Hitch, Hooper, Romero, and More

In the latest entry in Reverse Shot’s symposium on time, Julien Allen proposes that “perhaps the most compelling display of Hitchcock’s bravura in Psycho [1960] occurs during one of its least discussed sequences, in which Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cleans up the crime scene, immediately after he discovers Marion’s body. Its duration alone—nearly ten percent of the film—is prima facie remarkable, and it contains, in its nine and a half minutes, an encyclopedic collection of escalating and conflicting sympathies and emotions, as well as directorial deceptions which are all the more exceptional for the director’s justified confidence that they would be almost invisible on first viewing.”

To catch up with the latest entries in Reverse Shot’s “A Few Great Pumpkins XII” series:

  • Chloe Lizotte writes about David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988): “It’s not what it shows, but what it suggests, that gets under our skin.”
  • Justin Stewart revisits Erle C. Kenton’s “pre-Code classic” Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton: “Much of the horror is implied—movement behind rustling shrubs, lurking figures scurrying out of dark caves, distant agonized moaning—but when the malformed creatures are glimpsed, they’re no less believable, frightening, and, because of their cruel, brainwashed captivity, sympathetic.”
  • The late Tobe Hooper “is rarely spoken of in quite the same breath as other auteurs like Romero, Carpenter, or Craven,” writes Michael Koresky, “but [The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)] is at least as great—meaning as skillfully terrifying—as the best films by any of those other directors, and it’s infinitely more merciless. And, of course, the title is perfect for such a big, pummeling lug of a movie.”
  • And for Jeff Reichert, Martin (1978) is George A. Romero’s “highest achievement . . . There are few filmmakers we’ve produced that have had a more clear-eyed vantage point on the twinned pitfalls and promises of the American Dream. And even in his most ham-handed of social critiques, he never lets his viewers elevate themselves above his material.”

Barbara Steele tells “A True Halloween Story” at the Chiseler.

“At first glance, [Cristian Mungiu’s] Graduation [2016] might not have much in common with Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang (2015) and Kirill Serebrennikov’s The Student (2016), two other films from ‘the East’ that have done remarkably well on the festival circuit.” writes Masha Shpolberg for the Los Angeles Review of Books. “The films come from Romania, Turkey, and Russia—countries with vastly different histories. Yet all three attest to the darkening of the skies over the Western horizon and the resurgence of archaic forces that these countries believed to have left behind in their 20th-century efforts to secularize, modernize, equalize. If in Graduation these forces are nepotism and corruption—along with the sense that Romanian society is a morass impervious to progress—the situation presented in Mustang and The Student is far more dire. Both films portray the revival of religious fundamentalism in their respective countries with all the familiar, dreadful repercussions for women, gay and transgender people, and so-called ‘freethinkers.’”

With Phantom (1922), rediscovered in 2000, F. W. Murnau “paid homage to Victor Sjöström’s Phantom Carriage (1920), a major influence in terms of double exposure and in-camera effects, with a scene in which Lorenz [Alfred Abel] hallucinates Veronika [Lya De Putti] racing through the streets in her carriage,” writes Susan Doll for Streamline. “Other effects include an Inception-like (2010) scene in which the city’s buildings seem to tip forward as Lorenz skulks down the street.”

“Though the plotting of Inferno [1980] is somewhat slapdash, the exacting control [Dario] Argento exercises over physical space creates an overwhelming sense of horror,” writes Brian Brems at Vague Visages.

George Pelecanos and David Simon’s The Deuce is “as far from escapism as a drama can get and still be watchable,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. “Only the show’s mix of compassion and bleak humor prevents it from being a total bummer. In the world of The Deuce, as in the world of Simon’s The Wire,Treme,Generation Kill,The Corner, and Show Me a Hero, society is divided into haves and have-nots (a fact underlined in recurring conversations about Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities). This being a Simon and Pelecanos series, we spend at least half our time among the have-nots . . . And, to paraphrase a line from The Sopranos, they’re all aware that the economy is shaped like a pyramid: money flows up, shit rolls down. A lot of shit rolls down in the finale.”

In the Notebook, Dane Komljen introduces his Fantasy Sentences, while Almudena Escobar López takes a deep dive into this year’s Projections program at the New York Film Festival.

