Prentiss, Iannucci, and More

After Paula Prentiss, who’s recently turned eighty, had a nervous breakdown on the set of What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), she “didn’t turn up in another movie until Mike Nichols’s Catch-22 (1970), by which time Hollywood had changed to the point of near-unrecognizability,” writes Tom Carson in the Village Voice. “More unobtrusively, so had Prentiss. Unexpectedly, the waywardly charming, almost accidentally sexy comedienne of yore looked right at home in the disillusioned, acrid, incipiently paranoid milieu that’s the hallmark of Seventies American filmmaking. So her fans are left with two fairly small clusters of movies with almost nothing in common except Paula Prentiss’s presence, making her a weirdly talismanic oddity in Hollywood history. Most of us admire the Seventies edition, but dote on the Sixties one—and yet it’s also possible to see them as looking-glass halves of the same story.”

“The Russian minister of culture has banned my new movie, The Death of Stalin,” writes Armando Iannucci in the New York Times. “It’s amazing to me that in 2018 people still think censorship works. A poll last month in Russia found that most respondents knew about my film primarily because it had been banned. . . . There’s something rather mid-20th century about censorship.” But social media has democratized censorship. It’s “the 21st-century weapon that gives users every opportunity to block, unfollow and report anything that makes us uncomfortable.” And: “If we don’t allow for other opinions, then little by little we grow resistant to democracy.”

For the Voice,Lara Zarum interviews Iannucci, who’s “also the creator of the BBC political satire The Thick of It, the writer/director of the 2009 comedy In the Loop, and the co-creator of the Steve Coogan character Alan Partridge, who will be returning to the BBC in 2018 with a new series, This Time With Alan Partridge. Iannucci’s next project is a feature adaptation of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. After more than a decade mining comedy from the bottomless well of bumbling, spineless, corrupt politicians, the 54-year-old is happy to be moving on, particularly now: ‘With the advent of Trump, I’m kind of relieved I’d made that move, because I think any attempt to fictionalize what’s happening is never going to be as absurd as what’s happening.’”

In the new Brooklyn Rail:

  • Jesse Cumming talks with Pedro Pinho about The Nothing Factory, a film that’s “beautifully shaggy and unpredictable, with various digressions and interludes that never dull its Marxist core—be sure to stick around for the astonishing musical sequence.”
  • Swagato Chakravorty writes about the work of Anthony McCall, “one of the leading figures of expanded cinema.”
  • Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa talks with Irene Lusztig and Julie Wyman about FEMEXFILMARCHIVE, a site that “houses a collection of interviews between established experimental filmmakers and undergraduate film students.”
  • Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf “engages meaningfully with a character’s misogyny, or with everyday iconography, or with drug dependence and overdose, without any one element overpowering the work or the characters,” writes Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli.

Writing about three recent features by Jon Jost, Jonathan Rosenbaum finds the filmmaker moving away from one of his primary themes, “the tragic story of American men, some of them patriarchal, others simply burnt-out cases, losing their all-American souls.”

“Direct Cinema filmmakers may use a seemingly more ‘pure’ filming approach, but it’s always a means to put forth the subjective point of view of a ‘biased’ individual filmmaker or group of filmmakers,” writes Brian Darr. “Perhaps a film like [Peter Davis’s] Hearts and Minds [1974] which wears its political persuasion on its sleeve is more honest and, in a way, less dangerous for the discourse about objective journalism, than is a film which one way or another tries to conceal or be subtle about its maker’s intentions.”

Kim Minhee’s relationship with Hong Sangsoo “has boosted Kim’s global art-house credibility while turning her into a pariah back home,” writes Donnie Kwak at the Ringer. “Have the repercussions of the scandal put a ceiling on how far she can go?”

“Stanley Kubrick was known to have said that he was not really a Jew, he just happened to have two Jewish parents,” writes Nathan Abrams for the Conversation. “But though he may have tried to divert from this fact, Kubrick . . . was born and died a Jew, and Jewishness threads through and underpins all thirteen of his films.”

