• [The Daily] Miller, Lynch, and More

    By David Hudson

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    While we’re anxiously hoping that George Miller and Warner Bros. will settle their differences soon so that Miller can get to work on “two more long-planned Mad Max movies,” and while we’re getting a kick out of Steven Soderbergh’s enthusiasm for the director’s chops, let’s note that Adrian Martin, who wrote a book about the Mad Max movies in 2003, has recently posted three pieces from 1992, one for each of the first three Mad Max films (1979, 1981, and 1985), and a collection of observations on Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

    Catherine Grant alerts us to a new issue of IASPM Journal, and it’s got a theme: “Pop Life: The Popular Music Biopic.” Along with book reviews and a conference report, we find essays on Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There (2007), Anton Corbijn’s Control (2007), James Mangold’s Walk the Line (2005), and more.

    Lloyd Michaels, who edited Film Criticism from 1976 to 2015, has posted a round of film guides “originally designed to facilitate discussions in various film courses I taught at Allegheny College. . . . The list is highly selective . . . I never sought to teach works that I did not deeply admire or, more often, profoundly love.”

    MORE READING

    “What [Adorno’s] concept of ‘late style’ allows us to see in the new Twin Peaks is the sense in which the show’s unresolved, intransigent style stems from a feeling of disappointment with the notion of the well-made work of art,” writes Jonathan Foltz for the Los Angeles Review of Books. “When The Return does offer us a classical, almost Aristotelian scene of resolution (with all the characters from the season’s various strands congregated into a single room), [David] Lynch shows us just how unreal and unsatisfying such narrative resolution can feel.”

    “At first,” writes Daniel Fairfax for Sabzian, “it seems like a contradiction, a historical irony: Jean-Louis Comolli—the editor of Cahiers du Cinéma during its period of Althusserian Marxism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the author of some of the most important texts to critique the ideological nature of the ‘impression of reality’ in the cinema (‘Cinéma/idéologie/critique,’ a manifesto-editorial co-signed with Jean Narboni, and the series of articles ‘Technique et idéologie’)—has gone onto become a prolific, highly regarded documentary filmmaker, with a filmography that stretches from the 1970s to the present day and includes more than fifty titles, made for both cinema and television. Is this transition from film theory to film practice a stunning volte-face, a theoretical apostasy from the revolutionary ethos of the post-1968 era, so common among other soixante-huitards? Nothing of the sort.”

    Icarus Films’ box set Eight Films by Jean Rouch includes Moi, un Noir (I, a Black Person, 1958) and The Human Pyramid (1961), and they’re among “the most influential and original films in the history of the cinema,” argues the New Yorker’s Richard Brody. Their “blasts of metafiction, which helped spark the French New Wave, are still being felt throughout the medium, in drama and nonfiction works alike.”

    With Claude Lanzmann, “it’s often necessary to swallow a little of his self-aggrandizement in order to appreciate his genuine accomplishments,” writes Richard Porton. “Contradictions abound inasmuch as his best work, such as the magisterial Shoah, is both formally audacious and historically focused while a minor work like Tsahal, Lanzmann’s film on the Israeli army, is both formally slack and a facile apologia for the policies of the Israeli state. Four Sisters, a quartet of Lanzmann documentaries that recently premiered at the New York Film Festival, avoids many of the pitfalls of the often-irascible documentarian’s lesser films by dint of its remarkable self-effacement. Devoted to the frequently jaw-dropping stories of four women who survived the Holocaust, the films—The Hippocratic Oath, Baluty, The Merry Flea, and Noah’s Ark— confirm that filmed oral history is Lanzmann’s métier.”

    Also in the Notebook:

    • Samuel B. Prime sits down for brunch with James B. Harris, “best known as the early-career producing partner of Stanley Kubrick. Together, they made three undisputed classics: The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), and Lolita (1962). . . . But Harris went on to his own notable career as a director, making a small, but potent, number of films throughout his life thus far. His first was The Bedford Incident (1965) starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier, a gripping tale of Cold War terror-at-sea; his sophomore effort—my personal favorite—is Some Call It Loving (1973), a modern erotic fable about loneliness, perversity, and the unwillingness to acknowledge innermost desire.”
    • Scout Tafoya on Aleksei German, Jr.’s Under Electric Clouds (2015), “the film Blade Runner 2049 was attempting to be, give or take a couple of fist fights and explosions.”
    • And Su Friedrich introduces her 2016 film, I Cannot Tell You How I Feel.

