“This was a singular experience,” writes novelist Walter Mosley, who’s revisited Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night (1967) and turns in a powerful piece in the Hollywood Reporter. On the one hand, the “belief in the North as the savior of the South in general, and of black people specifically, is a fallacy. Racism pervades the entire U.S.; it always has. . . . I can't blame a fifty-one-year-old movie for not understanding a concept that many today still cannot comprehend.”
On the other:
In the Heat of the Night is as much a part of American lore as any book or poem, racist superstition or anthem. It is the descendant of the institution of slavery, the Civil War, the cotton fibers in our clothes and that unique American notion that anything, anything, can be bought and sold. This film's roots are firmly embedded in the spiritual soil of a country that has tried and failed again and again to detach itself from the clutch of an evil that taints not only our history but the chronicles of the entire world.
Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) “practically seems pre-engineered to provoke debate in the post-Weinstein world,” writes Steven Kurutz in the New York Times. “But as Lisa Schwarzbaum, the former movie critic for Entertainment Weekly, pointed out in an email interview, ‘Manhattan was always about a middle-aged man with a high school girlfriend. Back then, Manhattan was made by Woody the Lovable Neurotic Nebbish, and now it has been made by Allen the Monster. And it’s the same movie.’” So: “Why was Manhattan for decades a movie that men and women enjoyed watching together?”
Film Comment has posted an excerpt from a new translation of a dispatch from the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony for the Argentine daily Los Andes by Antonio di Benedetto, author of Zama. He was not impressed. “It’s believed that this is one of the roads to fame. Rita Moreno, who won in 1962 for West Side Story, is without work.”
“Jennifer Lawrence is the emblematic performer of current screen dystopias,” writes Melissa Anderson at the top of her review of Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow, “a joyless genre exercise,” for 4Columns.
For Film Quarterly, Nicholas Baer talks with Catherine Russell about her book Archiveology: Walter Benjamin and Archival Film Practices: “The only real ‘debate’ in which I think the book engages is the discussion of cinephilia as a ‘subjective’ approach to film texts, as promoted by Christian Keathley. Following the late Paul Willemen, I prefer to think of cinephilia as a productive and critical methodology through which film and media texts can be reframed to produce new meanings and sensory access to history. Media history in this sense is not mediated history, but history itself.”
Dipping into his own archives, Adrian Martin’s posted a short piece on Keja Ho Kramer and Stephen Dwoskin’s I’ll Be Your Eyes, You’ll Be Mine (2006), a review of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality (2013), a 1995 piece on Margot Nash and Vacant Possession (1995), another on Nash’s Call Me Mum (2006), and a new review of Rouzbeh Rashidi’s Phantom Islands.
“Among the most resonant structural options available to storytellers is ‘mirroring’, a process by which scenes, locations, activities, characters, images or passages of dialogue duplicate each other, suggesting that seemingly discrete elements have more in common than might initially be evident.” In his latest column for Sight & Sound, Brad Stevens focuses on the work of Jane Campion, “especially notable for her creative use of doubling.”
For a story in Newcity, Ray Pride has spent several days at the Kartemquin Films headquarters in Chicago, and one day in particular brought together Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail), Kartemquin co-founder and artistic director Gordon Quinn, and executive director Betsy Steinberg, among others. “We talk for a couple of hours about minutiae of the operation . . . but woven into every response and reflection are echoes of the goals of social engagement and nonfiction artistry contained in fifty-two years and sixty-five productions, with eleven more officially in development or production.”
Talking to Melena Ryzik of the New York Times, Ava DuVernay explains why making A Wrinkle in Time took on an unexpected and profoundly personal resonance.
For the Japan Times, Mark Schilling talks with Kazuo Hara (The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On) about his return to documentary filmmaking after fourteen years with Sennan Asbestos Disaster.
In Other News
Screen reports that the French Directors Guild (Société des Réalisateurs) has selected programmer Paolo Moretti to replace Edouard Waintrop as delegate general of Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), the independent program running parallel to the Cannes Film Festival.
Paramount has dedicated its Dressing Room building to Dorothy Arzner, “who to this day continues to count the most directing credits at twenty for any female director,” reports Anthony D’Alessandro for Deadline. Francis Ford Coppola, “a student of Arzner’s when she taught at the UCLA Film School,” spoke at Thursday’s ceremony: “She was salty and sort of tough, but had a heart as big as the world.”
In the Works
Screenwriter Richard Curtis (Notting Hill) is working on an as-yet-untitled comedy for Danny Boyle to direct, reports Variety’s Justin Kroll. Just last week, Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. confirmed Kroll’s story on Boyle being in the running to direct the next James Bond movie, adding that the director is currently working on the project with Trainspotting screenwriter John Hodge.
Also, Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o will co-star in a feature just picked up by TriStar Pictures. “Inspired by true events that took place in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, The Woman King tells the story of Nanisca (Davis), general of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.”
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Loveless) is joining the stampede of directors to television, signing up for a “a dramatic thriller series . . . set in contemporary Moscow,” reports Anthony D’Alessandro for Deadline.
“Various filmmakers have attempted to film adaptations of Charles Burns’s award-winning comic book series Black Hole since at least 2005, with David Fincher putting forward a serious attempt in 2008 that would’ve used a new draft of a script originally written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary,” writes Sam Barsanti at the A.V. Club. “That never happened.” Now, as Dave McNary reports for Variety, Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) will write and direct an adaptation. “Black Hole is set in the Pacific Northwest during the 1970s and follows a group of high schoolers who contract a mysterious, apparently sexually transmitted disease known as ‘The Bug.’ As this syndrome causes unique physical mutations, their community struggles to cope with the emotional and psychological disruption.”
Under the Silver Lake, David Robert Mitchell’s first feature after It Follows (2014), has a release date: June 22. IndieWire’s Zack Sharf notes that the neo-noir crime thriller stars Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, and Topher Grace.
“Mudbound and Black Panther cinematographer Rachel Morrison and songwriter Diane Warren, both up for Oscars on Sunday, have boarded the untitled documentary being helmed by Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick about the #MeToo movement and Hollywood,” reports Deadline’s Patrick Hipes.
On the new Talkhouse Podcast (44’05”), Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men), Eliza Hittman (Beach Rats), Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), and Tom Kalin (Savage Grace) discuss this year’s Oscar race. Really.
Episode 17 of the Switchblade Sisters features host April Wolfe discussing Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) with filmmaker Leigh Janiak (48’28”).
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