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Journals and Revivals

The Daily — Apr 26, 2019
Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring (1949)

Before we turn to some of the top reads and events of the week, let’s make note of the passing of a few figures who have been vital to the art and business of cinema. David V. Picker, an executive and producer who was instrumental in the launching of the James Bond franchise, died this past weekend at the age of eighty-seven. Picker also set up Richard Lester’s movies with the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965), as well as Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones (1963). Producer and talent manager Steve Golin, who guided such films to realization as David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich (1999), Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015), was sixty-four. “Steve was a warrior and a mensch, and that’s a rare combination,” writes McCarthy.

Editor Terry Rawlings, known for his work on Watership Down (1978), Alien (1979), Chariots of Fire (1981), and Blade Runner (1982), was eighty-five. France is mourning the loss of Jean-Pierre Marielle, the actor known for his work with Claude Chabrol, Bertrand Tavernier, and Patrice Leconte. He was eighty-seven. And the American Society of Cinematographers has marked the passing of inventor Jean-Pierre Beauviala, founder of the camera manufacturer Aaton, whose portable sync-sound cameras, notes director David Hollander, “enabled, even necessitated, a new kind of filmmaker and new kinds of films—nouvelle vague, direct cinema, cinéma vérité. Films by artists. Film as art.”

  • The new issue of Screening the Past features in-depth essays on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), the work of John Carpenter (who’ll be receiving the Directors’ Fortnight’s Golden Coach award on May 15), and the criticism of V. F. Perkins as well as Jacob Leigh’s analysis of Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Autumn (1960), “a comedy of manners, one which exposes foibles and follies with sympathy.” Leigh contrasts the film with Ozu’s Late Spring (1949), an earlier version of a similar story of arranged marriage. Writing about Late Spring for Indiana University, and specifically about the famous sequence in which Setsuko Hara rides a bicycle along a seaside road, Jack Miller observes that “rarely has form embodied meaning with such exquisite delicacy and warmth of feeling.”
  • Capital is the theme of the new issue of cléo. As managing editor Mallory Andrews puts it, contributors “consider the ways systems of oppression feed into capitalism and how it manifests in (or how it can be challenged by) film.” Films addressed in this issue range from Margot Benacerraf’s Araya (1959) and Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha (1974) to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? from last year. Fireflies coeditor Annabel Brady-Brown talks with Valérie Massadian about her award-winning 2017 film Milla, while Michelle Kay interviews critic and Shirkers director Sandi Tan.
  • Roberto Gavaldón: Night Falls in Mexico, the thirteen-film retrospective running at the Museum of Modern Art through May 5, “sheds light not only on Gavaldón’s supreme craft and visceral storytelling but also his profoundly pessimistic vision,” writes Ela Bittencourt for the Notebook. “Visually,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Artforum, “the Gavaldón of the 1940s may appear as a peer to the German-American practitioners of noir style, but there is a raw and extravagant emotionalism at the core of his ciné negro.
  • Starting tonight, BAM is presenting a weeklong run of a new 4K restoration of what it’s calling a “lost underground classic,” Nina Menkes’s Queen of Diamonds (1991), in which the director’s sister, Tinka Menkes, plays a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. Menkes “offers a trance-inducing tour of an overdeveloped city—a stand-in for our overdeveloped country—by fixing her camera precisely on the castoffs of conspicuous consumption,” writes Sarah Resnick for 4Columns. “Queen of Diamonds shares not only the formal sophistication and structural rigor of Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) and Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman (1975) but also their themes: female alienation and the ways that passivity, muteness, and a refusal to engage can serve as forms of resistance to patriarchal oppression.” For Glenn Kenny, writing in the New York Times, “even at a terse seventy-six minutes, Queen of Diamonds is not an easy film. But it’s an essential one.”

  • Another new restoration opens in New York today, Hyenas, the 1992 adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit by Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty. The story of a woman who offers to rescue her village from poverty in exchange for the murder of the man who impregnated her is “filled with what Mambéty called ‘anti-colonialist laughter,’” notes Craig Hubert at Hyperallergic, “which, in the end, is ‘ultimately laughter at oneself.’” In 1995, Jonathan Rosenbaum suggested that “Mambéty’s subject as well as Dürrenmatt’s becomes the transformation of social will as a function of imagination rather than simple greed.” The Metrograph, which is presenting Hyenas through Wednesday, has posted an interview with Mambéty that N. Frank Ukadike conducted when the director was still planning to complete a trilogy begun with Touki Bouki (1973) and Hyenas. He died in 1998 before he was able to make Malaika, a film “about the power of craziness.”

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