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The Conversations

Isabelle Huppert in Micheal Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001)

Two thoughts leapt to the minds of cinephiles when the Swedish Academy announced on Thursday that it was awarding this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature to Annie Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements, and collective restraints of personal memory.” First, Audrey Diwan’s Happening, the story of a young student seeking an abortion in the early 1960s when the procedure was still illegal in France—and the winner of last year’s Golden Lion in Venice—is based on Ernaux’s 2000 autobiographical novel, L’événement.

Second, Ernaux and her son, David Ernaux-Briot, have shaped the home movies that Philippe Ernaux—her late ex-husband and his father—shot from 1972 to 1981 into an hourlong essay film. The Super 8 Years premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes earlier this year and will screen at the New York Film Festival on Monday and Tuesday. It’s “a gorgeous and intellectually expansive film, a worthy addition to the oeuvre of one of Europe’s greatest living authors,” writes Mark Asch at Little White Lies.

When Ernaux was in Cannes, Filmmaker’s Vadim Rizov asked her about her cinephilia, which was first sparked by the French New Wave. She told him that Agnès Varda, Alain Robbe-Grillet, “and films like Last Year in Marienbad all pushed me to write differently—actually, I think, cinema more than the nouveau roman gave me that impulse to try to write in a different way.”

Here at Criterion, we’re mourning the loss of Sergio Mims, who cofounded the Black Harvest Film Festival with Barbara Scharres, taught screenwriting at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, hosted the Bad Mutha’ Film Show on WHPK-FM, and reviewed movies for N’DIGO. He was sixty-seven when he passed away on Tuesday. “The Chicago film community just lost a great film critic, film historian, and film ambassador,” tweets producer George Tillman Jr.

Günter Lamprecht, who was best known outside of Germany for playing Franz Biberkopf in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), has died at ninety-two. And Wolfgang Kohlhaase, a major figure in East German cinema who wrote and codirected Solo Sunny (1980) with Konrad Wolf, has died at ninety-one. After the fall of the Wall, he cowrote Volker Schlöndorff’s The Legend of Rita (2000) and wrote Andreas Dresen’s Summer in Berlin (2005).

On to this week’s highlights:

  • A bounteous new issue of Cinema Scope is out. Christoph Huber floats a theory as to why Elaine May has been underappreciated all these years. James Lattimer delves into the work of Dry Ground Burning codirector Adirley Queirós, whose four features “forge a complex chronicle of recent Brazilian history.” Adam Nayman talks with Kelly Reichardt about Showing Up, and Olivier Assayas tells Beatrice Loayza that it may well be “impossible to go back to that state of innocence that drove silent filmmaking.” Reviewing Assayas’s 2022 Irma Vep in the new Artforum, Erika Balsom writes that “this experimental and entertaining series asserts the enduring power of cinema’s ghostly reanimations. Let us all be haunted by the haunted medium of the movies, it whispers, for that is how the past will continue to live and how the truly new might come into being.”

  • Film Forum’s three-week, twenty-nine-film Isabelle Huppert retrospective opens today. Peter Rinaldi talks with Huppert on his Filmmaker-hosted Back to One podcast, and at IndieWire, Ryan Lattanzio zooms in on her work with Michael Haneke. Huppert tells Lattanzio that one of her “favorite lines in my whole life as an actress is in The Piano Teacher, when she listens to her pupil, played by Benoît Magimel. He plays and then she sits and goes, ‘Does coldness mean something for you?’ It’s a great line because by that she means no sentimentality. Just something more pure, more dry. I like this idea, in terms of aesthetic.”

  • The Metrograph series Yes: The Films of Sally Potter opens today and runs through Monday. Marya E. Gates’s conversation with Potter at RogerEbert.com takes us through the entire filmography, right up to the new short, Look at Me, starring Chris Rock and Javier Bardem. It’s screening each night of the series with a new thirtieth-anniversary restoration of Orlando, Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel starring Tilda Swinton. “I look at Orlando now and I see how completely organized it is, spatially, thematically, rhythmically,” Swinton tells Isobel Harbison in the Metrograph Journal. “The understanding was that this fluidity was innate and effortless and—as always—we were passionate about avoiding the performative or fake.”

  • John Smith: Introspective (1972–2022) is a ten-week survey of fifty films made over the past half-century by one of Britain’s wittiest filmmakers. “Subverting the audience’s assumptions of experimental cinema as dry or academically stuffy, these are not films that do away with narrative completely but [instead] draw our attention to their construction through teasing suggestions and playful, considered trickery,” writes Sophia Satchell-Baeza at the top of her interview with Smith for the Notebook. In the Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu notes that “the political dimensions of Smith’s work have become increasingly explicit as he has brought his absurdist and formalist sensibility to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Brexit, the pandemic.” Smith tells Sandhu that his Leading Light (1975) “is just me following the sunlight around my bedroom. I couldn’t do that any more. I can’t just aestheticize things and say: ‘Isn’t that pretty?’” Introspective is on in London through December 1.

  • Let’s wrap with a few suggestions for weekend listening. Clyde Folley chats with the team at Screen Slate and WNYC’s Alison Stewart about ’80s Horror, the series of thirty films he’s programmed for the Criterion Channel. On the Pure Cinema Podcast, Edgar Wright spends two and a half hours telling hosts Elric Kane and Brian Saur about what he considers to be the ten underrated British horror movies. If horror isn’t up your alley, Josh Olson and Joe Dante, the hosts of The Movies That Made Me, talk with Ethan Hawke about Paul Newman, Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Linklater, and much, much more.

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