“Many aspects of time, from the dry precision of date and hour to the flights of remembrance and regret, are distilled in a single scene from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943),” writes Imogen Sara Smith in the latest entry in the current Reverse Shot symposium on time. This scene “builds to a majestic speech, filmed in a single three-and-a-half-minute take and delivered by [Anton] Walbrook with hypnotic intensity . . . It is the crowning masterpiece of screenwriter Emeric Pressburger.” Above: Pressburger on the left, Powell on the right.
“Premonition Following an Evil Deed (1995) was David Lynch’s contribution to the anthology film Lumière and Company, a tribute to the Lumière brothers and a celebration of the first century of cinema,” writes Cristina Álvarez López in the Notebook. “A project of this kind always poses a difficult temptation toward easy nostalgia; that’s why some of the most interesting efforts here are those of directors able to maintain a link with early cinema without overlooking the 100 years of history that film has behind it. In this category, Lynch’s short stands out.”
“For critics such as Fred Camper, the 1980s were a period of mournful decline for experimental cinema in the United States,” writes Erika Balsom for frieze. “Was it a coincidence that the so-called ‘end of the avant-garde’ arrived just as women were asserting a central place within it? Not all saw the situation as one of crisis. In his landmark 1989 article, ‘Towards a Minor Cinema,’ Tom Gunning discerned a spirited renewal of the field in a diverse group of filmmakers who were leaving behind an earlier generation’s academicism in films that ‘assert no vision of conquest, make no claims to hegemony’. Among them was Peggy Ahwesh. Gunning’s epigraph, borrowed from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s book on Franz Kafka, pithily captures Ahwesh’s stance on aesthetics and social life alike: ‘To hate all languages of masters.’”
Hossein Khandan’s Waiting for Kiarostami “is the second tribute to the late master made after his death,” writes Ali Moosavi for Film International. “While Seifollah Samadian’s 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds With Abbas Kiarostami was a collection of home-movie-type films shot by Samadian when accompanying Kiarostami on his photography outings and other trips, Waiting for Kiarostami is made in the same mold of docu-fiction favored by the legendary director.”
“I have spent large chunks of my life in repertory movie theaters,” writes Phillip Lopate for the New York Review of Books. “A new study by Ben Davis, Repertory Movie Theaters of New York City: Havens for Revivals, Indies and the Avant-Garde, 1960-1994, with copious photographs, has just been published. I confess I approached it with trepidation, fearing it would get wrong somehow the passion to which I had given so much time and energy . . . As it turns out, Davis has done a superb job (I was almost disappointed not to be disappointed) of capturing the phenomenon . . . ‘It was not the VCR revolution that did the theater in,’ Davis explains, ‘but the real estate revolution. Much like the closing of the Elgin, the Bleecker’s closing pitted a real estate developer who saw the property as a profitable investment against a theater owner who treasured it as a cultural resource. It was a doomed struggle.’”
Adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) “are richly diverse, but they are all descendants of Shelley’s parable of unnatural conception, even when the offspring of said conception vary and wander far away from their source,” writes Rumsey Taylor. “This aspect is singularly distilled in the output of British film studio Hammer Films, beginning in the 1950s.”
At Ioncinema, Nicholas Bell writes up a list of the “Top 10 World Cinema Filmmakers Missing in Action,” directors such as Catherine Breillat and Samira Makhmalbaf whom we haven’t heard from in a while and who don’t seem to have any projects lined up for the immediate future, either.
Christopher Nolan is on the cover of Variety, and Brent Lang’s spoken not only with the director of Dunkirk, but also with Steven Spielberg, who lent Nolan a pristine print of Saving Private Ryan to show to his crew, and with Paul Thomas Anderson, who says that Dunkirk’s “practically wordless structure was so exciting to me.”
For Slant, Chuck Bowen talks with Amy Seimetz about The Girlfriend Experience, “her methods of coaxing and achieving a ‘live wire’ atmosphere,” and Elise Nakhnikian asks Joe Berlinger “why audiences have responded much better to Intent to Destroy than distributors have.”
The inaugural edition of the Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival wrapped on Saturday and, for Cineuropa, Marta Bałaga talks with organizers Jia Zhangke and Marco Müller about its purpose and program.
