Did You See This?

Pioneers and Paradoxes

Ida Lupino

Awards season looms, and yesterday’s announcement of the nominations for the 2018 Cinema Eye Honors, celebrating “outstanding artistry and craft in nonfiction film” (Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap leads with seven), and tomorrow’s round of nominations for this year’s European Film Awards, not to mention the sneak peeks at ballots currently being submitted to critics’ polls, are this week’s clearest signs. In the meantime, here’s some of the best reading of the past seven days.

  • Hollywood actress and pioneering independent director, writer, and producer Ida Lupino would have turned 100 this year, and two series, one in New York, the other in Nashville, are marking the centenary. As 4Columns film editor Melissa Anderson notes, Lupino directed “socially conscious melodramas” such as Outrage (1950) and “lean noirs” like The Hitch-Hiker (1953), but Anderson’s personal favorite is The Bigamist (1953), a “remarkably complex . . . hybrid of both genres—call it a melo-noir.”
  • David Bordwell has posted a revised version of his 2009 essay on critic and theorist André Bazin. “Besides his effort to analyze and explain film style,” he writes, “Bazin proved truly pioneering in examining new strategies of narrative construction that arose in the postwar period.”
  • In the run-up to next week’s publication of The Earth Dies Streaming, a collection of film criticism that A. S. Hamrah has written for n+1, The Baffler, Bookforum, and other publications, Hamrah will introduce tomorrow’s screening of John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars (2001) at New York’s Metrograph and then, on Sunday, take part in a conversation with Lili Anolik, author of the forthcoming book, Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. As a foretaste, n+1 has posted a round of fifty short pieces Hamrah wrote about ten years ago on films by Godard, Naruse, Kiarostami, Elaine May, Barbara Loden, and dozens more. “Only in Hollywood could somebody’s innocence be touted as shock,” he writes in his capsule review of Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950). And Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984) “captures what in retrospect turned out to be a last moment of unbranded American reality.”
  • Killing Eve, in which a spy (Sandra Oh) and an assassin (Jodie Comer) play a dangerous and flirtatious game of cat and mouse, has been one of the television highlights of the year. If you agree, you’ll enjoy Alice Spawls’s appreciation of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s series in the London Review of Books. “Reversing the usual gender roles does a good deal, and Killing Eve makes the most of it,” she writes. “It’s sensuality rather than sex; we don’t see very much action, though there’s a kind of pornography in watching a man who calls his girlfriend ‘pumpkin’ get machine-gunned to death.”
  • MUBI’s Notebook has been on a roll all week. Sucheta Chakraborty has explored Guru Dutt’s “somewhat ambiguous” place in the history of Indian cinema, programmer Eric Hatch has declared that his “cinephilic thermometer is running hotter than ever,” Gustavo Beck has interviewed Pordenone Silent Film Festival artistic director Jay Weissberg, and today, Adrian Martin writes about the “richly paradoxical” work of F. J. Ossang, “a true product of the cosmopolitan Punk Nihilism of the 1970s. His various artistic manifestations never cease blaring the imminence of The End, admitting that all struggle against sinister State powers is hopeless, and despairing that any genuine individualism is fated to be snuffed out by the System. Yet, at the same time, the poetic force and energy of his expression overrule this pervasive negativity.”

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