Haskell, Sci-Fi TV, and More

On Film / The Daily — Feb 18, 2018

“Nymphetmania has a long and hoary pedigree in Hollywood, and flourished years before Nabokov gave us the Lolita syndrome,” writes Molly Haskell in the Guardian. “D. W. Griffith’s child-woman ingénues such as Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh were ‘pseudo-nymphets’ (critic Andrew Sarris’s term), while Lolita was herself largely inspired by that most blatant of all paedophile fantasies, Shirley Temple.” Following a history of pretty babies in the cinema, Haskell adds: “Calling out abuse in a libertine age is never going to be a cut-and-dried proposition, but if the #MeToo movement accomplishes anything, it will be to shine a spotlight on those recesses of male vanity that have provided artistic cover, and ingenious disguise, for the exploitation of child-women.” And the image above is, of course, from Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962).

The Twilight Zone’s “articulate underlying philosophy was never that life is topsy-turvy, things are horribly wrong, and misrule will carry the day—it is instead a belief in a cosmic order, of social justice and a benevolent irony that, in the end, will wake you from your slumber and deliver you unto the truth.” J. W. McCormack for the New York Review of Books: “The show’s most prevalent themes are probably best distilled as ‘you are not what you took yourself to be,’ ‘you are not where you thought you were,’ and ‘beneath the façade of mundane American society lurks a cavalcade of monsters, clones, and robots.’”

“The 11th series of The X-Files is led by its veteran writers and original ensemble cast, but it takes on a new poignancy as it looks with elegiac wit at the world it has wrought,” writes Ian Bourland for frieze:

That contemporary sci-fi has taken such a pessimistic turn is not surprising. After all, The X-Files hinged on the notion that the statist projects so central to Trekian humanism—and modernism in general—were rotten to the core, and more to the point that, Spielbergian fantasies aside, space was decidedly not the place. Its best successors continue in this skeptical trajectory, taking up the mantle of sci-fi as cautionary Philip K. Dickian allegory. Indeed 2017 saw the revival of Blade Runner, which, for all its sublime luster was a cautionary tale of a world in which the state was not sovereign, but a corporation run in collaboration with the police. Similarly, the most potent television science fiction looks trenchantly not into the distant future, but the bleak middle distance.

“I am addicted to images, and addicted to the creation of them,” writes Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophesies, Nostalgia) at the Talkhouse. “The great photographer Andreas Gursky says that with the technology that now exists he creates images, rather than shoots them. I find that recent statement wholly fascinating and appropriate as I think about my process.”

“Ida Lupino would have been a good fit for 2018,” writes Kevin Crust, noting that throughout a career that spanned nearly five decades, she was “a frequent presence” in the Los Angeles Times. He presents “a few of her most memorable quotes.”

Books

For Film International, Louis Wasser reviews Jean Negulesco: The Life and Films: “It speaks well of [author] Michelangelo Capua that he maintains his enthusiasm for his subject without trying to inflate his ultimate stature as a filmmaker. Negulesco lacked the social-narrative gifts of, say, Sidney Lumet, the broad, humane outlook of William Wyler, or—to suggest a more contemporary comparison—the versatility of Steven Soderbergh. As Capua bluntly states, ‘He was certainly not the greatest or most individual of directors.’ Still, if Negulesco’s contribution to cinema development indeed has been neglected by film historians, Capua has done more than a respectable job of prompting a reconsideration.”

Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon. The Greatest Movie Never Made is a volume coming soon from Taschen that’s based on its 2009 limited edition, and Little White Lies is giving us a sneak peek.

“Nick Nolte’s memoir, Rebel: My Life Outside the Lines, would make a good movie, but only if he starred in it,” writes Sibbie O’Sullivan for the Washington Post. “‘Nick the weirdo,’ as he calls himself, has the blond good looks, the distinctive voice, the acting chops and, as Rebel makes clear, the willingness to go deep inside his character.”

