Did You See This?

Two by Two

On Film / The Daily — Jul 10, 2020
Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann in Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

Michelle Williams and Oscar Isaac have signed on to executive produce and star in an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973), taking on the roles originally played by Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson. “What an education in performance you get from these two,” wrote filmmaker Patrick Wang (In the Family, A Bread Factory) when he revisited a favorite scene in 2012. Variety’s Joe Otterson has details on the limited series Hagai Levi (In Treatment) is writing and will direct for HBO, an intriguing project that sets the organizing principle for this week’s round of highlights. They come in pairs.

  • We begin with deeply felt tributes to two lost giants. In 1986, John Zorn recorded The Big Gundown, an album of radically reworked covers of compositions by Ennio Morricone. On Wednesday, Zorn opened a remembrance in the New York Times by declaring that the maestro was “more than one of the world’s great soundtrack composers—he was one of the world’s great composers, period. For me, his work stands with Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Ellington, and Stravinsky in achieving that rare fusion of heart and mind.” Yesterday, the NYT ran Steve Martin’s appreciation of Carl Reiner, who directed him in four comedies. “I’ve heard several people say Carl was like a father to them,” writes Martin. “But, to me, Carl was not fatherly. He was exemplar.

  • Visions of future dystopias occasionally turn out to be more prescient than they seemed when they first appeared. “If it’s unsettling to recognize similarities between the crumbling futures of RoboCop [1987] and Total Recall [1990] and our own cultural moment, it’s terrifying how familiar the thudding martial beats of Starship Troopers [1997] are to contemporary ears,” writes David Roth in a piece on the work of Paul Verhoeven for the New Yorker. “The anti-fascism of Starship Troopers is mordant and merciless, but Verhoeven advances his argument by making its every frame lavishly, overbearingly fascist.” For Philippa Snow, writing for the New Statesman, revisiting David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (2012) right now is “exhilarating in two ways. The first is that it offers up the soothing image of a billionaire capitalist brought to heel by riots.” As for the second, Robert Pattinson’s performance “has since turned out to be one of the earliest indications of his talent.”

  • Michaela Coel, the writer, director, showrunner, and star of what E. Alex Jung considers to be the best show on television right now, I May Destroy You, is on the cover of this week’s New York magazine. “I am in bits, I am in awe, I am utterly destroyed,” tweeted Coel in response to Jung’s outstanding profile of the award-winning talent who has fought every step of the way to maintain control over her life and work. The chaser is Jung’s interview with the always frank and funny Thandie Newton, the star of Westworld, who speaks openly about the many run-ins with sexism and racism she has experienced ever since her on-screen debut in Flirting in 1991. Several stories here, including the one about Tom Cruise’s mighty metabolism, have been hits on Twitter, where she, too, has expressed her appreciation of Jung’s smarts and compassion: “I felt understood and seen.”

  • For a recent American Cinematographer cover story, David E. Williams talks with Bradford Young, who has worked with Dee Rees, David Lowery, J. C. Chandor, and Denis Villeneuve, about a few of his formative experiences. Seeing Spike Lee’s School Daze (1988) as a kid was one: “That was the first time that I experienced film as a movement.” Another was studying under Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, who introduced him to “a long tradition of Black filmmakers in America” and insisted “that that knowledge had to be passed on to young people, especially young people of color.” Young has also shot Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere (2012), Selma (2014), and When They See Us (2019). In the New York Times, DuVernay tells Emma Goldberg that it was when she saw such films as Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966) and the work of Gerima that she “started to see the link between images, film and social justice, and what’s possible in storytelling.”



  • Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, the sixth documentary feature from Bill and Turner Ross, is out in virtual release today. From a glaring afternoon to the dawn of the following day, the film captures the last night of a rundown bar on the outskirts of Las Vegas. “It’s such an astute, lived-in take on both dive-bar bonding and the myth of Sin City as seen from the periphery that it’s a sobering slap across the cheek to discover the whole thing is a glorious sham,” writes Rolling Stone’s David Fear. Bloody Nose, you see, was actually shot in New Orleans, a fact that has rattled a few documentary purists. But Fear finds it “100-percent manufactured and 100-proof authentic.” As Bill puts it simply to Dan Schindel at Hyperallergic, “We set up a scenario, and then documented that scenario.” Back in March, Daniel Christian sent in an excellent piece on the Ross brothers’ full oeuvre—we’re showing Tchoupitoulas (2012) and Contemporary Color (2016) on the Criterion Channel—to Paste from True/False, where Bloody Nose won the True Vision Award. At a conference during the festival, Turner noted: “You can manufacture an experience but it doesn’t have to be a manufactured experience.”


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