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Games for Advanced Players

The Daily — Jul 17, 2020
Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966)

It’s been another week of film festivals announcing radically altered plans, none as radical or as disheartening as Telluride’s. Executive director Julie Huntsinger tells Variety’s Peter Debruge that just last Friday she was coordinating with a company that was manufacturing “thousands of fifteen-minute turnaround tests” for the virus and ensuring that social distancing could be maintained throughout the festival’s forty-seventh edition. But the Labor Day weekend might also draw tourists to the picturesque Colorado town who can’t be counted on to comply with safety measures. And so organizers came to the “heartbreaking but unanimous” decision to cancel this year’s edition of what Deadline’s Todd McCarthy calls “the best-curated and, due to its small size and remote setting, most rarified and pleasurable of American film festivals.”

Last week, Telluride, Venice, Toronto, and New York declared that they would cooperate to present “a united platform for the best cinema we can find,” and NYFF director Eugene Hernandez tells Screen’s Jeremy Kay that he and his team are “building on our plans every day.” As for the latest from Toronto, this year’s TIFF Tribute Actor Award will go to Kate Winslet, star of Francis Lee’s Ammonite, one of the festival’s first confirmed titles for the fall.

A new 4K restoration of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) is the centerpiece of the Cannes Classics program unveiled on Wednesday. Screening at the Lumière festival in October and the Rencontres Cinématographiques de Cannes in November, the slate will also feature sixtieth anniversary presentations of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura and Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless as well as around two dozen restorations of work by such directors as Melvin Van Peebles, Joan Micklin Silver, Lino Brocka, Wojciech Has, and the late Peter Wollen.

Cannes Classics will celebrate the Federico Fellini centenary with three features. The program will also salute the thirtieth birthday of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (1961) and Mohammad Reza Aslani’s recently rediscovered Chess of the Wind (1976), a film that, according to Il Cinema Ritrovato codirector Ehsan Khoshbakht, “has echoes of Visconti” and a “daring score by one of the most prolific female film composers” of the 1960s and ’70s, Sheyda Gharchedaghi. Among the seven new documentaries on cinema are portraits of Charlie Chapin, Bruce Lee, and Wim Wenders.

A few items from this past week to know about before heading into the weekend:

  • Jonathan Kiefer, the father of two young girls, has written a beautiful appreciation of Studio Ghibli’s animated features for Bright Wall/Dark Room. Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988) is “as much a sequence of moods and environments as of events,” he writes. “Its central priority is to consecrate an atmosphere of pastoral serenity, and make us understand how spirit-fortifying and valuable that is, particularly for young people. Yet it does so with unwavering emotional purity, and without a trace of didacticism.” Around the Sun, written by Kiefer and directed by Oliver Krimpas, sees a virtual release on August 4.

  • Pasolini’s The Decameron (1971) is, of course, strictly for adults. “Unlike the top-streamed Contagion (2011), this plague story is not told from the perspective of those in power trying to contain it, nor does it turn on a boosterish resilience narrative,” writes Andreas Petrossiants for Artforum. “Rather than subject the elite to Buñelian slapstick or Godardian contempt, Pasolini relegates such characters to the background, instead centering peasants, gardeners, artists, and their assistants . . . Pasolini’s art about and for those living on what he once called the ‘flimsy crust of our world / over the naked universe’ shows class oppression as one plague among many, an amalgamation of crises swiftly cast aside when a ‘state of exception’ is declared.”

  • If you’re going to tackle Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre, it’s probably best to come equipped with a sense of humor, as Rachel Handler demonstrates at Vulture. “Viewed during one of the worst moments in our recent collective global history, Bergman’s movies no longer offer a sort of sadomasochistic escape from dull banality, or an opportunity to feel like a bravely ascetic Swede,” she writes. “In many ways, they now reflect everyday life.” These films, after all, were made by “the most melancholic introvert ever to barricade himself and his loved ones on a small island and write movies about people slowly going insane because they have barricaded themselves on small islands.”

  • For Filmmaker, Daniel Eagan has been speaking to cinematographers such as Ellen Kuras and Ed Lachman about what they’ve been up to during their down time. Jarin Blaschke, who has shot Robert Eggers’s The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), is already back at work on Eggers’s Viking revenge saga The Northman. Blaschke and Eggers are “trying to take very complex scenes and put them in a streamlined visual language,” he tells Eagan. “The hope is to flow from one thing to the next, as each idea is fully but succinctly realized, rather than tossing a multi-camera salad.” Filmmaker’s new summer issue, now available as a digital download, is not free, but given its heft, it’s a bargain. Inside, you’ll find Ashley Clark’s interview with Garrett Bradley, winner of a directing award at Sundance for Time; Kelly Reichardt and Michael Almereyda talking about his new film, Tesla; and editor Scott Macaulay discussing She Dies Tomorrow with director Amy Seimetz and star Kate Lyn Sheil. As an online sampling, there’s a brief piece on Abel Ferrara with a horrific twist from A. S. Hamrah.

  • Argentinian director Mariano Llinás’s La flor landed on several critics’ top ten lists when it arrived in the States in 2018. This three-part, six-episode, fourteen-hour film is a collaboration between Llinás and four performers from the Buenos Aires experimental theater troupe, Piel de Lava—Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, and Laura Paredes. Writing for the Notebook, Adrian Martin explores “the deep affinities between a certain strain of European cinema modernism—as exhibited by Jacques Rivette and especially Raúl Ruiz—and the games being played here . . . The performative aspect of La flor is reminiscent of the special feminism of Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974)—this histrionic, put-on, dress-up, subversive-parodic style of women’s theatricality.” And one passage in particular cites a roster of writers that is “virtually identical to Ruiz’s personal desert-island selection of authors.”

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