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Histories and Debates

On Film / The Daily — Oct 5, 2018
Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–1998)

It’s been a busy week on what Dave Kehr has called “the lost continent of cinephilia.” We’re about halfway into this year’s New York Film Festival and, as Manohla Dargis writes in the New York Times, the second half promises “some of the best—as well as some of the most inspiring, confounding and maddening—movies of the year.” The past seven days have also seen new issues from Cinema Scope, opening with an in-depth conversation with Mariano Llinás about his fourteen-hour episodic film, La flor; Senses of Cinema, with a special dossier arguing for the vitality of the generation of French filmmakers that followed the New Wave; and Film-Philosophy, featuring essays on Sergei Parajanov, Luis Buñuel, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa, among others. 

Here are five more of the week’s highlights:

  • A perfect read in the run-up to the NYFF’s presentation of Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book on Wednesday would be Adrian Martin’s “skeleton key” to Godard’s multi-part audiovisual essay, Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–1998). On the one hand, as Martin proposes at Sabzian, it was “prophetically made, in a sense, for our digital, twenty-first century age of viewing—because we have the freedom to watch it in small doses, and go back over it repeatedly.” On the other, “Godard wants you to feel the work, to intuit what you can, to let it wash over you. This is another aspect of its nature as one vast poem, rather than a strictly intellectual thesis.”
  • In a widely discussed essay for the New York Times Magazine, Wesley Morris argues that our current moment finds us “talking less about whether a work is good art but simply whether it’s good—good for us, good for the culture, good for the world.” And in another article about this issue, Katherine Fusco in Public Books asks filmmaker Anna Biller her about debating feminism and movies on Twitter with allies and trolls alike—and about Lili Loofbourow’s recent essay for the Virginia Quarterly Review, “The Male Glance.”
  • For the Guardian, producer Stephen Woolley (The Crying Game, Carol, On Chesil Beach) looks back on his days in the late 1970s and early ’80s as programming manager of the Scala movie theater, where Londoners could find “Klaus Kinski rubbing shoulders with John Wayne, Judy Garland linking hands with Toshiro Mifune, and Rock Rock Rock! sharing time with The Battle of Chile.
  • Monday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh. “The shock of the new is long gone,” writes Rolling Stone’s David Fear. “The shock itself, however, remains.”
  • Opening a career-spanning conversation with Richard Linklater for the DGA Quarterly, Robert Koehler notes that Linklater taught himself how to direct. “How hard was that to do?” he asks. “Hard,” Linklater replies, “but a fun way to spend your life.”

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