“Hong Sang-soo has a reputation for being a tricky interview, and he knows it,” writes Darren Hughes in the Notebook. But if anyone can get Hong talking, it’s Hughes. Take a look at this page. Gathered here are some of the most substantive interviews with filmmakers conducted over the past few years. From the conversation with Hong: “Until I was twenty-seven, when I saw Diary of a Country Priest, I never thought I would make a feature-length narrative film. I always thought I was going to make experimental films, very short films, strange ones. [laughs] That was the vague plan. It was all I had. And then I saw Diary of a Country Priest and thought it was so beautiful. That film was something, really. It gave me hope: If a film can do this then I can learn how to make a narrative film.”
Writing for Sabzian, Anton Jaeger and Jan Saelens argue that the debate over Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon (2016) “has a ring of anachronism to it. The controversies surrounding Refn’s piece seem to inscribe themselves in a debate which has agitated the cinephile community for at least three decades—a conversation which most likely saw its inauguration with the advent of a generation of ‘small masters,’ to use a term coined by French film critic Serge Daney. While Pier Paolo Pasolini could still proclaim cinematography the ‘language of reality,’ filmmakers such as Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola and David Lynch attributed only minor importance to the intrinsic relationship between ‘signs’ and ‘signifieds,’ ‘images’ and ‘reality.’ These authors, as Daney claimed, deployed a formalism with a flagrant citational quality. From now on, cinema’s emphasis would shift from characters and their reciprocal relations to the ‘image,’ sans phrase.”
With Good Time arriving in the UK this weekend, Little White Lies’ David Jenkins talks with Josh and Benny Safdie “about treating New York as if it’s a character in the movie, but a character they have cast (like many of their actors) off the street,” while Adam Woodward asks Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) about his soundtrack.
Also at Little White Lies, Mark Allison: “Fifty years ago, at the Chicago International Film Festival, the world was introduced to Martin Scorsese. Originally screened under the title I Call First but now commonly known as Who’s That Knocking at My Door, Scorsese’s debut may not be as well regarded as his later work, but it’s influence is every bit as pervasive.”
“When he came of age as an actor in the 1970s,” writes Bilge Ebiri for Rolling Stone, Jeff Bridges “was the rare, easygoing All-American type in an era defined by forceful, brooding figures like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Gene Hackman. Bridges was energetic without being intense, likable without being pleading, vulnerable without being wounded. But as he got older, he changed: His characters became more gruff, bitter, plainspoken—without ever quite losing the laid-back style that defined his underlying persona.” An annotated, ranked, and clip-laced list follows.
With Daniel Day-Lewis threatening to make his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, opening in a little over a month now, his last, Time’s Stephanie Zacharek writes an appreciation of “the rarity of his spark.”
“Following the release of several new remastered DVDs after the 2015 Orson Welles Centenary and the expected completion of his last unedited feature The Other Side of the Wind sometime in the future, this year sees two more additions continuing Welles’s legacy.” Writing for Film International, Tony Williams presents a guided tour of Kino Lorber’s edition of The Stranger (1946) and Criterion’s release of Othello (1952).
“Zabriskie Point  is arguably Michelangelo Antonioni's most divisive work,” writes Emma Piper-Burket in her entry to Reverse Shot’s symposium on time. She focuses on what’s “been referred to variously as the ‘love scene,’ the ‘desert scene,’ the ‘orgy scene,’ and the “desert orgy scene,” but the orgy itself is not what lends the sequence its impact—rather, it is how those moments are contrasted with those that come directly before and after.”
“Head Trips” is the theme of the current issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room, and RogerEbert.com is running Dean Buckley’s piece on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), “a simultaneously brilliant and broken film.”
AnOther’s Daisy Woodward considers the way what Anne Wiazemsky wore in Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar (1966) contributed to the character of Marie, “her most extraordinary performance.”
The L.A. that most of the early noir writers found was unlike any place they had known. There was the physical beauty of the mountains, the coast and the agricultural plains within earshot of slums and urban grime. A polyglot of races walked the sidewalks. The architecture was bizarre, borrowed or modern beyond a Midwesterner's imagination. There was Filmland—imagined and real. Hollywood and Vine, mansions, movie premieres and night spots. Studio fences obscured the movie-making fantasy, but the celebrities, crackpots, cults and cemeteries for burying your deceased pets were real. Floods, fires and earthquakes reminded residents that nothing here was permanent. The lack of history suggested an opportunity to shake off the past, leave everything behind and create something new. It was a chance to experiment and reinvent. And there was crime, just like any other city. But here everything seemed exaggerated and just a bit skewed. Prostitution, gambling and drugs provided a livelihood for thugs as well as cops. Both factions served as enforcers. All of this came to be filtered through pen and paper—and later celluloid—to become L.A. noir.
An excerpt from Beverly Gray’s Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How The Graduate Became the Touchstone of a Generation at the Literary Hub focuses on how and why the novel by Charles Webb “piqued the interest of an ambitious young producer named Lawrence Turman.”
“Erika Balsom’s After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation is a gallant, much-needed bid at outlining and discussing the various opportunities, problematics, and ambivalences created by moving image reproduction in contemporary art,” writes Tyler Maxim for Film Comment. “Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video by Peter Alilunas is a recent addition to the burgeoning field of porn studies . . . Not unlike After Uniqueness, Smutty Little Movies is at its best a far-reaching history of the moving image industries that developed out of the sight line of cinema.”
