Solntseva, cléo, and More

On Film / The Daily — Aug 23, 2017

We’re opening today’s entry with the “goings on” items because today’s must-read comes from Bilge Ebiri in the Village Voice. He assures us that he’s “not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been waiting most of my life to see Yuliya Solntseva’s Ukrainian Trilogy.” That opportunity arrives this weekend as the Museum of the Moving Image presents a 35 mm print of Poem of an Inland Sea (1958) and 70 mm prints of The Story of the Flaming Years (1961; image above) and The Enchanted Desna (1964). And these will be the North American premieres of all three films.

Bilge Ebiri: “Solntseva started her career as an actress during the heyday of early Soviet cinema—she played the title character in Yakov Protazanov’s 1924 sci-fi fantasy Aelita, Queen of Mars—and eventually entered a close collaboration with her husband, Alexander Dovzhenko, the great Ukrainian director who fused tales of revolution and war with earthy, naturalistic expressionism in masterpieces such as Earth (1930) and Arsenal (1929). . . . All three pictures in the Ukrainian Trilogy originated as stories and scripts by Dovzhenko, who died in 1956, the night before he was scheduled to begin shooting Poem of an Inland Sea.

Solntseva completed Poem “using her late husband’s detailed notes and sketches . . . Poem and the final film in this trilogy, The Enchanted Desna, share a deep love of the Ukrainian landscape — a wonderment at its soft light, its gently rolling hills, its placid waters and its endless fields of blossoms. . . . The greatest treasure here is the second picture in the trilogy, 1961’s The Story of the Flaming Years (also called Chronicle of Flaming Years, or just Flaming Years), a sweeping look at the effect of the war on the people of Ukraine, as seen (loosely) through the eyes of young soldier Ivan Orlyuk.”

Tomorrow evening, also in New York, Anthology Film Archives presents Eryk Rocha’s Cinema Novo (2016), “a tribute to the eponymous movement that transformed Brazilian (and Latin American) cinema in the 1960s and 70s, and justifiably exploded onto the international scene.”

Los Angeles. In The Thing (1982), screening Friday and Saturday at the New Beverly, John Carpenter “understands the shock and terror so well . . . that characters stand in near-breathless disbelief and disgust, and, at times, in a darkly comic stupor,” writes Kim Morgan.

More Reading

“Shorts” is the theme of the new issue of cléo, the journal of film and feminism. The editors present a guide to vol. 5, issue 2:

Monica Uszerowicz reflects on her first sense of sexual desire as reflected in the queer short by Camila Saldarriaga ¡Mais Duro!. Chelsea Phillips-Carr . . . highlights the colonialist mindset behind Barbara Loden’s The Frontier Experience. Child’s play and “time mismanagement” are the common thread linking Andrea Arnold’s Wasp and Lynne Ramsay’s Small Deaths, according to Juan Velàsquez-Buriticá, and returning cléo contributor Willow Maclay digs into the uncompromising Riot Grrrl attitude of Sarah Jacobson’s I Was a Teenage Serial Killer. Ayanna Dozier studies how L.A. Rebellion filmmaker Alile Sharon Larkin edits anti-Blackness into plain view in The Kitchen and Courtney Duckworth explores laughter in the face of violence as a feminist survival strategy in Cecelia Condit’s Possibly in Michigan. Last, Michael Sicinski reflects on provocation and embodiment as throughlines to avant-garde tradition in the cinema of Nazlı Dinçel.

For Wesley Morris, writing in the New York Times, “to watch the movies or TV—or even to catch the hype for a certain boxing match—is to know that normalized white supremacy has been here all summer. It’s to know that the people who manufacture all sorts of popular culture have also, intentionally or not, tossed some racism onto the assembly line. It’s to know that whatever occurred in Charlottesville and then at that news conference didn’t happen in a vacuum. They were just the gnarliest flare-ups in a season of provocations that seem so business-as-usual that they scarcely feel provoked.”

