Did You See This?

“Nobody Knows Anything”

On Film / The Daily — Nov 16, 2018
Alfonso Cuarón with Yalitza Aparicio on the set of Roma (2018)

From Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. comes word that William Goldman, novelist (The Princess Bride) and screenwriter (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men), passed away last night at the age of eighty-seven. Goldman’s memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade “was a primer for wannabe screenwriters and for journalists covering them,” writes Fleming. “When I first got to Variety about thirty years ago, veteran reporters there told me that was the best book to understand the chaos, randomness, the headaches, futility, and joy of the movie business. Goldman is probably best known for his apt description of Hollywood: ‘Nobody knows anything.’”

We’ve also lost Richard Lormand, a publicist and occasional producer who championed the work of Maren Ade, Lav Diaz, Christian Petzold, Takashi Miike, Lucrecia Martel, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, among so many others. For many, his was a favorite face to spot on the festival circuit. “The announcement of his film slate would always begin with the endearing salutation ‘Bonjour Film Lovers’ before floridly and convincingly explaining why we should watch a new voice from far-flung corners of the Earth,” writes Kaleem Aftab for Screen. “Invariably he was right.”

For uplift, let’s turn to five of the highlights of this past week:

  • Two critics vital to the development of film culture are in the spotlight today. Since 2005, Laurent Kretzschmar has been translating the work of Serge Daney, who wrote for Cahiers du cinéma from the mid-1960s through the 1970s before moving on to Libération. Today, Kretzschmar’s posted an essay from 1978 in which Daney first toyed with the idea of the passeur as a term that would define his role as a critic. And for the Guardian, Ryan Gilbey looks back on the impact of V. F. Perkins, a founding editor of the British journal Movie and the author of Film as Film. “Perkins taught us not to ignore our emotional responses to film but to interrogate them,” writes Gilbey.
  • This coming Tuesday, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam will host the world premiere of the new reconstruction of Man with a Movie Camera director Dziga Vertov’s first full-length film, Anniversary of the Revolution (1918), featuring Trotsky delivering fiery speeches, mass gatherings in the streets, and idyllic collective farms. For Variety, Damon Wise talks with film historian Nikolai Izvolov, part of the team that’s overseen the reassembly. Izvolov suggests that Anniversary marked “the birth of a genre of films that later the famous American film historian Jay Leyda called ‘compilation films.’”
  • The new issue of [in]Transition, “the first peer-reviewed academic journal of videographic film and moving image studies,” presents four new audiovisual essays, including one from Marc Francis that reframes William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) via Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance. Before leaving philosophy for the next item, let me drop a reminder that the complete archives of the journal Radical Philosophy, dating back to the spring of 1972, are freely accessible. Run a search for “cinema,” and you’ll find essays on Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, Chris Marker, and much more.
  • Last week found us eagerly anticipating the premiere of Amazing Grace, a documentary shot in 1972 that captured the live recording of Aretha Franklin’s best-selling album at a Baptist church in Los Angeles. The reviews are in now, and they’re borderline ecstatic. Noting that Franklin had blocked the release of the film for decades, the New York TimesWesley Morris finds that “whatever qualms one might have about disobeying the Queen of Soul, clamoring to see this movie never feels like an act of disrespect. It feels like an act of worship and a trip to the moon.” It’s also “two days of Baptist church condensed to ninety minutes and injected directly into your soul,” writes Odie Henderson at RogerEbert.com. For more, see Bilge Ebiri (Vulture) and Elias Leight (Rolling Stone).
  • It may be mid-November, but Time’s Stephanie Zacharek has already written up a list of her favorite films of the year. Topping her ten is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, “an ode to the power of memory, as intimate as a whisper and as vital as the roar of the sea.” And nonprofessional actor Yalitza Aparicio, who plays the lead, delivers Zacharek’s #1 performance of 2018. For Vulture, Keith Phipps looks back to the roots of Cuarón’s career, to the late 1980s, when he, Guillermo del Toro, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki were among the budding filmmakers working on La Hora Marcada, a “Twilight Zone–like horror anthology” series for Mexican television. Phipps focuses on one of the six episodes Cuarón directed, an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1974 short story, “Sometimes They Come Back.”

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