Ozu, Melville, and More
We begin with a few translations. Asymptote lives up to its own billing as “the premier site for world literature in translation” with the presentation of Adam Kuplowsky’s renderings in English of some observational work by Yasujiro Ozu. “These three essays, written for newspapers and magazines, offer a portrait of a lighthearted and comic writer with a brisk, modern style and deep interest in the social dynamics of his time.” What we have here are a walk through Tokyo in 1933, a few train stories from 1937, and a sweet and funny sketch about his mother from 1958.
The Belgian site Sabzian has relaunched with a translation of an article by Hassan Farazmand, “Bogus Makhmalbaf Arrested,” that ran in a 1989 issue of Sorush magazine. The piece introduced Hossein Sabzian to the world, and indeed, an interview with the man who passed himself off as famed Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf makes up the bulk of it. The story would become Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up (1990).
Sabzian’s also put up a 1982 piece by Flemish writer Daniël Robberechts (1937–1992) in which he addresses the question, “How come the films of Chantal Akerman demonstrate to me a non-sadistic use of the camera?”
Sophie Kovel has translated Chris Marker’s recollection in 1951 of an encounter with a German train conductor.
Jugend ohne Film has posted Arindam Sen and Ivana Miloš’s translation of a piece Serge Daney wrote for Libération in 1986: Ritwik Ghatak, “a leftist, a loser and alcoholic (he died in 1976 in poverty), is the one who, much more than [Satyajit] Ray, the young Indian generation relates to. He is a man given to fragmenting who takes the time to try and put the pieces back together. This is why Ajantrik  is a film that breathes. Sometimes with terrible asthma, sometimes with miraculous ease.”
“We began a series of symposiums more than a decade ago in which we have asked contributors to isolate particular formal elements of cinema and use them as the starting points for essays,” write Reverse Shot editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert. “These ‘Takes’ have centered on, in order, a single shot,cut,sound,color, and the use of screen aspect ratio. For Take Six, we’re focusing on that most cinematic of concepts: time. We gave our contributors the option to choose any single, unbroken passage of film. This does not necessarily mean a single take. And whether it’s nine seconds or ninety minutes or nine hours, it’s still valid for a discussion of how film harnesses and relies upon time.”
The first entry comes from Koresky. “The low-budget horror films that producer Val Lewton gifted to the world from 1942 to 1946 are renowned as models of cheap ingenuity and narrative efficiency,” he writes. In The Seventh Victim (1943), directed by Mark Robson, there are ten seconds which “manage to both crystallize and complicate the philosophical ideas with which The Seventh Victim engages, abruptly leaving the viewer in a state of unsettled and, in this writer’s opinion, highly productive bewilderment.”
And the second entry—there are just two so far—comes from Michael Joshua Rowin, who writes about synchronicity and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973), “the horror masterpiece in which a man’s psychic intuitions intrude upon his rationalistic belief in spatiotemporal linearity.”
Reverse Shot has also launched the twelfth edition of its Halloween column, “A Few Great Pumpkins.” There are three pieces up so far, the first by Koresky, arguing that “good horror movies convince us our paranoia is justified, and, for me, watching [Hitchcock’s] The Birds  again put its essential conflicts—between the human and the primal, the forces of love and the agents of destruction—into newly frightening relief.”
Adam Nayman: “Ghosts want only to be seen; Lake Mungo  examines our compulsion to meet them face to face. Australian filmmaker Joel Anderson’s first and only feature . . . deserves its cult reputation as a high-water mark of the found-footage genre.”
And Julien Allen argues that Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Diabolique (1955) “cannot date because the grubby, shabby evil it depicts will never go away. And there’s a reason why horror was there at the outset of cinema and why it’ll still be there at the end. Because it trades in one of the essential oils of cinema: insecurity.”
There’s more from Julien Allen, too, as he revives Reverse Shot’s series, Escape from New York: “Shetland is the eponymous island at the center of a modestly sized archipelago situated in the North Sea, 200 miles north of mainland Britain, on the same line of latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, and southern Siberia. . . . The total population of the Shetland Islands is 23,000 and there’s only one movie theater. But it’s a doozy.”
Last Friday, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Pierre Melville, Tablet posted a rich essay by Adrien Bosc: “The Resistance movement within France, the Italian campaign, and the liberation of France from German occupation marked Melville indelibly. There is not a film of his where, hidden in the features of a gangster, woven into the solitude of a hired gun, or even buried in the uncertainty of a high-rolling gambler at the gaming table, the bitter years of combat are not present. Melville in his second stage carries, in the lining of his suit, on the inner surface of his Ray-Bans, an obsession with a frightening but also incredibly happy period.”
