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Moment to Moment

Agnès Varda’s La Pointe Courte (1955).

New restorations of films by Agnès Varda, Francis Ford Coppola, Terence Malick, Yasujiro Ozu, Andrei Tarkovsky, Luchino Visconti, Sergei Parajanov, Carlos Saura, Allan Dwan, William Friedkin, Joseph Losey, and others will premiere in the Venice Classics program during the festival’s eightieth edition running from August 30 through September 9. Venice will unveil its full 2023 lineup on Tuesday, and anticipation is complicated this year by the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Will major studios send over films if the stars won’t be there to promote them? For his part, Toronto International Film Festival CEO Cameron Bailey is promising a full program of more than two hundred films, strike or no strike. This week we learned that Atom Egoyan’s Seven Veils, starring Amanda Seyfried as an opera director, will be one of them. Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, starring Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley and Cailee Spaeny as his young wife, has in the meantime been selected as the Centerpiece presentation of this year’s New York Film Festival.

Before turning to this week’s highlights, we need to note the passing of Derek Malcolm, the Guardian’s chief film critic from 1971 to 1999. “It was Derek’s enthusiasm and occasional bloody-mindedness that initially forged the paper’s reputation for critical authority,” writes former Sight and Sound editor Nick James.

Malcolm, who was ninety-one, served for a few years as the artistic director of the London Film Festival, the honorary president of the International Federation of Film Critics, and in the 2000s, the Evening Standard’s film reviewer. “A slight figure with a dry wit and pixie-ish grin, Malcolm’s charm and irreverence made him a popular figure in the swinging ’60s,” writes the Guardian’s Catherine Shoard. “His lively stories of the time, often featuring unpublishable details and compromising positions, later became the stuff of legend to his awed younger colleagues.”

  • Agnès Varda: La Pointe Courte, from Photographs to Film, an exhibition of shots the amateur photographer made with her Rolleiflex before shooting her first feature in 1955, is on view at the Rencontres d’Arles through September 24. “The photos, like the film,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody, “offer dramatic contrasts in texture and natural substances that are crowded together from foreground to background, with eye-grabbing depth of field; Varda deploys this technique to both aesthetic and emotional effect, emphasizing the abstract forms of practical landscapes and reflecting the complex energy of lives lived close together and close to nature . . . Yet it’s in the differences between the photos and the movie by which Varda proves her extraordinary originality as a filmmaker.” Jonathan Romney has more in the Observer.

  • The Boy and the Heron, the latest and presumably final animated wonder from eighty-two-year-old Hayao Miyazaki, opened last Friday in Japan, where it was met with “a combination of slight bewilderment and deep appreciation,” according to Patrick Brzeski in the Hollywood Reporter. GKIDS will bring the film over to North America later this year. “While his politics have shifted over the decades,” writes Lucy Jakub in a probing portrait of Miyazaki for the New York Review of Books, “his plots, his characters, their loves and dreams and conflicts, have all turned on a Marxist view that the human spirit is expressed in work.”

  • Writing for New Lines, Jonathan Rosenbaum argues that Jafar Panahi’s “earlier, ignored features have more lasting value than his recent ones, however much the recent ones testify to Panahi’s resilience and ingenuity.” There are “two particularly striking aesthetic traits that all ten of Panahi’s features to date have in common: a grounding in documentary techniques common to both Italian Neorealism and the films of Panahi’s principal mentor, the Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami; and a self-referential and modernist view of cinema itself as part of each film’s subject—also traceable in part to Kiarostami and often including the impression that the film is unfolding in real time.”

  • For Filmmaker, Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) talks with Savanah Leaf about her debut feature, Earth Mama, the story of a pregnant single mother (Tia Nomore) fighting to reclaim her family. “This is a heavy film, tough subject matter, but I don’t want to impose that with the camera,” says Leaf. “There’s limited coverage, and we have the camera far enough away from the subjects so they don’t feel like they’re being intruded on. And the color palette—I want them to be heroes of their own stories and allow them to be in light. Just because it’s about people going through tough shit doesn’t mean you have to make the image rough.”

  • Philippa Snow, the author of Which as You Know Means Violence: On Self-Injury as Art and Entertainment, launches AnOther Magazine’s new fiction series by conjuring a few moments alone with Bree Daniels, the call girl Jane Fonda plays in Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971). “That word, ‘performance,’ dogged her lately, just as the idea of being surveilled did,” writes Snow. “Padding from the kitchen to her bed and climbing underneath the quilt, it struck her suddenly that when she had admitted to her therapist that she wished that she could jettison her body and her face, she’d never once thought about giving up her voice.”

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