Did You See This?

New Cinema Scope and Old Polaroids

Detail from a Polaroid taken by Robby Müller in Austin, Texas, in 1979

The week began with an announcement from the Venice Film Festival that’s been met with a resounding “Yes!” all across social media. Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (La Ciénaga, The Headless Woman, Zama) will preside over the jury of the seventy-sixth edition running August 28 through September 7. And the week has wrapped with a fine package of weekend reading: a new issue of Cinema Scope. Among the articles freely accessible online are Adam Cook’s review of Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’or winner, Parasite; Michael Sicinski’s essay on Thomas Heise and his “Foucauldian project,” Heimat Is a Space in Time; and Jonathan Rosenbaum’s notes on some of the most notable recent releases on DVD and Blu-ray.

Speaking of silver discs, we naturally couldn’t be happier with yesterday’s announcement that Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema has been named the best box set at this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Awards. Cheers to all the other winners. Here are five more highlights of the past seven days:

  • Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and for Paste, Kyle Turner has asked more than fifty writers for a few words each on a favorite LGBTQ-themed film. The resulting collection is a celebration of “all the explosive, exciting, strange, erotic, titillating, bizarre, tragic, thrilling queer cinema that has haunted and shaped us as writers, as queer people.” At Hyperallergic, Turner has followed up with an annotated list of his own: ten “memorable, mostly underseen gems that explore the tensions of queerness and camp on-screen.” On a related note, IndieWire’s Jude Dry has spoken with the creative team behind FX’s ballroom drama Pose about the legacy of Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning.
  • Two decades on, there are still a few Kubrickians who will hold that Eyes Wide Shut doesn’t measure up to such milestones as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Barry Lyndon. At Vulture, Bilge Ebiri suggests that, as they did with The Shining, they’ll eventually come around. As the renowned perfectionist worked on his final film, “fashioning the orgy and the scenes around it may well have been one of the biggest challenges of Kubrick’s career,” writes Ebiri. “Though his films had always had provocative elements, the director had never tackled something so directly about sex and jealousy and fantasy before. The results were strange, disturbing, creepy, erotic, ridiculous, and unforgettable.” Cate Blanchett’s surprise appearance in this oral history has drawn the most attention, but the interviewees also offer insight into Kubrick’s approach to the composition of a difficult sequence as well as his relationships with his casts and crews.
  • After he completed The Turin Horse in 2011, Béla Tarr declared that he was through with narrative cinema. Starting late last year, though, Tarr spent six months with the homeless in Vienna and, working again with cinematographer Fred Keleman, filmed around two hundred of them for a project presented earlier this month as part of Wiener Festwochen, the city’s arts festival. Presented in eight parts over four days and never to be seen again, Missing People is “a work of site-specific expanded cinema,” as Richard Deming puts it for Artforum. “While such an aesthetic turn might surprise some, it remains thoroughly in keeping with the director’s ongoing deliberation on time, embodiment, and physical space.” Talking with Tarr for Sight & Sound, Jonathan Romney notes that the Hungarian director insists that Missing People is not a return to cinema but “a real epilogue to my oeuvre” and “a kind of hymn.” For Patrick Holzapfel at the Notebook, it’s also “clearly a work by Béla Tarr: long shots, drifting music, and an absolute interest in emotional movements inside human bodies.”
  • Anima may be a fifteen-minute promotional video for Thom Yorke’s new album, also called Anima, but it’s the latest film by Paul Thomas Anderson as well, and hence, the cause for quite a commotion when it appeared this week on Netflix and in a few IMAX theaters. It’s a “one-reeler” that “turns from a pensive comment on dehumanization into something approaching a silent comedy,” writes Sam Adams at Slate, and for IndieWire’s David Ehrlich, it’s also, “in its own beguiling way, the next logical step in what has become one of recent history’s most rewarding partnerships between a filmmaker and a group of musicians.” The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, though, finds Anima to be “a boldly staged but directionless series of tableaux taking us to some capital cities that are not photographed in any very unusual way. The best of this is Yorke’s music, which is fierce and propulsive. But, as a visual spectacle, there is a strong ‘so-what?’ factor.”
  • Finally for now, anyone in France next month—and more specifically, in Arles—will want to catch the exhibition Robby Müller: Like Sunlight Coming Through the Clouds, a selection of over a hundred Polaroids shot by the late cinematographer, known for his work with Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Lars von Trier. For the Guardian, Killian Fox talks with curator—and Müller’s wife—Andrea Müller-Schirmer about the challenge of choosing the best Polaroids from the over two thousand shot over the course of three decades and stored in a wooden box at their home in Amsterdam. “For Robby there was no division between life and work,” she says.

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