• [The Daily] Fassbinder, Zulawski, and More

    By David Hudson

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    We begin with the latest entry in Reverse Shot’s symposium on time, Chris Wisniewski’s, on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971). The focus here is on “a sequence that seems at first ordinary and unravels under scrutiny, all because of duration, even though it’s over in under a minute.” So “what exactly is Fassbinder trying to accomplish with this sequence, and how do we, as viewers, make sense of it? The glib response to these questions is both simple and obvious: Bertolt Brecht.”

    In his latest “Cinema ’67 Revisited” column for Film Comment, Mark Harris argues that Stuart Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke “will frustrate any film historian who believes that the only way to understand the explosion of creativity in American filmmaking that began in the late 1960s is auteurism.” It “plays as the work of a large and varied team of ‘authors’ in various areas of craft who would go on to define the style and look of ’60s and ’70s New Hollywood movies.” Besides Paul Newman, “they included co-screenwriter Frank Pierson, who would go on to write Dog Day Afternoon; cinematographer Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Fat City, Marathon Man); editor Sam O’Steen (Carnal Knowledge, Chinatown); and sound mixer Larry Jost, who would work with O’Steen on those two films and then go on to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—a movie that is in many ways Cool Hand Luke’s spiritual cousin.”

    “Andrzej Zulawski’s That Most Important Thing: Love (1975) is unlike any film he ever made, and was certainly a departure in his visual sensibility relative to the feature films he had made previously in his native Poland,” writes Henri de Corinth in the Notebook, where he explores “the director’s experience with the French cinematic tradition and its effect on his own cinema.”

    For Adam Scovell, writing for Little White Lies, “of all of the films that highlight the abuse of power inherent within the studio system, there are few better than Nicholas Ray’s haunting 1950 noir In a Lonely Place.” Humphrey Bogart was fifty “when the picture was made,” notes the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, and Gloria Grahame was twenty-seven, “and yet the age difference between them doesn’t seem as great because of Grahame’s remarkable confidence, maturity and charisma. She is midway between Mae West and Marilyn Monroe: stylish, sexy and self-possessed. Bogart’s performance is daring: it is precisely his cynicism and what-the-hell attitude to everything that has put him in the frame for the murder, and there is something sociopathic about the way he never quite drops this tone.”

    Four years later, Fritz Lang would direct Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Broderick Crawford in Human Desire and, at Vague Visages, Brian Brems argues that, for all its darkness, in the end, it “points a hopeful, if naïve, way forward for men returning home from war.”

    Having sketched a brief history of the idea of the character actor, Bilge Ebiri, writing for T Magazine, points out that it’s “changing once more. Over the past decade, a new kind of performer has risen, one defined by his skill and versatility. Men like [Ben] Mendelsohn, J.K. Simmons, Don Cheadle, Michael Shannon and Andy Serkis are among the most prolific working artists today—in-demand and highly lauded—but they are the opposite of what character actors used to be: Instead of playing types, they are hired for their ability to play no type at all, to disappear into roles completely while at the same time imbuing their performances with something memorable; they are chameleons in the truest sense of that word.”

    INTERVIEWS

    “It’s easy for me, action, I know how to do it,” John Woo tells James Mottram in the South China Morning Post. “But I never know how to deal with big money . . . Making movies is all about happiness, love, hope and joy.” Via Movie City News.

    A new 4K restoration of Liquid Sky (1982) is out and, at the A.V. Club, Katie Rife talks with director Slava Tsukerman. “I thought that the post-punk Cinderella of the ‘80s wouldn’t be able to find her prince among the men surrounding her. Her Prince Charming, ironically, would come in a small flying saucer from outer space.”

    Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz talks with Spike Lee about his new Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, based on his 1986 feature debut, and “about his past feuds with other journalists and filmmakers, the lasting impact of his early work, the changing economics of the film industry, and the opportunities that television offers to filmmakers of color.”

    IN OTHER NEWS

    Just as Coco opens around the world, “Disney Animation head John Lasseter is taking a leave of absence from Pixar after acknowledging ‘painful’ conversations and unspecified ‘missteps,’ he wrote Tuesday in a memo to staff,” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters has that memo. Rebecca Keegan and Nicole Sperling for Vanity Fair: “According to one current Pixar employee, rumors have circulated within the studio over Inside Out and Up director Pete Docter taking the helm. Employees at the Emeryville-based company on Tuesday were reeling from the news, trading gossip, and coming to the realization that the culture has been toxic for several years, the employee said.”

    As Fabien Lemercier reports at Cineuropa, these are the nine films in the running for France’s prestigious Louis-Delluc Prize:

    And the six up for the Louis-Delluc Prize for Best Debut Film are:

    “Grey Gardens gave up the last of its ghosts over the weekend,” writes Penelope Green in the New York Times. “The once-squalid home of the most notorious mother-daughter dyad since Tennessee Williams poured his own family into The Glass Menagerie went into contract last month, and its contents were unloaded in a three-day estate sale. . . . Grey Gardens as an idea—of the tenderness between monster mothers and thwarted daughters; of atmospheric decay and upper-class fetishism; of plucky élan and gorgeous optimism—has waxed and waned over the years, gaining or leaking fuel as the times decried.”

    GOINGS ON

    New York. “Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000) screens as part of the Generation Wealth series at Anthology Film Archives on Black Friday, a wry example of counterprogramming for the annual celebration of American consumerism at its most flagrant,” writes Stephanie Monohan at Screen Slate.

    Toronto. The exhibition Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters has arrived at the Art Gallery of Ontario (on view through January 7) and the TIFF Cinematheque is presenting an accompanying series, Guillermo del Toro: Influences, through December 13. For the TIFF Review, Chandler Levack talks with the Gallery’s Jim Shedden about adding local color to the show’s previous iterations.

    Santander, Spain. On Friday, the Filmoteca de Cantabria presents Gerhard Richter’s only film, Volker Bradke (1966).

    IN THE WORKS

    Abel Ferrara’s Siberia is one of nine projects to receive backing from the IDM South Tyrol Film Fund & Commission, reports Vittoria Scarpa at Cineuropa. “The film, which will likely be toplined by Willem Dafoe, flanked by Isabelle Huppert and Nicolas Cage, has secured €500,000 in funding and will be shot in various attractive locations in the region, including the summit of the Plose mountain (which is 2,562 meters high).”

    Nicolas Winding Refn has posted a shot of himself posing with portraits of members of the cast of his upcoming Amazon series, Too Old to Die Young. As Jeff Sneider notes at the Tracking Board, the cast includes Jena Malone, John Hawkes, Billy Baldwin, Callie Hernandez (La La Land), Nell Tiger Free (Game of Thrones), Cristina Rodlo (Miss Bala), Augusto Aguilera (The Predator), and Babs Olusanmokun (The Defenders). “Miles Teller is set to star as a police officer who becomes entangled in the world of assassins. The series explores the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles by following killers’ existential journeys in becoming samurai.”

    OBIT

    “David Cassidy, the actor, singer and teen heartthrob best known as the band member with the green eyes and the feathered haircut on the 1970s television sitcom The Partridge Family, died on Tuesday,” reports Jacey Fortin for the New York Times. He was sixty-seven. Brian Wilson’s tweeted: “There were times in the mid-1970s when he would come over to my house and we even started writing a song together. He was a very talented and nice person. Love & Mercy to David and his family.”

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