaic, the “branching narrative piece” he’s been working on for HBO, why “VR is never going to work” as “a narrative space,” and genre: “Lately that’s felt like a really fertile space because it’s easy to use whatever genre you’re working in as a vehicle to slide some other ideas in around the center. Even The Knick: the doctor show is the oldest thing in television, and I wanted it to have that kind of energy. I didn’t view it as a drama. I viewed it as a kind of pulpy doctor show. Contagion is a horror film. I viewed The Informant! as a comedy, although some people might not have anticipated that we’d go that way with it. That’s where it led me.”

At The Ringer, you’ll find not only an annotated list, “Steven Soderbergh’s Movies, Ranked,” but also:

  • Rob Harvilla on Out of Sight (1998), the film that tops the list.
  • K. Austin Collins on Contagion (2011), “an epic in miniature.”
  • Adam Nayman on Haywire (2011), “a B-movie scattered with A-list movie stars cast as ciphers.”

The entry on Logan Lucky, in the meantime, has been updated through today.

More Reading

Armond White, currently the film critic for National Review Online and Out, “wasn’t initially a contrarian or a hack or a troll; he was a gay black man with the audacity to demand that movies not be condescending and escapist and patronizing to the people that loved them, that needed them. He believed in black art and art in general and fought, sometimes pettily, sometimes harshly, for it to be appreciated seriously. . . . Now he’s just a joke.” Writing for Hazlitt, Stephen Kearse examines how that’s come to be.

Patrick Z. McGavin talks with Michael Almereyda for RogerEbert.com about Marjorie Prime, Escapes, his friendship with Manny Farber, and the film he’s been working on with poet John Ashbery. Almereyda has just completed Tonight at Noon, based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem, and says he’s “working on a bigger movie about Nikola Tesla, set in the past, so it is not an easy film to make. I am also working on an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s White Noise. That seems more likely to catch fire.”

Rolling Stone’s David Fear talks with Scott Glenn about his “four-decades-and-still-going career, from getting a big break from Robert Altman with a supporting part in Nashville to how he ended up on Kurtz's compound in Apocalypse Now, channeling the elite fraternity of NASA's space-race pioneers in The Right Stuff to introducing a female Fed to the world's most famous screen serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs.

Beloved and Rejected: Cinema in the Young Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1963 is “a very readable and noteworthy introduction to the history of German cinema in the Konrad Adenauer era,” writes Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, focusing in particular on one essay in the collection by director Dominik Graf, “a lengthy analysis of the masculine image in postwar German cinema.”

“You can’t take Baby Doll seriously,” Elia Kazan once said of his 1956 film. At Musings, Judy Berman argues that, yes, you can.

Writing for frieze, Ela Bittencourt looks back on the seventieth Locarno Festival.

For the BFI, Alex Davidson writes up a list of ten “great films about ménage-à-trois relationships.”

Eliana Dockterman presents Time’s annotated list of the twenty-five “Best Heist Movies,” while Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey revisits the ten “Best Heists in Movie History.”

In Other News

“Roman Polanski has failed in his aim to have his 1977 criminal case for the rape of a 13-year-old tossed out,” reports Dominic Patten for Deadline. “An order issued Friday by Judge Scott M. Gordon has also denied the Oscar-winning director his attempt to unseal the 2010 testimony of former Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson. . . . In this latest attempt by the Chinatown helmer to avoid potential additional jail time in the decades-old matter, the testimony of Gunson remaining sealed may actually end up being a final blow in the 84-year-old filmmaker’s wish to return to America and resolve the case.”

Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall are teaming up on another book, this one on The Sopranos, which premiered on HBO in January 1999 and ran for six landmark seasons through to the summer of 2007. The publication of the book, tentatively titled The Sopranos Sessions, in January 2019 will mark the show’s twentieth anniversary. During the show’s run, Seitz and Sepinwall wrote about television for the Star-Ledger, the very paper Tony Soprano would pick up from his driveway each morning. The book will cover all eighty-six episodes and feature a new interview with series creator David Chase.

Goings On

New York. As part of its series Jonathan Demme: Heart of Gold, BAMcinématek is presenting Stop Making Sense (1984) through Thursday. “The film’s genius is that it understands scale,” argues Danielle Burgos at Screen Slate.

Chicago. Andre de Toth’s Last of the Comanches (1953) is “as sublimely generic as it gets,” writes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky for the Cine-List. The Chicago Film Society presents a 35 mm print on Wednesday.

Toronto. Tonight, as part of the series Panique: French Crime Classics, the TIFF Cinematheque presents Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko (1937). Writing for the TIFF Review, Nick Pinkerton reflects on the “curious kinship” between the film and Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942).

The TIFF Review’s also posted James Quandt’s 2015 essay “Hou Hsiao-hsien and the Infinite Sadness,” the occasion being tomorrow’s screening of Olivier Assayas’s HHH - Portrait de Hou Hsiao-hsien (1997).

Berlin. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Universum-Film, the studio that would become UFA and then careen from its heyday in the silent era through nazification, nationalization, Sovietization, and re-privatization. From Tuesday through Friday, the UFA Film Nights will present classics by G. W. Pabst, F. W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang before wrapping with a 2013 production, Philipp Stölzl’s Der Medicus. All the scores will be performed live and German stars such as Tom Schilling will introduce each screening.

In the Works

“We haven't had a new Lee Chang-dong film since 2010's magnificent Poetry but we got our hopes up last year when his new project Burning was announced, only to have them savagely dashed when a copyright issue stalled the production,” writes Pierce Conran at Modern Korean Cinema. “That snag has now been resolved and production is set to begin on his new film in the middle of September.” That’s via the Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth, who notes that this will be an adaptation Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning.” And he’s got a synopsis.

Don Hertzfeldt has teased on Twitter that he’s been putting the finishing touches on a new project,” writes Zack Sharf at IndieWire, “but he dropped a bombshell today by apparently confirming that his new movie is actually a sequel to his Oscar-nominated World of Tomorrow.” The title card Hertzfeldt has posted reads World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts.

Obits

Sonny Landham, “who was part Seminole and part Cherokee, was best known for portraying Native American tracker Billy Sole in Arnold Schwarzenegger-starrer Predator in 1987,” writes Erin Nyren for Variety. And “after appearing in Walter Hill’s 1979 street-gang thriller The Warriors, Landham often portrayed the tough guy in 1980s films including roles in Action Jackson and Lock Up.” Landham was seventy-six.

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