In the Village Voice, Bilge Ebiri looks back to the day in 1992 when, as a college freshman, he dropped everything, skipped his classes, and took a train from New Haven to New York to see a movie: Orson Welles’s Othello (1952). It was J. Hoberman’s review that sparked the spontaneous decision, and you can read it further down that same page. First, though: “Looking at the piece again today, I’m still wowed by it: its economy and thoroughness, the way Hoberman eloquently condenses so much history, analysis, and appreciation into one page, while somehow also working in references to Oscar Micheaux, Raul Ruiz, André Bazin, and the Clarence Thomas nomination hearings. But there’s more to it than that—there’s that certain mystery that turns the review itself into a work of art.”
“The opening of Halloween is a coming-out story,” writes Richard Scott Larson at Electric Lit. Watching John Carpenter’s 1978 film “was the first time that I knowingly witnessed a blatant representation of human sexuality—in this case, heterosexual human sexuality, the kind of buzzing horniness most explicit in representations of adolescence on film and television—and what I saw confirmed to me that I was not welcome there.”
Recently in Bright Lights Film Journal:
- Gordon Thomas on William Wellman’s Beggars of Life (1928): “For devotees of Louise Brooks, the film holds legendary status as her best American film,” but “what caught my attention this time around was Wallace Beery. Once he entered nearly midway into the picture, it struck me that this is Beery’s show as much as it is Louise’s, however much Brooks and co-star Richard Arlen set the plot in motion.”
- Alan Vanneman on Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel: “[Tom] Cairns’s libretto closely tracks Buñuel’s film, though tightening up and, really, improving on the ending.”
- And Steve Johnson: “Bella Donna: Lilith, Gaia, and the Spectral Mother in Mario Bava’s Black Sunday.”
In the new issue of Artforum, Jackie Neudorf reviews Desert Hearts (1985), noting that Donna Deitch “enlisted Robert Elswit as her director of photography (he would later work on Paul Thomas Anderson’s evil-frontiersman blockbuster, There Will Be Blood ), and Robert Estrin (who had worked on Terrence Malick’s Badlands ) as her editor. The resulting collaboration is a stunning pastel montage, shot in sumptuous 35 mm, of oneiric Western settings.”
“I think it was Quentin Tarantino who said that the grindhouse enthusiast not only has to drink a lot of milk to get to the cream, they have to drink a lot of curdled milk,” writes David Cairns in the Notebook. “And I generally figured I would leave that to someone else because it didn't sound too appetizing. So I have to be grateful to Nicholas Winding Refn, a sturdier trashonaut than I, who has performed curatorial duties, rediscovering and restoring two prime examples of cultist cream, thick, clotted and soured and probably very bad for your figure. I shouldn't, I really shouldn't. But I'm going to.” Here come Dale Berry’s Hot Thrills and Warm Chills (1967) and Bert Williams’s The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds (1965).
At the Talkhouse, Erik Nelson, whose documentary A Gray State opens tomorrow, looks back on the time Werner Herzog “wanted to direct the documentary I was developing. . . . I agreed to hand over the directorial reigns. Good call.” In Grizzly Man (2005), “Herzog put together both the film he thought [Timothy] Treadwell was trying to make, while at the same time admonishing [his] ghostly partner for his naïve grasp of Herzog’s principal subject: nature.”
“Fans have been speculating about the last few spooky minutes of the Twin Peaks: The Return finale since it aired in September,” writes Devon Ivie at Vulture. Noting that “there are a lot of theories” as to what actually happened, Ivie tells us that the show’s co-creator, Mark Frost, confirms one—and only one—in his new book, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier. Don’t look unless you want to know. And Ivie has more gleaned from the book, too, namely, what happened to eleven notable characters in the twenty-five years between the end of the second season and the beginning of The Return.
The Female Gaze has posted not only an excerpt from Albertine Fox’s forthcoming book, Godard and Sound: Acoustic Innovation in the Late Films of Jean-Luc Godard, but also a few words from Fox on what inspired her to write it: “Having grappled with the untapped freedoms that come from analyzing sound in films that don’t abide by narrative conventions, I became enamored with the disruptive and unpredictable soundscape of Godard’s Weekend, and with the subtle levels of repetition and variation in his earlier feature Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live). I was also struck by the emphasis on listening and memory in his later film Éloge de l’amour (In Praise of Love), by the sensuous blending of music and speech in Passion, and by the subversive use of speed variation in Sauve qui peut (la vie) (Every Man for Himself).” Via Adrian Martin.
“Arrow Books is the new publishing imprint of Arrow Video, the UK-based, boutique home video label specializing in extras-rich box sets of restored horror, Japanese, and cult movie classics,” writes Marc Walkow for Film Comment. “They’ve begun with two cinema-related chapbooks squarely in their wheelhouse—Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji, by Japanese cinema specialist Tom Mes, and Ghost in the Shell, by anime expert Andrew Osmond—followed by a third volume devoted to the Blair Witch franchise.” Mes’s book “has been framed out of necessity as a sort of biographical filmography,” while Osmond’s is “wide-ranging in the best possible way.”
