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Surveys and Assessments

On Film / The Daily — Apr 5, 2019
Bob Fosse leads a rehearsal

Claire Denis was named head of the Short Films and Cinéfondation Jury of the seventy-second Cannes Film Festival today. This follows last month’s announcements that Nadine Labaki will preside over the Un Certain Regard Jury and that Alejandro González Iñárritu will head the International Jury that awards the Palme d’Or. While we await the unveiling of the full Cannes lineup on April 18, rumors as to what’s in and what’s out carry on rumbling along. Word that Terrence Malick has changed the name of his Second World War drama from Radegund to A Hidden Life suggests that the feature shot in 2016 may finally be ready to roll. And the trailer for Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die holds out the potential for a star-studded red carpet: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, and Tom Waits.

Both the Critics’ Week and the Directors’ Fortnight, in the meantime, have unveiled posters for this year’s editions, and as Fabien Lemercier reports for Cineuropa, the Fortnight has selected its opening night film. Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin stars Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel in the story of a man who “drops everything overnight in order to buy the 100% suede jacket of his dreams. It’s a purchase that will cost him all of his life savings and will snowball into an obsession.”

On to this week’s highlights:

  • Next week sees the premiere of the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon, with Sam Rockwell as the maniacally driven dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as his professional and romantic partner, the actress and dancer Gwen Verdon. “Early reviews of the first two episodes are mixed but everyone’s in the bag for Williams,” notes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The volatile relationship—Fosse and Verdon married, then separated, but never divorced—was “a great romance and a career-making collaboration” but also “a lifelong cycle of betrayal and self-recrimination that would source the worst of Fosse’s anguish, and power some of his best work,” writes Alexandra Molotkow in an outstanding assessment of Fosse’s work for Hazlitt. At one point, she observes that “Chicago’s premise—two murderous showgirls attempt to game the justice system by turning their trials into media spectacle—was a transposition of Fosse’s MO, and foreshadowed what All That Jazz would do in earnest: convert his moral failings into theater.”
  • In “Buster Keaton: Anarchitect,” a piece for Lapsus Lima, Will Jennings argues that, in contrast to Charlie Chaplin, Keaton “can be read as an artist interested in spatial rather than social relationships.” Favoring wide shots over close-ups not only enabled Keaton “to show the audience that his actions were performed in real-time—and real-place” but also “allowed him to visually explore the many ways in which his body could engage with the urban form.”
  • There’s an Aki Kaurismäki retrospective on at New York’s Metrograph through Thursday. While one of the best essays on the films remains the piece Girish Shambu wrote for the TIFF Cinematheque in 2017, you won’t find a sweeter appreciation than the brief mash note at the Talkhouse from filmmaker Azazel Jacobs. “Kaurismäki’s style inherently recognizes the lie in art—and perhaps especially in film—in its search for greater truth,” he writes. “I’m gushing, but how else express my feelings for his work?”
  • Last year, Matthew Eng and Allison Rhone put together an annotated list for Tribeca of over sixty “superb film performances by black actresses from different countries, eras, and industries.” This year, Eng has followed up with a guide to more than fifty “essential, underrated, and flat-out extraordinary films helmed by black women directors.”
  • The centerpiece of London’s inaugural Taiwan Film Festival, currently running through April 14, is a retrospective of work by Tsai Ming-liang, who’ll be delivering a master class at the Tate Modern on Sunday. Steve Rose, who’s spoken with Tsai for the Guardian, describes the hour-long experience of The Deserted, an 8K VR presentation. “Free of dialogue and narrative, it is set in a derelict, overgrown apartment block in the Taiwanese countryside, occupied by a man with neck pains, and what could be the ghosts of his mother and wife, and a large, white pet fish,” he writes. “The viewer becomes an invisible spectator to this surreal domestic tableau.” Tsai tells Rose that his work currently appeals mostly to people in their teens and twenties. “They have no baggage about ‘what is film?’”

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