“As plot events shake his world, Apley passes by the slanting print and doesn’t pause to set it right—the offending imbalance is framed by Mankiewicz so that it occupies the lion’s share of screen space as Apley moves across the frame. And you feel it, this little earthquake in a tidy world. That’s a visual stroke that anticipates a key moment in Jeanne Dielman by almost 30 years.” Revisiting the films of Joseph Mackiewicz, Robert Horton finds—not just in The Late George Apley—a more inventive visual stylist than even his admirers acknowledged. However fussy or self-conscious (yeah, all right, literary) his method was.
“Varda found in Los Angeles a city of seekers—explorers, refugees, and desperadoes who had pushed westward and westward again, compelled by nothing but dreams, and finally arriving at the edge of a continent. The search that has no object resonated with Varda; she is, by her own admission, a gleaner for whom searching and living are coincident.” Sasha Archibald puts Agnès Varda’s sojourn in L.A. in the context of an industry always willing to snatch and chew up intellectual heavyweights; and finds her one of the few to have come out the other side with a handful of distinguished films made on her own terms.
“The worst of it was that you had to have the 90 pages of script to get the process started. And scripts, as far as I was concerned, were some kind of second-rate literature that seemed to make sense on paper and were very useful to accountants and schedulers, but had nothing to do with the living film. Let alone with art.” In the first of two installments (the second to follow soon) based on his lecture to Britain’s National Film and TV School, Pawel Pawlikowski details the making of Ida, focusing here on writing a script that pleased the money men even if it barely resembled the film he planned to make. Via Movie City News.
David Hudson has spotted three book excerpts featuring the beginning of a great career, a project unrealized by a brutal end, and dreams of the future. In order, then. In the forward to The Films of Claire Denis: Intimacy at the Border, Wim Wenders recalls the diminutive assistant who steered Paris, Texas to the finish line despite Teamster revolts and an absent screenwriter. (“I could not have done Paris, Texas without her! Her strength and perseverance were in reverse proportion to her physical size.”)
“‘Isn’t he a fascist?’ ‘A collaborator with the SS?’ ‘Isn’t he a fanatic, a willing and exalted servant of power?’ ‘Isn’t he, and didn’t he declare himself the most zealous of the most zealous promoters of the traditions?’ […] Paul looks around and begins to speak (he has a mysterious smile, unbelievable in that face distorted by fanaticism), and looking around humbly, he says in a deep voice, in the way the first words of a hymn are uttered: ‘Christ has liberated us for freedom.’” The New Inquiry, meanwhile, has an excerpt from Pasolini’s published St. Paul screenplay.
And Film Quarterly offers more than a dozen (more than a baker’s, even) examples from Scott MacKenzie’s Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Culture: A Critical Anthology, including essays in the form from Jonas Mekas, Jan Svankmajer, and Kim Jong-il. (Click through for .pdf.)
At the other end of the literary spectrum sit the libelously sensationalistic, notoriously unsourced biographies by the late C. David Heymann, whose flat-out inventions about the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, and others David Cay Johnston chronicles. Via the Self-Styled Siren.
The new issue of [in]Transition, edited by Catherine Grant, is devoted to the audiovisual essay, with emphasis, as Grant states in her introduction, on that second word: “while, as a noun, that term carries a (not always helpful) association with writing, as a verb it importantly conveys a sense of tentative exploration, of making attempts.” Grant’s also debuted a companion website to house further academic papers and examples.
If there’s a perfect system for home movie delivery we still haven’t found it yet, whatever streaming boosters may tell you, based on Jon Brooks’s efforts to watch Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. This latest instance of Netflix making things worse as they go via Sam Adams.
The wealth of coverage for the highly anticipated Gone Girl allows you the choice of which David Fincher you’d care to read interviewed. The brash, punkish provocateur chortles about his transgressions, autobiographical and cinematic, with Playboy’s Stephen Rebello. (“I like to anticipate the energy of a movie audience that’s waiting for the curtain to come up and thinking, Well, one thing we don’t know about this guy is that we don’t know how bad it can get.”) While the deliberate auteur who’s thought a lot about both his art and his business makes more of an appearance talking with Little White Lies’s David Jenkins. (“I had this argument with a studio executive one time where he said to me, ‘why is it that the actors always side with you and we’re paying them?’ And I said, ‘I think it’s because, at some level, they know that my only real allegiance is to the movie.’”)
