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The Things We Remember

Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Among the 127 features screening at this year’s DOC NYC, the nation’s largest nonfiction film festival, six have been nominated by Cinema Eye for its top honor, outstanding nonfiction feature: Jessica Beshir’s Faya Dayi, Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi’s The Rescue, Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground, Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, and Amir “Questlove” Thompson’s Summer of Soul. The fifteenth annual Cinema Eye Honors will be presented on January 13, and DOC NYC’s screenings carry on in-person through November 18 before going online to screen virtually nationwide through November 28.

In his overview of the festival’s twelfth edition at Screen Slate, Patrick Dahl writes that the best films in the lineup are “sublime accounts of a teetering world’s struggle to value human dignity.” Lauren Wissot has nine recommendations at Filmmaker, where Daniel Eagan talks with Chris Hegedus about the new restoration of The Energy War Part 2: Filibuster, one of the three parts of the 1978 film she made with D. A. Pennebaker and Pat Powell.

A few more programming notes: Both the Cinémathèque française series American Fringe, curated by Richard Peña and ​Livia Bloom Ingram, and the Chicago Critics Film Festival open today and will run through the weekend. Light Industry will host a conversation with Jackie Raynal, “a central figure for modern film culture,” tomorrow evening in Brooklyn. From November 20 through January 21, Peter Blum Gallery will exhibit nearly 250 photographs, film stills, and prints that Chris Marker made over the course of seven decades. And the Museum of Modern Art in New York has just announced a complete Federico Fellini retrospective. New 4K restorations of all twenty-one features along with three short films will screen from December 1 through January 12.

Before we turn to the highlights of the week, we need to note the passing of Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz, who studied under Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen, and Pierre Schaeffer and worked with Agnès Varda on six features, beginning with Vagabond (1985). She was seventy-eight. We also lost Sylvère Lotringer, a cofounder of the journal Semiotext(e). He was eighty-three, and Artforum remembers him as “a lodestar in the twin galaxies of literary criticism and cultural theory.”

  • With their podcast The Lodgers, Kate Rennebohm and Simon Howell talked their way through the entirety of Twin Peaks a few years ago, from the pilot through the final episode of The Return. Now they’re back with The Akerman Year, a monthly series in which they will “make a comprehensive case” for Chantal Akerman “as belonging on any list of the great artists of the last century.” In the first episode, they discuss Akerman’s childhood and her first short film, Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, 1971), which the Belgian artist made when she was eighteen. Justine Smith is a guest on the second episode, which addresses a few more early shorts before tackling the big one, Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975).

  • Film Comment has spent the week celebrating the centenary of Cinema 16 and New York Film Festival cofounder Amos Vogel, and editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute have really come through on this one. The “week of Vogelmania” began with a conversation with programmers Richard Peña, Tom Waibel, and Edo Choi, and more listening follows with Albert Serra’s Amos Vogel Lecture. In the newsletter, Vogel’s sons, Steven and Loring Vogel, remind us that their father’s “interest was first in politics, and only afterwards in art, and his interest in art was always centered on its ability to transform.” Curator and critic Abby Sun takes measure of the impact of Cinema 16. Jake Perlin, whose Film Desk Books has released a new edition of Film as a Subversive Art, writes about Vogel’s columns for Film Comment, and Wendy Keys, Secretary of the Film at Lincoln Center Board of Directors, looks back on working for Vogel as an assistant in the 1960s.

  • Each Tuesday through November 30—when Black Film Archive creator Maya Cade will introduce Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949)—New York’s Film Forum is presenting a program of films featuring Nina Mae McKinney, curated by Film Forum Repertory Director Bruce Goldstein and consultant Donald Bogle.  As the Hollywood Reporter’s Lovia Gyarkye and Sheri Linden emphasize in their conversation about her life and career, McKinney was only sixteen when she broke through in King Vidor’s Hallelujah! (1929). Telling her story in the New York Times, Manohla Dargis writes that “she had that ineffable something—magnetism, oomph—that electrified the screen, making two dimensions seem like three. She was a ready-made star, but she was also a Black woman in Jim Crow Hollywood, when the industry wasn’t yet soft-pedaling its racism.”

  • Reverse Shot has opened a new symposium. For Object Lessons, editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert have asked contributors to write about a thing in a movie that speaks to them. Kelli Weston focuses on the bridal veil that Eartha Kitt despondently tosses aside—an “emblem of the refuge that has cruelly been denied her”—in Arnold Laven’s Anna Lucasta (1958). Adam Nayman has selected the brass balls Alec Baldwin dangles in his seven-minute monologue at the top of James Foley and David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) to consider “how they wordlessly externalize their owner’s tumescent cockiness.”

  • The most clipped and shared interview of the week has to be Brent Lang’s with Paul Thomas Anderson. Licorice Pizza, Anderson’s new feature set in the San Fernando Valley of 1973 and starring newcomers Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, begins rolling out over the Thanksgiving holidays before opening wider on Christmas Day. So far, the lucky few who have seen it have been eager to share their enthusiasm on social media. Anderson talks to Variety’s Lang about his love for Los Angeles, finally working with Sean Penn, setting his sights on Denzel Washington, watching and enjoying Titane and Marvel movies, streaming vs. theatrical, and getting a little older. “My instinct is to say that I’ve gotten more confident,” he says, “but anyone who’s done this knows that confidence is an illusion.”

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