Buñuel, Hou, and More

Luis Buñuel was born on this day, February 22, in 1900. “By 1961, Buñuel was born again, so to speak,” writes Jeremy Carr, having sketched the career from Un chien andalou (1929) and L'âge d'or (1930) through the years in Mexico, “and returned to Europe, to his native Spain, to make Viridiana (1961), a scandalously subversive comedy that was then followed, back in Mexico, by The Exterminating Angel (1962), a prime initiation of the third and final phase in the career of this always-evolving auteur. Of the eight films after that, four of them—Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), The Milky Way (1969), The Phantom of Liberty (1974), and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)—are particularly representative features, showing Buñuel not simply exercising the surreal standard of anomalous imagery (there is certainly some of that), but also applying tenants of his own idiosyncratic policy, as well as that of surrealism generally, to encompass narrative strategy and intention.”

Also in the Notebook, Leonardo Goi revisits Wim Wenders’s “masterpiece” Wings of Desire (1987), “a story which, anchored as it may be to Berlin’s geography and history, ends up transcending both.”

“The culture right now is in a state of acute ambivalence about Woody Allen, which is to say that, as in so many other matters, the public conversation is defined by conflict, polarization and the exclusion of the middle ground,” writes the New York TimesA. O. Scott. “But relitigating the abuse charges is a way of avoiding the real work, which is the endless, not always pleasant task of interpreting Mr. Allen’s work. The movies and what they have meant to so many of us will not just vanish. The ambivalence needs to be acknowledged and analyzed . . . The argument about Woody Allen is far from finished.”

Howard Hampton for Artforum on a 1972 film directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine: “What’s delightful about Pulp is that while it belongs in a line of irreverent, offhand noir deviations running from The Big Sleep (1946) and Don Siegel’s The Big Steal (1949) on into Beat the Devil (1953) and even up through Jean-Luc Godard’s Samuel Fuller-brush-off Made in USA (1966), it doesn’t mimic them. There are choreographed mishaps and baroque grotesqueries that wouldn’t be out of place in Tati or Fellini.”

The Sandwich Man (1983), “an omnibus of three shorts, is unequivocally more significant for its role in kickstarting Taiwanese New Wave and as a turning point in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s career, than for its actual content,” writes Alex Wen for Subtitle. “All three tales, The Sandwich Man by Hou Hsiao-hsien, Vicki’s Hat by Jen Wan, and The Taste of Apple by Zhuang Xiang Zeng, deal with a 1960s Cold War-era Taiwan, and how the poor suffer under circumstances of foreign mingling and rapid industrialization. The analysis of how capitalism affects Taiwanese citizens, especially the common person, will become a focal point in both Hou’s career, as well as for Taiwanese New Wave.”

With Phantom Islands, Rouzbeh Rashidi “has created an experiential film, rather than simple a film per se,” writes Nadin Mai. “There is something that permeates the entire film and that didn’t let me go.” More from Mónica Delgado at desistfilm.

Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby (1938) “delves joyfully beyond the stiff pretenses of modern life to reveal the wild and lustful animal that still lies beneath the surface,” writes David Pountain at Vague Visages.

At Dangerous Minds, Ariel Schudson delves into the history of the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, “made famous by Blade Runner” and intended to be “a physical incarnation of utopianism and futurist thought.”


The Los Angeles TimesGlenn Whipp talks with Paul Thomas Anderson—about Phantom Thread, of course, but also about Los Angeles (“I know it’s not the prettiest place to live . . . But it’s home!”), Adam Sandler, There Will Be Blood (Daniel Day-Lewis is “not giving you an inch to let you know you can laugh”), The Master (“I’m not sure it’s entirely successful. But that’s fine with me”), Tiffany Haddish (“It’s the same way I felt when I saw Adam—there’s so much there”), and the movie he started working on with his eight-year-old daughter: “I was trying to guide the story to something a little bit darker, where my instincts wanted to take it, and she was politely, very sweetly reminding me I was aiming it that way and brought it back.”

“To speak with her colleagues is to blush on her behalf,” writes Willa Paskin at the top of her profile of Laurie Metcalf for the New York Times. “It is to hear words like ‘purity’ and ‘devotion’ and ‘work ethic,’ delivered with the sober intonations of people doing all they can to rescue them from cliché.”

For the Daily Beast, Tim Teeman talks with James Ivory about writing the screenplay for Call Me by Your Name and his “upcoming project, an adaptation of Peter Cameron’s Coral Glynn, set in 1950s England. This will be his second Cameron adaptation after The City of Your Final Destination (2009), and will be notable because he revealed that he intends to cast the stars of A Room with a View, reuniting Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, and Rupert Graves (‘They’re terrific in their fifties, they all look great and I thought it would be fun to do’). He also intends to tempt Daniel Day-Lewis out of his alleged retirement. This Ivory will write and direct: ‘I just want to make it totally my film.’”

And for One Grand Books, Ivory lists his ten favorite books.

Lists and Awards

For Grasshopper Film, Stephen Cone (Princess Cyd,Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party) lists his ten favorite films of the past ten years.

The dozens of critics who vote for the winners of the Muriel Awards are writing about their 2017 selections. Just as a sampling, so far you’ll find Jeff McMahon on Jacques Tati’s PlayTime (50th Anniversary Award), Scout Tafoya on Paul Thomas Anderson (Best Direction), Kevin Cecil on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (25th Anniversary Award for Best Film of 1992), Phil Dyess-Nugent on Agnès Varda and JR’s Faces Places (Best Documentary), Vern on Jordan Peele (Best Cinematic Breakthrough), Ian Scott Todd on Jonny Greenwood (Best Music), and Daniel Cook Johnson on Michael Stuhlbarg (Best Body of Work).

