Did You See This?

Fresh Encounters and Return Visits

The Daily — Jan 17, 2020
Maria Casarès and Jean Marais in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950)

Cannes and Venice have selected their jury presidents, Sundance and Rotterdam are set to open next week, and SXSW has unveiled its features lineup. Now the Berlinale wraps a busy week for festival news and updates with the announcement of a new competitive program. Cristi Puiu, Heinz Emigholz, Alexander Kluge and Khavn, Josephine Decker, Matías Piñeiro, Tim Sutton, and Victor Kossakovsky as well as newcomers such as Pushpendra Singh and Melanie Waelde will present new work in the inaugural edition of Encounters.


More highlights from the week that was:

  • Next Friday, TCM will present George Cukor’s The Chapman Report (1962), Peter Tewksbury’s Sunday in New York (1964), and Robert Ellis Miller’s Any Wednesday (1966), three films featuring a young, pre-Klute Jane Fonda. Writing for Film Comment, Beatrice Loayza argues that Fonda in her twenties “convincingly embodied the tensions facing women of her generation. With the ascent of second wave feminism and the sexual revolution, young women were caught in limbo between the values of the past and attractive new visions of the future . . . Like it or not, Jane Fonda at the start of the ’60s was a paragon of the mid-century woman’s sexual and moral ambivalence.”
  • On Tuesday, Karina Longworth will launch a spinoff from You Must Remember This, her popular podcast on Hollywood in the twentieth century. Farran Smith Nehme and Rachel Syme will be among the contributors exploring the intersection of the film and beauty industries in Make Me Over. Another terrific podcast, Flashback, in which critics Dana Stevens and Kameron Collins revisit historically significant movies, has for the most part been out of reach to those who don’t subscribe to Slate Plus. But the latest episode—on Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep—is freely available to all. Stevens and Collins spot parallels with Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story but also come to the realization that Kramer is very, very much a movie of its time.
  • Introducing the new issue of [in]Transition, comprising four audiovisual essays presented at the 2018 symposium Eisenstein for the Twenty First Century, Julia Vassilieva attributes the “explosion of interest” in Russian avant-garde cinema to fresh translations of “key historical texts” and the rise of new media theories. “Another factor in the recent reinvigoration of interest in the Russian montage school has been the emergence of audiovisual criticism itself, which has placed montage back in the spotlight of film scholarship,” she writes. In Media Res, another Media Commons project, has in the meantime been posting tributes to the late theorist and filmmaker Peter Wollen.
  • Wollen’s 1969 book Signs and Meaning in the Cinema “had an enormous influence on the work of many writers and on my thinking as I was learning about film,” said A. S. Hamrah in an introduction to a screening of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) last month just published by n+1. The “decoding” of signs and meaning in Orpheus “is not just subtext nor is it merely somehow inscribed in the film for us to discover using our critical faculties,” Hamrah continued. “It is the film’s subject matter. That’s why Orpheus was also called, when it came out, ‘a detective story from the beyond.’”
  • Over the course of four decades, from the mid-1930s to the mid-’70s, Texan filmmaker Melton Barker traveled from small town to small town throughout the American south and midwest, knocking on doors and offering to cast the children of each household in a film—for a fee. Hundreds of times, Barker shot the same screenplay, The Kidnappers Foil, the story of kidnapped girl rescued by each town’s children. Barker would sell tickets to a screening for local friends and family and move on to the next town. Synchronizing digital projections of existing copies of The Kidnappers Foil, artist Gareth Long has created an installation for the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston currently on view through March 14. “Barker wasn’t a conceptual artist; he was a sly huckster,” writes William Harris for frieze. “Left nameless, the towns become derealized—less actual places than a singular state of mind, in which the same dream runs on loop, scaled to the collective fantasy of the culture industry.”

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