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Singular Realities

Rita Tushingham in Sidney J. Furie’s The Leather Boys (1964)

Cannes won’t announce the lineup for its 2021 edition until May 27, but the annual round of speculation has already begun. Variety’s Elsa Keslassy and Little White LiesCharles Bramesco offer overviews of the likeliest contenders, while the team at Screen goes all in with a comprehensive region-by-region guide to well over a hundred projects either on the verge of completion or standing by and waiting for a call. Even if less than half of them actually end up heading to France, Screen’s list is an encouraging snapshot of an industry on the rebound. And maybe, just maybe, we can look forward to seeing new work soon from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Claire Denis, Joanna Hogg, Jane Campion, Todd Haynes, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ruben Östlund, Julia Ducournau, Bruno Dumont, Ana Lily Amirpour, Ildikó Enyedi, and quite likely, Wes Anderson and Paul Verhoeven, and most definitely Leos Carax.

In other news, the British Independent Film Awards presented a special jury prize to curator June Givanni on Monday in appreciation for her founding and maintaining the Pan African Cinema Archive. In an endearingly lo-fi video, BIFA interviews not only Givanni but also collaborators, including artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah, and admirers such as our own curatorial director, Ashley Clark.

Anthology Film Archives, in the meantime, is mourning the loss of Robert Haller, the photographer, publisher, and preservationist who served for several years as the director of the Archives. Haller, “a true eccentric, in the best possible sense,” was seventy-nine. And Canyon Cinema is remembering “painter, filmmaker, and jester” William T. Wiley, who has passed away at the age of eighty-three.

This week’s highlights:

  • On the morning after Nomadland won three Oscars,Kate Aurthur spoke with Chloé Zhao for Variety. In the video that accompanies that interview, Zhao says, “Yes, I make films in the west, but if you look closely, there are actually philosophical ideas I explore in my films [that] are deeply rooted in eastern traditions I grew up with.” In an essay for Film Quarterly full to bursting with keen observations, Gina Marchetti explores Nomadland’s “connections to a China which, visually and physically absent in the film, nevertheless structures its production, distribution, exhibition, and, arguably, much of its international critical acclaim.” As for the argument that the film doesn’t come down hard enough on Amazon, Zachary Murphy King, writing for The Point, argues that “in its searching portrait of a nomadic woman’s life—with its insecurity, its proximity to nature, its economic difficulties and occasional joys—and in the fictionalized telling of real American experiences, Nomadland is a far better mirror of our social realities than these critiques allow.”

  • Alex Kong has been spending much of his time in quarantine revisiting the work of Eric Rohmer, and in a piece for n+1, he notes that these films “reveal themselves as pricklier and more ambiguous than I remembered. Their explorations of what it means to exist in a public space, enmeshed within a web of relations with other people, celebrate the possibilities that emerge from that position just as much as they brood over the dangers that lurk there. They shed light on some of the less salubrious aspects of communal existence that, as we start to stagger back into the world like dazed bears after a long hibernation, we may have overlooked or forgotten.” There’s also a nice little passage here on Rohmer’s oeuvre as “an inexhaustible well of inspiration for anybody who takes an interest in clothes.”

  • For MAP Magazine, Caitlin Quinlan talks with Another Gaze editor Daniella Shreir about Sarah Maldoror, moviegoing in London vs. moviegoing in Paris, Cecilia Mangini, and what she hopes the streaming platform she’s launched, Another Screen, will become. “The idea that qualifying our approach as feminist—despite my current problems with this label—sounds reductive,” says Shreir, “but actually I think it is way more plural because it necessitates a sort of research that takes you way beyond the feminist film canon and further and further into diverse production modes and geographies. It’s kind of overwhelming how exciting it is to do it.”

  • Rachel Kushner has a new collection of essays out, The Hard Crowd, and New York’s Metrograph has invited her to select a series of films to present. One of them had to be Sidney J. Furie’s The Leather Boys, “one of my favorite films of all time” and “the zenith of the British New Wave.” Reggie (Colin Campbell) is married to Dot (Rita Tushingham) but he’s actually in love with fellow motorcycle-riding ‘rocker’ Pete (Dudley Sutton). In Gillian Freeman’s novel, that affair is consummated, an impossibility in a movie made in 1964. “What The Leather Boys gets spot on is milieu,” writes Sukhdev Sandhu for 4Columns. “Its South London streets are monotonous brick barracks. So humdrum that the windows of local shops are devoted to displays of baked-bean tins. The terraced houses reek of boiled potatoes, unwashed curtains, and endless resentment. This is Morrissey land. Here every day is like Sunday. What hungry soul wouldn’t want to flee?”

  • This week has seen more tributes to the late Monte Hellman, with the Talkhouse posting a remembrance from director Caveh Zahedi of “one of my filmmaking idols” and Sight & Sound pulling up a delightful interview Matthew Thrift conducted in 2010. Topics include the ending of Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Jack Nicholson’s eureka moment, and the actual definition of “existentialism.” Andy Rector has posted two essays, one of them appearing in English for the first time, by Bill Krohn, the Los Angeles correspondent for Cahiers du cinéma and a close friend of Hellman’s. For Krohn, Hellman was “the most gifted American filmmaker of his generation after Cassavetes, whom he resembles in his solitude.”

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