Did You See This?

The Made and the Unmade

On Film / The Daily — Mar 1, 2019
Barbara Hammer in 1979

These are a few of the most intriguing items to have appeared in a week that’s fallen between the Oscars and the SXSW Film Festival, which opens next Friday.

  • Recent tributes to some of the major figures we’ve lost in the past few days and weeks include Mark Cousins’s and Peter Tonguette’s remembrances of Stanley Donan for Sight & Sound, José Teodoro’s appreciation of Bruno Ganz for Film Comment, and Amy Taubin’s farewell to Jonas Mekas in the new issue of Artforum. Just yesterday, we lost André Previn, the jazz pianist who wrote or arranged music for dozens of films and composed musicals, chamber pieces, and two operas. In a way, one wishes each of these artists were able to give an “exit interview,” as pioneering lesbian filmmaker Barbara Hammer has done for New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen. Seventy-nine and terminally ill, Hammer, with the help of her partner Florrie Burke, looks back on her coming out, her early struggles as an unknown artist, flirting with the idea of dying in a gallery, and her legacy, which includes an annual grant for lesbian experimental filmmakers. On Monday, we learned that her work will be included in this year’s Whitney Biennial.
  • A new restoration of Sátántangó (1994), Béla Tarr’s black-and-white, seven-and-a-half-hour opus in twelve parts, premiered at the Berlinale a few weeks ago. Having rewatched it, Tarr tells Greg Wetherall at Little White Lies that “honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.” Wetherall’s conversation with Tarr focuses on the stories behind the film, while Rory O’Connor’s interview for the Film Stage looks ahead to the future—which does not, for Tarr, include making films. “I think, after The Turin Horse, I cannot say anything,” Tarr tells O’Connor. “It was about the death of everything. The work is complete. Done.” Still, he carries on, and since the closure of his film school in Sarajevo, Tarr has turned to other art forms. He’s currently working on a piece for this summer’s Wiener Festwochen, “a mixture of the theater, installation, motion picture, plus live music.”
  • Pierre Rissient, whose work as a critic, filmmaker, producer, distributor, publicist, and talent scout defies a tidy job description—“Man of Cinema” is the one that’s stuck—passed away just before last year’s Cannes Film Festival. When Rissient read Kinda Hot, a chronicle of the making of Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack in Singapore, he reached out to author Ben Slater and the two became fast friends. That was over ten years ago, and now, Slater has spoken with a handful of Asian filmmakers about their memories of working, dining, strategizing, and shooting the breeze with Rissient. “When he gets mad, he explodes,” says Eric Khoo (Be With Me, Tatsumi). “But it was all about the work, he was so passionate.”
  • Neil Jordan has a new film opening today, Greta, which the New York TimesA. O. Scott calls “a skillfully executed psychological thriller with not quite enough in the way of psychology or thrills to be as disturbing or diverting as it should be. And maybe not enough Isabelle Huppert, either, though she is the major and almost sufficient reason to bother with the film in the first place.” The Irish filmmaker’s body of work is nonetheless so rich—Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, Michael Collins—that the list of projects that got away from him makes for an engaging read. At the Talkhouse, he writes about a “mad fantasy” he worked on with John Boorman, never realized adaptations of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and Robert Stone’s Children of Light, a children’s fantasy his daughters wanted him to make (“R-rated kid’s stuff, I suppose”), and of course, a follow-up to his 1994 hit, Interview with the Vampire. Tom Cruise simply did not want to revive Lestat.
  • List lovers are in luck as this week has given us three to spend time with this weekend. The staff at IndieWire has voted up and annotated a ten-page ranked list of the all-time top one hundred films directed by women. Among the filmmakers with more than one title to make the grade are Ida Lupino, Chantal Akerman, Agnès Varda, Claire Denis, Elaine May, Sofia Coppola, Lynne Ramsay, Kathryn Bigelow, and the late Penny Marshall. Contributors to Pitchfork have written about their top fifty soundtracks of all time, and designers Brandon Schaefer and Sam Smith discuss their favorite movie posters, fifty in all, on the latest episode of their Poster Boys podcast.

For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.