Slate’s Dana Stevens talks with Christine Vachon, the producer who’s had an immeasurable impact on American cinema, shepherding films by Todd Solondz, Kimberly Peirce, Mary Harron, and Janicza Bravo, among so many others, about her working relationship with Todd Haynes—Wonderstruck is their eighth feature—and the current environment for women in the industry.

Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold has posted the second half of his interview with Errol Morris.

In Other News

“The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will bestow Max von Sydow with its Career Achievement award, which will be handed out January 13 at the organization’s annual awards dinner,” reports Patrick Hipes for Deadline.

“To mark the 120th anniversary of Sergei Eisenstein’s birth, Monash School of Media, Film and Journalism research fellow, Dr. Julia Vassilieva, is convening an international symposium at the Monash University Prato Centre, Italy in June 2018.” And she’s issued a call for papers.

Variety’s Patrick Frater reports on the nominations for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards: “Earning twelve nominations, including best feature film, best director for Garth Davis, and best supporting actor for Dev Patel, Lion,” topping the list, “was closely followed by television productions Blue Murder: Killer Cop, and Top of the Lake: China Girl with eleven nominations each.” The winners will be announced on December 4, and the ceremony will follow two days later.

In the Works

Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) is the title of Hayao Miyazaki’s next feature, reports Japan Today. “The title is the same as a 1937 book written by Genzaburo Yoshino, an editor and writer of children's literature, the Studio Ghibli Inc. sources said, adding the book has a significant meaning for the main character in the film, which is expected to take three to four years to complete. The book depicts the psychological growth of a teenage boy through interactions with his friends and uncle.”

Ralph Fiennes has wrapped principal photography for The White Crow, starring Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev, reports Orlando Parfitt for Screen. “David Hare (The Hours,The Reader) has adapted the screenplay from Julie Kavanagh’s book Rudolf Nureyev, which charts the iconic dancer’s famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him.” The cast features Adèle Exarchopoulos and Fiennes himself.

Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry,I Love Dick) will direct This Is Jane for Amazon, reports Deadline’s Anita Busch. “Based on Laura Kaplan’s non-fiction book The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service, the story follows a Chicago woman who founded and maintained the underground abortion service ‘Jane,’ a group of women who taught themselves how to perform abortions in the years before Roe V. Wade.”

Media Rights Capital (MRC) and Netflix “have decided to suspend production on House of Cards season six, until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew,” reads a statement passed along by Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva. Just yesterday, Daniel Holloway reported for Variety that “Netflix is moving ahead with plans for a House of Cards spinoff,” perhaps one that “revolves around Doug Stamper, the political aide-de-camp played by actor Michael Kelly in the first five seasons of the political drama, with Eric Roth set to write.” The sixth season of House of Cards, “widely credited as the show that put Netflix on the original programming map,” was intended to be the series’ last, a decision made earlier this summer. The “current situation” referred to in the statement relates, of course, to Anthony Rapp’s allegation that series star Kevin Spacey sexually harassed him and Spacey’s subsequent public apology, about which you’ll find more here (scroll way down).


“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” begins the Times of London, “John Mollo had just finished working as a historical adviser on Stanley Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon when he was invited to spend the Christmas of 1975 discussing an unnamed new science-fiction film. . . . The discussions led to Mollo being hired as the costume designer for what became Star Wars, creating the outfits worn by Darth Vader, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the stormtroopers.” That led to an Oscar, and a second followed in 1983, one he shared with Bhanu Athaiya for their work on Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. Mollo also worked with Ridley Scott on Alien (1979). He was eighty-six.

Kim Joo-hyuk, “a South Korean actor who won Best Supporting Actor last week at the inaugural Seoul Awards,” died yesterday in a car crash in Seoul, reports Erik Pedersen for Deadline. He was only forty-five. The award was “for his role in the SK action feature Confidential Assignment. He is known for such local films as [Hong Sang-soo’s] Yourself and Yours (2016), [Kim Dae-woo’s] The Servant (2010), and [Jeong Yoon-soo’s] My Wife Got Married (2008).”


The latest Film Comment Podcast focuses on Tobe Hooper, with Ina Archer, Margaret Barton-Fumo, Michael Koresky, and Violet Lucca discussing “the eclectic body of work” (75’41”).

On the new episode of Talk Easy, Sam Fragoso talks with Miguel Arteta (Beatriz at Dinner) about, among other things, “his memories of some favorite collaborators, including the late friend and filmmaker Jonathan Demme.” (76’48”).

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