“Why this continual hankering after Barry Lyndon?” asks Greg Gerke. “This epic downer of celluloid casts its perspicacious glow and I easily roll over to be scratched.” And earlier in this excellent piece, Gerke writes, “isn't it time to ask if style and content are more inextricably wound in Barry Lyndon than in any other Kubrickian enterprise?”
We actually have a lot to catch up with from the Notebook:
- Jonathan Kiefer on Amit Dutta: “His earlier work sits comfortably within the highest class of inventively literal art films—Greenaway’s Rembrandt projects, Jarman’s Caravaggio, Kurosawa’s Dreams, among so many others—but that extra something he brings to the table is the refreshment of decidedly non-European aesthetics.”
- Sky Hopinka on his new film, Dislocation Blues: “After each visit I made to Standing Rock the best word I could find to describe the experience to friends and family was ‘dislocated.’”
- Meredyth Cole on David Cronenberg: “Are his disintegrating societies particularly Canadian? In works like Rabid, from 1977, I would say yes.”
- Carolina Benalcázar on Nele Wohlatz’s The Future Perfect (2016), “above all a film set on earth, affectionately and empathically curious about the imperfections, mistakes and determinations of the lives that it houses.”
- Michael Pattison on Jean-Gabriel Périot’s A German Youth (2015), “an exhilarating archival assemblage detailing the rise of the leftwing Red Army Faction in 1960s and 1970s West Germany.”
News that Ocean’s 8, starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, and Sarah Paulson, will be out next summer has reminded David Bordwell of “the staying power of the heist genre” and set him thinking “about how convention and innovation work in the caper movie. It’s also a good excuse to go back and watch some skillful cinema.”
“The brutal judgmentalism that has made opening-weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing,” writes Martin Scorsese in a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter. “I’m talking about market research firms like Cinemascore, which started in the late ‘70s, and online ‘aggregators’ like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism.” They’ve “set a tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers.”
The New Yorker’s Richard Brody responds: “I think that film criticism is, over all, better than ever, because, with its new Internet-centrism, it’s more democratic than ever and many of the critics who write largely online are more film-curious than ever.” What’s more: “Most of the best movies now are made frugally and released quietly—and if critics and their editors don’t pay attention to these movies because they’re not advertised heavily or released widely, they’re merely perpetuating a fallacy, an illusion.”
And here’s Brody on Michael Haneke and two “disciples,” Ruben Östlund and Yorgos Lanthimos: “Regardless of any political statements to the contrary, the effect of all three filmmakers is to feed the maw of populist resentment, to exacerbate hostility toward liberal society, to propose no change or improvement, to lament no tragic conflicts, but, rather, to reject liberal society with a muffled, derisive frivolity, to despise institutions, norms, mores, and—above all—the educated urban bourgeoisie and the professional competences and administrative order that it sustains. . . . Theirs is a cinema of reactionary snobbery, a righteous snort of contempt of exactly the sort that feeds far-right rejectionism all the way around to where it meets far-left rejectionism—in haughty, self-righteous, and humanly challenged cynicism.”
Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Joseph Pomp introduces a term for our consideration, noting that “films like Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, Sean Baker’s Tangerine, Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats, and Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time address sociopolitical issues through the prism of place-based character studies, but with a hard-hitting style that feels less akin to the European art-house tradition than to hip-hop music videos. For some, these movies’ feverish musicality could seem like a far cry from the verisimilitude that defines neorealism. But the social-media-saturated society and panoptic state we inhabit today is layered with visual textures and riddled with constraints that the war-torn cities of Europe in which neorealism coalesced couldn’t have imagined. Shouldn’t the aesthetics employed to reflect the anxieties and moral ambiguities of our daily existence consequently be both lush and aggressive? Enter Neon-Neo Realism.”
Verso Books has posted a previously unpublished essay from Sophie Mayer’s new collection, From Rape to Resistance: Taking Back the Screen. Jane Campion’s In the Cut (2003) “rewrites” Sigmund Freud’s essay “Mourning and Melancholia” to “suggest how New York might have moved through its grief” after 9/11, “not through retributive violence but through the vulnerability of desire.”
