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In the Zones

Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso (1998)

At Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz remembers Carl Weathers, the athlete-turned-actor who passed away on February 1 at the age of seventy-six. “The pleasure he took in performing was infectious,” writes Seitz, “whether he was throwing body-blows as heavyweight champ Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone in the first four Rocky movies, clinging to the roof of a careening taxicab in Action Jackson, incinerating acres of Central American jungle in the sci-fi thriller Predator, or playing himself on Arrested Development as a man so miserly that he buys all his cars at police auctions, volunteers to get bumped from flights to collect refund vouchers, and never throws out leftovers.” Weathers directed two episodes of The Mandalorian, in which he played bounty hunter Greef Karga, and “he arguably finished his career in the 2020s more famous than he’d been in at the previous peak of his fame in the mid-1980s.”

In festival news, the complete Berlinale program is now set and the invitation list for the opening on Thursday has been tweaked. SXSW, in the meantime, has added fifty titles to its lineup, including Dev Patel’s directorial debut, the action thriller Monkey Man, and Timestalker, the second feature directed by Alice Lowe (Prevenge).

This week’s highlights:

  • Black History Month brings two superbly annotated lists of twenty-nine films each. Presenting links to titles you can watch right now, Black Film Archive founder Maya Cade writes that the films in her fourth annual selection “are in conversation with the desires planted in our lives at birth: to dream of a world of love and care; to give voice to those who have been silenced or torn from the pages of history; to believe in Black futures enough to will the impossible into existence; to not abandon ourselves and others out of fear.” Introducing their list for MoMA’s Magazine, contributors Alexandra Warner, DaeQuan Alexander Collier, Melissa Lyde, Sam Pollard, Stephanye Watts, and Yasmina Price declare that “Black cinema is a revolution—a dynamic and transformative force that challenges, disrupts, and redefines societal narratives.” Cauleen Smith, whose Drylongso (1998) is on Maya Cade’s list, is presenting her short films today and Sunday in Berkeley.

  • Peter Bogdanovich was working on a podcast when he died two years ago, and now his former wife, producer Louise Stratten, has completed the project with the help of Guillermo del Toro. One Handshake Away incorporates never-before-heard archival interviews with Hollywood giants into more recent conversations with living filmmakers. In the first episode, for example, we hear passages from interviews Bogdanovich conducted with Alfred Hitchcock in the 1960s as well as a chat with del Toro about Hitch recorded a few years ago. Further pairings include Quentin Tarantino and Don Siegel, Rian Johnson and Orson Welles, and Ken Burns and John Ford. Then del Toro will take over, talking with Greta Gerwig about Howard Hawks, Julie Delpy about Fritz Lang, and Allison Anders about Raoul Walsh.

  • Metrograph Journal’s Annabel Brady-Brown talks with Athina Rachel Tsangari about Attenberg (2010) and the film she’s editing right now, an adaptation of Harvest, the 2013 novel that Jim Crace set in a rural medieval village. “We shot in Scotland, very muddy, lots of rain, plenty of horses, not enough time,” says Tsangari. “Right now, I’m sitting tight, listening, trying to see what it wants to be.” When she read the book, she found “a sense of science fiction of the past that permeated the story. There needs to be an element of science fiction in everything I do. I call it ‘thirty degrees off realism.’” Tsangari and editor Matt Johnson have also been working on “a loose adaptation” of Anthony Mann’s 1950 western, The Furies.

  • Two films came out on top at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards on Sunday. Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest won Best Film, Best Director, and Technical Achievement (for the music and sound by Mica Levi and Johnnie Burn). Garth Greenwell has written an outstanding piece on the film and the novel by Martin Amis that sparked the project. He also addresses—as do Isaac Butler, Dan Kois, and Stephen Metcalf on Slate’s Culture Gabfest—two recent prominently placed pans. “How dare we tell the story of the Holocaust from any perspective other than that of the victims, this outrage seems to presume,” writes Greenwell. “How dare we dramatize that story as it was experienced by the perpetrators? But doesn’t the impossible task of narrating humanness, all that we’re capable of, demand it? It seems to me we don’t know what to do with art that asks this question.”

  • The other film fêted by London critics is Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, which won Best British/Irish Film, Best Actor (Andrew Scott), and Performer of the Year (Paul Mescal). After last fall’s festival run all across North America, the film has now arrived in the UK and Europe, occasioning a brief but moving appreciation from Guy Lodge at Film of the Week. “I saw All of Us Strangers way back in the summer of last year,” he writes, “and was floored by its elegant emotional maximalism—an iridescent leap into fantasy and melodrama from a filmmaker hitherto versed in fine-grained realism—and, if I’m being honest, by the close-cut acuity of its portrait of unattached queer living in a city and generation moving steadily on from the elastic freedoms of youth.”

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