Did You See This?

Screens Aglow

Hiroshi Shimizu’s Ornamental Hairpin (1941)

The Berlinale, Cannes, and Venice don’t have the option Sundance is currently considering, namely, to pick up and move. Slamdance has already announced that it’s leaving Park City for Los Angeles, and starting next year, it’s also shifting itself further down the calendar to late February, giving up the position it’s held for nearly thirty years as a little festival of counter-programming running under Sundance’s nose each January.

San Francisco has put in an early bid to host Sundance from 2027 on, and SFFILM executive director Anne Lai is all for it. “As a festival of ten days in a city of seventeen square miles that’s also home to three major ski resorts, Sundance stretches the limits of Park City’s infrastructure,” notes IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio. “Crowding and bumper-to-bumper Main Street traffic prove regular challenges, while costs—for industry attendees, media partners, and the public—are at top dollar for everything from lodging rates to studio rentals to Ubers.” Sundance has until October, when its contract with Park City is up, to decide whether it will stay or go.

In other festival news, Meryl Streep will be the guest of honor when Cannes opens on May 14, and the jury is now set. President Greta Gerwig will be joined by J. A. Bayona, Ebru Ceylan, Pierfrancesco Favino, Lily Gladstone, Eva Green, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nadine Labaki, and Omar Sy. The Queer Palm has a jury now, too, to be presided over by Close director Lukas Dhont.

Tribeca (June 5 through 16) has announced a series of Talks (Judd Apatow, Jon Batiste, Andy Cohen, Laverne Cox, Kieran Culkin, Michael Stipe, Gus Van Sant, and Kerry Washington) and anniversary screenings. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg will be on hand as Mean Streets and The Sugarland Express mark fifty years since their releases, and Kevin Bacon will look back on Footloose as it turns forty.

After a screening of Wise Guy: David Chase and The Sopranos, director Alex Gibney will join Chase, executive producer Terence Winter, and several members of the cast to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show that ushered in an era of Peak TV. “Whatever else The Sopranos has taught me about viewing habits, television and cinephilia, criticism, or my own writing, it has become a part of me over these past two decades,” writes Chris Wisniewski at Reverse Shot. “Like any great work of art, it has shaped me as I have changed and as the world’s changed around me.”

Few agree on when it was, exactly, that Peak TV ended, but everyone agrees that it’s over. “What we have now,” writes James Poniewozik in the New York Times, “is a profusion of well-cast, sleekly produced competence. We have tasteful remakes of familiar titles. We have the evidence of healthy budgets spent on impressive locations. We have good-enough new shows that resemble great old ones. We have entered the golden age of Mid TV.”

On Tuesday, novelist, memoirist, poet, and translator Paul Auster, who nabbed the attention of the literary world with The Invention of Solitude and The New York Trilogy and held it for forty years, died at the age of seventy-seven. “His paragraphs were a moving sidewalk,” writes Lucy Sante in the NYT, “so you could read him for hours, as his plots twisted and turned. That made it possible for him to experiment variously, inserting literary high jinks under cover of an engaging yarn.” Auster also wrote the screenplays for Wayne Wang’s delightful Smoke and its playful follow-up, Blue in the Face, both made in 1995, and he wrote and directed Lulu on the Bridge (1998), starring Harvey Keitel, and The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007), featuring David Thewlis and Irène Jacob.

