Did You See This?

Comedy! Melodrama! Horror!

Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959)

A sampling of some of the best reading of the week takes us from the comedic and dramatic chops of Marilyn Monroe to the personal journey of Karim Aïnouz before winding up with a quick preview of the year’s scariest season.

  • Andrew Dominik’s Blonde is “a joyless movie about joylessness rather than a film about Marilyn Monroe,” writes Time’s Stephanie Zacharek. “We love Marilyn so much—as a face, as a symbol, as a bottomless well that will take as much pity as we can pour into it—that collectively we seem to have lost sight of one of the central truths of her being: she was a phenomenally intelligent and gifted actor, a woman whose natural charm and devotion to her craft resulted in work so delightful, and sometimes so emotionally raw, that it’s worthy of any modern actor’s envy.” Zacharek asks, “What does it take to give a comic performance as subtly textured as the one Marilyn gives in Billy Wilder’s 1959 Some Like It Hot?”

  • From today through October 10, the Museum of Modern Art is presenting a mid-career survey of work by Moyra Davey, whose Horse Opera premiered earlier this month in the Wavelengths program in Toronto. A few of the eleven films in the series are paired with work by other directors, including John Cassavetes, Lucrecia Martel, and Derek Jarman. At 4Columns, Johanna Fateman writes that the “palpable sense of daring that infuses her precariously, digressively structured films is born of personal exposure; she has explored, from a candid first-person perspective, such topics as motherhood, her relationship with her psychoanalyst, a difficult family history, and illness . . . Perhaps because Davey began as a photographer, and because writing is fundamental, not ancillary, to her practice, filmmaking feels like a provisional solution, a way to facilitate a convergence of impulses, visual and literary—good enough for now.”

  • The new Film Quarterly features Alisa Lebow’s excellent interview with Karim Aïnouz, who is currently at work on Firebrand, a film about Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, starring Alicia Vikander and Jude Law. His debut feature, Madame Satã (2002), a portrait of the Brazilian drag performer, took eight years to make and “literally hijacked my life.” Invisible Life (2019) won the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes, and in last year’s Mariner of the Mountains, Aïnouz journeys to Algeria in search of a connection to his father, who left his Brazilian mother before he was born. “It’s about being haunted and it’s about revolution,” he says. “You know, I think that’s what melodrama is, at the end of the day. I think it’s the most politically effective genre.”

  • Reverse Shot has wrapped its Summer of ’81 symposium with Chloe Lizotte on David Cronenberg’s Scanners, which is currently being adapted as a series for HBO; Eric Hynes on Michael Mann’s Thief, which the Museum of the Moving Image will screen on September 30 as part of its Caan Film Festival; and Beatrice Loayza on Jacques Rivette’s Le Pont du Nord, which captures Paris as “a place of endless construction and concrete efficiency as opposed to the vintage Paris of even ten, twenty years earlier, then still clinging, if only by its pinky fingers, to a mode and style forged by the textures of public life.”

  • MoMA spent the summer probing varied facets of horror, and now, Clyde Folley has programmed the series ’80s Horror, which will land on the Criterion Channel on October 1. The BFI has announced a season that opens on October 1 and runs through the end of the year: “Through five mythical horror archetypes—the beast, ghost, vampire, witch, and zombie—In Dreams Are Monsters explores how these monstrous bodies have been represented on screen over the last hundred years and how they have been reclaimed by new voices in horror filmmaking.” No fan of the genre on either side of the Atlantic will have to wait until next month for a good scare. With Zach Cregger’s sleeper hit Barbarian, Ti West’s Martin Scorsese-endorsed Pearl, and Christian Tafdrup’s Speak No Evil—which Rolling Stone’s David Fear describes as “10ccs of the full metal Michael Haneke”—currently in theaters or streaming, “right now,” writes Fear, is “a particularly great moment to be a horror movie fanatic.”

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