Issues: Film Comment, Cinergie, and More

The updates to the entry on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread are still rolling in, and one of the most recent ones links to Sheila O'Malley’s cover article for the new issue of Film Comment. “Unlike other clichéd Great Men Humanized by Love narratives,” she writes, “Phantom Thread maintains its sense of humor (the film is very funny), its suspicion of shallow catharses, and its respect for the individualism of the characters. . . . Anderson’s is a versatile and inquisitive mind. His work is firmly rooted in technique, his awe-inspired response to Max Ophüls’s camerawork in The Earrings of Madame de . . . showing his awareness of the integral connection of form to story.”

Also online from the new issue is Jordan Cronk’s piece on Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s VR installation Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible), which “endeavors to reconcile two seemingly incompatible extremes: the demands of commerce and the nuances of empathy.”

“How good is contemporary Chinese cinema without its rebel streak?” asks Andrew Chan in a piece on the inaugural edition of the Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival launched by Jia Zhangke with artistic director Marco Mueller. “The near-total absence of explicit cinematic protest made PYIFF feel like a twilight zone, but it also opened up a wealth of opportunities to discover work outside of the Jia idiom that typically dominates art-film conversation.”

Robert Horton talks with cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station,Mudbound,Black Panther): “I think we really owe it to ourselves to make sure that film always has a place. As a painter, you want to have oils and watercolors, and to lose either of them would be devastating.”


  • Eric Hynes on Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless: “We’re invited to see these broken humans, but also to see as them”
  • For Violet Lucca,Downsizing “proves [Alexander] Payne’s strengths as a visual storyteller and his commitment to social realities”
  • José Teodoro on Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, whose “heart is clearly in the right place, but to plant a marginalized character in the foreground of a narrative is not quite the same as making that character live and breathe”
  • For Devika Girish on Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult, “made with an evident love for genre, is far less subtle in its narrative and thematic machinations”
  • Nick Pinkerton on Jaume Collet-Serra’s latest Liam Neeson thriller, The Commuter, “blessed with some of the deftest setpieces in recent pop cinema memory”
  • Yonca Talu on Michael Haneke’s Happy End, “a string of clichés about bourgeois dysfunction and malaise”
  • Ela Bittencourt on Daniela Thomas’s Vazante, screening this evening as part of First Look 2018 at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image
  • Nick Davis on In Between, the debut feature of Maysaloun Hamoud, whose “clear feminist messaging and subtle departures from expectation already merit respect”
  • Michael Koresky on Double Lover: “The indefatigable François Ozon has evolved into something like a movie twerp version of Claude Chabrol”

We recently covered this issue’s 2017 lists and reflections right here, but there are two more to mention, “20 Discs to Watch” and “20 Titles to Stream.” The online versions of these lists have an added bonus: links.

Catherine Grant is constantly alerting me to publications I can’t believe I haven’t come across before, and the latest is the bilingual journal Cinergie. The new issue’s a special one inspired by a three-day conference, Stanley Kubrick: A Retrospective, that took place in Leicester in 2016. In their introduction, editors James Fenwick, I. Q. Hunter, and Elisa Pezzotta survey the work and its reception, noting that “while Kubrick made only thirteen films, they contain ‘huge ideas’ and seem inexhaustibly rich in meaning and significance.” They also offer a handy guide to the issue they’ve put together:

  • Filippo Ulivieri offers a detailed panoramic view of Kubrick’s numerous unmade projects, from Napoleon to Aryan Papers, attesting to the breadth of Kubrick’s interests and to his endless enthusiasm for the great themes of his realized films, such as artificial intelligence, masculine violence and war.”
  • Graham Allen, by contrast, focuses on Kubrick the collaborator and tracks the complicated relation between Dr. Strangelove and its source novel, Peter George’s Two Hours to Doom [Red Alert] (1958), in the context of their different historical moments.”
  • Dominic Lash develops a compelling analysis of the use of music in Barry Lyndon.
  • “Drawing on the formal properties of almost all of Kubrick’s feature-length films, Matt Melia discusses the hitherto unrecognized similarities in composition and iconography between Kubrick and another distinctive auteur, the maverick British director Ken Russell.”
  • Elisa Pezzotta also discusses movement, but with reference to how Kubrick controls spectators’ experience of time. Through a close analysis of long takes, Pezzotta shows that Barry Lyndon,2001: A Space Odyssey, and Eyes Wide Shut can be considered slow films.”
  • Maarten Coëgnarts “shows how Kubrick creates meaning by imposing structural precision and formal cohesion on perception, expressing his abstract thematic concerns in a non-verbal but concrete manner by relying mostly on acting, framing, and editing.”
  • Dru Jeffries discusses the Criterion editions of Paths of Glory and Dr. Strangelove, and the consequences of the home video producer’s choices on viewers’ expectations and judgments.”
  • Marco Lovisato, discussing Room 237, underlines how each of the four interpretations of The Shining presented in the documentary represents a different path in the interpretative maze created by the film’s complexity and openness.”
  • Antoine Prévost-Balga interprets the experiences of the male protagonists of Dr. Strangelove,A Clockwork Orange, and Full Metal Jacket through Gilbert Simondon’s Mode of Existence of Technical Objects and considers the importance to Kubrick of the figure of ‘the mechanical man.’”
  • “Taking another perspective on troubled masculinity, Vincent Jaunas focuses on the male protagonists of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut, and, in particular, on the actors’ ‘underplaying’ of their performances.”
  • Dijana Metlic discusses how masks are used in The Killing,A Clockwork Orange, and Eyes Wide Shut to provide characters with the strength to surpass themselves.”

And in a brief review, Nathan Abrams writes that “with the arrival of Emilio D'Alessandro's memoir, Stanley and Me, and Filmworker (dir. Tony Zierra, 2017), a documentary about [Leon] Vitali, we now have two different, yet invaluable, perspectives on Kubrick, perspectives from some of those who were closest to him.”

There’s one more essay in English in this issue, Paolo Pitari’s “David Lynch’s Influence on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

Catherine Grant’s got another tip, the new issue of the Baltic Screen Media Review, wherein we find:

  • Liina Keevallik suggests that “cinematic figures can be divided into two basic groups—barbarian and intellectual. The definition is based on the level of the figures’ intelligibility in the works of Jean-Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkovsky.”
  • Ülo Pikkov “analyzes and maps the links between caricature and animated film, as well as their development during the post-World War II era, in communist Eastern Europe.”
  • Riho Västrik “investigates how director Valeria Anderson constructed heroes in the documentaries she directed between 1960 and 1985.”

“The talent one needs to become a Bravoleb is the ability to economically thrive within the professional class and project the necessary ‘Bravo TV Personality’ as a kind of narcissistic bourgeois conceit,” writes Doyle Greene in one of two new articles up at Film Criticism. “Such personalities exhibit the trifecta of self-aggrandizement, self-awareness, and self-pity. Currently, the reigning Bravoleb is Andy Cohen.”

And Abigail G. H. Manzella, author of Migrating Fictions: Gender, Race, and Citizenship in U.S. Internal Migrations, reviews Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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