“Betraying his fascination with Ophüls, Welles, and late Ford, [Terence] Davies tends to structure his compositions around wide-angle lenses, distant camera positions, large swaths of negative space, and weighty, methodical camera movements,” writes James Slaymaker for Bright Lights. “Davies—who can be described as a cultural conservative but never a simple nostalgist—wears his affection for his forgotten eras on his sleeve, generally eschewing close-ups in favor of wide, deep-focus compositions that place his characters within a meticulously recreated visual environment and draws the viewer’s attention to the minor details of the mise-en-scene.”
In The Gleaners & I (2000), Agnès Varda “helps us see the hyperactive cycle of our materialism and, through the act of glanage, shows us a way to consume less and to engage with our environments more,” writes Lauren Elkin for the Paris Review.
Movie City News points us to Herb A. Lightman’s cover story for the February 1967 issue of American Cinematographer on the making of The Professionals (1966), the film that first paired director Richard Brooks and cinematographer Conrad Hall—they’d later work together on In Cold Blood (1967) and The Happy Ending (1969).
“Archive.org now hosts a full archive of Psychotronic Video magazine plus some of the early Psychotronic TV issues as well,” notes Austin Film Society programmer Lars Nilsen. “This is a big deal, and in one fell swoop has justified the invention of the iPad. Enjoy these issues with their years of interviews, reviews and features. This is truly a cultural treasure.”
Writing for Film Comment,Mark Harris considers “what makes [Shirley Clarke’s] Portrait of Jason one of the few films to be as divisive in 2017 as it was in 1967.” And in his latest “Cinema ’67 Revisited” column, Harris explains why “Camelot was no My Fair Lady and never had been.”
Catherine Grant alerts us to two new issues. “Holding Blackness: Aesthetics of Suspension” is the theme of the current one from liquid blackness. The seventh issue brings Daren Fowler and Arzu Karaduman on Moonlight (2016), Steve Spence on Mathieu Kassovitz’s La haine (1995) as a hip-hop film, and more.
“LFQ has always been on the forefront of research into adaptation, and this issue continues that tradition by offering exciting new perspectives on the participatory nature of reception,” writes Andrew Scahill, introducing the new issue of Literature/Film Quarterly.Walter Metz writes about the various cinematic incarnations of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter;Michele Meek considers “two novels about sexual subjectivity within child abuse, Sapphire’s Push (1996) and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), and their subsequent film adaptations, Lee Daniels’s Precious (2009) and Anjelica Huston’s Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)”; Suzanne Ferriss writes about Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years (2015), based on David Constantine’s story, “In Another Country”; and there’s more.
Federico Varese, author of Mafia Life: Love, Death and Money at the Heart of Organized Crime, writes for the TLS about the dialogue that’s been going on between gangsters and the movies since D. W. Griffith’s The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912).
For the Talkhouse, Bruce LaBruce writes about two new entries to his “Academy of the Underrated,” Mark Rydell’s The Fox, “a remarkably complex, psychosexual set-up, which both [D. H. Lawrence’s] novella and film deeply mine,” and Adrian Lyne’s Foxes (1980), “the ultimate Jodie Foster fetish film.”
For Streamline, Kimberly Lindbergs declares that her “favorite acting feat in all of [Robert] Wise’s directing oeuvre can be found in The Body Snatcher (1945)” with “Boris Karloff in what is arguably his most accomplished performance playing John Gray, a merciless grave robber with soul-piercing eyes and a bone-chilling grin.”
In Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio, a new volume in Yale’s Jewish Lives series, David Thomson “concentrates less on the brothers than on the cinematic factory they built and ran,” writes Dennis Drabelle in the Washington Post. “The same mind-set might have inspired another series contributor, Steven Gimbel, to demote Albert Einstein and write a biography on the Theory of Relativity.”
In Nazi Germany, one of Joseph Goebbels’s aims was “to restructure Europe’s fractured landscape of small, national cinemas into a unified, integrated pan-European film market,” writes Benjamin G. Martin for the International Association for Media and History. “In this unified ‘Film Europe,’ Germany’s centralized, state-controlled industry would seize the leading role hitherto played by the American studios. Berlin, rather than Hollywood, would produce the border-crossing blockbusters that would entertain European audiences—and cement Germany’s cultural hegemony in Europe. In Die große Liebe, Zarah Leander played a valuable role in bringing about the Nazi ‘New Order’ in European cultural life.”