In Other News
When Ronan Farrow was a guest a few days ago on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,he said that the followup to his piece for the New Yorker last month on the accusations of sexual harassment and abuse leveled at Harvey Weinstein would focus on the machine that has kept his victims and accomplices silent for so many years. That piece has now arrived.“For years, Weinstein had used private security agencies to investigate reporters.” Once he caught wind of Farrow’s and the New York Times’ efforts to blow the lid off his cover, Weinstein doubled down: “According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies.”
“In response to Disney blacklisting the Los Angeles Times, four different critics’ organizations—the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics—have disqualified Disney-released movies from awards consideration,” reports Michael Nordinefor IndieWire. “In September, the Los Angeles Times wrote a three-part story detailing Disney’s business relationship with the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located; as a result, the paper was denied entry to press screenings of Thor: Ragnarok and other upcoming films. Several critics and outlets—including the A.V. Club, Flavorwire, and the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg—have said they won’t attend press screenings for Disney movies.” Forbes’ Scott Mendelson outlines the ways Disney’s blacklisting has backfired. Update: Disney’s announced that it’s lifting its ban on the Los Angeles Times,report Sydney Ember and Brooks Barnes in the New York Times, which had joined the boycott before the end of the ban.
“To expose children to this content is abuse.” James Bridle delves into the “definitely and markedly weird” world of on-demand video—YouTube in particular—offering “catnip to both parents and to children, and thus to content creators and advertisers.”
New York. The Museum of the Moving Image has announced that Annette Bening will be honored at its thirty-first Salute on December 13.
Mónica Savirón in the Notebook: “Jean-Luc Godard wrote a letter to Carole Roussopoulos in 1979 for Cahiers du cinéma in which he reflected on the motivations behind making films, and inquired: ‘Sometimes I wonder what has happened to all you have filmed in the four corners of France and the world . . . And I wonder why people in cinema want to film others with so much frenzy.’ As Nicole Brenez recalls, the Swiss filmmaker responded to him: ‘to privilege the approach of those without a voice.’” The Activist Videos of Carole Roussopoulos is a series of five programs being presented from today through Thursday at Anthology Film Archives. At Screen Slate, Mark Lukenbill offers a bit more background, noting that, in the mid-’70s, Roussopoulos teamed up with Delphine Seyrig and Ioana Wieder. “Dubbing themselves Les Insoumuses, the women, along with Nadja Ringart, became part of a burgeoning scene of all-female anarchic video groups, who utilized the quick turnaround and DIY aesthetic of grainy, black-and-white broadcast video technology to create activist-minded collages and manifestos.”
Chicago. Michael Smith and Adam Selzer will be at the Sulzer Library in Ravenswood this evening to discuss their book Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry and show a few rare shorts.
If Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd, currently playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center through Thursday, “evokes Rohmer on the whole, from moment to moment it more closely resembles the work of another major French filmmaker, André Téchiné (Hôtel des Amériques, My Favorite Season, Thieves, The Witnesses),” suggests Ben Sachs in the Reader. “Cone's use of music and camera movements add a romantic aura to the story, inviting viewers to savor details of character and setting. (The north side of Chicago is especially green and lovely in Princess Cyd; the neighborhoods in which it takes place feel alive with possibility.) And like Téchiné, Cone establishes certain mysteries about his characters that he purposely never resolves.” For the Notebook, Elissa Suh talks with Cone about the “dissonance between the reception and creation of his films, his influences, and much more.”
Boston. On Thursday, the Museum of Fine Arts will host An Evening With Bill Morrison and Guy Maddin, and the curators have asked each filmmaker to write a few words about the other. “Bill’s work is now a constant source of consolation, heartbreak, and intoxication for me,” writes Maddin. Morrison: “Guy was someone who not only assembled seemingly disparate ancient clips from long-forgotten films, but he could also write, cast, shoot, and edit those clips into fantastic reveries of fate, lust, and dashed dreams.”
Toronto. “Made by Michael Snow over the course of five frigid days on a remote Quebec mountaintop, La Région Centrale  belongs to a special canon of films that alter your ways of seeing or hearing the world, that revise your understanding of the order of things by nudging you a few inches over from your usual spot on the space-time continuum,” writes Jason Anderson. Screens this evening.
Also in the TIFF Review, James Quandt lays the groundwork for The Poetry of Apocalypse: The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky, the series running from Thursday through November 26: “Though his spiritual and ecological concerns often lapse into anti-rationalist cant, one cannot help but be transfixed and shaken by the bewildering beauty of his films.”
