“One of the disorientations of where we’re at—the obliterative sucking splotch of a present tense in which we now all live—is that it feels simultaneously like a malign mischance and like something we should have seen coming a mile off,” begins James Parker in a piece for the new issue of the Atlantic. “For decades the poets have been sobbing, the screenwriters having nightmares, and the canaries in the coal mine toppling stoically from their perches. Works of art that seemed, at the time, to be merely broody or frazzled now appear darkly predictive—pregnant with prophecy, some of them. All the signs point to here. So how to mark this rather subterranean anniversary, ten years after the release of a very, very good movie? Perhaps by saying that it is becoming a classic before our eyes, because things are even more Michael Clayton now than they were when Michael Clayton first came out.” In 2009, Parker wrote about the work of writer and director, Tony Gilroy, for Slate.
“Watching the new film 78/52, essentially a varied and scrupulous microanalysis of another film, or small section of film (the shower scene in Psycho),” writes Michael Atkinson for Sight & Sound, “you can hardly be blamed for thinking that something peculiar is going on in the film culture at large, and that its viral profile mates especially well with Alfred Hitchcock. Or, at least, the particular kind of filmmaker Hitchcock was—mechanically devious, gleefully manipulative, subtextually elaborate, structurally experimental; a big bad believer in the subconscious power of imagery, the resonance of visual codes and the meaning of collective anxiety.”
“What’s The Shining about?” David Cairns outlines his theory as to what’s going on in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film.
You may have heard that Jordan Peele (Get Out) will likely have a hand in a revival of The Twilight Zone, the television anthology series created by Rod Serling that originally ran from 1959 to 1964; Lesley Goldberg has more in the Hollywood Reporter. This would be the third revival after the first in the late ‘80s and another brief one in the early ’00s. Now John Coulthart sends us to the Internet Archive, where we find “an almost complete run of The Twilight Zone Magazine (1981–1989). While masquerading as a TV-series spin-off, TZ under the editorship of T. E. D. Klein was an excellent periodical devoted to horror and dark fantasy. In addition to running original fiction by major authors (Stephen King was a regular), the magazine contained features about older writers such as Lovecraft and Machen along with book reviews by Thomas Disch, film reviews by Gahan Wilson, interviews and more.”
“You said something to me in a previous conversation that I thought was very smart—and it’s something I’ve done in my work as well,” Francis Ford Coppola tells Greta Gerwig in a cross-country phone call recorded for Interview. “You said you deliberately—both as an actor and later in your writing and directing—put yourself in a position where accidents are going to happen. Because when you’re dealing with shaky ground, that’s a moment of truth, and whatever happens is probably going to be really honest.” Gerwig: “I think being attracted to mistakes is one of the things that film can capture in a way that theater can’t. Film can capture a moment of spontaneous life that will never be captured again. I like a lot of structure and a lot of lines, but then within that I make room for things to happen that you couldn’t have predicted.”
Soraya Roberts profiles Sarah Polley for Hazlitt: “At seventeen she read Alias Grace and saw herself in Grace Marks. Also young and famous and motherless, Polley too had difficulty knowing who she was, difficulty separating herself from the image others had of her and the image she had of herself. It follows, then, that the stories this Canadian filmmaker has chosen to tell—Away From Her, Take This Waltz, Stories We Tell, and, most recently, Alias Grace (which she wrote and produced), as well as her next adaptation, Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People—are also about women whose identities are in flux, who are knocking against a collective memory they no longer fit, who are searching for who they truly are.”
In Variety, Richard Linklater tells Joe Leydon that he had thirty-three days to shoot Last Flag Flying—but wrapped after thirty. “I’m gonna say this is kind of my Sidney Lumet phase. You know, every day, I’d be like, ‘I think we’re done. It’s not like I have tickets to the ballgame, I’m not going anywhere, but we’re done.’”
“I like to go for the absolute reality of an unrehearsed single take,” Takashi Miike tells Chuck Bowen in a conversation about Blade of the Immortal at Slant. “If you were in a real battle, the actors would be extremely nervous and apprehensive. Battle wouldn't look rehearsed to perfection. I'm not trying to get the coolest-looking action scene of all time. I'm trying to go for raw and real.”
Sky Hopinka’s Dislocation Blues and belit sağ’s disruption were both screened in the Projections program of this year’s New York Film Festival. Introducing her conversation with both, Almudena Escobar López notes that “ they had never seen each other’s work until a few days before this interview.”
Also in the Brooklyn Rail: “In seven years, the filmmaker Ephraim Asili has completed a remarkable cycle of five films regarding his own relationship with the greater African diaspora,” writes Ekrem Serdar introducing an interview. “These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—document not only his travels across Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States, but also a personal search for the connections of cultures across space and time.”
Artist Carroll Dunham and his daughter Lena tell Scout Sabo in Interview why Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days (1995) is one of their favorite movies.