Light Industry points us to Robert Kelly’s 1964 review of Stan Brakhage’s Metaphors on Vision, a collection first published in 1963 as a special issue of Film Culture.

“I say to people, ‘Woody Allen can’t just leap from Annie Hall to Manhattan. He has to make Interiors in between.’” That’s Steven Soderbergh, talking in the Guardian to Tom Shone, who finds that the “comparison with Allen is a good one. Soderbergh has broken up with us several times, before seducing us again with another crowd-pleaser. ‘I view it the way I view sex,’ he says. ‘If I accidentally give someone else pleasure during it, I’m fine with that.’”

“I have always been in a productive tension with the [Harvard] Sensory Ethnography Lab, which truly shaped and defined my work as a filmmaker,” Joana Pimenta tells José Sarmiento Hinojosa at desistfilm.

In La poison (1951), Sacha Guitry's “satire digs into the French subconscious in deceptively complex ways, implicitly asking if the very foundations of law and order are themselves poisonous, especially if they can be so easily reduced to farce,” writes Clayton Dillard at Slant.

In Other News

Peter Barbey, who bought the Village Voice, the quintessential alt-weekly, in 2015, is putting an end to the print edition. In the Hollywood Reporter, Jeremy Barr passes along a statement from Barbey: “For more than sixty years, the Village Voice brand has played an outsized role in American journalism, politics, and culture. . . . The most powerful thing about the Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week. It was that the Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want the Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people—and for generations to come.”

At Vulture, Jackson McHenry notes that the Voice “has a hallowed history of defining and exemplifying New York counterculture, having been founded by Norman Mailer, Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, and John Wilcock. It launched the careers of numerous authors and journalists, and started a trend of alt-weeklies across the country, many of which, like the Voice, had run into financial hardship with the advent of online media. Now, the Voice will try to build its presence online.”

In 2006, Dennis Lim edited a collection of landmark film criticism, The Village Voice Film Guide: 50 Years of Movies from Classics to Cult Hits.

In the Works

The most talked about project in the works announced since yesterday’s roundup is a comic book movie. That’s due to the involvement of Martin Scorsese, who will co-produce with Todd Phillips (The Hangover), who will direct and co-write with Scott Silver (8 Mile) an origin story: The Joker’s. According to Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr., the idea is “to make a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-80s Gotham City that isn’t meant to feel like a DC movie as much as one of Scorsese’s films from that era, like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or The King of Comedy.

David Oyelowo is joining Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking, “set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts with Holland’s character playing the only boy in a town of men who’s forced to flee with only his dog.” Variety’s Dave McNary has more.

Also, “Maya Rudolph has joined Melissa McCarthy in the dark comedy The Happytime Murders,” which is “centered on two clashing detectives, one human and the other a puppet, who are forced to work together to find the killer who’s murdering the former cast of The Happytime Gang, a classic puppet show.”

Chanya Button (Burn Burn Burn) will direct Elizabeth Debicki and Isabella Rossellini in Vita & Virginia, reports Robert Mitchell for Variety. Debicki “will play Virginia Woolf opposite Gemma Arterton in the period drama, which tells the true story of the unconventional love affair between socialite Vita Sackville-West (Arterton) and Woolf. Rossellini’s role has not been announced.”

Nicolas Cage is joining Franka Potente, Penelope Mitchell, and Garrett Clayton in Maria Pulera’s supernatural thriller Between Worlds, reports Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka.

Listening

On the new Film Comment Podcast (58’35”), Violet Lucca talks with Aliza Ma and Jeff Reichert about Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama and other films about terrorism.

With the latest Close-Up (23’13”), the Film Society of Lincoln Center brings us a conversation with Beach Rats director Eliza Hittman and cast members Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, David Ivanov, and Frank Hakaj. On a related note, Melissa Anderson interviews Hittman for the Village Voice.

Joshua Topolsky talks with critic Angelica Jade Bastién about “Detroit, Get Out, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Keanu Reeves” (71’52”).

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