To illustrate her conception of mise en scène, Martel told the audience that they should imagine being immersed in water, for example a swimming pool: “Since water is an elastic space, if anyone else dives in, you will feel their presence through ripples, sounds, vibrations. I like to think of the world as a space wherein every movement has an effect on others [. . .] We sometimes forget that chronology, though useful, is a construction and therefore arbitrary. If time was contained in this pool, then it would be very difficult to create a cause-and-effect relationship between all the particles that are otherwise arranged along a linear timeline. It wouldn’t be as automatic; it would demand profound reflection. Our perceptions, our way of thinking, are based on particular systems, and the important thing in cinema is to challenge our own perception.”
Sean Axmaker reviews G. W. Pabst’s Westfront 1918 (1930) and Kameradschaft (1931). On Westfront 1918: “Unlike most early sound films, Pabst’s camera is mobile, full of long tracking shots along the trenches and traveling with the soldiers as they advance. He also uses sound for both realistic and expressionistic effect, with the echo of artillery a near-constant soundtrack that begins in the easy levity of the opening scene and barely ceases before ending in a makeshift hospital behind the lines, the camera tracking across the dead, the dying, and the shell-shocked survivors.”
Vulture’s posted another excerpt from Jonathan Abrams’s All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire, this one an oral history of that memorable scene in which Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland inspect the scene of a crime and discuss what they find—using only one word.
“Ding Sheng’s remake of John Woo’s classic A Better Tomorrow (1986) encapsulates much that’s wrong with contemporary mainstream cinema, both in China and abroad.” Sean Gilman explains in the Notebook.
In Other News
Leni Riefenstahl’s sole surviving heir, her former secretary, has donated the complete collection of “photos, films, manuscripts, letters, and files from the estate” to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, reports the AP.
New York.Sally Potter will be at the Walter Reade Theater tonight to introduce a twenty-fifth anniversary screening of Orlando and to discuss her new film, The Party. For the Village Voice,Bilge Ebiri talks with her “about making her new film during the Brexit vote, her collaborative approach to performance—she’s actually written an entire book about working with actors—and that time she tried to talk to Martin Scorsese about Orlando.”
Crimes of Passion: The Erotic Thriller runs at the Quad through Saturday. Caroline Golum for Screen Slate: “Buried deep within the velvety folds of this comprehensive line-up is the grand-père of them all: Trans-Europ-Express , a progenitor of the form that dabbles quite freely in drug smuggling, voyeurism, and S&M. Writer-director and nouveau romancier Alain Robbe-Grillet freely toys with the transgressive behavior that distinguishes his best-known novels and films, working as always to dismantle the very concept of linear storytelling from the inside out.”
Toronto.Les Hautes solitudes screens on Friday as part of In the Shadow of Love: The Cinema of Philippe Garrel and, writing for the TIFF Review, Fanta Sylla suggests that “one cannot help but think that this silent, black-and-white, impossible-to-categorize 1974 feature holds the key to the director’s cinema, and, more specifically, to the motif of suicide that haunts it.”
Beijing. “Wong Kar-wai has been set as president of the jury for the competition section at the upcoming Beijing International Film Festival,” reports Patrick Frater for Variety. “Now in its eighth edition, the festival runs April 15-22, 2018.”
In the Works
For Cineuropa, Davide Abbatescianni checks in on Roy Andersson (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence), who tells him, “We are now more than halfway through the shoot, and I am very happy with how this film is turning out. And with less than a year left of shooting, it feels like the home stretch for us.” The project is About Endlessness, which, as Abbatescianni explains, “has been described as a poetic juxtaposition of tableaux capturing moments in life. Some of the characters featured are Adolf Hitler (Magnus Wallgren), a marketing director (Kristina Ekmark), a woman who loves champagne (Lisa Blohm), and a priest (Martin Serner). The narration is guided by the soft voice of a woman, a sort of Scheherazade telling the story of the lives and endeavor of mankind, and inviting the viewers to reflect on the preciousness and beauty of our existence.”
