There are several flippant ways to respond to Quentin Tarantino’s remarks about John Ford’s purported racism, from gruff dismissal to just tossing out Sergeant Rutledge and calling it a day. Kent Jones offers the thoughtful response, and it’s definitive. Also at Film Comment, subversion of a less haunted, more joyously playful sort, in Maitland McDonagh’s salute to “godfather of gay porn” Peter de Rome.
Carmel Magazine’s Rebecca L. Knight makes it sound as if there are very few afternoons more delightful than one spent in the company of Joan Fontaine, whether the legend is making sure you get a selection of roses from her garden or proudly showing off the golf trophy she received for a hole-in-one. (It’s on the shelf above her Oscar: “Oh yes, well there’s that.”) Beginning on page 82. Via Eileen Orr.
Dolby’s last attempt at introducing a new sound system, the failed 7.1, added two more sound channels to 5.1’s six. Their latest, Atmos, offers 64, including the ceiling. Jeff Smith explains the potential and offers an assessment in a guest post at David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s blog. In a separate post Thompson uses the failure of Jack the Giant Slayer to argue, contra Hollywood marketing, that there’s really no such thing as a “Fantasy fan.”
“I know you want me so bad it’s like acid in your mouth. But not this time.” Sophie Brown’s efforts to screen Point Break are stymied as she tries and fails to hunt down the film’s British copyright holder. One of the runners-up in Sight and Sound’s Female Film Reporter competition.
“We are conscious of the animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled; like the worms which, even in life and health, occupy our bodies.” It’s perhaps right, as Sam Adams argues, that films like Upstream Color be allowed to retain their mysteries; but if the secrets must be unlocked, it might as well be in as perceptive and erudite a fashion as Caleb Crain’s explication.
“They called Chaney The Man of a Thousand Faces, but so many of those faces were twisted, sneering, deformed, pulled back, pulled down, contorted.” Dan Callahan is exquisite on the masochistic anti-sentimentality of Lon Chaney, “the first really important American film actor.” It pairs nicely with his other recent piece for The Chiseler on Eric Linden, whose similarly foreshortened career deserves “some more attention to his Jekyll and Hyde face and his correct assumption that the world is against him.”
“In the history of experimental cinema, then, Kubelka stands as the first to make films that experiment on you.” Michael Metzger praises the “elegantly, delicately artificial” studies of time and light from avant-garde filmmaker Peter Kubelka.
Apparently figuring their game of one-upmanship with Iran of censoring artists couldn’t lead to more than a draw, China’s decided to up the ante and investigate Zhang Yimou for having too many children.
“It starts off in a long shot and a guy’s all far away and walking toward the camera and you’re all ‘Uh-oh am I going to have to watch him walk the whole way?’ and you do and it takes three minutes or more. ‘Ooh, look at me, I’m sculpting with time!’ Fuck you.” No. 2 of 20 shots the Reverse Shot writers suggest retiring permanently from the cinematic vocabulary.
“I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar.” “It was worth every penny.” Chris Laverty interviews costume designer Michael Kaplan about the raggedy, improvised wardrobe of Fight Club’s Marla Singer.
“But there’s no way to get there until a lot of time has passed. If this is a sculpture, time is the thing that wears it, that shapes it. That time has to go by.” Dennis Lim interviews Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater about their 18-year, three-film collaboration, now finished (or maybe not?) with Before Midnight.
“I must say I was never in favor of violence, like Gudrun was. I am always in favor of expressing anger, though.” Interviewed by Lydia Perovi?, Margarethe von Trotta looks back at decades of struggle against the oppressions of the state, the simplistic reductionism of the political left, and the general, entitled cluelessness of men. Via Criterion.
Also in the new Believer, there’s not much overlap (though more than you might think) between von Trotta’s worldview and Rashida Jones’s, but interviewer Kathryn Borel is right that the latter’s perceptive open-mindedness “sounds like the best of California. The idealized California.” The actual California—hazier and dangerously out of touch—was beautifully shown up by Elliott Gould’s turn in The Long Goodbye as the Marlowe it “needed…[but] didn’t want,” argues Greg Cwik.
“When I think of [my films] in terms of success, I think of how close I came to my original vision of it. The two films where I came extremely close were To Live and Die in L.A. and Sorcerer.” The latest William Friedkin interview, courtesy of Bilge Ebiri, offers up his typical mix of professionalism and surprising frankness.
“What matters is that somehow the conception of the direction of the movie and the conception of the movie as a story, as product, as a fiction are, in theory, married, rather than the film being a literary object, which is then interpreted visually.” Screenwriter Larry Gross, interviewed by Scott Macaulay, has an interesting take on the difference between working for the studios or as an independent, and a more radical, refreshing view on the writer’s role in the process than most directors offer up.
The L.A. offices of Bandito Brothers presumably have on display memorabilia from such features they worked on as Act of Valor and Step into Liquid. And now, thanks to editor Vashi Nedomansky, they have Orson Welles’s Steenbeck as well.
The above spotted by Cinephilia and Beyond, which also passes along some lovely photos from the set of Blue Velvet taken by Peter Braatz, a German film student Lynch had invited to Wilmington with the advice to “bring lots of money.”
Adrian Curry asks Akiko Stehrenberger, whose stark poster for the American Funny Games he chose as the best of the aughts, for her ten favorite poster designs. She has some familiar choices, but who cares? They’re classics all.
Ray Harryhausen, the great movie wizard who brought wondrous creatures to life through the art of model design and stop motion animation, passed away this week at the ripe age of 92. The tributes have been legion, and no surprise. Harryhausen’s creations dazzled so many future film critics and historians in their formative years and turned many a movie-hungry child in to a genre hound. Of the many stories and remembrances that have filled the in the past few days, my favorite is the reminder that Harryhausen was inspired to learn stop-motion animation after seeing King Kong (1933). What makes the story so marvelous is that he went to see the film with his childhood best friend: Ray Bradbury. David Hudson collects the tributes at Keyframe Daily.
Bryan Forbes passed away at age 86 after a long illness. An actor and screenwriter (he was both for I Was Monty’s Double and The League of Gentleman), he made his directorial debut with Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and went on to direct Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1963), King Rat (1965), and The Stepford Wives (1975) among others. More from David Batty at The Guardian.
Mike Gray, a documentary filmmaker (The Murder of Fred Hampton) and screenwriter (The China Syndrome) with a particular interest in social and political subjects, died this week at the age of 77. Bruce Weber at The New York Times.
Taylor Mead, dubbed “the first underground movie star” by J. Hoberman, appeared in the films of Andy Warhol, Ron Rice, and Robert Downey. He died this week at the age of 88. Hoberman remembers Mead for ArtInfo.
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.