• [The Daily] Lynch, Dreyer, and More

    By David Hudson

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    Considering how reticent David Lynch can be when it comes to talking about his work, Daniel Fienberg’s fared pretty well in his conversation with him for the Hollywood Reporter. At one point, they discuss the stamina it takes to direct eighteen full-hour episodes of Twin Peaks. Lynch: “Once you sign on for that, you’re just chained to it. And there's no let-up. If you’re sick, you can't stay home. You just go. It’s a runaway train, but it’s a beautiful trip. It’s every day. Picture it, when you get there in the morning, it's like there’s a giant ravine. And as you’re working during the day, you're building a glass bridge. It’s a delicate bridge and it’s made of glass. And once you’ve got everything done for that day and it feels correct, boom, the glass turns to steel and you can cross over. And then you’ve got to do it again the next day.” And of course, Fienberg has to ask whether he and series co-creator Mark Frost might return for a fourth round. Lynch: “I’ve learned never say never.”

    In the New York Times, J. Hoberman writes about the Icarus Films box set Eight Films by Jean Rouch, “a gift for cinephiles,” and Shout Factory’s six-disc The Ernie Kovacs Collection. “Rouch was influenced by surrealism; Ernie Kovacs reinvented it for television.”

    As the #MeToo movement carries on zapping pointed rays of sunlight onto the darkest secrets of sexual predators in show business, media, and politics, we’re all discovering countless ways to ask anew, “Now what?” “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” is one such question, and it’s the title of a piece by Claire Dederer for the Paris Review. “They did or said something awful, and made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or . . . we don’t. We continue watching, separating or trying to separate the artist from the art. Either way: disruption. They are monster geniuses, and I don’t know what to do about them.”

    “Whatever kind of counterrevolution this turns out to be, much of it, so far, has necessarily been about the actions and art of men,” notes Wesley Morris in the New York Times. “How do the claims against them alter the perception of what they’ve made? Should they? With their victims, it’s the opposite. How does what’s been done to them bear out in art they never got to make?” He revisits the work of Annabella Sciorra, whose career as an actress seems to have mysteriously stalled in the mid-1990s.” And “she, too, was among the women Harvey Weinstein had assaulted.” He focuses on two performances. Spike Lee “has wrung lots of wonderful acting from lots of different kinds of actors. But you watch Ms. Sciorra in Jungle Fever and wonder whether she’s wrung something new out of him. She was even better, ten years later, in Season 3 of The Sopranos . . . Watching her suffer with Tony Soprano, I didn’t think much about Mr. Weinstein. I was more focused on the tang of Ms. Sciorra’s realness . . . and how this reckoning with bad men has the tendency of upstaging the great work of women.”

    Speaking of The Sopranos, Thomas Lalli Foster finally sat down and watched the whole damn thing just last year (as I did just a few years ago). “As Jonah Weiner puts it,” he writes for Bright Lights, “the final scene ‘does stage a violent death, patently and unambiguously: ours.’ If the cut-to-black is punitive, it’s also [creator David] Chase’s memento mori: remember that you will die. We ask ‘Is Tony dead?’ Chase’s answer: ‘Tony can’t die, he’s a fictional character. As for you: don’t ask for whom the (diner’s door) bell tolls. When your time comes, cable’s out—forever.’”

    LISTS

    Dan Sallitt’s tweeted a list of favorite “first views of 2017.”

    The New York Times has selected its “100 Notable Books of 2017,” while writers as varied as Richard Ford, Emily Gould, and J. Hoberman comment on their favorite books of the year in the forthcoming issue of Bookforum. The New Statesman’s got favorites from its friends and contributors, and Time’s listed its top ten novels and works of nonfiction.

    IN OTHER NEWS

    Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country has won best film at the eleventh annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards presented in Brisbane, Australia, reports Patrick Frater for Variety. “The other big winner on the evening was India’s Newton. It earned a best acting prize for Rajkummar Rao, while Mayank Tewari, Amit V. Masurkar claimed the award for best screenplay. Russia’s Andrey Zvyagintsev was named best director for Loveless.” And he’s got the complete list of all the award-winners.

