Revolution, Ethics, and More

On Film / The Daily — Aug 29, 2017

We’re “in dire need of revolutionary narratives,” writes Dan Hassler-Forest. And he grants that a few Hollywood blockbusters have made a stab at it, specifically calling out The Hunger Games, Rogue One, and Mad Max: Fury Road. “But Hollywood’s most provocative contemporary dramatization of political revolution is the resuscitated Planet of the Apes franchise. While the first film in the original cycle famously ends with one of the most iconic images of post-apocalyptic catastrophe, the Apes saga insistently combined Swiftian social satire with allegorical depictions of civil rights issues, the unholy alliance between science and the military-industrial complex, and political activism.”

Also in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Joseph G. Kickasola writes about Robert Sinnerbrink’s illuminating book, Cinematic Ethics: Exploring the Ethical Experience through Film: “Given the book’s title, one might expect a comprehensive theory of ethics in cinematic experience, but Sinnerbrink’s target is narrower. He articulates and defends a single assertion: film doesn’t just ‘illustrate’ but actually does ethics on an experiential level. In the ‘doing’ of ethics cinematically, he argues, we can approach the larger ethical questions with a more robust understanding.”

Along with fellow cinematographer Ed Lachman, Vittorio Storaro will be giving a masterclass at the New York Film Festival this fall. Now Movie City News alerts us to a roundtable discussion of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) that originally appeared in American Cinematographer. Participants include cinematographers Stephen Burum, John Bailey, and Dante Spinotti.

Justin Chang’s tweeted a list that he and fellow Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan have put together, “twenty-five films from the past twenty years that deserve more attention. Not a definitive list, just twenty-five we love.”

Laurent Kretzschmar has posted two more columns that Serge Daney wrote for Libération in 1988, the first one on Peter Weir’s Witness (1985). “A film starts in one direction, forks, changes its mind, takes a deviation and comes back—wise to the world—to its starting point. This freedom to digress, usually accepted for writers, so cruelly lacks filmmakers that we’re grateful to Peter Weir to have, even modestly, found it back.”

And the second: “Appalled by the recent offsprings, Rambo 2 and 3, we remain cool-headed enough to recognise the initial qualities of Rambo 1 (directed by Ted Kotcheff). How did John Rambo, the Vietnam hero, become a maddened beast, the films asks.”

For or Guernica, Aurora Prelević talks with Mirjana Karanović, whose directorial debut, A Good Wife, screened at Sundance last year. “Karanović has been a star of the stage and screen in the Balkan peninsula for decades—before, during, and after the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Her breakout role came in Emir Kusturica’s When Father Was Away on Business (1985) and her fame crystallized by way of his Underground (1995).” Among the topics of their discussion are “identity politics and the fallacy of ethnicity in the Balkans, passivity and denial, the global patriarchy, and the impossibility of un-seeing violence.”

In New York, Adam Sternbergh tells the story behind Matt and Ross Duffer’s Stranger Things, “which debuted last year and quickly became Exhibit A for the kind of hit that both harks back to an age of office watercoolers yet could happen only at this very modern moment—a moment characterized by unfettered social-media chatter and short-season TV shows you can binge-watch in one manic, unhinged weekend. The story of the Duffers is, like the plot of Stranger Things, an improbable yet engrossing and ultimately rousing tale, and there’s only one thing left to complete it, at least for now. An encore.” Season 2 debuts on October 27.

And for Deadline, Matt Grobar talks with cinematographer Tim Ives, who’s shot not only “the bulk of Stranger Things” but also a good number of episodes of Girls and House of Cards.

For the Guardian, Andy Welch talks with Studio Babelsberg location manager Markus Bensch one of the most widely used non-landmark locations of the past several years, the Messedamm underpass in Berlin.

Monday was Leslie Thornton Day at DC’s.

In Other News

“Following the resignations of executive director Hadrian Belove and board member and Shadie Elnashai, Cinefamily has closed, temporarily suspending ‘all Cinefamily activities in order to allow for the investigation and necessary restructure of management and the board,’” reports IndieWire’s Dana Harris. “The Cinefamily board asked for the resignations last week after an anonymous email circulated claiming that Belove ‘has been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse by former employees and volunteers’ and accused Elnashai of ‘raping multiple women, all verbally threatened and scared into silence after the assaults.’”

The BFI and its London Film Festival have announced that Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain Phillips) “will receive its highest accolade, the BFI Fellowship.”

In the Works

Marc Webb ((500) Days Of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man) “is attached to direct This Above All, a drama about the controversial Westboro Baptist Church,” reports the Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth. “Nick Hornby (Brooklyn, Wild) will pen the screenplay, based on the memoir by former member Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of founder Fred Phelps, who became one of the most powerful voices on social media for Westboro, where she used both a picket sign and her Twitter handle to doggedly protest everything from cultural events to funerals, until her ongoing conversations with opponents over Twitter led her to question her belief system.”

Towards the end of Ian Parker’s profile of Ken Burns in this week’s New Yorker, the documentary filmmaker talks about his hopes for an opportunity to make a film about Barack Obama and his presidency. “I would love to sit down with him and do fifteen or twenty two-hour sessions. And make a film, in a couple of years, that would be in his own words. It would just be him. And then, in ten years, we’d add all the other things. So we could get at least fifteen years away from Obama’s Presidency and triangulate.”

Michel Blanc is currently shooting Voyez comme on danse with Karin Viard, Carole Bouquet, and Charlotte Rampling in Paris, reports Fabien Lemercier for Cineuropa.

Obits

“Mireille Darc, the celebrated French model-turned-actress who collaborated with Georges Lautner, Jean-Luc Godard, Édouard Molinaro, Alain Delon and Michel Audiard, has died,” reports Variety’s Esla Keslassy. “An icon of French cinema in the 1960s and 70s, Darc starred in more than 50 films, notably Lautner’s The Great Spy Chase and La Grande Sauterelle, Godard’s Weekend, Jacques Pinoteau’s Hard Boiled Ones, Denys de La Patellière’s The Upper Hand, and Yves Robert’s The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe, in which she appeared opposite Pierre Richard.” Darc was seventy-nine.

“Syd Silverman, longtime publisher and owner of Variety and Daily Variety, who shepherded the entertainment trade papers into the modern era, died August 27,” reports Deadline’s Anita Busch. Silverman was eighty-five. Tim Gray looks back on the life and career in Variety itself.

“Bernard Pomerance, a Brooklyn-born poet and playwright who won fame and the Tony Award for The Elephant Man, died August 26,” reports Jeremy Gerard for Deadline. Pomerance was seventy-six.

Listening

Peter Labuza and Jaime Christley look back on the legacy of Jerry Lewis in a special episode of The Cinephiliacs, The Total Film-Maker: Jerry Lewis (1926–2017) (70’51”).

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