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Early Summer Reading

Mike Leigh

As summer begins, critics are looking back at Cannes and ranking the films they saw—see the polls at IndieWire and the Notebook and the wrap-ups from Jordan Cronk in Artforum and Stephanie Zacharek in Time. Now we can look ahead to Karlovy Vary, which has begun rolling out its lineup; Il Cinema Ritrovato, whose program is all set; Locarno and its big Douglas Sirk retrospective; and Venice, where Catherine Deneuve will receive a Golden Lion for Lifetime achievement.

A few recent items you’ll want to know about:

  • Film at Lincoln Center’s Mike Leigh retrospective runs through next Wednesday, and at 4Columns, Nick Pinkerton writes that Leigh, who develops his projects in close collaboration with his actors, is “no slouch as a ‘storyteller’—a fetish word of screenwriting labs—but what sets his films apart from the ones those labs leave their stamp on is the feeling they convey of life as taken by surprise, not as bent to obey the almighty three-act structure.” Leigh talks to Dan Schindel at Reverse Shot about the eight recent restorations screening in New York, and he tells Variety’s Peter Debruge: “I defy anybody to say what the message is at the end of any of my films. I leave you with stuff to go away and talk about, argue and reflect on when they’re over.”

  • The Notebook is running an excellent primer from Dana Reinoos on Juliet Berto, who appeared in five films directed by Jean-Luc Godard and worked closely with Jacques Rivette on the epic Out 1 (1971) as well as on Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) and Duelle (1976). The three features that Berto directed in the 1980s present “a rich patchwork that includes her experiences in front of the camera,” writes Reinoos: “the bright rage at police and capitalism she explored with Godard and other French Marxists of the 60s; the dreaminess of Duelle; and the relationship-centered feminist world of Celine and Julie Go Boating.

  • When Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991) was added to the National Film Registry in 2004, the Library of Congress noted its status as the first feature-length film directed by a Black woman to receive a general theatrical release. “Rather than seeing it in exceptionalizing terms with respect to a restrictive U.S. industry,” writes Yasmina Price for Metrograph’s Journal, “Dash’s defiant lyric should be reframed and situated as part of a circuit of diasporic independent black cinema and Black women’s cultural production across media. The film is as gorgeously unbound from a system that could never accommodate it as it is nestled in a vibrant global lineage of liberatory artmaking.”

  • On Tuesday, Clint Eastwood turned ninety-two, and In Review Online launched a series of essays that will roll out, one a day, through June 9. For “roughly half a century,” writes Ayeen Forootan in the introduction, Eastwood has “consistently shaped the cinematic fable, the mechanism of creating, re-creating, and de-creating myths and histories . . . Surely, no other auteur has ever, with such willingness to articulate and critique themselves, especially with such joviality, laid bare their psychology and documented their physicality in order to tackle the very nature of life and aging.”

The centerpiece of the new 101st issue of Senses of Cinema is a dossier on Bollywood, and in his introduction, guest editor Darragh O’Donoghue writes that it was “born of frustration at the marginalization of popular Hindi cinema in the discourse of Western cinephilia.” If Bollywood is ignored in the West, consider the cinema of South India, the subject of a special section in a recent issue of Outlook. Girish Shambu walks us through it, adding that he hopes that “Western film publications will begin covering these seismic film-cultural changes happening in South Asia.” For more early summer reading, turn to the new issues of Cineaste,Flow, and Movie.

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