    GOINGS ON

    New York. “It’s hard to imagine a more eclectic group of films sharing a single series than those being screened by the Film Society of Lincoln Center under the umbrella title The Non-Actor,” writes Tony Pipolo for Artforum. “From Sergei Eisenstein’s October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928) to Andy Warhol’s Vinyl (1965), F. W. Murnau’s Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) to Straub-Huillet’s Othon (1970), Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero (1948) to Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World (1963), Ousmane Sembene’s Black Girl (1966) to Pedro Costa’s Colossal Youth (2006), the range is nothing if not bold. In addition to outright masterpieces like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), and Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar (1966), the series includes such rarely screened or unseen works as Spencer Williams’s Blood of Jesus (1941), Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles (1961), and a trio of homegrown ‘movie queen’ scenarios made by one Margaret Cram in the 1930s that has me curious. Hands down, for the next two-and-a-half weeks, this is the best cinema going in town.”

    For the November/December 2017 issue of Film Comment, Chris Shields: “While Pedro Costa, Tsai Ming-liang, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul have all spoken and written about employing non-actors, we invited several more filmmakers and casting directors to shed light on the practical and conceptual dimensions of the practice, and the how, where, and why of casting a non-actor for a role.” The series starts tomorrow and runs through December 10.

    The Quad’s series Pictures from the Revolution: Bertolucci’s Italian Period is on through Thursday. “Bertolucci’s great achievement was to marry the great formal experiments of his time with a revitalized approach to melodrama and narrative,” writes Bilge Ebiri in the Village Voice. “He understood not just the lessons of Jean-Luc Godard and Pier Paolo Pasolini (his mentors and spiritual fathers) but also of Douglas Sirk and Vincente Minnelli. We talk a lot about how the New Hollywood directors of the 1960s and ’70s bore the stylistic influences of the French New Wave in their work. But Bertolucci understood better than anyone else how undercutting viewer expectations, disorienting us out of our narrative complacency, was the key to deeper engagement.”

    Carl Theodor Dreyer “was already one of the best movie directors in the world by the time he began production on The Passion of Joan of Arc,” writes Jaime N. Christley, also in the Voice, “but in its aftermath, he became something else, something greater. Words indeed run aground when trying to assess the enormity and sophistication of this 1928 film. Dreyer’s subsequent work during the sound era—about one feature per decade until his death in 1968—indicate preoccupations with a group of themes (spirituality, the body, faith, memory) for which The Passion of Joan of Arc, the subject of a new 4K restoration being released by Janus Films, helped to render the blueprints.” Today through December 5.

    London. With the BFI Thriller season on through December, Paul O’Callaghan writes up a list of “10 great overlooked neo-noirs.”

    OBIT

    German actor, producer, and novelist Peter Berling has died in Rome at the age of eighty-three. Scott Roxborough for the Hollywood Reporter: “Berling acted in more than 130 films in his decades-long career but his best-known work was for [Werner] Herzog, who cast him in several of his early films, including Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and Cobra Verde (1987). Berling also worked for Herzog's contemporary, legendary German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In addition to walk-on roles in numerous Fassbinder films, Berling produced the director's 1971 drama Beware of a Holy Whore.” Berling also “had bit parts in a handful of international productions, including playing a knife act caller in Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York and the monk Jean d'Anneaux in Jean-Jacques Annaud's medieval thriller The Name of the Rose.

    GALLERY

    For the Creative Review, Salonee Gadgil previews a forthcoming book of photographs by by Mark Parascadola, Once Upon a Time in Almería: The Legacy of Hollywood in Spain.

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

1 comment

  • By Joey Pellegrino
    November 24, 2017
    02:49 PM

    Claire Dederer's article was an excellent look into the art vs. artist conflict with which I think many of us have been struggling recently.
    Reply