Film Journal and More

On Film / The Daily — Oct 3, 2017

From Catherine Grant comes word that the third issue of Film Journal is now online, and it’s got a theme: “Since the Lumière Brothers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, 1895), trains—one of the most emblematic signs of modern times—have been puffing and speeding their ways onto movie screens, affecting spectators in multiple manners,” writes Taïna Tuhkunen in her introduction. “Since the onrushing locomotive speeding towards the audience became one of the founding myths and iconic shots of film history, cinema has not ceased to exploit the dramatic, diegetic and symbolic potential of trains.”

The new issue features Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard on John Ford’s The Iron Horse (1924), Hervé Mayer on Henry King’s Jesse James (1939), Tuhkunen on Buster Keaton’s The General (1926), Claire Dutriaux on freight trains in Martin Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha (1972), Robert Aldrich’s Emperor of the North (1973), and Hal Asby’s Bound for Glory (1976), Cristelle Maury on Richard Fleischer’s The Narrow Margin (1952), Rebecca Franklin-Landi on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959), and Yvelin Ducotey on Scorsese’s Hugo (2011).

Julien Lapointe aims to “to develop a critique of David Bordwell’s characterization of the classical paradigm, as enunciated in his sections of The Classical Hollywood Cinema.” And there are two book reviews: Charlène Regester on Delphine Letort’s The Spike Lee Brand: A Study of Documentary Filmmaking and Gilles Menegaldo on David Roche’s Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s: Why Don't They Do It Like They Used To?

More Reading

“Seeing again The Ten Commandments [1956] is to understand that DeMille was not only the bigoted and reactionary tyrant who liked to see all his flock of extras piled into a single image, but also the kitsch aesthete that took the liberty to treat colors as extras,” wrote Serge Daney for Libération in 1989.

Writing about the 2016 restoration of The Lost World (1925) by Serge Bromberg’s Lobster Films, now out on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley, Kristin Thompson notes that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel was only thirteen years old when Harry O. Hoyt directed the feature. “Doyle was still alive; he would not publish his final Sherlock Holmes story until 1927 and his final works of fiction until 1929. . . . The main attraction of the film, of course, is its technology,” which she then examines closely.

“Recognizing that [Dario] Argento was a great director means living with his misogyny,” argues Steve Erickson at Kinoscope. “I think that embracing art requires embracing complexity and contradiction as well; a film like Suspiria [1977] takes female lives more seriously than many more mainstream films which never place women in danger but relegate them to subsidiary roles as ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the wife.’ . . . Suffice it to say that no one gets away unscathed from a film like Tenebrae [1982], especially the audience. And it’s still great.”

The Poe Cycle, [Roger] Corman’s masterwork of campy gothic horror, perhaps best exemplifies the brilliance and staying power of his low-budget cinema,” writes Kate Blair at Vague Visages.

Denis Villeneuve, whose Blade Runner 2049 is out on Friday, turns fifty today; an audiovisual essay from Mikolaj Kacprzak

Writing for Film International, Christopher Sharrett argues that Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) “fully announces him as perhaps the greatest living European director.”

Talking to Frances McDormand for the New York Times Magazine, Jordan Kisner suggests that she tends to play “profane women. Or rageful, or violent.” McDormand: “I mean, I know I’m profane. And outspoken. But I don’t know, they’re fun! . . . My politics are private, but many of my feminist politics cross over into my professional life. Because I portray female characters, so I have the opportunity to change the way people look at them. Even if I wasn’t consciously doing that, it would happen anyway, just because of how I present as a woman, or as a person. I present in a way that’s not stereotypical, even if I’m playing a stereotypical role. I can’t subtract that from myself anymore. I could when I was younger.”

“I began filming in 1950 a few months after I landed in New York,” Jonas Mekas tells Trey Taylor in Interview. “I wanted to master the camera, to see what the camera could do. Since I got involved in Film Culture then later in the Village Voice, I never had much time, no long stretches of time, I just kept filming in little pieces. I thought I was practicing, but when I began looking at what I had, I realized it was like keeping a diary. So I just continued working that way!”

In Other News

“Renate Langer, a 61-year-old former German actress, has reported to the Swiss police that the film director Roman Polanski raped her at a house in Gstaad in February 1972, when she was fifteen.” Sophie Haigney reports for the New York Times.

In the Works

Mudbound director Dee Rees will helm An Uncivil War, which will chronicle the battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. The film will pit Gloria Steinem against conservative Phyllis Schlafly. Casting is underway and shooting is slated for early next year. Just last week, Screen’s Jeremy Kay reported that Rees plans to direct an adaptation of Joan Didion’s 1996 spy thriller The Last Thing He Wanted.

Anna Paquin “will play the daughter of Robert De Niro’s title character, Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, a reputed hitman suspected of involvement in the 1975 disappearance of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa” in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, reports Erik Pedersen for Deadline.

For more on projects in the works, see the entry that went up earlier today.

Obits

“Depending on when and where you grew up, Tom Petty dying feels like America dying,” writes Alex Balk at the Awl. “While it’s easy to talk about what someone like Bowie or Prince meant because of the ground they broke and the perceptions they challenged, Petty was always just there, using the standard formula of rock as the foundation for a body of work that almost everyone had at least one or two favorites from. You never listened to Tom Petty and felt bad. Even the sad songs brought grace.”

“Chuck Low, who played Morris (Morrie) Kesseler in Goodfellas alongside Robert De Niro, died September 18,” reports Denise Petski for Deadline. “Low, a New York City native, became friends with De Niro during the 1970s when he worked as a real estate developer in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood and De Niro was one of his tenants. Their friendship resulted in Low’s first screen appearance in The King of Comedy, playing a man in a Chinese restaurant who mocks De Niro’s character.” Low was eighty-nine.

Listening

“Laura Major has been a staple at the Maryland based Colorlab for a number of years, helping the studio produce new 35 mm negatives and positives of documentaries, experimental films, archival orphans, and more,” writes Peter Labuza, introducing a new episode of The Cinephiliacs (74’09”). Discussion of her work eventually turns to Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait (1978).

On the Film Comment Podcast (31’46”), editor Nicolas Rapold talks with Darren Aronofsky about mother! “Instead of allegorical exegesis, the conversation covers the film’s technical craft and its intense subjectivity, as well as what Aronofsky learned from his college professor . . . Miklós Jancsó.”

That episode’s immediately followed by another (55’21”) in which Molly Haskell, author of Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films, among other books, of course; Michael Koresky, editor of the Reverse Shot book Steven Spielberg: Nostalgia and the Light; and FC digital producer Violet Lucca discuss “the household-name auteur.”

Viewing

Twin Peaks: The Return – Then He Kissed Me” (4’18”) is a new audiovisual essay for the Notebook from Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin: “To adapt an immortal line from Johnny Guitar, Lynch has probably forgotten more cinema than we cinephiles remember.”

Gallery

AnOther’s Daisy Woodward presents a collection of sketches by Yves Saint Laurent for Catherine Deneuve’s costumes in Luis Buñuel’s Belle de jour (1967).

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