In Other News
From Zero Focus comes word of a book to be released on June 12, 2018 you’ll probably want to know about. From Penguin Random House: “Part-memoir, part-biography, Room to Dream interweaves [David] Lynch’s own reflections on his life with the story of those times, as told by Kristine McKenna, drawing from extensive and explosive interviews with ninety of Lynch’s friends, family members, actors, agents, musicians, and collaborators. Lynch responds to each recollection and reveals the inner story of the life behind the art.”
T2 Trainspotting, director Danny Boyle, and actor Ewen Bremner have all won Scottish Baftas, reports the BBC. “The event in Glasgow on Sunday night saw Deirdre Mullins win the Film Actress award for The Dark Mile.”
New York. Tonight, as part of the series True West: Sam Shepard on Film, running through Thursday, BAM presents Robert Frank’s Me and My Brother (1969) and Shirley Clarke’s Tongues (1982). When, in the former, Julius Orlovsky, brother of poet Peter Orlovsky, tells Robert Frank that the camera “seems like a reflection of disapproval or disgust or disappointment or unhelpfulness or unexplanation-unexplaining-unexplainability to disclose any real truth that might possibly exist,” Jon Auman notes that this is “the answer that Frank has been looking for.”
Also at Screen Slate, Chris Shields suggests that Mario Bava and Franco Prosperi’s Hercules in the Haunted World (1961), screening at MoMA on Wednesday and Saturday, “provides fans of the lovable Herc with the good natured heroic-humor (hands on hips, head to sky, deep belly laugher), straight forward morality, and feats of strength they expect while adding a new dimension of intense visual fantasy.”
And: “When Steven Soderbergh was writing Solaris (2002), he described it as 2001 meets Last Tango in Paris, ‘a psychological drama that happens to be set in space,’” notes Cosmo Bjorkenheim. “Soderbergh could have said ‘The Thing meets Vertigo’; the crew’s subjective fears turn them against each other, and the leading man tries to force a woman into his fantasy-mold.” Screens Friday as part of Stanisław Lem on Film, the series running through Saturday at Anthology Film Archives.
London. “The best paranoid thrillers tap into a deeper truth about their eras, sometimes even predicting political mood swings, looming scandals and future assassinations,” writes Stephen Dalton. “In recent years it has become hard for cinematic fantasy to keep up with jaw-dropping reality in an age of WikiLeaks, financial meltdown, hacked election claims and reality-bending tweets from the White House. Documentaries are the new conspiracy thrillers. Truth is no longer just stranger than fiction, but also more terrifying.” The BFI Thriller season is on through December.
In the Works
Dee Rees (Mudbound) will direct Carey Mulligan as Gloria Steinem in An Uncivil War, reports Variety’s Justin Kroll. The story focuses “on efforts by feminist activist and journalist Steinem, lawyer and activist Florynce Kennedy, and others to ratify the ERA, while conservative organizer Phyllis Schlafly advocates against it.” Kroll notes that Julie Taymor’s My Life on the Road, with Julianne Moore set to play Steinem, is still being written, while FilmNation has greenlit An Uncivil War.
“Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J. R. R. Tolkien are in talks with Amazon Studios to develop a series based on the late author’s The Lord of the Rings novels,” reports Daniel Holloway for Variety. “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is said by sources with knowledge of the situation to be personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in very early stages. No deal has been set.”
“One of my next films is a stop-motion film about the life and times of Michael Jackson's chimpanzee Bubbles,” Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok) tells Vice’s Larry Fitzmaurice. “There's also a smaller film that I've written that I'm going to try to shoot next year. It's a Nazi comedy. . . . I wrote it five years ago, and now it's weirdly perfect timing.”
“Jon Hamm is set to star in the supernatural thriller Off Season, the first feature from BAFTA nominated writer/director Jonathan van Tulleken based on his BAFTA-nominated short of the same name.” Deadline’s Anita Busch tells us that “Off Season is about a man who goes in search of his elderly father who has mysteriously disappeared. Set in the harsh, frozen Canadian tundra, the son’s feverish search exposes shocking family secrets long buried.”
In the third episode of the You Must Remember This series Bela and Boris (61’52”), Karina Longworth talks about “how Karloff, unlike Lugosi, managed to maintain a steady stardom throughout the decades, returning to the monster that made him without feeling trapped by the character. Featuring Patton Oswalt as Boris Karloff.”
On Wednesday, the Paris Review launches its new podcast.
“Psycho Tom” is a new audiovisual essay from Luís Azevedo and Ricardo Pinto de Magalhães in the Notebook. “Two films forever changed the careers of friends Michael Powell and Alfred Hitchcock. They were Peeping Tom and Psycho, respectively. Both films were violent, voyeuristic stories about a serial killer. Both came out in 1960, yet one destroyed the career of one director, while the other was his crowning achievement.”
The New Yorker’s Richard Brody discusses Greta Gerwig’s performance in Mary Bronstein’s Yeast (2008) (3’26”).
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.