London. The Sight & Sound Deep Focus season Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama is on through the end of the month at BFI Southbank. “The Japanese cinema, claim film historians Joseph Anderson and Donald Richie, is ‘a director’s cinema,’ but the films of the great Japanese directors are vitally defined by the personae and presence of their actresses,” writes Alexander Jacoby, who then considers the work of ten stars of the “Golden Age” for the magazine.
In the Works
Jonathan Kiefer, with whom—full disclosure—I had a fantastic working relationship while we were at Fandor, has written a movie, and shooting’s already begun “in a majestic 17th century château in Normandy, France.” Around the Sun “is inspired by the first famous work of popular science, Bernard de Fontenelle’s Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, in which a philosopher-scientist and a beautiful society hostess take a walk in the gardens of her château and talk flirtatiously about the nature of the cosmos. In the present day, Maggie (Cara Theobold) has arranged to show Bernard (Gethin Anthony) the château as a potential location for a film. As they walk around the grounds, Maggie recounts the property’s famous past, but as they get to know each other, we soon find out there’s more to Bernard’s visit than meets the eye.”
“Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, George MacKay, and Essie Davis will star in True History of the Kelly Gang, with filming planned for March in Australia,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. “Justin Kurzel (Assassin’s Creed) will direct from a script by Shaun Grant, based on Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel. MacKay will portray notorious bushranger Ned Kelly, who died at the age of twenty-five in 1880 in a shootout with Australian police.”
Haifaa Al Mansour, whose Wadjda (2012) was the first full-length feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and so far, the only one made by a female director, whose Mary Shelleypremiered in Toronto in September, and whose Nappily Ever After will be out next year from Netflix, has another project, Miss Camel, that’s one of four “selected to vie for the IWC Filmmaker Award worth $100,000 during the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival,” as Nick Vivarelli reports for Variety. It’s “about a Saudi teen named Hayla ‘who will do anything to escape her arranged marriage and fulfill her goal of attending art school outside of Saudi Arabia,’ according to its synopsis. ‘While scheming to make her way to the in-person interviews for the art college in a neighboring Gulf state, Hayla makes a startling discovery at her cousin’s wedding—she can talk to animals.’ Thus begins the teen’s rapport with a beautiful camel named Melwah with which she travels across the kingdom to compete in the Miss Camel beauty pageant in Doha, challenging the deep-rooted restrictions of her culture.”
Here in the Current, Hillary Weston’s conversation with Luca Guadagnino about Call Me by Your Name, eventually turns to his forthcoming version of Suspiria; the original, of course, was directed by Dario Argento in 1977. “I often find myself in the position of saying ‘Oh, it’s ridiculous!’ when I hear stories that they want to remake a movie like 8½,” says Guadagnino, “so I don’t know if I’m going to be served the same dish. But I can say that my Suspiria is a very personal film; it’s like oxygen to me. When I saw the original movie thirty-two years ago, the emotion I felt was so strong, so mind-blowing, and so important to my upbringing. I wanted to investigate the experience I had watching that film.”
And here’s one no longer in the works. Ariston Anderson has notes on a conversation with David Lynch that took place over the weekend when he received a lifetime achievement award from the Rome Film Festival. She notes that “although he once tried to adapt Kafka’s Metamorphosis into a film, he has long since abandoned the project. ‘I wrote a screenplay many years ago, but the beauty about Kafka is it’s better to stay in words,’ he explained. ‘It’s such a word-filled story that when I finished the script, I felt that it was better to remain a book than a film.’” Even so: “When asked if he’d like to work into his nineties like his friend, actor Harry Dean Stanton, he replied, ‘I’d like to work into the hundreds as well.’”
Peter Labuza, host of The Cinephiliacs, talks with K. Austin Collins about how “he moved from the academic sphere into the weekly reviewing gig, and how he finds ways to bring his training to even writing about blockbusters. The two have a long discussion in particular about movie stars and the particular pleasures of watching them and seeing them create identities. Finally, Kam brings on Kenneth Lonergan's almost lost to litigation masterpiece Margaret with Anna Paquin, which leads to a discussion of what exactly is melodrama and how and why do movies affect us.” (108’36”).
At the A.V. Club, “RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan picks the 5 best kung fu films for beginners” (1’44”).
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