Venice and Telluride are underway, and we’ve gathered a round of early reviews of Damien Chazelle’s First Man, currently screening at both festivals before it heads to Toronto next week. David Bordwell has since chimed in, calling this portrait of Neil Armstrong as he makes his personal and professional journey to the moon “another exciting achievement by one of the most ambitious directors working today.” We’ll be tracking initial critical reaction to several major premieres throughout this Labor Day weekend, so look for fresh overviews in the coming days. In the meantime, for a break from the festival coverage, here are five highlights of the past week.
- In an outstanding piece for Hazlitt, Erica X Eisen argues that the thwarted career of Japanese actress Eiko Matsuda is an exemplary illustration of sexism in the film industry. By the time Nagisa Oshima died in 2013, “her unforgettable performance in In the Realm of the Senses had become an instantly recognizable metonym for the height of Oshima’s directing powers but left no room for a consideration of the performer herself.”
- The new Fall 2018 issue of Cineaste is out, and the magazine has posted samples from the print edition along with a few online exclusives. The must-read among them is Clarence Tsui’s survey of “The Other 1968s,” in which he argues that the landmark year was “more than just a mythical, month-long manifestation of eroticism, ennui, and existential crises by the Seine. . . . Activists, artists, and filmmakers had demanded the overthrow of the established social order in Japan, West Germany, and Mexico well before their French counterparts did—and it’s perhaps about time that this was acknowledged on screens large and small across Paris.”
- Also online is Cineaste editor Richard Porton’s full interview with Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, whose The Raspberry Reich (2004) and The Misandrists (2017) “tackle the foibles of left-wing sexual liberationists with a tongue-in-cheek, campy aesthetic that suggests an anarcho-punk reworking of Paul Morrissey, John Waters, Russ Meyer, and Rosa von Praunheim’s preoccupations,” as Porton writes in his introduction. LaBruce writes a semi-regular column for Talkhouse in which he inducts a film into his personal “Academy of the Underrated.” In his latest, he argues that, in the mid-1970s, Jodie Foster “negotiated the heretofore undiscovered territory between a decidedly butch, proto-lesbian tween and the disconcerting prepubescent femme fatale of Bugsy Malone and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (both 1976), the latter film most successfully investigating this seemingly unresolvable dialectic.”
- In an essay for Bright Lights Film Journal, Daniel Riccuito and David Cairns examine the “demented enthusiasm for woman-killing evinced by Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, et al. . . . Like a river of blood, homophobia, in the literal meaning of fear rather than hatred, runs through the genre. Lesbians are sinister and gay men barely exist. As we try to work out what in hell the giallo is really up to, little dabs of dime-store Freudianism seem sufficient.”
- Enigmatic English actor Terence Stamp turned eighty last month, and at the Quietus, Brian Raven Ehrenpreis has a wide-ranging conversation with him about his memoir, The Ocean Fell into the Drop, his admiration for Gary Cooper, his work with directors ranging from Peter Ustinov and William Wyler to Ken Loach, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Steven Soderbergh, and also not taking over the role of James Bond from Sean Connery and not making the film with Orson Welles that they’d discussed one evening in Spain. The man has stories to tell.
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