    In his latest “Cinema ’67 Revisited” column, Mark Harris revisits Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. Granted, the “money shot—Arkin leaping out of the dark at Hepburn—was one of the first great nope-he’s-not-dead-after-all surprises in movies, and still works. (No less an expert than Stephen King called it one of the scariest showdowns in any film.) The rest of Wait Until Dark is dated, sometimes painfully so.”

    Also writing for Film Comment, Steven Mears: “To best understand the simple, timeless power of Frank Perry’s David and Lisa [1962], it’s necessary to consider the pitfalls it avoids.”

    “It’s not a ridiculous over-statement to call her this generation’s Brando.” That’s Sheila O'Malley on Kristen Stewart. Hear her out.

    The latest entry in Reverse Shot’s symposium on time comes from Jackson Arn, who writes about a fifty-one-second sequence in Terry Zwigoff’s “(anti)biographical documentary” Crumb (1994): “‘Bleak and concise’ might as well be Robert Crumb’s motto. It’s also the reason why his art is both ethically challenging and hysterically funny.”

    Focusing on Nathalie Granger (1972), Katie Pleming considers the close working relationship between director Marguerite Duras and Jeanne Moreau.

    For Little White Lies, Stephen Puddicombe revisits Todd Haynes’s “second and arguably best feature,” Safe (1995).

    Fredrik Gustafsson looks back on some of the major works made in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev era (1953–64).

    Come Swim is Kristen Stewart’s directorial debut

    “Cinema found itself in a strange position at the 2017 documenta, the 14th edition of a quinquennial art exhibition held in Kassel, Germany (with further exhibits in Athens), considered to be the single most important event of its kind,” writes Olaf Möller for Sight & Sound. “That was because film got away with things the rest of the arts at documenta 14 generally didn’t—for instance, being communicative, argumentative, accessible, sensual and sometimes even playful.”

    “Only a profound, even dangerous misconception of empathy could produce the claim that VR is uniquely suited to fostering it,” argues Alyssa K. Loh in the new issue of Artforum.

    “Following up our last week’s offering of ten international directors who have been missing in action for the past five years or more,” writes Nicholas Bell, “we take a glance at their American indie counterparts.” And just in time, too, for Ioncinema’s countdown of “2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions.”

    Contributors to Vague Visages write about their favorite film noir moments.

    And via John Wyver, Mayukh Nair: “How Netflix works: the (hugely simplified) complex stuff that happens every time you hit Play.”

    IN OTHER NEWS

    “Orson Welles’s unfinished final film, The Other Side of the Wind, is nearing completion following the hiring of Academy Award winners Bob Murawski as editor and Scott Millan as sound mixer,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. “The producers have also tapped negative cutter Mo Henry, who has worked on more than 300 films, along with Ruth Hasty as post-production supervisor.” Netflix is still shooting for a 2018 release of the film “shot by Welles beginning in 1970 from a screenplay he co-wrote with Oja Kodar. It stars John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Kodar, Robert Random, Lilli Palmer, Edmond O’Brien, Cameron Mitchell, Mercedes McCambridge, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, Paul Stewart, and Dennis Hopper.”

    The European Film Academy has announced the first round of winners of this year’s European Film Awards:

    • The European Cinematographer 2017 – Prix Carlo di Palma goes to Michail Krichman for his work on Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless
    • European Editor 2017: Robin Campillo for BPM (Beats Per Minute)
    • European Production Designer 2017: Josefin Åsberg for The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund
    • European Costume Designer 2017: Katarzyna Lewińska for Spoor, directed by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik
    • European Hair & Make-up Artist 2017: Leendert van Nimwegen for Brimstone, directed by Martin Koolhoven
    • European Composer 2017: Evgueni and Sacha Galperine for Loveless
    • European Sound Designer 2017: Oriol Tarragó for A Monster Calls, directed by J. A. Bayona

    “Edouard Waintrop, the topper of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, told Variety that he had not planned on stepping down from the post for at least another two years,” reports Elsa Keslassy, but: “The French directors’ guild (Société des réalisateurs de films) announced Thursday that Waintrop would oversee his seventh and last edition of Directors’ Fortnight in 2018, which will mark the Cannes Film Festival sidebar’s 50th anniversary.” Céline Sciamma, “who presides over the guild together with Rebecca Zlotowski and Yann Gonzalez,” broke the news to Waintrop, who says “his popularity might have suffered with French directors considering the large number of helmers he has said ‘no’ to.”

    GOINGS ON

    New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the lineup for a sixty-two film series to run from December 13 through January 7, Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama.

    Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (1954) screens tonight as part of the BAMcinématek series Strange Victories: Black Soldiers and World War II and, at Screen Slate, Cosmo Bjorkenheim notes that, while its star, Harry Belafonte, seemed proud of it, the film’s “fiercest critic was none other than James Baldwin.”