Also at Cineuropa, Vladan Petkovic reports that HBO Europe has greenlit Danis Tanović’s six-part series, Success, which “follows the intertwining stories of four strangers who are bound together irrevocably by a violent event. . . . A bitter ode to the city of Zagreb, Success dissects the layers of a modern urban society, exploring themes of frustration, alienation and the longing to be released from the trappings of everyday life.”
Jake Gyllenhaal, Ansel Elgort, and Zendaya are lined up for Finest Kind, a “crime drama from Brian Helgeland, the Oscar-winning writer-director behind Mystic River,L.A. Confidential, and A Knight’s Tale.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit and Mia Galuppo: “The story centers on two half-brothers (Gyllenhaal and Elgort) that are reunited as adults after being raised by different fathers. When one discovers his estranged father has only months to live, he strikes a dangerous deal with a crime syndicate, putting him and his brother on a collision course with the Boston underworld.”
“Michael Fassbender will star in David Sandberg’s action-comedy Kung Fury, which Sandberg will also star in and produce,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. The original short “gained a cult following” and “was selected for Cannes Directors Fortnight.”
“Bette Midler and Sharon Stone are teaming to co-star in the film version of Charles Busch’s Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated odd-couple Broadway comedy, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” reports Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione. “Andy Fickman, who directed Midler in 2012’s Parental Guidance, is helming.”
Keira Knightley and Matt Smith (The Crown) are set for Official Secrets, reports Screen’s Jeremy Kay: “Gavin Hood will direct the true story of [Katharine] Gun, a former Mandarin translator at the notorious British intelligence agency GCHQ in Cheltenham who made headlines after she leaked a confidential NSA memo that proposed the U.S. and UK put pressure on six ‘swing’ nations on the UN Security Council to vote in favor of the imminent 2003 Iraq invasion.”
Chris Columbus, whose directing credits include Home Alone and two Harry Potter movies, “has signed on to write, direct and produce Blumhouse’s screen adaptation of Scott Cawthon’s popular video game Five Nights at Freddy’s, which centers on a security guard battling animatronic robots that come to life in a Chuck E. Cheese-like venue.” Anthony D'Alessandro has the story at Deadline.
Also, Steven Knight’s Serenity, “which stars Matthew McConaughey as a fishing boat captain whose mysterious past in the form of a glamorous woman played by Anne Hathaway crashes up against his simple life on a small Caribbean island and ensnares him in a new reality that might not be all that it seems,” now has a release date. September 28.
John Lee Hancock will direct Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and ex-partner Maney Gault in The Highwaymen, reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. “This was the project that goes back far enough that it once had Paul Newman and Robert Redford ready to play those roles, before Newman’s health failed. Hamer and Gault came out of retirement to hunt down the notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde.” Variety’s Justin Kroll adds news that Kathy Bates, John Carroll Lynch, Kim Dickens, Thomas Mann, and William Sadler have also been cast.
“Mary J. Blige has signed onto the upcoming Netflix series The Umbrella Academy,” reports Joe Otterson for Variety. The story “follows the estranged members of a dysfunctional family of superheroes (The Umbrella Academy)—Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Vanya (Ellen Page), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), and Number Five (Aidan Gallagher)—as they work together to solve their father’s mysterious death while coming apart at the seams due to their divergent personalities and abilities.”
“Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick films, might be launching another film series,” reports Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka. “The former stuntman has been tapped to direct Sandman Slim, a film adaptation based on NYT bestselling author Richard Kadrey’s nine-book fantasy series.”
Tamio Kawachi, who appeared in Koreyoshi Kurahara’s The Warped Ones (1960) and Black Sun (1964) and Seijun Suzuki’s Youth of the Beast (1963) and Tokyo Drifter (1966), passed away on Saturday at the age of seventy-nine.
Slate’s Aisha Harris discusses Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957) (3’42”) and Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) (3’18”).
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.