“Unleash the awards publicists!!!!” tweeted producer and Black List founder Franklin Leonard moments after SAG-AFTRA announced on Wednesday that its 118-day strike was over. We’ll soon see Emma Stone talking up Poor Things and Leonardo DiCaprio singing the praises of Lily Gladstone as actors, absent from festival red carpets since midsummer, return to the spotlight just as awards season begins gathering steam. Nominations are already out for the Gotham Awards, the European Film Awards, and the British Independent Film Awards.
- Back in January, Sundance premiered three debut features centered on stories of Black mothers, all of them directed by Black women. A. V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One won a Grand Jury Prize, Savanah Leaf’s Earth Mama won an Audience Award in San Francisco, and Raven Jackson’s All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is in theaters now. “Look hard,” writes Lovia Gyarkye in the Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve seen these women before. Their stories are scribbled in the indie margins of Hollywood history: the Gullah women anchoring Julie Dash’s radical drama Daughters of the Dust; Roz (Lynn Whitfield) and Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) in Kasi Lemmons’s haunting Eve’s Bayou; and Dorothy (Barbara O. Jones) in Haile Gerima’s kinetic narrative Bush Mama are just a few of them. Following their forebears, Rockwell, Leaf, and now Jackson have constructed distinctive cinematic styles that recast Black mothers as agents of their own lives instead of scapegoats of the state.”
- “Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) in Martin Scorsese’s film After Hours (1985) is standing on my corner—Howard and Crosby Streets—in downtown New York,” writes filmmaker Lizzie Borden (Born in Flames, Working Girls) in the inaugural issue of the Talkhouse Reader. Borden pinpoints details in the movie that still “resonate” and draws a broader picture, too, of her neighborhood during the Ed Koch era. “Christo and Jeanne-Claude lived on Howard, on the other side of Broadway, in what they called a ‘miserable loft,’” she recalls. “Indie filmmaker Mark Rappaport and Scott and Beth B lived a few buildings north on Crosby. (The writer of After Hours, Joe Minion, worked as a production assistant on Scott and Beth’s 1982 film Vortex, starring Lydia Lunch.) A pre-fame Basquiat lived further up Crosby, near Houston, with Madonna . . . Clubgoers from the vicinity on their way to the Mudd Club often walked down Crosby, turning on my corner at Howard before taking the left onto Broadway. They came back the same way in the pre-dawn hours, just before the squealing, groaning garbage pickup trucks arrived at 5 a.m.”
- Napoleon will be in theaters in time for Thanksgiving, and Michael Schulman profiles director Ridley Scott, “a growler, a grumbler, a barker, a chortler,” for the New Yorker. “Scott’s closest collaborators are trained to anticipate his aesthetic preferences,” writes Schulman. “Arthur Max, the production designer, named a few: ‘Smoke. Thick, crusty, shiny, black, thick paint. Heavy aging. Filth. Dirt. Textures of all kinds. Shiny glass mirrors. Chrome. Metallic, silky fabrics. Corrosion. Small, fine, delicate mechanisms.’ Janty Yates, his costume designer, avoids fluorescent fabrics for his films. ‘He prefers rich jewel colors,’ she told me. ‘He loves gold trim, but old gold. He loves shadow. He really doesn’t like green—and then suddenly he’ll like green. He’s quite a hummingbird.’ On The Martian, he surprised her by requesting a ‘pop of orange.’”
- On the Criterion Channel, we’re currently presenting four features and four short works by documentarian Matt Wolf, whose films are “acts of cultural excavation, fascinated by forgotten and largely unknown figures and reliant on vast archives,” writes Conor Williams for Filmmaker. Williams worked as an archival assistant on Wolf’s Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019), “an emotionally compelling portrait” of an activist who taped television news feeds around the clock for thirty years. Williams finds that in all of Wolf’s work, “it’s the particular archives he pulls from, and what specifically Wolf gleans from those archives, that is so powerful.”
- Fantamas, a series of on-screen hauntings Dennis Lim has programmed for this year’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival, is on through Monday, and Film Comment is running Lim’s marvelous accompanying essay. He opens with a few quotes from Jacques Derrida, Gilberto Perez, and Christian Petzold, who has said that “the ghost is the figure of cinema.” As it happens, TIFF is presenting a Petzold retrospective through November 28. “At his best,” writes Adam Nayman for the Toronto Star, “Petzold splits the difference between heady, essayistic insight and gritty pulp fiction. His clipped, precise style suggests a cold sort of mastery, but what really makes him a singular filmmaker is his refusal to sacrifice intellect for intrigue and vice versa.” “And I am a Hitchcockian, I must say,” Petzold tells Outskirts cofounding editor Christopher Small.