And for the Guardian,Phil Hoad talks about the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) with Keir Dullea, who played Dave Bowman, and visual effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull.

Serial Mom (1994) is one of John Waters’s “most personal and autobiographical works,” writes Nathanael Hood in the Notebook. “Not only has Waters repeatedly called the film one of his best, it captures better than any of his other movies save maybe Female Trouble the central thesis of his work: in America infamy and fame are the same thing.

For Filmmaker,Jesse Cumming talks with Valeska Grisebach about Western, “the setting and context of her exercise in genre, and the challenges of negotiating such iconic terrain.”

At the Film Stage, Christopher Schobert presents a round of recommendations, recently released books on Guillermo del Toro, Jean-Luc Godard, and more.


For the BFI, Matthew Thrift writes up a list of ten “essential films” directed by Raoul Walsh. “One of the true masters of the golden age of Hollywood cinema, his is a name that stands with John Ford, Howard Hawks and William Wellmann, those purveyors and interrogators of living and loving, action and adventure, masculinity and bravado.”

From the staff at IndieWire comes a list of five “Neo-Noir gems (both beloved and obscure) that helped bring the genre out of the shadows and into the modern era.” And you can watch all five at FilmStruck.

Goings On

San Francisco.SFFILM announced today the five titles that will comprise its 2018 Launch Program, an initiative intending to highlight for the industry a select group of world-premiering films drawn from different sections of the San Francisco International Film Festival.” Filmmaker’s Scott Macaulay has the titles and synopses.

Austin. With the of the SXSW Film Festival and Conference in full swing, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn talks with Janet Pierson about some of her favorite moments of these past ten years that she’s been director.

Champaign, Illinois.Chaz Ebert is “thrilled to announce that Ava DuVernay, Julie Dash and Amma Asante, these Three Queens of Cinema, will grace our Ebertfest Film Festival” from April 18 through 22.

For more goings on, see the entry posted earlier today.

In the Works

With reviews of Ready Player One just now coming in, Variety’s Justin Kroll and Brent Lang reported on Friday that Steven Spielberg recently oversaw a “super-secret table read” of “an untitled biopic of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Coincidentally, Bernstein wrote the music for West Side Story, which Spielberg is also considering taking on as a follow-up after Indiana Jones 5.

As Jordan Ruimy reports at the Playlist, Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), speaking to a packed house in Quebec recently, “dropped a quick update on his forthcoming Dune adaptation. ‘Dune will probably take two years to make,’ the director said. ‘The goal is to make two films, maybe more.’ Do we have potential series or franchise on our hands? This ambitious film just got a little more complex.”

Alejandro Jodorowsky has turned once again to crowdfunding to finance his next project, Psychomagic, an art that heals, which aims to be “the most complete film on [his] therapeutic work.”

The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper and Dafne Keen, the breakout star of Marvel’s Logan, have signed for the big-budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy epic His Dark Materials” as an eight-part series, report Peter White and Andreas Wiseman for Deadline.

“Paolo Sorrentino has decided to split his film Loro, about media magnate-turned-politician Silvio Berlusconi, into two parts, the first of which looks set for release in Italy by Universal in late April, ahead of the Cannes Film Festival,” reports Variety’s Nick Vivarelli.

Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) will direct Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren in The Good Liar, reports Deadline’s Patrick Hipes. Adapted from Nicholas Searle’s debut novel, the story focuses on “career con artist Roy Courtnay (McKellen), who can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.”

Black Panther has made more than a billion dollars and topped the box office four weekends in a row, which is to say that a sequel seems like a foregone conclusion—especially since it’s a Marvel movie.” Michael Nordine for IndieWire: “Nothing’s official until it’s official, however, and studio head Kevin Feige has just said that ‘we absolutely will’ make a second Black Panther film.”


“Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier and nobleman who upheld a standard of quintessentially romantic elegance in fashion for more than four decades, dressing the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly and memorably Audrey Hepburn, in a little black dress, in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, died on Saturday,” reports Eric Wilson for the New York Times. He was ninety-one.

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