Did You See This?

“Looking for New Sorts of Utopias”

Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1963)

The week began with a thunderclap of an announcement from the independent label 4AD. Scott Walker—a pop star in the 1960s, and decades later, the creator of some of the most monumental music of the twenty-first century—was gone. He was seventy-six. Stephen Kijak’s 2006 documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man features interviews with an illustrious roster of admirers: David Bowie, Brian Eno, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Alison Goldfrapp, the list goes on. Introducing a playlist for Film Comment in 2016, Margaret Barton-Fumo noted that Walker’s “primary influence, which he has often cited, is not music but the cinema, his ‘first love’ and the reason why he continues to ‘think in images’ when he writes music.”

Walker not only scored Leos Carax’s Pola X (1999) and Brady Corbet’s Childhood of a Leader (2015) and Vox Lux (2018), he also curated the occasional series of screenings. The BFI has posted his selections for the Meltdown Festival in 2000 (Dreyer and Bresson, two of his favorites, plus Visconti, Godard, Rossellini), and Nick Wrigley has tweeted a copy of an article Walker wrote for the Independent when he programmed a season for the Ritzy cinema in London in 2007. “I’m forever indebted to cinema,” wrote Walker. “Now and then I’ve found myself wandering aimlessly in dark towns or cities rather like those depicted by Kaurismäki, have turned a corner, and there was salvation looming before me in the form of a movie house.”

Some of the brighter highlights of the past seven days:

  • Senses of Cinema opens its ninetieth issue with a dossier on Valérie Massadian (Nana, Milla), a filmmaker who “demands justice to the world and from the world,” as John Edmond and Maura Edmond write in their introduction. The new issue also features Jeremi Szaniawski’s assessment of the legacy of Stanley Kubrick, interviews with Valeska Grisebach,Ying Liang, and Jennifer Reeder, essays on Guillermo del Toro and Cédric Klapisch, and of course, the latest festival reports and book reviews.
  • Chris Marker “kept returning, across the vast body of films, writings, photographs, and multimedia projects he produced between the 1940s and his death in 2012, to the matter of what it meant to live a happy life,” writes Max Nelson in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. In his exceptional primer on the life and work, Nelson argues that Marker “was looking for new sorts of utopias.”
  • The idea that 1999 was a stellar year for American cinema has taken hold. Contributors to the Ringer have spent the week looking back on a number of films turning twenty this year, including Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, David Fincher’s Fight Club, Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, Michael Mann’s The Insider, Roger Kumble’s Cruel Intentions, and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project. In the New York Times, Ilana Kaplan argues for the “continued relevance” of 10 Things I Hate About You and talks with the cast and director Gil Junger. And then, of course, there’s The Matrix. Mark Salisbury (BFI) and Scott Tobias (Guardian) consider the film’s impact on science fiction, and in light of Cáel M. Keegan’s new book Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender, Caden Mark Gardner, writing for the Notebook, posits that The Matrix “can be read allegorically and aesthetically as a film about transness.”
  • Diane, a triple award winner at Tribeca last year and the debut narrative feature by the inestimable critic and New York Film Festival director Kent Jones, “is in part a meditation on dying that feels wondrously alive,” writes Jeannette Catsoulis in the New York Times. Jones is Bill Ackerman’s latest guest on his Supporting Characters podcast, and over the course of two and a half hours, they discuss: “William Wyler, collaborating with Martin Scorsese on documentaries like My Voyage to Italy and A Letter to Elia, programming at venues like Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, moderating Q&As, Jean-Luc Godard, Netflix, John Ford, Elia Kazan, Manny Farber, Zodiac, New Video, Monte Hellman, and the importance of costume designers.”

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