Peck, Peele, and More

“James Baldwin and Karl Marx—the subjects of my two most recent films—were my two primary teachers; each in his own way taught me how to think, how to be, how to engage,” writes Raoul Peck, director of I Am Not Your Negro and The Young Karl Marx, at the Talkhouse. “They empowered me—then and now, here and elsewhere—to always find the necessary critical distance to analyze the seemingly perplexing issues one confronts daily. Whether it’s political, social, philosophical or even personal. They enabled me to understand the society we live in; what power means; what greed induces; what politics implies and/or why the insatiable pursuit of money cannot be the ultimate goal in life.”

Clicking on those titles will take you to reviews selected by James Kang at Critics Round Up. Talking with Peck about The Young Karl Marx (image above) are Malcolm Harris at Vulture and Stephen Saito.

“In late January,” writes the Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose, “Jordan Peele became just the fourth African-American filmmaker in the ninety-year history of the Academy Awards to be nominated for best director. The thirty—nine-year-old behind Get Out follows John Singleton, who in 1992 was the category's youngest-ever nominee at twenty-four when he was recognized for directing Boyz N the Hood, along with Lee Daniels, now fifty-eight (Precious, 2009), and Barry Jenkins, thirty-eight (Moonlight, 2016). . . . With the March 4 ceremony looming and the racial makeup of the Academy and the industry at large under increased scrutiny, THR gathered the quartet for a candid conversation about how success can feel like failure, the doors Black Panther has opened and why not one of these guys was able to enjoy his big night.”

At Vulture, Jada Yuan and Hunter Harris have put together an oral history of the making of Get Out.

In the New York Times,J. Hoberman reviews Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left (2016), “a tale of vengeance that is also a meditative social panorama, filmed in crisp black and white,” and Pedro Costa’s Casa de Lava (1994), “another gorgeously filmed, island-set quest.”

Also in the NYT,Neil MacFarquhar profiles Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose Loveless is in the running for the foreign language Oscar, and talks with film critic Anton Dolin about Andrei Tarkovsky’s influence on Zvyagintsev’s work: “If someone could simply imitate Tarkovsky to be successful, there were be millions of Zvyagintsevs.” Amir Ganjavie at Ioncinema and Michael Guillen also have questions for Zvyagintsev.

Alex Garland’s Annihilation “is swimming in Tarkovsky-isms,” notes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the A.V. Club, where he connects the dots between Annihilation and Stalker (1979) and Solaris (1972): “Although both are considered exemplars of the more philosophical side of the genre, they’re rarely discussed as models of genre storytelling.”

“I’m speaking to black people and everybody else gets to listen in,” Arthur Jafa, a cinematographer who shot Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991) and Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (1994), tells Jace Clayton in frieze. The focus here is on the video piece Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death (2016). Jafa: “It’s a position I share with Kerry James Marshall: a rejection of the implication that black-specific work cannot be universal. Culturally speaking, it’s a fundamental counter-assumption that a figure can be black and still represent all of humankind, or all men or all women.”

“You’re doing a tough job, where you’re the captain of the ship, and there’s always tough decisions to make, and sometimes you’ve just got to go, ‘That’s not right for this,’” Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here) tells Miranda Sawyer in the Observer. “You’ve got to stick up for what you believe in. If you don’t do that, you’re doing a disservice to the audience, because you’re making something really diluted. And if you do that when you’re a guy, you’re seen as artistic—‘difficulty’ is seen as a sign of genius. But it’s not the same for women. It’s a tough industry, and if you’re a woman it’s harder, whether you like it or not.”

“Since late 2016, a whole slew of sunny, triumphalist works about the social, political, and cultural progress being made in one corner or another have been forced to add awkward, doomy turns to their introductions and conclusions, the beginnings and ends of their chapters,” writes Lidija Haas for Bookforum. “Thus Joy Press’s Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, whose prevailing mood matches its effervescent title, must now frame its reported profiles of contemporary TV titans and disrupters like Shonda Rhimes, Tina Fey, and Jill Soloway with caveats about zigzags in the moral universe’s arc.”


Deadline’s Dino-Ray Ramos has the list of the winners of the fifty-fourth Cinema Audio Society awards: “Dunkirk won the trophy in the Motion Picture Live Action and on the TV side, Game of Thrones won for One-Hour series while Silicon Valley walked away with a win in the half-hour category.”

And from Variety’s Kristopher Tapley: “Darkest Hour led the way with film winners at the 2018 Make-up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards with two prizes. Pitch Perfect 3,Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, and I, Tonya also received awards.”

In the Works

The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth reports that Gaspar Noé is planning to spend around three million dollars and all of two weeks shooting Psyché, in which a group of “urban dancers” convene in a forest for a rehearsal that turns into a party. From the synopsis: “Quickly, the atmosphere becomes charged and a strange madness will seize them the whole night. If it seems obvious to them that they have been drugged, they neither know by who nor why.”

Jagernauth also notes that during a recent Reddit AMA, Alex Garland mentioned that “someone very talented is currently working on a possible adaptation” of his novel, The Beach, previously adapted by Danny Boyle for a 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Talking with David Mamet for the Chicago Tribune,Rick Kogan points out that “there is a new play sitting on the kitchen table: ‘I was talking with my Broadway producer and he said, “Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?” And so I did.’” The play is “currently titled Bitter Wheat and there has been great interest in the lead role expressed by a Chicago stage legend who is now a movie star.” Meantime, Mamet is also “adapting the bestselling 2017 Don Winslow novel The Force, about a revered New York City cop caught in a web of dirty drugs deals, racial tensions and corruption, for a Fox film to be directed by James Mangold.”

Now that Joss Whedon has left Warner and DC’s Batgirl project, author Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist) has expressed interest in writing the screenplay, reports Matt Fernandez for Variety.

Octavia Spencer, Isabela Moner, and Tig Notaro are joining Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne in Sean Anders’s Instant Family, reports Amanda N’Duka at Deadline. The story “follows a couple who decide to adopt through the foster-care system and find themselves in over their heads raising three wild kids.”


“British actress Emma Chambers, who was best known in the U.S. for her role as Honey Thacker in Notting Hill, has died of natural causes at the age of fifty-three,” reports Erin Nyren for Variety. “Chambers was best known in the U.K. for her role in The Vicar of Dibley, on which she played Alice Tinker, the verger.”

Variety’s Dave McNary reports that editor Edward Abroms passed away on February 13. “He received an Academy Award nomination in 1983 with Frank Moriss for Blue Thunder. Abroms won Emmys for My Sweet Charlie in 1970 and for Columbo in 1972. . . . Abroms worked with director Steven Spielberg on the pilot for Night Gallery in 1969 and on Spielberg’s first feature film The Sugarland Express.


New Yorker editor David Remnick and contributor Alexander Schwartz talk with Richard Brody about his selections for an alternative set of Oscars, the Brodies (12’21”).

Cinematologists Dario Llinares and Neil Fox not only discuss Paul Thomas Anderson and Phantom Thread (50’55”), they’ve also posted a conversation between Clio Barnard and Andrew Kötting (63’42”) about Barnard’s Dark River, “touching on the development of the script from the book, the casting, her minimalist aesthetic, the P.J. Harvey soundtrack and the challenges of the rural locations.”

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