“A subliminally satirical reworking of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale from [Stephen] Frears and screenwriter Christopher Hampton, Mary Reilly  is a batty extension of their previous Dangerous Liaisons into the overlapping terrain of Victorian manners and sexual horror,” writes Howard Hampton for Artforum.
“In the 90s,” writes Noel Murray for Musings, “the erotic thriller essentially cleaved into two sub-genres, represented by [Adrian Lyne’s] Fatal Attraction  and [Paul Verhoeven’s] Basic Instinct . The former could best be described as ‘domestic disturbance’ pictures, where someone’s seemingly idyllic family life would be disrupted by the arrival of a seductive babysitter or vengeful nanny. The latter are more sordid tales of sexual obsession, where some horny man or woman gets too turned on by a lover who’s into S&M, voyeurism, or good ol’ fashioned sex-murder. One of the best films of the era—and ripe for rediscovery—blends the two sub-trends. Screenwriter Don Roos (adapting a John Lutz novel) and director-producer Barbet Schroeder created something archetypal with 1992’s Single White Female.”
Also at Musings, Steven Goldman considers “the paranoid nostalgic detective film” in the ’70s, and in particular, Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974), and Arthur Penn’s Night Moves (1975).
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987) “has a particular texture; it’s grotty and soiled and a little abrasive, like synthetic stucco or pebbledash.” Nick Pinkerton for Little White Lies: “It’s one of those movies that you can instantly recognize from a single frame. . . . Despite its moments of neophyte clunkiness, Barker’s film conveys a keen understanding of magic and myth, and its shudders of pleasure are undiminished.”
David Pountain revisits Takeshi Kitano’s Hana-bi (Fireworks, 1997), “a layered meditation on the importance of creation as a means of processing both the horror and beauty of existence.”
Also at Vague Visages, Jeremy Carr writes that, in Summer with Monika (1953), “one sees a progression from the perfectly capable Bergman before, to the more profoundly reflective Bergman to come.”
In New York,David Edelstein argues that “franchise-tentpole-universe movies contain the seeds of their own destruction.”
Writing for Film Quarterly,Caroline Golum snaps back at a recent New York Post story claiming that millennials aren’t into classic films.
“It’s hard to get into without maybe spoiling some of the plot,” Don Hertzfeldt tell Sean Cordy at Cut Print Film, “but the burden of other people’s thoughts is basically what I feel every time I log onto social media. The crush of it all.” The topic at hand is, of course, World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts: “We’ve been working on knocking together a substantial theatrical release and it’s just taken longer than I expected. A digital release everywhere will come afterwards, but I don’t know exactly when yet.”
Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold has posted the first half of his conversation with Errol Morris about his four-hour, six-part series, Wormwood, “the spiraling story of Eric Olson and his father, Frank Olson, a military scientist who died from a mysterious fall out of a Manhattan hotel window in 1953.” Morris, by the way, has a piece in the New York Times Book Review on Peter Manseau’s The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn talks with William Friedkin and discovers that the director of The Exorcist (1973) has never seen any of its sequels. He quite likes It and Get Out, though.
For a Variety cover story, Ramin Setoodeh talks with Kate Winslet about working with Woody Allen and Justin Timberlake on Wonder Wheel, but also: “I am sneakily developing some things as a producer. I have not said this out loud.” And: “I would like to direct.”
“I read that growing up, you admired actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis,” Emma Robertson tells Rebecca Hall at The Talks. Hall: “They were just incredibly empowered in circumstances which weren’t very empowering—and I wanted to have idols who were grown up women, who were strong women.”
“I don’t do many interviews,” Danny Lloyd, still remembered by most as Danny Torrance, tells Cath Clarke in the Guardian. “But when I do, I try to make it clear, The Shining was a good experience. I look back on it fondly. What happened to me was I didn’t really do much else after the film. So you kind of have to lay low and live a normal life.”
At Mubi, and “for Halloween,” Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) presents “a chronological list of my favorite horror movies.” One hundred in all. “It’s not in any way an official best of list and merely represents my tastes at the moment. So if you feel something is missing—MAKE YOUR OWN LIST.”
For Rotten Tomatoes, Ryan Fujitani gets Joe Dante talking about his five favorite horror movies. Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961) is “the best horror film I’ve ever seen.” That said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film better directed than [Roman Polanski’s] Rosemary’s Baby .”
