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Back into History

Louise Brooks

The most exciting news of the week? Restorations of films by Kira Muratova, Edward Yang, Claire Denis, Jean Eustache, Manoel de Oliveira, Pedro Costa, Glauber Rocha, Cauleen Smith, and Jacques Tourneur—many of them bound for theaters across the country in the coming months—will screen in the Revivals program at this year’s New York Film Festival. Announcing the lineup she’s put together with assistant programmer Dan Sullivan and program advisor Gina Telaroli, Film at Lincoln Center’s Florence Almozini said that the section “continues to look beyond acknowledged and revered classics, and to challenge the conventions of the canon.”

In other festival news, London has selected eight films for its official competition and Charlotte Gainsbourg will receive a Golden Eye in Zurich in recognition of her “outstanding career and versatility.” Speaking of awards, Margarethe von Trotta will be given one for lifetime achievement at the European Film Awards in December, and the acting categories at next year’s Spirit Awards will be gender-neutral. Meanwhile, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) has already chosen the winner of its Grand Prix for the best film of 2022: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car.

Just after we posted the end-of-the-week wrap-up last Friday, Leon Vitali passed away at the age of seventy-four. Few were aware of Vitali’s contributions to Stanley Kubrick’s work and legacy until Tony Zierra made a documentary about him, Filmworker, in 2017. Vitali already had a fine acting career going when he was cast as Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon (1975). He and Kubrick hit it off, and soon enough, “unofficially and often unexpectedly,” as Steven Zeitchik wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 2017, Vitali became “a casting agent, an editor, a title translator, an on-set manual laborer, a foreign-license negotiator, a color-corrector, an actor workshopper, and a marketing advisor.”

  • This week’s New Yorker offers a selection of celebrity profiles published between 1947 and 2020 that “show how the lowest form of journalism can reach the heights of nonfiction prose,” as Michael Schulman writes in his introduction. Cinephiles will immediately zero in on Kenneth Tynan’s 1979 piece on Louise Brooks that opens with a rewatch of G. W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929) and ends with sparkling conversation and a goodnight kiss. “Garbo could give us innocence,” wrote Tynan, “and Dietrich amorality, on the grandest possible scale; only Brooks could play the simple, unabashed hedonist, whose appetite for pleasure is so radiant that even when it causes suffering to her and others we cannot find it in ourselves to reproach her.”

  • As Film Forum’s series commemorating Alain Resnais’s centennial year segues into a weeklong run of La guerre est finie (1966), Literary Hub is running Nicholas Elliott’s translation of a 1958 piece in which Marguerite Duras reflects on writing the screenplay for Hiroshima mon amour (1959). “This horror needed to be brought back from its ashes while retaining its eternal and implacable sense,” she wrote. Filmmaker, in the meantime, has posted comments from producer Anatole Dauman on the making of Hiroshima as well as appreciations of Resnais’s films from directors Keith Gordon, Radley Metzger, Errol Morris, and Christopher Münch.

  • In Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman (2008), Verónica (María Onetto) suspects that she may have accidentally killed an Indigenous boy. Veró’s hair “conjures the ghosts of Hollywood blondes,” and she’s “often literally decapitated by the frame, fragmented in mirrored reflections, engulfed by dark rooms and imprisoned by domestic architecture,” notes Rebecca Harkins-Cross, who is currently completing a book on the film for the series of Decadent Editions from Fireflies Press. The Headless Woman screens today and tomorrow at Metrograph, and, speaking to Harkins-Cross for the Metrograph Journal, Martel observes that “if you frame a whole object, you get the illusion of a word. And that’s usually very calming.”

  • Geographies of Solitude, Jacquelyn Mills’s documentary on the lone inhabitant of an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, raises “a fascinating cinematic question,” writes Girish Shambu in his latest column for Film Quarterly. “What does it mean to make a film not just about nature, but with nature? In other words, what might it look and sound like when nature is embedded deep in the very form of a film?” Shambu delves into Mills’s unique processes before addressing what might be done about a distribution system that so far has no place for a film that has won awards at the Berlinale, Hot Docs, and Jeonju.

  • Kino Lorber’s four-disc box set Cinema’s First Nasty Women, presenting rarities made between 1898 and 1926, is “a triumph of scholarship,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. “It’s also the latest chapter in a larger, continuing initiative to rethink and rewrite the mainstream history of cinema, one that for too long mispresented the foundational contributions of women and people of color. This history hasn’t simply marginalized those contributions, but has persistently ignored and even expunged them. It is an infuriating erasure, one that has shaped both our sense of the past and our understanding of the present. The women and people of color engaged in this endeavor aren’t concocting a wishful counterhistory; they’re putting themselves back into a history they helped create.”

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