The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of Friday, June 22
The only links page that matters… except for all the others.
Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here.
In what seems to be the start of a series, and an invaluable one at that, B. Kite and Kent Jones have put up a pair of fascinating articles at Film Comment’s blog on Robert Bresson (part one and part two). Each tries to clear away the clutter surrounding the director—Kite by praising his hard-boiled fascination with process; Jones asserting the primacy of his Christianity, however uncomfortable that makes some modern critics—and both are enraptured by the gleaming sensuality that radiates from such purportedly austere films, prompting affinities from Astaire to Huston to Webb.
“My ball-grabbing opening had young Balzac and his mother in a runaway stagecoach, hurtling along a treacherous road next to a cliff, the future novelist struggling with the reins of the startled horses and finally saving the day. Hell, Balzac was going to be a sexy adventure picture with plenty of action!” Also at Film Comment, their recent list of the best movies never made has been expanded to a two-part, still-growing rundown of projects abandoned over the years, not least a literary biopic à la Fuller (a through k here, l through z here).
Movie lists can be an easy, tossed-off way to drive hits to a website; and they can still be a labor of love, as proven by Film Comment above and by Popmatters’s latest addition to their collection of Essential Film Performances, last updated in 2010. Halfway through a promised 50 selections, and several choices already veer admirably from the beaten path: most such lists, arranged alphabetically, would hit the midpoint with Charles Laughton, but how many would be praising his turn in This Land Is Mine?
Susan Sontag’s famous/infamous “Notes on Camp” got at least two things wrong, argues Joseph at The Last Goddess: setting up an opposition between Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual camp, then praising as so quintessentially camp the films of a straight, Jewish artist. One of the highlights (also deserving a look: Vulnavia Morbius’s disappointed survey of transgender documentaries) of the Queer Film Blogathon, co-hosted by Garbo Laughs and Pussy Goes Grrr.
“‘Listen, O’Neil,’ Dempsey told him, ‘Valentino’s no sissy, believe me…. He packs a pretty mean punch.’ ‘Cut the crap,’ O’Neil told him. ‘I don’t buy it, and neither does anyone else.’” At the Smithsonian blog, Gilbert King looks back at Rudolph Valentino’s battles—in one case, literal—with a press that that greeted his rising fame by spitting out the most vile racist and homophobic slurs.
John D’Amico’s “Lessons in Filmmaking from the Old Masters: John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford” matches its fannish enthusiasm with critical discernment—and, in the style of his hero, a firm grasp on what really matters.
The above link from the Film Doctor, who also passes along a breezy, informative (but, ironically, rather confusingly organized) interview with the great editor Richard Chew, by Flickering Myth’s Trevor Hogg.
“The producers of this film have unselfishly spent untold millions of dollars to develop this startling process. And I, I have been locked away for many years in the laboratory experimenting with this mind-boggling project.” Sight & Sound’s Jasper Sharpe catches a screening at one of South Korea’s 4DX theaters, the battles of The Avengers augmented by blasts of air, sprayed scents, and chairs that prod your lumbar region, and reports back on a phenomenon that has curiously yet to reach western shores. At the same site, but pretty much the exact opposite in every way, Agata Pyzik praises the bad-taste films of Christoph Schlingensief, which dredged up from West Germany’s unconsciousness every manner of vulgarity, gore by the ton, and of course Hitler in the bunker (played in this instance by Udo Kier).
Jake Cole compares the Nosferatus of Murnau and Herzog, and finds much compelling in the latter’s hollowed-out, somnambulent pace.
“My wife saw the film cans arriving and said: ‘Are you crazy? You spent $25,000 on movies nobody cares about?’ ‘But honey,’ I said, ‘this could have been me!’ If Nicolas Winding Refn gets obsessed with something, you’d expect it to be underground and all-consuming. So his infatuation with Andy Milligan, recounted for the Guardian, certainly fits.
Video: Criterion posts an essay on one of La Jetée‘s least-appreciated wonders: its carefully calibrated soundtrack.
Andrew Sarris, one of the nation’s preeminent and most influential film critics (he was dubbed, I don’t know by who, “the Dean of American film criticism), died this week at the age of 83. He wrote engaged, intelligent criticism with passion and a palpable joy for the film themselves for five decades, and he kicked off a whole new direction of criticism (and debates to last a lifetime) with The American Cinema: Directors and Directions. His influence cannot be underestimated and his passing has inspired eloquent and heartfelt tributes. Richard Corliss pens a very personal, and quite thorough, appreciation of the man, his influence, and his place in film culture. Also: fine reflections by Richard Brody at The New Yorker and Jim Emerson at Scanners, plus brief tributes at Press Play. More links collected at Fandor by David Hudson.
Going to the source itself. Here is Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell talking Hawks at Moving Image Source, and the audio of an interview of the couple from the same source. Sarris’ Top Ten lists, 1958-2006, are collected here.
Susan Tyrell, the versatile actress who earned Best Supporting Actress nomination for the 1972 Fat City, died at the age of 67 from complications of thrombocythemia, a bone marrow disease. Here career spans some significant films and filmmakers: Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977), the cult musical Forbidden Zone (1980), Paul Verhoeven’s first English language production Flesh+Blood (1985), John Waters’ Cry-Baby (1990), and she was the uncredited narrator of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards (1977). Remembrances gathered by David Hudson at Fandor. Visit her official here.
Nancy Mysel, dedicated film preservationist at UCLA Film and Television Archive and project manager on the recent restorations of The Prowler and Cry Danger, passed away this week after a long struggle with cancer. Via Eddie Muller of The Film Noir Foundation, who offer this tribute: “She was wonderful, sweet, and far too shy and humble—and most importantly, she was a tenacious guardian of cinema history, who set a very high standard for us to maintain.”
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid in collaboration with the editor of and contributors to Parallax View.