Despite being the formative works of a supreme master—as well as a string of engaging, entertaining films in their own right—the nine surviving silents of Alfred Hitchcock (excepting The Lodger) haven’t received nearly their due. A touring program of newly restored prints is finally beginning to draw some attention their way, with Dave Kehr noting such technical details as Hitchcock’s early reliance on subjective camera work “in contexts as benign as a simple conversation and as menacing as an attempted rape,” and Doug Cummings noting Los Angelenos can view the series in concert with a separate program dedicated to the director’s home movies. David Hudson rounds up other reactions, and generously collects some reviews of the movies from previous revivals.
More early works of legends in the new issue of Screening the Past, though the net’s cast wider than cinema: some poems by the teenage Bertolucci (“Use your rebel passion for the boys betrayed, / if not for us—bourgeois, penitent, dismayed.”), and Adrian Martin takes stock of six radio plays by Orson Welles, including 1939’s The Magnificent Ambersons (and, yes, The War of the Worlds). Also, Felicity Chaplin’s defense of Une femme est une femme, beginning with the notion that Godard’s description of the film as “un néo-réalisme musical” has often been mistranslated as a neorealist musical, not a musical neorealism; Jeannette Delamoir’s terrific walk through the fashions of The Sentimental Bloke, and how their astutely considered realism may have doomed the Australian silents’ reception in America; and much, much else I haven’t yet had time to read.
Of course in his later years Welles was still putting that unmistakable voice to good use, regaling young admirers over lunch with marvelous yarns which were received with almost charming credulity. Henry Jaglom used to record them, and in advance of publication later this year, he and Peter Biskind offer excerpts from three of the sitdowns; eminently quotable at every line, and there’s maybe even a stray truth or two stirred in.
Video: Not that great stories are solely the provenance of Old Hollywood—or Hollywood at all for that matter. Such as the time Jackie Chan played up an injury to hang out with Bruce Lee.
Indiewire offers the first chapter of B. Ruby Rich’s upcoming collection New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut, a brisk, lovely overview that traces the movement’s origins in everything from mainstream movies whose closeted coding was picked up and claimed as their own by homosexual audiences to the more open expression of avant-garde and European filmmakers; from the mid-80s “low-budget broadsides” of Borden, Van Sant, and Sherwood, to the current need for films that do “the kind of work to which I aspire, the work of not merely mourning but remembering and carrying on, holding the door open all the while to the new neighbors who continue to arrive.”
Having both interviewed David Koepp and given close study to his films, David Bordwell shines a light on the intelligence and compassion behind several shot choices by one of mainstream cinema’s finer, still underappreciated classicists, who’s often motivated by his intriguing concern that “the world is too big for a movie.”
For Criterion’s website, Peter Cowie has launched a series he hopes will prove a “sequence of entertaining snapshots of personalities past and present, revealing the human beings behind the movies.” The first installment, on his many meetings with Ingmar Bergman (and the many rainchecks that preceded), succeeds on all counts.
In a brief account of Luis Buñuel’s wanderings, Ellen Copperfield suggests part of what he was on the run from was love.
Mike Kaplan relates how he was unable to convince the studio of the greatness of Mike Hodges’s The Terminal Man, despite the enthusiastic support of Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick. At least he was able to score a cameo in Altman’s The Player, as he explains in a follow-up. Via Cinephilia and Beyond. In case you’re wondering, I missed these articles when they were first published back in March for the same reason David Hudson did.
“Is this a dream? No, this is Hell.” Fernando Croce on the many good reasons—not all of them head-thuddingly obvious—to see Ran on the big screen.
“Hawks isn’t about pushing the limits of his art form, but instead to always stay within its parameters, and to achieve this through a classical perfection….” David Davidson translates a Cahiers du Cinéma review of The Big Sky by Eric Rohmer, of interest more for what’s suggested about the author than the subject.
Interior’s geometric drawing of an Overlook hallway—Danny’s trike’s path marked, Family-Circus-style, via dotted line at one end; outline sketches of corpses and great gouts of red at the other—is one of the few homages to The Shining as funny and creepy as the movie itself.
Kyle Buchanan looks back on the summer’s blockbusters and, save one moment from Furious 6, finds a dispiriting run of action pictures whose never pause in their destructive excess to consider (or even note) how many people must be dying as the buildings come tumbling down. Via Matt Singer, who adds some thoughts of his own.
NPR’s Linda Holmes didn’t really have to crunch the numbers to show women are underrepresented on movie screens, of course; but when she does the discrepancy becomes revoltingly obvious.
Letters of Note returns after a hiatus with the charming thank-you Julia DeVito sent to Kirk Douglas for casting her son Danny.
“Liz & Richard would like to know who will play other roles. I mentioned Robert Redford and & Colin Wilcox. They knew neither.” Daniel Martin Eckhart posts Ernest Lehman’s hand-written notes after his first meeting with Taylor & Burton about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
“When Jean Eustache made La Maman et la putain it was denounced as petit bourgeois.” “Which in retrospect is ridiculous.” “Which in retrospect is demented!” Interviewed by José Teodoro for The Believer, Olivier Assayas discusses the inspirations behind both Something in the Air and his memoir A Post-May Adolescence: the contortions ’70s politics demanded of artists and his excited discovery that a film set “is a work of art in itself.”
Adrian Curry notes some of his favorite film festival posters, including three wonderful designs by Saul Bass, and how central the image of film strips remains to the esthetic, despite becoming ever rarer at the festivals themselves. Via Adam Cook.
James Gandolfini died of a heart attack while on vacation in Italy, at the young age of 51. He won an Emmy award for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob boss with anxiety and depression issues, and played gangster and thugs in many movies before and after the show. But his roles also include TV producer Craig Gilbert in Cinema Verite, Leon Panetta in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, and the blue collar father of David Chase’s Not Fade Away, and he used the newfound clout of his The Sopranos fame to draw attention to the problems of returning American war vets and PTSD. Matt Zoller Seitz offers a personal tribute to the actor and the man at New York: “James Gandolfini was real. He was special. You could feel it.” More tributes and remembrances gathered by David Hudson at Keyframe Daily.
Augusto Tretti only directed three features in his career. He began as an assistant to Federico Fellini and among his fans were Alberto Moravia, Michelangelo Antonioni, Cesare Zavattini, and Valerio Zurlini, but he never found the success or recognition of his contemporaries. He passed away earlier this month. Fausto Vernazzani celebrates his overlooked career at Twitch.
Looking ahead for Seattle audiences, the Hitchcock 9 is coming to SIFF Cinema Uptown for the weekend of July 26-July 28, with live accompaniment on eight of the films by local musicians and composers, and will be followed by four more days of Hitchcock: eight of his early sound films in a series they call Hitchcock U.K. Masterpieces.
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.