    Anthony Mann’s The Naked Spur (1953) “has justifiably built a reputation as a pivot point in the Western genre,” writes Patrick Dahl at Screen Slate. “Preceding the psychological depth of John Ford’s late Westerns, The Naked Spur presents one of Jimmy Stewart’s most anguished roles as a bounty hunter pursuing [Robert] Ryan’s fugitive, Ben Vandergroat, through the Rocky Mountains.” Screens tomorrow as part of the Film Forum series, Hank and Jim.

    London. For the BFI, David Parkinson writes up a list of ten “essential films” starring Gloria Grahame. The series Good at Being Bad: The Films of Gloria Grahame runs through December.

    IN THE WORKS

    Chris Rock is joining Justin Timberlake “in the Neil Bogart rags-to-riches biopic Spinning Gold,” reports Jeff Sneider at the Tracking Board. “Bogart was the larger-than-life record executive from Brooklyn who went on to define the pop-music culture of his time, and who was closely aligned with the rise of disco. He founded Casablanca Records, and was credited with either discovering or helping to launch the careers of superstars such as KISS, Donna Summer, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight, Bill Withers, Parliament and The Village People.” And “Bogart’s son, Timothy Scott Bogart, is expected to direct from his own screenplay.”

    Meantime, “Sam Mendes has dropped out of directing Disney’s live-action Pinocchio.

    OBITS

    David Pendleton passed away on November 6; he was only fifty-three. “Unless you’re a movie lover who put time in at the Harvard Film Archive in the last 10 years, the name may mean nothing to you,” writes the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr. “But Pendleton was very much one of those hidden angels—a film programmer, curator, archivist, far-ranging cineaste, and much-loved colleague in filmgoing who immeasurably broadened the tastes and sensibilities of thousands who walked into the HFA’s theater in the basement of 24 Quincy St. in Cambridge.”

    “Liz Smith, the longtime queen of New York’s tabloid gossip columns, who for more than three decades chronicled triumphs and trespasses in the soap-opera lives of the rich, the famous and the merely beautiful, died on Sunday,” writes Robert D. McFadden for the New York Times. “From hardscrabble nights writing snippets for a Hearst newspaper in the 1950s to golden afternoons at Le Cirque with Sinatra or Hepburn and tête-à-tête dinners with Madonna to gather material for columns that ran six days a week, Ms. Smith captivated millions with her tattletale chitchat and, over time, ascended to fame and wealth that rivaled those of the celebrities she covered.” Smith was ninety-four.

    Karin Dor, “who played the red-haired villainess Helga Brandt in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice,” has died at the age of seventy-nine. Mike Barnes for the Hollywood Reporter: “The German beauty also had a key role as a revolutionary in the Alfred Hitchcock Cuban missile crisis thriller Topaz (1969) and appeared opposite Christopher Lee in The Invisible Dr. Mabuse (1962), one of more than a dozen films she made with her then-husband, Austrian director Harald Reinl.”

    “John Hillerman, the Texas-born actor who played the likably snobbish British caretaker on the television show Magnum, P.I. and had supporting roles in celebrated 1970s movies like Chinatown and Blazing Saddles, died on Thursday,” reports Matthew Haag for the New York Times. Hillerman was eighty-four.

    LISTENING

    “Bela vs. Boris” is the title of the new episode of You Must Remember This (60’26”). Karina Longworth: “Lugosi and Karloff, the two stars made by Universal’s monster movies, made eight films together. Today we’ll dive deep into some of these movies . . . , and continue to explore how even when their careers brought them together, Karloff and Lugosi remained worlds apart. Featuring Patton Oswalt as Boris Karloff and Taran Killam as Bela Lugosi.” And by the way, the Irish TimesDonald Clarke interviews Longworth, who tells him that the “Universal monster movies were among the first classic films I was exposed to. There is something remarkable about two men in middle age who had foreign accents who turned up and became stars in a new genre.”

    Cinematologists Dario Llinares and Neil Fox discuss Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971) and talk with Rob Curry and Tim Plester about their documentary The Ballad of Shirley Collin (110’26”).

    VIEWING

    At Dangerous Minds, Bennett Kogon tells the story behind Woodshock (1985), a 16 mm short (7’19”) co-created by Lee Daniel and Richard Linklater and capturing the crowd drawn to an alternative music festival outside Austin.

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

1 comment

  • By Liam Molenda
    November 15, 2017
    01:49 AM

    Miller is one of our great action directors, it'd be a shame for him to not make a few more masterpieces before he goes.
    Reply