Dozens of contributors to the TLS write about their favorite books of 2017.
In Other News
Amanda Kernell’s Sámi Blood, “a touching and delicate tale of a young Sámi girl who dreams of a different life, has triumphed over its competitors BPM (Beats Per Minute) by Robin Campillo and Western by Valeska Grisebach,” to win the European Parliament’s LUX Prize, reports David González at Cineuropa.
Nick Kroll and John Mulaney will be hosting the Film Independent Spirit Awards for a second time on March 3, reports Deadline’s Patrick Hipes.
Taking on fifteen films, Canyon Cinema welcomes Jodie Mack to its collection.
“This year should have been a celebratory one for the Cinefamily, marking the tenth anniversary of an organization founded in 2007 that had grown to become one of the best known spaces for repertory and independent film exhibition in the city,” writes Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times. “Instead, in the wake of a scandal, the board of directors of the Cinefamily has decided to permanently shut down the organization and dissolve the board.”
New York. For Artforum, Nick Pinkerton writes about a good handful of highlights in the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s thirteen-film series, The Lost Years of German Cinema: 1949–1963, currently running through next Thursday. “The Lost One (1951), for example, is the lone directorial effort of Peter Lorre—and a rather remarkable one-off it is. . . . Robert Siodmak, responsible for a superb string of Hollywood noirs (Phantom Lady, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, Criss Cross), returned to Deutschland following a nearly twenty-year absence in the mid-’50s, and is represented here by the finest work of his late German period, The Devil Strikes at Night (1957). . . . Of the filmmakers with no Hollywood pedigree playing FSLC, the best-represented is Helmut Käutner,” whose Sky Without Stars (1955) is “suffused with something of the same romantic fatalism that marks Käutner’s Black Gravel (1961), a nasty neorealist piece of business steeped in the atmosphere of corruption, resentment, and moral decay.”
“For a little under two years,” writes Isaac Butler in the Village Voice, “in the mid-Seventies, an initiative called the American Film Theatre attempted to bridge the divide between stage and screen, giving plays the reach of films, while lending the moviegoing experience a bit of theater’s highbrow linguistic glamour. The brainchild of the producer Ely Landau, the project brought together famed actors, writers, and directors who agreed to work at a fraction of their normal rates on filmed adaptations of plays, using the full text of the original script as their screenplay. The resulting movies would then show in roughly 500 movie theaters around the country for just a few screenings each. . . . For the next week, all but two of the AFT’s productions can be seen as part of the Quad Cinema’s series Screen Play: The American Film Theatre.”
In the Works
Eva Ionesco is currently shooting her second feature, Une jeunesse dorée, with Isabelle Huppert, Melvil Poupaud, Galatéa Bellugi, and Lukas Ionesco, reports Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa. It’s about “Rose, a sixteen-year-old girl who was abandoned by her parents and taken in by social services, and her fiancé, 22-year-old Michel, who are enjoying their first great and innocent love affair in Paris in 1979, at the height of the popularity of the Le Palace nightclub. They are part of the trendy bunch who only live for partying and exuberance. At a party one evening, they meet Lucille and Hubert, a couple of fifty-something middle-class bohemians, who will take them under their wing and turn their lives upside down.”
Sarah Paulson is “in negotiations” to join Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk) in Peter Straughan’s adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch with John Crowley directing, reports Variety’s Justin Kroll.
Also, Brooklynn Prince, the young star of Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, “is in talks to join Angelina Jolie in The One and Only Ivan, Disney’s live-action/animated adaptation of the award-winning book penned by Katherine Applegate.”
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Sebastian Stan (the Avengers franchise) “are in negotiations to join Nicole Kidman in the crime thriller Destroyer,” reports Deadline’s Anita Busch. Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) will direct.
“Right now, I just handed in my first script to Amazon, so I’m in that zone.” That’s actor and writer Paul Scheer, talking to Ben Pearson at SlashFilm about Galaxy Quest, the forthcoming series based on the 1999 sci-fi comedy.
Dagbladet is among the many Scandinavian news sources reporting on the passing of Baard Owe, the Norwegian-born actor who’d lived and worked in Denmark since 1956. He appeared in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud (1964), Lars von Trier’s television series The Kingdom (1994-97), and Bent Hamer’s O'Horten (2007).
“Debra Chasnoff, an Oscar-winning documentarian whose educational films promoted greater tolerance for gays and lesbians, died on Nov. 7,” reports Sam Roberts for the New York Times.
David Bordwell returns to the Film Comment Podcast (58’32”) to discuss his new book Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling with Violet Lucca and Imogen Sara Smith.
At the Film Stage, Nick Newman introduces a recording (63’06”) of a Q&A with David Lynch that took place on Tuesday at the Camerimage International Film Festival currently running through Saturday in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Will Tizard has a quick summary of the session at Variety.
Karina Longworth’s “Bela and Boris” series continues on You Must Remember This (48’39”). In the new episode, she asks: “Through their collaborations on movies like Glen or Glenda? and Bride of the Monster, did Ed Wood help Bela [Lugosi], exploit him, or a little of both?”
Cigarettes & Red Vines, the go-to site for all things Paul Thomas Anderson, has a clip from Movie Geeks United’s interview with Burt Reynolds in which he discusses his role on Boogie Nights (1997). Having famously struggled with his involvement in the movie in the past, Reynolds now says he’s told Anderson, “I was wrong, and he was right.”
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.