Did You See This?

History Is a Rehearsal for the Future

Camillo and Marco Bellocchio in Marx Can Wait (2021)

To follow up on yesterday’s brief round of festival notes, Venice announced on Friday morning that Julianne Moore will preside over this year’s jury. Joining Moore will be Mariano Cohn, who most recently directed Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Martínez in Official Competition; director and screenwriter Leonardo Di Costanzo (The Inner Cage); Audrey Diwan (Happening), who will soon direct Léa Seydoux in a new adaptation of Emmanuelle Arsan’s erotic novel Emmanuelle; Leila Hatami, who won a Silver Bear in Berlin for her performance in Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011); novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go); and director Rodrigo Sorogoyen (The Candidate). The full lineup of the seventy-ninth edition, running from August 31 through September 10, will be announced on July 26.

Before we turn to this week’s highlights, let’s celebrate the launch of a faster, cleaner, and just all-around better version of Lantern, the platform that allows us to search through nearly three million pages of film-related books, magazines, and materials held in the Media History Digital Library. The project is led by Eric Hoyt, the author of Ink-Stained Hollywood: The Triumph of American Cinema’s Trade Press, and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. “Lantern was already a fantastic source for contemporary coverage of old movies,” tweets Dana Stevens. “This takes it to the next level.”

  • Fists in the Pocket (1965) and China is Near (1967) established Marco Bellocchio as “an enfant terrible in Italian cinema,” notes A. O. Scott in the New York Times. Both films are screening at the IFC Center in New York along with Marx Can Wait (2021), a documentary in which Bellocchio, now eighty-two, and his brothers and sisters sort through the aftermath of the suicide of Marco’s twin brother, Camillo, in 1968. “Bellocchio’s career, between then and now,” writes Scott, “can be seen partly as a chronicle of disillusionment, as revolutionary ardor gives way to irony, compromise and defeat. His many films about Italian public figures and institutions—Mussolini; the violent, far-left Red Brigades; the Roman Catholic Church; and the Mafia—are also family stories, attentive to intimate nuances of power and emotion.”

  • At Caesura, Mia Ruf introduces a 1978 essay in which Gilberto Perez offers a quick primer on the language of cinema before delving into close readings of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s Not Reconciled (1965), History Lessons (1972), and Fortini/Cani (1977). “Their films are about filmmaking, to be sure,” wrote Perez, “but in the course of their being about something else; their real subject is history, they are history lessons all, one of the lessons being that we must attend to the means of our access to history.” Viewers can also detect the influence “of Renoir in their insistence on direct sound, of Dovzhenko in their often having an actor remain still holding a telling gesture, of Godard in their mixing pointedly implausible fiction with documentary veracity.”

  • Reverse Shot editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert have opened a new symposium, Summer of ’81, and called on contributors to write about films released in a year that saw “pre-digital special effects extravaganzas, depressing comedies, urban crime thrillers, early no-budget American indies, animated family movies. Almost all of them, though, are about failure—the failure of systems, of relationships, of rescue missions, of political action.” So far, we can read Greg Cwik on Manny Kirchheimer’s Stations of the Elevated, “a time capsule of tawdry old New York”; Shonni Enelow on Agnès Varda’s Documenteur, “a ‘1970s-hangover’ movie”; and Genevieve Yue on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, “a western in disguise.”

  • The Rehearsal, the new show from comedian, Nathan for You cocreator, How To with John Wilson executive producer, and New York Magazine cover star Nathan Fielder, premieres today. “One of the underrated aspects of Nathan for You,” writes Adam Nayman in the Toronto Star, “was how, in addition to its implicit critique of a capitalist ecosystem in which not all businesses are created equal, it functioned as a satire of a certain brand of packaged, ersatz ‘reality.’ The Rehearsal doubles down on this idea by suggesting that, ultimately, Fielder’s methods alienate him—and his audience—from anything resembling the truth and that, besides being the mastermind of his own impossibly spacious, HBO-subsidized alternate universe, he’s also a prisoner: an inmate running his own asylum . . . The Rehearsal may be a masterpiece.”

  • If you’re restoring a film like Picasso (1973), which filmmaker Chris Langdon hand-processed and deliberately scuffed up, do you clean the negative? Would you preserve a glitch in See What You Hear What You See (1983) that you know Barbara Hammer would want ironed out? “My approach is always to try to understand the film and the filmmaker on their terms,” Mark Toscano, senior film preservationist at the Academy Film Archive, tells Chris Shields at Film Comment. “It’s complicated, but it’s also what I like about it. For each project, you have to redefine what a problem or a non-problem is.” And in the latest episode of the Film Comment Podcast, editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute talk with cinematographer Hélène Louvart, who has worked with Agnès Varda, Wim Wenders, Alice Rohrwacher, and Eliza Hittman, about shooting Alamat Kusijanovic’s Murina.

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