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Here’s to Rejuvenation!

Martin Scorsese and Griffin Dunne at work on After Hours (1985)

As negotiations between studio heads and striking writers and actors limp along, we could use an uplifting story right about now, so praise be to the team behind the revival of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Last fall it looked as if the longest continual run of any film festival in the world was coming to an end. But then Kirsty Matheson, who is now overseeing the BFI London Film Festival, and new programming director Kate Taylor spearheaded an effort to stage a 2023 edition that opens today in venues all over town and runs through Wednesday.

Venice is less than two weeks away, and Toronto and New York have spent the last couple of weeks rolling out tantalizing lineups. Toronto’s Wavelengths and Classics programs will present the North American premieres of the latest features from Angela Schanelec, Eduardo Williams, Bas Devos, Denis Côté, and Wang Bing as well as revivals of Jacques Rivette’s L’amour fou (1969) and Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine (1993). Short works will include early films by Chantal Akerman and Jean-Luc Godard’s Trailer of the Film That Will Never Exist: Phony Wars.

New York’s Main Slate will showcase many of the best films to have premiered at Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, and Locarno as well as a newly restored 1966 short by Agnès Varda featuring Pier Paolo Pasolini. Spotlight selections include Bradley Cooper’s Maestro; the latest features from Hayao Miyazaki, Frederick Wiseman, Pedro Almodóvar, and Yorgos Lanthimos; a new short by David Cronenberg; and the first three episodes of The Curse, a series created by Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie.

This week’s highlights:

  • “Around the time I wrote After Hours, I was under the spell of Kafka,” recalls Joseph Minion in Jake Malooley’s outstanding oral history for Air Mail of the making of Martin Scorsese’s 1985 anxious comedy. Griffin Dunne, who plays Paul, a yuppie on a nightmare odyssey through SoHo, and his producing partner, Amy Robinson, first brought the project to Tim Burton, but when Scorsese got interested, Burton graciously stepped aside, saying, “I will never stand in the way if Martin Scorsese wants to make this movie.” As for Scorsese himself, he looks back on the film as “a kind of miracle. A rejuvenation. On After Hours, every time I put my eye to the viewfinder, I was happy.”

  • Dunne and Robinson have also spoken with Ryan Lattanzio for IndieWire’s 80s Week, a special feature that includes interviews with Charles Burnett (My Brother’s Wedding), Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan), and Hal Hartley (The Unbelievable Truth). 80s Week opened on Monday with, naturally, a ranked and annotated list of the best one hundred films of that decade. Topping that list, as it must, is Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989), which, as Eric Kohn puts it, still “radiates with tremendous power, in part because it grounds a searing perspective on Black life and racist persecution within an immersive world.”

  • For the Notebook, Jessica Kiang writes an appreciation of Yasuzo Masumura, “the postwar Japanese director whose astonishing accomplishment should by rights have him mentioned in the same breath as his more internationally famous compatriots: Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Ichikawa, Oshima, Imamura, and Suzuki.” Masumura's “endlessly revelatory sixty-odd title filmography is eclectic, full of switchbacks and switch-ups in genre, tone, and aesthetic,” and “his artistry can be underestimated” in part because “it comes in accessible, enjoyable packages, in films designed for widespread appeal. Which also meant that Masumura could turn on a dime, encoding responsive social critique into his nimble entertainments in a manner not always true of more classically defined auteurs.”

  • Back in April, Cahiers du cinéma launched Cinéastes, a new series of deep dives into single oeuvres. The first robust issue is dedicated to the life and work of François Truffaut, “who is not only among my favorite filmmakers in all cinema,” writes Craig Keller, “but also probably my single favorite film critic, with Serge Daney (who appears in this issue) a close second.” Keller has translated and posted four brief pieces from the issue by Truffaut himself—on Jacques Becker, Fritz Lang, Roberto Rossellini, and Sacha Guitry—and a moving remembrance written by Jean-Luc Godard when Truffaut died in 1984.

  • The last episode of the third and final season of How To with John Wilson will arrive on September 1. The series is “the most acute illustration of how everybody has, in a profound way, lost their shit since the internet was invented,” writes Charlie Fox for Artforum. “The show’s hyperlinked approach to montage catalogues the unreal and sinister texture of everyday life while simultaneously creating a world of set-ups, punch lines, and goofy psychedelic puns, like Sans Soleil but with jokes . . . One of the extra-trippy undercurrents of this season is Wilson dwelling on the big epistemological conundrum of documentary itself: How ‘real’ is it? Which used to just remind you of F For Fake but in the post-truth/AI-addled present relates to everything.

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