Chuck Bowen introduces Slant’s ranked and annotated list of films by George A. Romero, whose “films are often at their best when they don’t appear to be trying so hard, when the director’s sense of macabre humor is allowed to break through.”
Suggesting that if Oscars were given to producers rather than to a Best Picture, “our image of women in the industry would be very different,” Kristin Thompson presents an annotated list of female producers of Best Picture nominees “to show the fairly steady progress that women have made in this category.”
For Grasshopper Film, Bill Morrison (Decasia,Dawson City: Frozen Time), lists his ten favorite films from the last ten years.
The latest Criterion top ten won’t go unmentioned here, of course. Stephen Cone (Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party,Princess Cyd) has found a way to get a few more than ten in there.
The team at the A.V. Club has put together an annotated list of the “35 best science-fiction movies since Blade Runner.”
IndieWire’s put together a list of the “20 Scariest Movie Scenes of the 21st Century.”
At Uproxx, Matt Prigge ranks and writes about the “25 Best Horror Films of the 1990s.”
At the Quietus, “Thogdin Ripley and Philippa Snow of avant-horror publishers Hexus Journal pick thirteen films that blur the worlds of horror and the avant-garde to frightening, funny and sometimes shocking effect.”
The LA Weekly’s Gwynedd Stuart offers an annotated list of “10 Scary Movies to Ease Kids Into Horror.”
“Most accounts of the film art movement begin with the Film Society, founded in 1925, and the little magazine Close Up, founded in 1927, and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum has material from both.” Henry K. Miller is “especially interested in the climate they grew out of, and the question of how film came to be taken seriously in the first place. The programs, flyers, and handbills which the collection contains—and which no other collection contains—are tangible evidence of this earlier process, which accompanied the cinema’s conquest of the West End in the years after the First World War.”
For Creative Review,Rachael Steven takes a look at Taschen’s new book, Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde, a collection of 250 designs from the collection of Susan Pack that “includes posters by Constructivist sculptors and set designers the Stenberg brothers, architect-turned-poster designer Mikhail Dlugach and the artist, photographer and graphic designer Alexander Rodchenko.”
In the Notebook, Adrian Curry looks back on the posters for films featured in the fifth New York Film Festival. The year was 1967.
For the TIFF Review’s series FilmArt, Craig Caron revisits the world of William Castle, “King of the Gimmicks.”
In Other News
Adrian Martin has a new book coming out in February, Mysteries of Cinema: Reflections on Film Theory, History and Culture 1982–2016.
“European film producers are voicing outrage over what they allege was the politically motivated sacking of the head of the Polish Film Institute, the nation’s key funding and international networking hub for cinema production,” reports Will Tizard for Variety. “Magdalena Sroka’s ouster, announced Oct. 9 by Poland’s culture minister, Piotr Glinski, prompted street protests at the Warsaw film festival this week. Filmmaker Wim Wenders, the head of the European Film Academy, said in an open letter that the organization’s members were ‘deeply disturbed’ by the right-wing Polish government’s move to fire Sroka.”
“Alfonso Cuarón has joined forces with Anonymous Content and Participant Media to launch Mexico Rises, a multi-platform initiative that will help raise funds to help the communities in Mexico impacted by the recent earthquakes,” reports Zack Sharf for IndieWire. And from Ed Meza in Variety: “Cuarón is currently in post-production on his next film, Roma, his first Mexican film since 2001’s Y tu mamá también. While it has been described as a family drama, Cuarón remains tight-lipped about the project.” Cuarón will say, though: “It was fantastic to go back. It was a big gift. All I can tell you is that it was as if I was drifting in the ocean and I was thrown, with this film, a safety jacket.”
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible) will receive a Special Oscar statuette this year, ‘in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling,’” reports Variety’s Kristopher Tapley. “The award will be presented to both Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki at the 9th annual Governors Awards” on November 11.
Back to Zack Sharf: “Nicolas Winding Refn has announced he is launching a curated website of films, essays, photography, and more art in February 2018. The website, entitled byNWR.com, will be completely free for users, including the streaming films.”
The American Film Institute has announced that the 46th AFI Life Achievement Award will be presented to George Clooney next June.
Dustin Hoffman will receive the Actor Tribute and Sofia Coppola the Director Tribute when the 2017 IFP Gotham Awards are presented on November 17. Here are the nominations.
The 31st American Cinematheque Award will be presented to Amy Adams on November 10.
