“The Hotel des Artistes—built by artists, for artists. What the hell are we doing here?” Steve Johnson follows the time-honored tradition of mining for auteurist creds in a flawed, overlooked work, seeing the sure hands of Robert Wise’s architectural sensibilities in the fiery prologue and pained climax of the muddled Audrey Rose.
“The key Morgan-Slim scenes take place in the enclosures of their shadowy hotel rooms, where even the Production Code seems unable to reach them as they perform mating rituals using a stolen wallet as prop, or linger over the sensuality of Morgan’s all-nighter beard abrading Slim’s cheek.” Dan Sallitt makes the convincing case for To Have and Have Not as the central jewel in Hawks’s crown, “a work undertaken in and executed with as much comfort and confidence as an industry director is ever likely to muster.” Via David Hudson.
“This dude is cutting three-, four-, five-second shots, which is fast, across the whole movie, but they don’t feel like fast cuts because everything is perfectly composed. He’s cutting like a mad bastard, but the way he’s staging, centering the image, putting it off-center, it’s all perfectly judged so it doesn’t feel frantic.” Grady Hendrix talks with David Bordwell about the great, still undervalued master of Hong Kong cinema, Lau Kar-leung. In the subsequent installment of his terrific Kaiju Shakedown column, Hendrix gives us a where-are-they-now rundown for some key Thai filmmakers.
“Don has a great anger, a great sense of irony, and a great, warm sense of humor. (I know about the first—I have heard about the latter qualities.)” Criterion posts the afterword to the 1974 book Don Siegel: Director, an affectionate, funny (and yeah, tough as nails) reminiscence from Sam Peckinpah.
Barbara Flueckiger has a short, potent post up at her invaluable Timeline of Historical Film Colors blog on the importance of Technicolor to the Sirkian style, and how far most toned-down video releases are from his saturated aesthetic as seen on screen. Via Movie City News.
“James, do you remember the good gone days?” Toronto Film Review has dug up Robin Wood’s 1986 review of Steven Bach’s Final Cut, wherein the critic offers another of his spirited defenses of Heaven’s Gate; audio of a debate between Godard and Pauline Kael is appended, to remind you how heated discussion of the film could get at the time. Whereas these days Steven Soderbergh can recut the whole damned movie and you hear barely a peep.
Studio Ghibli’s Isao Takahata describes his most profound inspiration: Paul Grimault’s La Bergère et le Ramoneur and its completed, expanded version of three decades later, The King and the Mockingbird. Complete with a lovely gallery of concept art by Grimault.
Michael Pattison takes a day trip to Delft, crucial contributor to the eerie mood of Herzog’s Nosferatu.
“As Sandler has become more successful and richer, so have his characters. But there’s something incomplete, almost unreal about their success. They, like him, continue to not care. And because they don’t care, in all of these films, you suspect that the Sandler characters, fueled by their self-loathing, could easily break character and nuke the proceedings, to bring the world crashing down upon itself. There’s something hilarious and even a little terrifying about that.” I confess to more sympathy than most to Adam Sandler’s shtick, for all the reasons Bilge Ebiri lays out. Though he should give Little Nicky a second chance.
Visions of the future of cinema are dime-a-dozen, but intriguing ones do come down the pike. One of the more enticing, if vague at this point, is the passion of neuroscientist Sergei Gepshtein: using our understanding of the “window of visibility,” that small portion of all the information our eyes receive that our brain can process, to effect film transitions without editing, as he explains to Jennifer Ouellette. Via Vadim Rizov.
Even the most trivial facts can hide behind them the sweep and outrage of a nation. Case in point, Gunday, currently the worst film of all time according to IMDB voters, pilloried not for perceived artistic flaws but for its dismissive, Indian-centric attitude towards the Bangladesh Liberation War, as David Goldberg explains. Via Matt Singer.
“I don’t feel very manly,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I don’t feel rugged and strong and capable in real life, not how I imagine a man ought to be. So I seek it, to mimic it and maybe understand it, or maybe to draw it into my own reality […] People who are scary, they terrify me, but I can imitate them.” As Tom Hardy describes it to Tom Junod, the hard, lonely men he plays without peer are mostly therapeutic mimicry for a self-described “petit little bourgeois boy from London.” Though he admits coming close enough to the brink once to steer clear from danger evermore.
“A fundamental irony about the praise I received for Hunger is the fact that one of the most well-known scenes from it features an uninterrupted 17-minute take. I’m happy to absorb that Zen lesson in life.” In a fine interview with Ryan Conruth, editor Joe Walker explains his collaborations with Steve McQueen, discusses the importance he places on music and sound, and wins my undying affection for recalling a brutal, telling cut his mentor Ardan Fisher made in the documentary The Orson Welles Story.
“Hang out our banners on the outward walls. The cry is still ‘They Come!’” Adrian Curry celebrates the bard’s 450th with some of his favorite posters for Shakespeare adaptations.
More posters, as Will Schofield gathers an attractive collection of hand-painted French posters spanning four decades, from Fantomas gazing down over Paris to… something peering out behind the wall at the three travelers from Stalker.
Bob Hoskins, who announced his retirement from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, passed away this week after a bout of pneumonia. He was 71. The remembrances are collected by David Hudson at Keyframe Daily but I draw your attention to two tributes in particular: colleagues and collaborators Shane Meadows, Helen Mirren and Stephen Woolley at The Guardian, and BFI curator Nigel Algar recalling a visit from Hoskins in 1986 to check out this Jean Gabin fellow he’d been compared to.
Al Feldstein penned hundreds of horror and science stories as a writer, artist, and editor at EC comics, watching over such titles as “Tales From the Crypt,” “The Vault of Horror,” “Weird Science,” and “Shock SuspenStories,” but his most enduring legacy in American culture is his defining guidance of “Mad Magazine.” He took it over in 1956 and redefined it from a four-color comic book spoof to a defining pop culture satire magazine with the help of “the usual gang of idiots” he brought in over the almost 30 years it thrived under his editorial guidance. He died this week at the age of 88. Bruce Weber pays tribute at The New York Times.
Israeli actor, writer, and filmmaker Assi Dayan starred in A Walk with Love and Death (1969), Oscar nominee Operation Thunderbolt (1977), Joseph Cedar’s Campfire (2004), and the original Israeli series In Treatment (2005-2008), directed 17 films and wrote even more. He won eight Israeli Academy Awards over his career for all three endeavors, his last a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He passed away this week at the age of 68. More from Hannah Brown at The Jerusalem Post.
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.