New York–based filmmaker and programmer Gina Telaroli jokes that “there’s too much stuff screening this weekend,” which is a pretty nice problem to be dealing with. Besides MoMA’s tribute to Bulle Ogier, the series of Black British films at BAM, and Avant-Garde Visions of New York, there’s also Cinema of Palestinian Return and a Marguerite Duras series at Anthology Film Archives and Michael Mann on 35 mm at the Roxy. This week’s list of recommended reads begins with even more goings-on in the city:

  • The largest Hiroshi Shimizu retrospective ever put together in North America opens tomorrow in New York. Part I: The Shochiku Years runs at the Museum of the Moving Image through May 19, and Japan Society will present Part II: The Postwar and Independent Years from May 16 through June 1. Shimizu made films “about transients and transience, punctuated by soft dissolves and ellipses,” writes Imogen Sara Smith at Reverse Shot. “Sometimes people fade out of the frame like smoke, or vanish and reappear further away. Shimizu’s formalism and his humanism go hand in hand.” Shimizu was also “truly one of the great directors of children,” writes Marya E. Gates at “The children in Shimizu’s films are jubilant, bratty, strange, and complex little weirdos who move through the world with just as much full-fledged humanity as his grown-up characters.” Children “are natural,” Shimizu once said. “They breathe the air. Films must have humans who breathe the air.”

  • The weeklong Oscar Micheaux retrospective opening today at Film Forum is the most complete yet with seventeen films, including seven new restorations. Within Our Gates (1920), the oldest known surviving feature by a Black director, “blends romance, crime, and social commentary,” writes Carole V. Bell at IndieWire, and DJ Spooky’s “evocative score is appropriately haunting and exciting.” Appreciation of Micheaux’s work doesn’t always come easy, and some “context is necessary,” suggests Robert Daniels at “The disquieting racial politics at play, especially the philosophical conversations Micheaux engages with through his filmmaking—the stark difference between being aligned with the teachings of Booker T. Washington or W. E. B. Du Bois—are mostly lost on contemporary audiences. So is the complex subject matter, the unique scenes of Black life, the looming fears of lynching, and the limited opportunities of the time that he so furiously captures. He is, simply put, a messy, complicated artist.”

  • Opening today, Jane Schoenbrun’s I Saw the TV Glow begins in 1996, when Owen (Ian Foreman, and then later, Justice Smith) is drawn into the world of the late-night show The Pink Opaque. TV Glow is “pleasurably confounding, with jagged ellipses, unreliable narration, and sudden torrents of verbal and visual information that resist quick processing,” writes Ed Halter at 4Columns. “Like the work of David Cronenberg or Richard Kelly, two pioneering genre-subverters evoked by TV Glow, Schoenbrun’s film—constructed like a puzzle for its own future fan base to pore over—rewards a rewatch.” Adam Piron asks Schoenbrun about the films they’ve selected to screen at Metrograph this weekend, Willard Huyck’s Messiah of Evil (1974) and Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead (1981), and at the Film Stage, Jordan Raup gets Schoenbrun going—magnificently, too—about a filmmaker they admire, Olivier Assayas.

  • For the Brooklyn Rail, Will Epstein talks with Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, whose films will soon screen at MoMA (May 9 through 16) and Anthology Film Archives (May 17 through 19). Dorsky’s Arboretum Cycle is on view now at Peter Blum Gallery through May 18. The new BR issue also features Dante A. Ciampaglia on Ken Loach, who has “has elevated the humanity and everyday courage of, in his words, society’s ‘nonpersons,’” and Lauren Carroll Harris on a recent viewing of Agnès Varda’s L’opéra-mouffe (1958), which “convinced me that the experience of pregnancy is an under-examined aspect of her contribution to cinema.”

  • Speaking of Varda, for the BFI, Rachel Pronger talks with cinematographer Hélène Louvart about working with her on The Beaches of Agnès (2008), and specifically, the scene in which Varda moves her office out onto the streets of Paris—which she’s turned into a sandy beach. “It appears very easy, but in fact it was so complicated,” says Louvart. “Agnès preps a lot but at the same time she has this humor, she likes to make a joke.” The conversation then turns to Louvart’s first film in 3D, Wim Wenders’s Pina (2011), for which she practically had to dance along with the company; a dark scene in Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats (2017); “a kind of divine light” in Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro (2018); and “an explosion of light” in Soudade Kaadan’s Nezouh (2023).

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