Helen Mirren will be honored at the 45th Chaplin Award on April 30 at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Cinema Eye has presented its annual list of Unforgettables, “which annually celebrates the exciting and sometimes tricky collaborations between filmmaker and subjects by noting those indelible individuals who helped define documentary cinema in 2017.”
As Michael Nordine reports, the first ever round of IndieWire Honors will celebrate Mary J. Blige, Sterling K. Brown, James Franco, Diane Kruger, Kumail Nanjiani, and Issa Rae on November 2 in Los Angeles.
Charles Cohen, the “real estate tycoon turned movie mogul” who’s renovated the Quad in New York, has “acquired La Pagode, a Japanese-styled iconic theater in Paris considered to be architectural gem dating back to 1896,” reports Elsa Keslassy for Variety. “Renovations will take roughly three years, said Cohen.”
Danish microbrewery Mikkeller has teamed up with David Lynch to launch three Twin Peaks beers, Log Lady Lager, Damn Good Coffee Stout, and Red Room Ale.
CBC News tours one man’s collection of DVDs, Blu-rays, Laserdiscs, VHS, and Betamax tapes—17,300 movies in all.
In the Works
Isla Fisher will play the wife of Matthew McConaughey’s Moondog, a rebellious stoner, in Harmony Korine’s Beach Bum, reports Variety’s Justin Kroll.
“Robert Guillaume, who died Tuesday at the age of eighty-nine, had a long, impressive career both on stage and on screen,” writes Slate’s Aisha Harris. “In television, he would make the rounds guest starring on some of the biggest television shows of the era, including Sanford and Son,All in the Family, and The Jeffersons before getting his big break as the wisecracking butler Benson on the sitcom SOAP and its spin-off, Benson.” And “to an entirely different generation, Guillaume’s most lasting role is likely his voice performance in Disney’s The Lion King as Rafiki, the odd but wise mandrill who helps Simba discover his destiny as the true leader of Pride Rock.”
Friends of Stephen Parr, the founder and director of Oddball Films, are mourning his passing on Facebook and Twitter. As Shoshi Parks reported for 7x7 back in May, “roughly 50,000 film prints and 25,000 analog video and audio tapes in over a dozen formats” are “all kept safe and snug at Oddball Films HQ on Capp Street in the Mission" in San Francisco. “The laundry list of companies that have licensed their footage for everything from TV commercials to music videos is just as impressive and ranges from news organizations (BBC), film heavyweights (Dreamworks) and documentary producers (National Geographic).”
TIFF’s Michèle Maheux and David Vella remember Simon Fitzmaurice, the subject of last year’s documentary It’s Not Yet Dark who, in 2008, at the age of thirty-three, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS) and given four years to live. He went on to write and direct My Name is Emily (2015). On Thursday, he passed away. He was forty-three.
“Harry Stradling Jr., the cinematographer behind the lens of The Way We Were,Little Big Man, and 1776, among many others,” has died at the age of ninety-two, reports Greg Evans for Deadline. “In the 1980s, he worked on four Blake Edwards films: S.O.B.,Micki + Maude,A Fine Mess, and Blind Date. He was the son of cinematographer Harry Stradling (A Streetcar Name Desire,Funny Girl,The Picture of Dorian Gray,My Fair Lady).”
For the Village Voice,Robert Christgau remembers Fats Domino, who’s died at the age of eighty-nine. Looking back to the ’50’s, he writes, “Fats was the only black rock ’n’ roller who was a full-fledged pop star, and he did it without discernible commercial calculation—he played what he liked.”
Writing for 4:3, Luke Goodsell argues that Ghosts (1997), Michael Jackson’s “longest music film” (39’41”), “contains so much of Jackson’s essential dynamic and craft that it deserves to be more than a footnote in his career.” And on a related note, John Landis tells the A.V. Club the story behind the video he made for “Thriller” (3’45”).
With the release of more than 2,800 documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the New York Times’ A. O. Scott talks about how movies have fueled interest in conspiracy theories (3’16”).
Slate’s Aisha Harris talks with Gabourey Sidibe (47’13”), who’s “found success on the small screen, playing Queenie in American Horror Story: Coven and Becky on Empire, and this year added another line on her resume: Director. Her short film, the Nina Simone-inspired The Tale of Four, debuted online earlier this week, and follows a day in the life of four black women, played by Aisha Hinds, R&B singer Ledisi, Dana Gourrier, and Megan Kimberly Smith.” (23’18”).
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