Jonas Mekas’s A Dance with Fred Astaire is “an eccentric memoir powered by tall tales, amusing anecdotes, brief encounters and lots and lots of great photographs capturing each precious moment,” writes Little White Lies’ David Jenkins, presenting a selection of those photos.
At RogerEbert.com, Matt Fagerholm talks with Stephen Cone, whose Princess Cyd opens tomorrow, “about transcendental literature, fluid sexuality and why touring with this film has been his most gratifying experience to date.”
The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik talks with Michelle Pfeiffer about returning to acting. “Would you have done a Catwoman movie?” she asks. Pfeiffer: “Are you kidding me? In a heartbeat. I loved that part.”
New York. “Alpha Centauri is the final destination in Jindřich Polák’s Ikarie XB-1 , as Anthology Film Archives continues their series of Stanisław Lem adaptations,” writes Chloe Lizotte at Screen Slate, noting that “the Ikarie comes across as a futuristic resort, complete with a gym and a party space, all rendered in a chic ’60s geometric minimalism that almost feels like it was dreamed by Don Draper—the crew even loves swaying to some collision of contemporary classical and Juan Garcia Esquivel-style lounge music.” Screens tomorrow evening.
Austin. “In its twelfth year now, the Austin Polish Film Festival has tutored us well and smartly in the too-often insufficiently known riches of the Polskie screen,” writes Anne S. Lewis, previewing this year’s edition in the Chronicle. The festival’s on from today through Monday.
In the Works
Julie Taylor (Frida) will direct Julianne Moore as Gloria Steinem in My Life on the Road, reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. Based on Steinem’s memoir and written by playwright Sarah Ruhl, the story centers on “Steinem’s growth from a reluctant spokesperson of a movement, into a galvanizing symbol for equality, with a focus on the encounters along the road that helped shaped her.”
“Beyoncé is set to voice Nala in Disney and Jon Favreau’s live-action The Lion King,” reports Variety’s Justin Kroll. “The star-studded voice cast also includes Donald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as Mufasa (reprising his role from the 1994 original), Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Alfre Woodard as Simba’s mother Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, John Kani as Rafiki, Florence Kasumba as Shenzi, Eric André as Azizi, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa.”
Garrett Hedlund, Rebecca Hall, and Anjelica Huston are in talks to join artist Rosson Crow’s feature feature directorial debut, reports Screen’s Jeremy Kay. “Utopia Road centers on Sissy, an aging televangelist who aspires to become a household name. When a drifter played by Hall turns up, they plan to conquer the world just as Sissy’s estranged preacher son reappears on the scene, forcing Sissy to question whether the sacrifices she made for her career were worth the effort.”
“Elizabeth Banks and Margot Robbie are teaming to tackle the modern children’s book classic The Paper Bag Princess.” According to the Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, both will produce, Banks will direct, and Robbie may star, “but that will depend on several factors, including the script and scheduling.”
With Amy Kaufman and Daniel Miller reporting in the Los Angeles Times that six women, including Olivia Mann and Natasha Henstridge, have accused director and producer Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) “of a range of sexual harassment and misconduct,” Playboy Enterprises is pulling all its projects with Ratner’s production company, including a Hugh Hefner biopic that Jared Leto was to star in. Jeremy Ruster reports for TheWrap.
Movie City News alerts us to a report in Clar´n on the passing at the age of fifty-nine of Pablo Cedrón, the Argentine writer and actor who appeared in Fabián Bielinsky’s The Aura (2005) and several television series.
“In 1971, art historian Linda Nochlin,” who has died at eighty-six, “blew through the gates of art-world patriarchy with her paradigm-changing-on-a-dime essay, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’” New York art critic Jerry Saltz: “We can now divide art-world feminism into Before and After Nochlin’s essay.”
Via the Notebook: “Kinet, the online avant-garde publishing platform co-programmed by MUBI's Kurt Walker, has released their seventh program in the form of an ambitious Halloween-themed omnibus film entitled Aos Sí [119’48”]. It includes new films by Gina Telaroli, Raya Martin, Sophy Romvari, Neil Bahadur, Walker, and many more.”
The National Film Preservation Foundation has added thirty-three films to its Online Field Guide to Sponsored Films, a library and companion to the Field Guide written by Rick Prelinger in 2006. “From animated propaganda in Technicolor to a call for racial tolerance from Frank Sinatra, these films often go overlooked in the study of film history. Made by corporations, schools, medical organizations, religious groups, political entities, and more, these films were produced to record, orient, train, sell, and persuade.”
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