The new Spring 2018 of Cineaste is out, and online, we find just a few previews of what’s inside, but a whole lot of web exclusives.
“The Nixon presidency? Suddenly, it seems almost quaint,” writes Jonathan Kirshner. “But it was not. His election (and re-election) was, for many, millennially horrifying. This was especially so for participants in the New Hollywood. For these filmmakers, influenced by the European New Waves and the social upheavals of the 1960s, and empowered by the end of censorship and the decline of the studio system, the body blows of the Nixon presidency would inevitably inform the content of their movies. A tragic Shakespearean figure in both rise and decline, Nixon’s spirit haunted American cinema throughout the Seventies. Any movie that talked about power, privacy, paranoia, institutional corruption, or the madness of the patriarch, no matter the setting, was inevitably talking about Nixon.” Above: Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II (1974) as Michael Corleone, “the most tragic ‘Nixon.’”
“With the Trump Presidency exposing the vulnerabilities of liberal democratic politics, All the King’s Men, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, is as timely today as it was in 1949,” writes Brian Neve. “Robert Rossen’s adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 novel invites reassessment from its roots—Huey Long’s gubernatorial record in Louisiana, from the late 1920s until his assassination in 1935, and Warren’s treatment of Long in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.” An impressively detailed account of the actual events, Rossen’s adaptation, and its reception follows.
Godfrey Cheshire reports on last November’s International Federation of Film Critics Colloquium on Russian Cinema, the first. “St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, testifies to both the convergences and conflicts in Russia’s embrace of cinema,” he writes, elaborating before turning to the event at hand, which “encompassed an impressive array of recent cinema, from prize-worthy art films to Hollywood-scale blockbusters, many of which reflect new developments in Russian filmmaking.”
“A cluster of three like-minded documentaries, all spellbound before the big-screen spectacle of 35 mm and 16 mm formats, bids to rescue the cast-off canisters from the dumpsters of cinematic history,” writes Thomas Doherty: “Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time; Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne, and John Richard’s Saving Brinton; and Robin Lung’s Finding Kukan. More than weepy eulogies to a vanishing art form, each is a meditation on the hypnotic allure of photographic imagery for the optic nerve and a testimonial to the chemistry—and the history—coating the film frames.”
- J. E. Smyth on Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya: “Margot Robbie’s title performance is the best I’ve seen in several largely misspent years of watching contemporary Hollywood films.”
- Darragh O’Donoghue on Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) and Frank Tuttle’s Hell on Frisco Bay (1955), plus a report on last year’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
- Aaron Cutler on Flicker Alley’s box set, Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology, “produced by Lobster Films’ Serge Bromberg and the late American film preservationist David Shepard (who also curated) in collaboration with a number of film archives.”
And Nafis Shafizadeh has a beautiful piece about taking his four-year-old son to see Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925).
The box set Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films (1968-1971) is out today from Arrow Academy. “Beneath the polemics and sarcasm of these films is an earnest attempt to find a new cinematic language to transmit ideas without limitations, a desire that’s driven the last half-century of Godard’s career,” writes Jake Cole for Slant.
Little White Lies has posted an excerpt from an interview with Godard and Gorin that most likely appeared in Politique Hebdo in March 1971. Gorin: “Our aim actually is first of all to be there where we reside, while being there differently, which is the only effective means of jamming the machine.”
“Commonly referred to as either the ‘Silence of God’ or ‘God and Man’ trilogy, Ingmar Bergman’s triptych of Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), and The Silence (1963) showcases the diversity and intellectual rigor with which the Swedish director probed the relationship between the divine and the human,” writes Marshall Shaffer at Vague Visages.
The Notebook’s polled a dozen contributors (including me) to come up with a top ten, the best of this year’s Berlinale. At #1: Christian Petzold’s Transit. Below that list, you’ll find the Notebook’s coverage of this year’s edition. Meantime, as soon as my own desk is cleared, I’ll have another Diary entry up here as well.
MostlyFilm presents the results, with notes, of its best-of-2017 poll.
Hilton Als profiles Tiffany Haddish: “She’s a brilliant improviser in need of an equally inspired director, who could help shape what’s already there: the enormous charisma of a woman who has climbed out of the wreckage of her younger days, with story after story about how, though the past may affect you, you can’t let it derail your present.”
