If Stephen Rodrick’s already notorious fly-on-the-wall article about the making of The Canyons were just stories of Lindsay Lohan flaking and Paul Schrader seething, it’d be a fun, if queasily voyeuristic, bit of nothing. But it’s the not-so-subtextual portrait of movie mavericks flailing now that Hollywood has no place for them that makes it such a wild, tragic read.
Another onset report, from the other side of the world in more ways than one: David Bordwell hands over his blog to James Udden, relaying his set visit to Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin, a wuxia being filmed with the same patient, meticulous attention to mise-en-scène Hou has devoted to his previous, sans-martial-arts films.
“One day, apropos flooded New York, I mused what you might see by way of statues or such from the window of Macy’s. Within moments Tony had the Public Relations Manager of Macy’s on the phone for Stanley. ‘This is Stanley Kubrick. I’d like you to go to the window and tell me what you can see.’ The man’s description wasn’t too good. ‘That’s the trouble with this positive discrimination,’ Stanley grumbled. ‘They employ retards.'” Ian Watson’s account of working on the script of A.I., expanded and with a brief but amusing postscript added from a 2000 Playboy article, features all the eccentricities and paranoia we’ve heard of from other collaborators, but also the invigorating rush of being drawn into the man’s orbit. Via Movie City News. Related: Kubrick’s worried letter to the studio about IBM’s attitude towards a psychotic computer antagonist, and the reassuring reply, at Letters of Note.
It’s only fitting that the AFC’s interview with Holy Motors‘ cinematographer Caroline Champetier is so devoted to technical matters; it’s that formal grounding you need to capture imaginative, surreal leaps like these.
Sociologist Herbert Blumer’s 1933 paper Movies and Conduct set much of the tone for how movies were thought to affect society for decades. The new issue of Mediascape (spotted by Film Studies for Free) kicks off with Christina Petersen’s interesting breakdown of the unexamined prejudices (primarily of class) and slanted questioning that led Blumer to the conclusions he’d predetermined.
“America was on the cusp of something resembling sexual change, but it wasn’t quite there. It needed a half-naked vampire with kohl-caked eyes to push them towards desire.” Two articles on iconic silent actresses, both spotted by David Hudson. Anne Helen Petersen, quoted above, vamps her own way through an appreciation of Theda Bara, with some sharp ideas about the knowing, wink-wink relationship fans have always had with the celebrity publicity machine. While Nick Pinkerton treasures the cheerful carnality of Clara Bow.
Richard Brody unpacks recent, controversial comments by French producer Vincent Maraval to reveal less a crisis in that nation’s film culture than a fundamentally optimistic call for a necessary course correction.
Mubi’s enjoyable annual Writers Poll of suggested double-features, one contemporary film paired with something older, offers a great number of imaginative juxtapositions. Kent Jones’s inspired triple feature of The Master with The Best Years of Our Lives and Let There Be Light shows his profound understanding of what Anderson was up to; though no denying Ryland Walker Knight teaming it up with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot sounds like a fun evening as well.
“Shut everything down. Is that something that…. You want us to shut everything down? Then we’ll shut everything down.” Jason Mittell makes a good case that critics have too often ignored the production history of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and underappreciated the strange formal ellipses that result from taking a TV pilot busy setting up its multiple plotlines and making it the first 2/3rds of a self-contained movie. Via John Wyver.
Miguel Gomes returns to his first profession of film critic for an impassioned defense of Manuel Mozos as “the one great Portuguese filmmaker who has been denied the international acclaim he is due.” Also at Moving Image Source, they wrap up the year asking contributors to name their favorite “moving image moment or event” for the year, a broad enough mandate to spur praise for a table in de Oliveira’s Gebo and the Shadow, or Beulah Bondi and Helen Hayes’s separate roles as mothers for Leo McCarey.
“But you say, ‘I just don’t know if I have what it takes to become a professional, Albert.’ So I say, why not find out?” Splitsider’s Ramsey Ess looks back at the short films of Albert Brooks, training ground for one of our greats.
Charlotte Nielson sees one of the movies’ more prominent architectural clichés coming to an end, with Modernist architecture finally employed for more than just chilly sites of murder and familial anxiety.
At Cinephilia & Beyond, sketches of some great directors (a serene De Sica, an elegant Griffith) by one of the greatest, Satyajit Ray.
Will Schofield posts some more of Sweden’s grand art deco posters for Hollywood movies, some so elegantly detailed they demand (and receive) loving close-ups. Via Adam Cook.
Video: Also spotted by Cook, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short (less than a minute), surreal video welcoming in 2013.
Italian actress Mariangela Melato made her fame playing opposite Giancarlo Giannini in a trio of satires by Lina Wertmuller – The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Love and Anarchy (1973), and Swept Away (1974) – and co-starred in the America cult film Flash Gordon (1980) in a forty career in films and on TV. She died at the age of 71 in a Rom hospital after a struggle with pancreatic cancer. More from BBC News.
David R. Ellis, one-time stunt coordinator and second unit director who graduated to directing and made two Final Destination installments, Cellular, and Snakes on a Plane (among other films), has passed away at the age of 60 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was preparing his next feature. Nicole Sperling at the Los Angeles Times.
Japanese actress Noriko Sengoku appeared in a number of Akira Kurosawa films, including “Drunken Angel” (1948), “Stray Dog” (1949), and “Seven Samurai” (1954), as well Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” (1964) and Yasuzô Masumura’s “Blind Beast” (1969), during her long career. She passed away at the end of 2012 at the age of 90. Via David Hudson at Keyframe Daily.
Valerie Massadian’s Nana, winner of the Best First Film prize at Locarno, “puts her gifts as an artist-photographer to good use in this almost wordless and contemplative look at life and nature from the POV of a nearly feral tot,” writes Kathleen Murphy for Parallax View. The film plays for a week at Northwest Film Forum with the filmmaker in attendance (showtimes here), and Massadian will also conduct an afternoon class at NWFF on Saturday, January 12.
Volker Schlondorff’s The Tin Drum: Director’s Cut plays for a three-day run at SIFF Film Center starting Friday, January 11.
Grand Illusion’s Woody Allen series continues with runs of Manhattan and Love and Death, both on 35mm, of course. Schedule and showtimes here.
Also opening this week: Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone starring Marion Cotillard (Harvard Exit) (reviewed by Kathleen Murphy here) and Gangster Squad with Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone (multiple theaters). And Zero Dark Thirty goes wide this weekend, expanding out to more than a dozen theaters in and around the Seattle area.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries and Seattle Screens curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.