Variety’s Ariana Brockington has the complete list of winners of the Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Goings On

New York. Lynne Sachs’s Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor is an eight-minute triptych of brief encounters with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Gunvor Nelson filmed at the artists’ homes or studios,” writes Tyler Maxin for Screen Slate. Screening as part of Doc Fortnight 2018: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media through Monday, the short is paired with George, Jeffrey Perkins’s portrait of George Maciunas: “Brimming with interviews with Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, Alison Knowles, Ben Patterson, Milan Knizak, Bibbe Hansen, Shigeko Kubota, Richard Foreman, Henry Flynt, and many more, it’s a pretty jam-packed two hours.”

“A study of the Sonoran hinterlands on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, El Mar La Mar is the rare film to subordinate its form to the landscape it’s set in,” writes Alan Scherstuhl in the Village Voice. “To watch it attentively is to surrender, for ninety minutes, to the slow-motion pace of Sonoran life.” A week-long run of Joshua Bonnetta and J. P. Sniadecki’s award-winning film starts tomorrow at MoMA. For Ben Kenigsberg in the New York Times, “this immersive, sensorially complex movie evokes the terrifying disorientation and loneliness of migration: the eerie sounds of sand crunching underfoot; the surreal sights of jugs of water left by well-wishers; fragments of voices heard over radio transmissions.”

Los Angeles. Acropolis Cinema will present El Mar La Mar on Tuesday.

Toronto. The TIFF Cinematheque retrospective Argentine Genius: The Films of Lucrecia Martel opens tomorrow and runs through Tuesday. James Quandt on La Ciénaga (2001), The Holy Girl (2004), and The Headless Woman (2008): “Named after the northwestern province of Argentina where all three films are set (and where the director herself grew up), Martel’s Salta Trilogy counts as one of the signal cinematic achievements of the millennium.”

Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955) screens tomorrow as part of the TIFF series Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum, but Alicia Fletcher is focusing on the career of Lillian Gish.

London. The full program for BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (March 21 through April 1) is now online.

Berlin. “Who knew G. W. Pabst had such a light touch?” For the Notebook, Christopher Small writes about The Devious Path (1928), “a very funny film, and often the droll, the sensitive, and the emotionally outsized share the same space without obtruding into the other’s territory. [Brigitte] Helm’s wild oscillations between understatement and pantomime, chaos and order, laughter and terror are a marvel to behold.” Screens once more on Sunday as part of the Berlinale’s Retrospective.

In the Works

Ryan Coogler has directed Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (2013), Creed (2015), and now, Black Panther, and they’re reuniting for Wrong Answer with a screenplay by Ta-Nehisi Coates, reports Variety’s Dave McNary. Based on a 2014 piece for the New Yorker by Rachel Aviv, “Wrong Answer focuses on the 2006 standardized test cheating scandal at Atlanta public schools. Jordan will portray teacher Damany Lewis, who joined the effort in order to prevent his school from shutting down under provisions of the No Child Left Behind law. Eleven teachers were indicted on racketeering allegations.”

Danny Boyle has “an idea for a very specific 007 movie, and he and his Trainspotting partner John Hodge have teamed up to work out the beats,” reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. “Hodge is writing that version and if it all works out, that would be the 007 film that Boyle would helm.”

Jay and Mark Duplass have signed a four-picture deal with Netflix, reports Michael Nordine at IndieWire. Alex Lehmann (Blue Jay) will direct Ray Romano in the first one, described “as ‘a bittersweet bromance about friendship, mortality, and made-up sports,’” and Mark Duplass will co-star.

Amazon Studios is putting together an adaptation of Iain M. Banks’s “iconic scifi saga, the Culture Series, starting off with Consider Phlebas,” to “ air exclusively through Amazon’s Prime Video service,” reports James Whitbrook at the A.V. Club. Phlebas “introduced readers to the ginormous utopian future society known as the Culture, and their interactions with a galaxy that is at times hostile to their idealistic approach.”

Lupita Nyong’o “has signed on to star in Born a Crime, the film adaptation of The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s bestselling debut autobiography Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” reports Amanda N’Duka for Deadline. “Nyong’o will play Noah’s mom, Patricia, who served as an important figure to her son in his formative years. She was shot in the head by his stepfather while returning from a church service in 2009, but survived.”

Sam Riley (Control), Aneurin Barnard, Anya Taylor Joy, and Simon Russell Beale are joining Rosamund Pike in Marjane Satrapi’s Marie Curie biopic Radioactive, reports Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione.

Paolo Virzi’s Notti Magiche is selling nicely, reports Variety’s Elsa Keslassy. “The film explores the golden age of Italian cinema in Rome through the tale of three promising screenwriters who turn out to be the main suspects for the murder of a famous producer. Although the film takes place in the 1990s, the three writers reminisce about the splendors and miseries of Italian cinema’s golden age after they are taken in by the police for questioning.”


From Ehsan Khoshbakht comes word that Hossein Rezai, a nonprofessional actor who starred in Abbas Kiarostami’s Through the Olive Trees (1994), has passed away at the age of forty-eight. “He died after a lung problem but his bigger problem was that he couldn’t afford paying the £130 hospital bill.”


Filmwax Radio host Adam Schartoff talks with Hal Hartley about his Henry Fool Trilogy (91’01”).

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