The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 6
The only links page that matters… except for all the others.
Issue two of the feminist film journal Joan’s Digest has arrived, keeping up the high quality of its debut. Among the highlights, Miriam Bale charts an unacknowledged genre, the “persona-swap” film, named for Bergman of course but ranging from Hawks to Rivette to Schroeder; Camila de Onís poetically recalls being in swoon to Monica Vitti, trying to find a place for her infatuation outside the male gaze; and Abbey Bender cheers the unpretentious but unmistakable feminism of Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan.
“A few years ago, I thought I might open a chain of eulogy stores where you could go in off the street and, for twenty bucks, they’ll tell you all the nice things they’re going to say about you after you croak. But I don’t want people to say wonderful things about me when I can’t hear them. Tell me now, while I’m still here.” The multilingual journal La Furia Umana takes Jerry Lewis at his word, making him the subject of their latest issue. Plenty of good stuff here even for those of you currently rolling your eyes, from Sadarshan Ramani’s tracing Lewis (and Tahslin) as inspiration for King of Comedy‘s Rupert Pupkin; Steven Shaviro’s closely observed defense of Smorgasbord‘s (aka Cracking Up) “therapeutically purging” humor; and if you missed it the first time around (2003, in The Believer), B. Kite’s magisterial The Jerriad: A Clown Painting, one of the finest bits of writing ever done on Lewis, not least for its succinct delineation of an essential opposition: “Buster makes extraordinary feats look incredibly easy. Jerry makes mundane activities seem extremely difficult.”
The timing for such celebration, of course, is that The Kid just celebrated his 86th Birthday. Publicly, in fact, with Richard Belzer as MC and an audience Q&A that went pretty much the way you think it did. J. Hoberman fills in the details.
Related, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s latest film books roundup and recommendations introduced me to the blog of Tashlin biographer Ethan de Seife, who’s posted a sharp look at the ambiguities—cultural, racial—of the music selections in The Girl Can’t Help It.
Reading through de Seife’s site, in turn, led to the new-to-me Media Fields Journal, whose latest issue, dedicated to the concept of scale, features a fine article by him on John Smith’s charming short film gargantuan, as well as interesting articles by Christofer Meissner on the history of expansion and contraction in the size of movie theaters and Kate Fortmueller on movie extras, with the marvelous example of 1954’s scale pay (“Riding camel or elephant: $52.50/Leading camel or elephant: $36.75”) for the profession. Never knowing where you could wind up; still one of the lovelier qualities of the internet.
“We’re both rotten.” “Only you’re a little more rotten.” They were nothing of the kind, of course. Marilyn Ferdinand looks back at three of the four films Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray made together and finds a pair as sharp and versatile as Hollywood had to offer.
If you’re looking for articles of an academic bent, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies just wrapped up their annual conference, and some participants are beginning to post their papers online. Adrian Martin made note of Jason Sperb’s interesting look at digital performance, and the prescience, marred only by “unknowing nostalgia for the persistence of humans and the material world,” of Michael Crichton’s Looker; Sperb himself links to some of his fellow conference speakers.
“I warn you! He’s a Fourierist!” Colin Beckett revisits Whit Stillman’s three ’90s films, making good points though he doesn’t quite nail the landing of (for whatever reason) distancing the director from his conservative admirers.
At Mubi, Farran Smith Nehme salutes the patriotism of McCarey’s Ruggles of Red Gap; while Luc Moullet stakes out the more controversial (but perhaps eminently American?) position that thank god Antonioni discovered color, because his films were too damned boring in black-and-white.
“A lot of people had been telling me—and I always thought it was a compliment—that my movies are impossible to classify, but they said, ‘No, it’s not a compliment and it’s really hard for your distributors.'” Guy Maddin, interviewed by Artinfo’s Graham Fuller, explains the genre influences in his latest film Keyhole.
“The Titanic at Southampton, prior to her maiden voyage, which has proved so disastrous.” An ad for a 1912 newsreel; a film now lost, as are all movies of the liner save 100 feet of unimposing footage. At The Bioscope Luke McKernan surveys what’s known of the ship’s silent-film history.
Noah Isenberg delves into “Tales of Buffalo Billy” in his review of the book Masters of Cinema: Billy Wilder at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Note that the site is less than two weeks away from makeover.
Video: “We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change.” Jeff Desom’s Rear Window video, which reconfigures all the doings of L. B. Jefferies’s neighbors into a sped-up panoramic shot, offers that delightful rarity for a classic: a genuinely fresh view. Via Press Play.
Video: The Pickfair Studios, built for their near-namesake Mary Pickford and shooting site for innumerable films, were torn down this week. The L.A. Weekly has video footage, and a bit of background on how the protests were indeed too little and too late. Fear not, though; revitalization, we’re assured, is on its way.
Image: Originally posted a year ago but resurrected in a flurry of rediscovery is Best of BTS. From the Angus R Shamal blog, it’s a collection of behind-the-scenes shots from great, iconic, and unexpected movies that all reveal something special or particularly revealing. Practical, on-set special effects dominate. Does that make Angie Dickinson’s legs the greatest special effect of all?
Film director Claude Miller, who began his career as an assistant to directors Robert Bresson, Jacques Demy, Jean-Luc Godard, and Francois Truffaut, died at age 70. Ronald Bergen revisits his career and legacy at The Guardian.
What our contributors are doing
Sean Axmaker’s DVD column Videodrone continues at MSN here. You can find the roundup for and highlights of the April 3 DVD/Blu-ray releases here.
Tom Keogh spices things up with The Salt of Life, which “finds gentle comedy in the dilemma of a still warm-blooded if sexually marginalized fellow for whom kindness is second nature and lecherousness is alien.”
John Hartl reviews the documentary They Call it Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain, which “questions the present state of the harsh, poor but once-prosperous country formerly known as Burma.”
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by the editor of and contributors to Parallax View, with the invaluable assistance of Bruce Reid.