Also in the new issue of the New Yorker, “For black people, Atlanta provides the catharsis of ‘Finally, some elevated black shit.’” That’s Jordan Peele. Tad Friend: “For white people, [Donald] Glover wants the catharsis to be an old-fashioned plunge into pity and fear. ‘I don’t even want them laughing if they’re laughing at the caged animal in the zoo,’ he said. ‘I want them to really experience racism, to really feel what it’s like to be black in America. People come to Atlanta for the strip clubs and the music and the cool talking, but the eat-your-vegetables part is that the characters aren’t smoking weed all the time because it’s cool but because they have P.T.S.D.—every black person does. It’s scary to be at the bottom, yelling up out of the hole, and all they shout down is “Keep digging! We’ll reach God soon!”’”
“What’s going through my brain is the same thing as forty years ago,” says Martin Short. Vulture’s David Marchese: “And what’s that?” Short: “That what I’m doing probably isn’t going to work.”
Nathaniel Rogers talks with Greta Gerwig about Lady Bird: “I always had a sense of wanting the movie to feel that very—almost that you could sense a proscenium the entire time.”
In Other News
“Kevin Smith says he has suffered and survived a ‘massive heart attack,’ tweeting a photo from his hospital bed just after midnight Pacific time on Monday,” report Nancy Tartaglione and Peter White for Deadline. “The Clerks and Chasing Amy filmmaker was shooting a new standup special, Kevin Smith Live!, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Sunday night. Two shows were scheduled, one at 6pm and one at 9pm. Smith wrote on Twitter that he cancelled the second performance and had he not, he ‘would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground!’”
“Time Warner’s Turner and Warner Bros. are focusing their movie-streaming firepower on one service for film buffs: FilmStruck.” Todd Spangler for Variety: “The corporate cousins reached a deal to stock Turner’s FilmStruck with more than 600 classic Hollywood films each month from the Warner Bros. library.” These “include many that have never been available on a subscription video-on-demand platform,” such as “Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause, Singin’ in the Rain, Citizen Kane, The Music Man, Bringing Up Baby, The Thin Man, Cat People, A Night at the Opera, An American in Paris, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
“The Weinstein Company said that it would file for bankruptcy following the collapse of sale talks with an investor group, extending the damage from sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, its co-owner and a onetime force in Hollywood.” Brooks Barnes reports for the New York Times.
“Lassie Lou Ahern, who has died aged ninety-seven, enjoyed a substantial career as a child actor in 1920s Hollywood, and was one of the last surviving performers from the silent film era,” writes Jeffrey Crouse for the Guardian. “She appeared in productions by independent producers (The Dark Angel for Samuel Goldwyn, Hell’s Highroad for Cecil B DeMille, Robes of Sin for William Russell, all in 1925), and features at major studios (John Ford’s now lost film Thank You and Excuse Me starring Norma Shearer, also 1925), before landing a contract with Universal in the mid-1920s. There, Ahern had her own dressing room with a star on the door. A clothing line was named after her (‘Lassie Lou Classics’), and her name and image were used to endorse such brands as Sunkist oranges, Buster Brown shoes and Jean Carol frocks.”
“Bud Luckey, the Oscar-nominated animator whose charming Sesame Street cartoons taught generations of children how to count and who is credited with coming up with the cowboy design for Woody of Toy Story, has died.” Rhett Bartlett for the Hollywood Reporter: “‘Bud Luckey is one of the true unsung heroes of animation,’ Pixar and Disney animation chief John Lasseter once said. ‘Bud helped design most of the films we’ve made from Toy Story [in 1995] onward. He was the fifth animator hired here at Pixar.’” Luckey was eighty-three.
The Austrian Film Museum has posted an audio recording of a 1977 Q&A session with James Benning conducted when the Forum presented 11 x 14 that summer (57’08”).
Jennifer Lawrence is Marc Maron’s guest on the WTF Podcast (73’18”). She says she expects to be working with David O. Russell again in the fall. Also, when it came time to watch Phantom Thread, she never made it past the first three minutes.
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.