Two directors who worked with Hans Hillmann, Volker Schlöndorff and Edgar Reitz, and two who never had the chance, Christoph Hochhäusler and Peter Strickland, discuss the great German poster designer with Sight & Sound’s Isabel Stevens. Inspired by the same London exhibit that prompted those tributes, Rick Poynor presents the posters that comprise one of Hillmann’s greatest collaborations, with Godard
A contemporary and co-worker of Hillmann’s at Atlas Film, Karl Oskar Blase, is the latest discovery of Adrian Curry, who offers a gallery of work juxtaposing dreamily blurred images with crisp lettering and bold spots of color.
Theodore J. Flicker was active in improvisational theater and writer and director of satirical stage productions in the 1960s before he made his feature debut with The Troublemaker (1964) and moved to directing for the small screen. He directed episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show and one episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which perhaps led to his greatest film contribution: writing and directing the 1960s satire The President’s Analyst (1967), a spoof of spy movies, corporate conspiracy, and the vogue for therapy starring James Coburn. He also co-created The Barney Miller Show, one of the great sitcoms of the 1970s (and perhaps all time). He passed away at the age of 84 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. William Yardley for The New York Times.
Nicole Lubtchansky edited twenty of Jacques Rivette’s films from L’amour fou (1969) to Around a Small Mountain (2009), many of them which were shot by her husband William Lubtchansky (who died in 2010). They also teamed up for films by Nadine Trintignant (It Only Happens to Others, 1971, Defense de Savoir, 1973) and Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub (Die Antigone des Sophokles, 1992, Itinéraire de Jean Bricard, 2008). But her greatest credits belong to her Rivette collaborations: Out 1 (1971), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), La belle noiseuse (1991), Va Savoir (2001). Thanks to Dial M for Movies for the notice.
French film composer and conductor Antoine Duhamel, a five-time Cesar nominee for his film music, scored films for Jean-Luc Godard (Pierrot le Fou, 1965, Weekend, 1967), Francois Truffaut (Stolen Kisses, 1968, Mississippi Mermaid, 1969), and Bertrand Tavernier (Death Watch, 1980, Daddy Nostalgia, 1990) among others. Other notable films include the Oscar-winning Spanish comedy Belle Epoque (1992) and Patrice Leconte’s Ridicule (1996). He passed away last week at the age of 89. The notices of his passing are almost exclusively in French. Here is Le Figaro.
Actress Yoshiko ‘Shirley’ Yamaguchi, born to Japanese parents in Manchuria in 1920, began her career playing Chinese roles in Chinese language films (many of them Japanese propaganda films during World War II) under the name Li Xianglan, resurrected her career in Japan after the war under her birth name and starred in Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal (1950), and made films in America under the name Shirley Yamaguchi, including Japanese War Bride (1952) and House of Bamboo (1955). In later years she was TV presenter and a politician, serving in Japan’s parliament. She died at her Tokyo home at the age of 94. More from The Washington Post.
British character actor Donald Sinden passed away last week at the age of 90. His film career began strong, with major roles in The Cruel Sea (1953) and Mogambo (1953), and he continued working in cinema, on TV, and on stage practically up until his death. Michael Billington at The Guardian remembers his legacy.
American character actor Darrell Zwerling isn’t a well-known name but he played a central (if silent) role in an American masterpiece: the doomed Hollis Mulwray in Chinatown (1974). He also appeared in High Anxiety (1977), Grease (1978), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and Wild at Heart (1990), among other roles. He died in April but his passing was only made public this week. Notice courtesy of Dial M for Movies.
Jim Emerson is your host and moderator for SIFF Cinema’s first Cinema Dissection, an interactive critical appreciation inspired by Roger Ebert’s Cinema Interruptus. The inaugural event takes a minute-by-minute look at The Big Lebowski. It begins at 11am at SIFF Film Center. More details and advance tickets at SIFF.net.
Of course, it is competing with the 2014 Women in Cinema film festival, which is playing a couple of blocks away at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Lynn Shelton’s Laggies opened the festival at the newly renovated Egyptian on Thursday night but the fest moves to the Uptown for the rest of the festival, playing Friday through Sunday. Schedule and details at SIFF.net.
Grand Illusion Cinema in the U-District screens Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot on Saturday, September 20, for its 2014 fundraiser. Tickets are $30 and include a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and the film screens on 35mm, of course. There will also be a silent auction and a raffle. More at the Grand Illusion website and advance tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.
Live By Night, SAM’s 37th Film Noir Series, launches on Thursday, September 25, with The Maltese Falcon (1941). The series runs for ten weeks on successive Thursdays through December 18. All film are showing on 35mm, just as they showed to darkened theaters back in the day. The complete schedule and more details at the SAM website. Series tickets are still available and single-admission tickets are usually available day of show on first come, first served basis.
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.