In Other News

The American Society of Cinematographers presented the thirty-second ASC Awards on Saturday night and, for his work on Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins “walked away with the marquee Theatrical Picture Prize while Netflix’s The Crown, Genius, and 12 Monkeys won on top TV honors.” Dino-Ray Ramos and Antonia Blyth have the full list of winners at Deadline.

In the Works

“HBO has announced Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoë Kravitz will officially be returning for season two of Big Little Lies to reprise their characters,” reports Devon Ivie at Vulture. “That means the trio will be joining the already-confirmed Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, as well as Monterey newcomer Meryl Streep, who will be playing Perry’s mother as she searches for answers about his death.”

Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bercot, and Vincent Macaigne will star in Cédric Kahn’s Joyeux Anniversaire, reports Variety’s Elsa Keslassy. “Unfolding over twenty-four hours, the movie stars Deneuve as a mother of two who gathers her loved ones to celebrate her birthday in her big house near the Loire Valley. The festivities are disrupted by the arrival of her daughter (Bercot), who is known for her unpredictable outbursts.”

Also, Anne Fontaine’s Pure as Snow will be an “erotic comedy” inspired by Snow White. Lou de Laâge “stars as Claire, a beautiful young woman who works at her late father’s hotel that is now managed by her evil stepmother Maud [Isabelle Huppert]. Claire unwittingly sparks uncontrollable jealousy in Maud, whose young lover has fallen in love with Claire. Maud decides to get rid of Claire who finds shelter in a farm where she’s allowed to break free from her strict upbringing through encounters with seven ‘princes.’”

“Anne Hathaway is in negotiations to star in Mudbound director Dee Rees’s The Last Thing He Wanted, based on the Joan Didion political thriller,” reports Variety’s Leo Barraclough. Reviewing the novel for the New York Times in 1996, Michael Wood noted that Elena McMahon, the role for which Hathaway is presumably up for, “not only walks out of a life—as a California wife and mother, and then as a reporter for the Washington Post—but she also walks into another one, which is the ruin of her father’s, a life of shabby, shadowy deals.”

“Sylvia Hoeks, who gained international recognition as Luv in Blade Runner 2049, is attached to play Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel in a feature directed by Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead, Drop),” reports Variety’s John Hopewell.

Also, Tremors will be Jayro Bustamante’s followup to Ixcanul, which won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2015. Pablo, “an evangelical Christian and father of two children,” falls “in love with another man. His wife, Isa, determines to help her husband get ‘cured,’ with the support of the church pastor and all of Pablo’s family. The most urgent thing is to protect their children, Lucía and Juampi, Isa thinks: To have a father like Pablo could destroy their life.”

Kiersey Clemons (Dope, Hearts Beat Loud) is joining Gael García Bernal in Jonás Cuarón’s “Zorro reimagining,” Z, reports Screen’s Jeremy Kay.

Ben Cookson (Almost Married) will direct Anjelica Huston, Noah Schnapp (Stranger Things), Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Elsa Zylbertsein (I’ve Loved You So Long), and Tomas Lemarquis (X-Men: Apocalypse) in Waiting for Anya, reports Deadline’s Peter White. “Schnapp will play a young shepherd, Jo, in the film alongside Huston’s widow Horcada in the adaptation of the book by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. The film is set in Lescun, southern France, and follows Jo’s involvement in smuggling Jewish children across the border into Spain.”

Obit

Nazif Mujić, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2013 for his performance in Danis Tanović’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, has passed away, reports Deadline’s Peter White. “Mujić, who re-enacted an an episode from his own life as scrap collector in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with his family in the movie, was from the small town of Svatovac, was forced to sell his Silver Bear award for €4,000 (US$5,000) when he fell on hard times.”

Listening

Edgar Wright has put together a playlist, “my Top 50 Favourite Movie Soundtrack Moments. Enjoy!”

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