Did You See This?

Out of the Screen, Towards the Future

Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

One of the most eye-catching—and cutest—film festival posters ever unveiled is based on artwork by Takeshi Kitano. “Interpret it as you wish,” Kitano told the Directors’ Fortnight team when they selected a delightful painting of what might be two eggplants in red boots looking back at us from a bright yellow world. Critics’ Week is going the more traditional route, having selected a shot of Hafsia Herzi from Iris Kaltenbäck’s The Rapture (2023) for this year’s poster.

As Cannes prepares to announce its lineup on April 11, the team at Screen has scoured the globe and come up with list of dozens of potential contenders. In the meantime, the festival has confirmed that George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a younger version of the rebellious heroine Charlize Theron played in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), will see its world premiere in Cannes on May 15.

Remembering the great character actor M. Emmet Walsh, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of eighty-eight, the New York Times’s Matt Twomey cites Roger Ebert’s Stanton-Walsh Rule: “No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.” Ulu Grosbard’s Straight Time (1976), starring Dustin Hoffman as a thief trying and failing to go legit, featured both. When Joel and Ethan Coen saw Straight Time, they knew they’d found the man to play “surely the most evil private detective in movie history,” as the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw puts it, in their first feature, Blood Simple (1984).

This week’s highlights:

  • Relaunching ten years after its founding, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies presents new work from two cofounding editors who are now stepping down. Christian Keathley revisits his classic 2006 essay, Pass the Salt, an investigation into a scene from Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959), while Catherine Grant talks with Laura Mulvey about her remix of thirty seconds from the “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” number in Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). “This sequence,” says Mulvey, “is a duet between two great Hollywood stars, Jane Russell, one of the greatest of her time, and Marilyn Monroe, about to become the greatest of all time. Jane slips out of the frame as Marilyn moves forward towards the camera, looking out of the screen towards the future and the endless times this moment would be repeated across decades—centuries even—celebrating the cinematic coexistence of the inanimate with the animate, the ghost of the human in the machine.”

  • “Bio-pics bathe the producers, the studios, and the filmmakers in the reflected renown of their protagonists’ achievements, and, because the enterprise inherently involves a good deal of research, it also conveys an air of studious seriousness,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody. “With all the overt and tacit calculation that goes into the production of bio-pics, it’s something of a miracle that any of them are any good at all, yet indeed some of them are even great.” Brody offers an incisive guide to thirty-three of the best, including films directed by Sergei Eisenstein, Douglas Sirk, Kenji Mizoguchi, Max Ophüls, John Ford, Martin Scorsese, Abbas Kiarostami, Agnès Varda, and Spike Lee.

  • In his early twenties, Med Hondo arrived in France from Mauritania by way of Morocco. He’d trained as a chef, but as a Black man, he couldn’t find decent work until he began voice-acting. With $30,000 of his own earnings, Hondo financed Soleil Ô (1970), which he called “an authentic act of rage and liberation.” Today, Soleil Ô opens a two-week retrospective at Anthology Film Archives, and a new restoration of Hondo’s West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty (1979), a musical extravaganza recounting more than three centuries of imperialist oppression, opens at Film Forum. At Slant, Clayton Dillard calls West Indies “a deliriously iconoclastic anti-colonialist work that’s worthy of the finest films from roughly the same period by Ousmane Sembène and Djibril Diop Mambéty.” On Tuesday and Wednesday, scholar Aboubakar Sanogo will discuss Hondo and his work at both Anthology and Film Forum, and he’s a guest on the Film Comment Podcast as well.

  • “The battle for self-determination will always be fought over the terrain of memory—and cinema is well positioned to be the ideal vehicle for narratives of global remembrance,” writes Yasmina Price in Hammer and Hope. Price’s essay is both a richly informative history of Haitian cinema—riddled with unrealized projects proposed by such filmmakers as Eisenstein and Danny Glover but also with landmark accomplishments such as Arnold Antonin’s Haiti: The Way to Freedom (1974)—and a call for a “cinematic depiction of the Haitian Revolution equivalent to its scale.” As Price reminds us, the “insurrection that began in 1791 and ended in 1804 resulted in the first Black republic, the only one created out of a slave revolt.”

  • Abiding Nowhere is the tenth film in Tsai Ming-liang’s Walker series, in which Lee Kang-sheng, wearing a monk’s red robe, moves through a disparate array of rural and urban settings at what Nicolas Rapold, writing at Screen Slate, describes as “a hallucinogenically gradual pace.” Lee has appeared in every one of Tsai’s films, including Rebels of the Neon God (1992), Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003), and Days (2020). “I do not direct him,” Tsai told Rapold when they met in Berlin. “And amazingly, he always achieved what I wanted. When I work with other actors, I will give more directions. But when I work with Lee Kang-sheng, I just let him be. Usually he does not act too much. He’s just being real.”

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