Did You See This?

Do Look Back

On Film / The Daily — Jul 26, 2019
Faye Wong in Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express (1994)

On Tuesday, an Iranian court sentenced filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (Manuscripts Don’t Burn) to one year in prison. “Strangely, they’re accusing me of ‘propaganda against the state’ for telling stories,” Rasoulof tells the Center for Human Rights in Iran. “I asked the honorable judge, ‘Have you watched my films?’ He said, no.” Since 2017, when he returned to Iran after winning the Un Certain Regard award in Cannes for A Man of Integrity, Rasoulof has been banned from making films and leaving the country. Yesterday, Cannes issued a call for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Rasoulof and asked “festivals around the world, cinemas, and all artists to do the same.”

This week also brought news of the passing of Rutger Hauer at the age of seventy-five. The Dutch actor worked with Paul Verhoeven, Ermanno Olmi, Nicolas Roeg, and Christopher Nolan, but the moment that immediately leaps to everyone’s minds is the final “tears in rain” speech delivered by the replicant Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). Tributes to Hauer are still coming in, and we’ll have an appreciation early next week.

In the meantime, here are five highlights of the past seven days:

  • Cinematographer Christopher Doyle has been working with Wong Kar-wai on a new restoration of Chungking Express (1994). “We shot it fast and in a way that has a big energy to it,” he recalls, talking to Ann Lee at the BFI. Doyle found Faye Wong’s approach to acting “quite refreshing” but remains most impressed with Tony Leung: “I think the greatest actors I’ve ever worked with don’t do anything. You just want to watch them. They have a chi that just transcends. It passes through my camera to the audience.” As for Wong Kar-wai, he “has given me so much. I must return.”
  • In terms of sheer reading pleasure, the interview of the week is Darren Hughes’s with Julia Loktev for the Notebook. The writer and director of Day Night Day Night (2006) and The Loneliest Planet (2011) talks about how working with sound rather than images led her to filmmaking, the brilliance of actress Hani Furstenberg (“how is she not super famous by now?”), and her next project, which she’s written with New Yorker writer Masha Gessen. It’s a love story that will play out over ten years in three countries. “I think of the structure as like The Way We Were and Scenes from a Marriage,” says Loktev.
  • Film Comment carries on pulling gems from its archives and making them freely available online. See, for example, Kent Jones’s 1999 essay on Hou Hsiao-hsien or Gavin Smith’s 1994 interview with Quentin Tarantino. With New York’s IFC Center launching a major Abbas Kiarostami retrospective today, the timeliest of the recent postings is David Sterritt’s interview with the Iranian director that first appeared in the summer of 2000. “We have a saying in Persian,” says Kiarostami, “when somebody is looking at something with real intensity: ‘He had two eyes and he borrowed two more.’ Those two borrowed eyes are what I want to capture—the eyes that will be borrowed by the viewer to see what’s outside the scene he’s looking at. To see what is there and also what is not there.”
  • As the Metrograph opens its own retrospective today, this one devoted to the memory of the late Machiko Kyo, the New York theater has posted an appreciation by Moeko Fujii. “Every Japanese director had his girl,” she writes, “and history would remember Setsuko Hara as Ozu’s, Ayako Wakao as Ichikawa’s, Hideko Takamine as Naruse’s, and Kinuyo Tanaka as Mizoguchi's. Machiko Kyo won men prizes at Cannes and Venice instead. Rashomon, Ugetsu, Gate of Hell. She was Grand Prix Girl, and she belonged to no one . . . She could blister even the great Toshiro Mifune with her rage.”
  • IndieWire’s big annotated list of the hundred best films of the decade has appeared at least five months too early, and like just about every list of its kind, it was immediately savaged on social media. But all week long, IndieWire has been adding some undeniably engaging interviews to the package. “I didn’t anticipate the responsibility this film took on,” says Barry Jenkins, whose Moonlight (2016) tops the list. “And I’m glad I didn’t.” Joshua Oppenheimer is still close to the subjects of his documentaries The Act of Killing (2013) and The Look of Silence (2015), which come in as a pair at #4. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015, #9) talks about how vital his wife and editor Margaret Sixel is to his work. Ezra Edelman (O.J.: Made in America, 2016, #23) is working on two fictional features, and Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell, 2012, #34), too, has got “a whole bunch of things I’ve been writing.”

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