The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of August 3
The only links page that matters… except for all the others.
“Then suddenly, less than one week before election—Defeat! Shameful. Ignominious.” The decadal parlor game that is Sight & Sound’s survey of the 50 Greatest Films of All Time is once again upon us, and as you’ve heard the enfant terrible’s showstopper has finally been taken down by the aging master’s haunting fantasia. Thoughts on the results certainly aren’t hard to find, and while some have merit—Roger Ebert’s assertion that all great movies only grow better with familiarity, Jonathan Rosenbaum’s tracking of cinephile fashion, Scott Tobias’s refutation of claims the list is too stodgy—Jim Emerson’s the only one asking the main question on my mind: Where are the comedies?
“Like other actress who didn’t suggest pampered debutantes, Clarke got hard-luck roles: hoofers, hookers and gang molls. At the lowest point of the Depression, there was a lot of hard luck to go around.” Taking in Mae Clarke’s rush of pre-code films, Imogen Smith marvels at Clarke’s adaptability to the breakneck pace (19 films in three years)—and wonders at how often she’s the vessel for some of the era’s most darkly misogynist impulses.
“In France we visited a location at which they were shooting a scene of a French film. There were at least ten cine-mobiles there, while we don’t even have one of them in Iran and we don’t need them. To make The Mirror, I had a crew of six, and I didn’t need an inefficient seventh one.” For Fandor, Ehsan Khoshbakht translates several excerpts from Jafar Panahi’s Iranian interviews.
Roland-François Lack charts the chronology of Le petit soldat; as slippery and uncertain an effort as you’d expect, given Godard’s use of allusions to drag events of the recent past into the then-present day. A present day that wound up delayed for two years by French censors, anyways.
“Hedren isn’t remotely interested in how beautiful Miller is in the film [about the making of The Birds] (which she is). What she cares about is that Sienna plays her ‘strong’. ‘And not shy,’ she says. ‘Because I was not, not at all.’” Nor is she now, as Rosie Millard’s visit to Tippi Hedren’s Shambala proves. Link via Movie City News.
“Digital sucks. It is a giant, complete, total crock. It is a scam. It is a lie. It is a de-evolution, it is a step backwards, it is garbage.” Chris Marstell’s profile of Boston projectionist David Kornfeld makes his exacting standards as abundantly clear as his inability to mince words. Via Indiewire’s Steve Green.
Kristin Thompson has another selection of recent supplements to home video releases that go beyond the fluff to present some useful information.
“No, actually, it confirms something I’ve always wondered about modern art. Abstract art.” “What’s that?” “That perhaps it’s just picking up where religious art left off, somehow trying to show you divinity. The modern artist just pares it down to the basic elements of shape and color.” David Schwarz presents a recent post-screening discussion he moderated among Far from Heaven collaborators Todd Haynes, production designer Mark Friedberg, and costume designer Sandy Powell. Included are some fine, Fauvist pre-production sketches by Haynes.
Danny Heitman recounts the career of James Agee, who even outside his criticism tackled every topic—from itinerant farmers to cockfights—as if it were made for the movie screen.
Hollywood’s always been aware of the benefits of ancillary marketing coupled with a healthy dose of sex, and Mary Mallory has the bathing beauties emblazoned on the sheet music for “Help! Help! Mr. Sennett (I’m Drowning in a Sea of Love)” to prove it. Spotted by the Bioscope.
“They brought me a whole pamphlet full of color pictures. They had a lei for me too but it wilted by the time they got here. It’s all so colorful and exotic…. Someday I’m going to go there.” Criterion offers a series of set photos from 3 Women, including what may be the definitive (albeit NSFW, due to the artwork he leans against) Altman portrait.
Criterion’s link roundup points to another excellent gallery: everyday_i_show’s gathering of actor’s photographs by Richard G. Wright, starkly beautiful and unapologetically masculine, each appended by a statement of what inspired the subject to get into acting. In a pairing that had never occurred to me before but makes surprising sense upon reflection, Mitchum and Malkovich both chalk it up to getting an offer when they were broke.
Gore Vidal—novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, astute political observer, and all around wit—died this week at the age of 86. He was a man of letters, a member of the American aristocracy, and an outspoken critic of the culture he remained both a part of and apart from. Everyone’s got something to say, so after the establishment take at The New York Times by Charles McGrath, check out the collection David Hudson has gathered at Fandor.
Chris Marker (born born Christian-Francois Bouche-Villeneuve) passed away this week at the age of 91. He’s best known to the general public (if he’s known at all to them) for La jetee, the inspiration for 12 Monkeys, but to the film community this enigmatic, cat-loving filmmaker is a giant, as the outpouring of remembrances and tribute attest. After Dennis Lim’s survey of Marker’s life and career at The New York Times, take a detour with Telluride’s Tom Luddy, sharing a rare photo of Marker and the delightful backstory to its capture, and then Jean-Michel Frodon’s obituary (translated by Mary Stephens), which ends with two minor but not to be missed gems: A brief epitaph by Agnes Varda, and a recent New Year’s card from Marker whose logo shows even his support for the occupy movement was given a feline cast. Catherine Grant gathers links to articles and interviews (as well as some video by and about Marker) at Film Studies for Free and David Hudson, as usual collects more remembrances and obituaries at Fandor.
R.G. Armstrong, the sturdy character actor and familiar face in the Peckinpah posse, died last week at the age of 95. The Strasberg-trained actor was in the original Broadway production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” before heading to Hollywood, where he was a fixture on TV westerns of the fifties and sixties and continued playing character roles on the big and small screen through 2001. Obituary at the New York Times.
Lupe Ontiveros, the 4-foot-11-inch Mexican-American actress, had been acting professionally on stage and screen for over twenty years (including the original stage production and subsequent film version of Zoot Suit) when she made her breakthrough in the 2000 Chuck and Buck and the 2002 Real Women Have Curves. She also earned an Emmy nomination in 2005 for Desperate Housewives. She died of liver cancer at the age of 69. Dennis McLellan at Los Angeles Times.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.