“How many times is the word “love” uttered in Day of Wrath (1943), Ordet and Gertrud? Many, more than many—it is voiced so much one can’t look away, because when love is the overt subject of art (we should assume it is always the implicit subject) we know the artist is not afraid and certainly not afraid to fail because he or she is interested in what everyone has to be interested in even if the paying public isn’t—that lonely, majestic syllable.” Greg Gerke finds in Gertrud the fulfillment of Dreyer’s art, the mise-en-scène so radically reduced what remains—what matters—blazes on the screen.
Michael Koresky does as fine a job as you’d expect introducing for Criterion the first five films of Keisuke Kinoshita, four made according to the demands of Japan’s wartime Information Ministry, the last under US occupation: whose means proved no less censorious but whose goals aligned far better with the director’s own.
LOLA continues to release their latest issue piecemeal. Among the offerings, Cristina Álvarez López gives a short but powerful video/written essay of three women’s footwear in Denis’s Bastards and the hero’s obliviousness to their import. (“He’s been framed, so let’s allow him to see the whole picture.”) Also, just-announced National Registry inductee James Benning has a long but focused discussion with Alison Butler about his Easy Rider, which follows Hopper’s original location by location. (“It’s dangerous to assume any Hollywood film is actually portraying anything as it is, so a lot of people around the whole world identify things about America through Hollywood films that are completely wrong.”) Spotted by Mubi.
Kyle Buchanan is in the midst of NY Magazine’s annual The Toughest Scene I Wrote series, interviewing screenwriters about, well, you get the picture. Up so far: Richard Linklater realizing a crucial scene in Boyhood couldn’t be about ostensible focus Mason; Graham Moore rationalizes toning down the anger in The Imitation Game; Gillian Robespierre and Elizabeth Holm fine tune the balance between emotion and fart jokes for Obvious Child; and James Gunn admits Thanos popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy to benefit the studio, not the picture.
Many of us in waning years will look upon the mementos and detritus we have gathered in our lives and wonder, What vanities are these? But Burt Reynolds is certainly the only one whose contemplative gaze fell upon a Golden Globe, the clapboard from Sharkey’s Machine, and a chair that once belonged to John Ford. Eric Drucker attends the auction where these and other memorabilia were sold off. Letters of Note had already spotted one item: a delightfully foul-mouthed thank you from Jack Lemmon for a charitable donation. (“Some years are good, some years are bad, and even though you’re obviously on the shit list, I certainly appreciate the fact that you made some kind of effort no matter how meager.”)
Fiction: “She gives the demon lover a particularly melting smile. Was probably twelve when she first saw him on-screen. Baby ducks, these girls. Imprint on the first vampire they ever see. Then she’s down the stairs again, bare bottom bouncing.” Kelly Link’s “I Can See Right Through You,” about the reunion of an actor best known for a series of vampire movies (and a leaked sex tape) with his actress ex, on location for the cable ghost hunters show she’s been reduced to, builds to an ending all the more nightmarish for its dispassionate simmer. Plus this stellar observation: “Florida is California on a Troma budget.” Via Longform.
“I told George you gotta play in this game because you should have the experience to lose and you’re up against murderers row. And it’s okay if you lose [a little] and play with your own money because I wanted George to experience that one moment when you lose. I wanted George to get the experience of it. How does the loss affect his ego? Does it affect him as a man? Is it the money? I wanted his feeling, like, he would come back after losing about 6,000 dollars saying, “Wow that was weird.” […] And what happens? George wins all the money that night! So then, he gets no sense of this is what happens when you lose.” Kim Morgan hosts an entertaining, winding ramble among old friends Elliott Gould, George Segal, and screenwriter Joseph Walsh about the making of California Split, Altman’s generosity and occasional prickly intransigence, and David Begelman’s torpedoing of the picture. The conversation ends, irrelevantly to the topic at hand but what the hell, they’ve all got fine stories to share, with a clutch of Robert Mitchum anecdotes. Part two and part three here.
“My first life was as a photographer, my second life was as a filmmaker, and my third life is as an artist—an artist who makes film, photography, constructing, installating, and using the capacity to propose another new relationship with the audience or the viewer.” Agnès Varda talks to Sabine Mirlesse about her current love for triptychs, the happiness she finds in old age, and of course “my dear Jacques.” Via Movie City News.
“I’ve told this story before, but we lived through the L.A. earthquake on Safe, and it really did send shudders through the production itself. So we found ourselves shooting scenes with aftershocks still happening…. The reaction shot of Peter [Peter Friedman] and Claire [Kate McGregor-Stewart] and James Le Gros all looking at her—an aftershock actually occurred on camera, and they were just acting through it. The sense of existential uncertainty that the film does convey was only strengthened by the actual seismic conditions we were experiencing at the time.” Todd Haynes’s interview with Scott Tobias on the making of Safe won’t do anything to dispel the complaint he’s too academic and conceptual a filmmaker; but his words of praise for Julianne Moore are altogether tender and human.
“Is Lynch a celebrity painter? Or, put another way: Would the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) be exhibiting four decades of his work, were he not 1) a world-famous movie director and 2) the most famous PAFA alum since Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin or Thomas Eakins or maybe ever? Impossible to answer and pretty much irrelevant, as Lynch’s paintings and assemblages place his movies—or at least the great ones, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire—in the setting of his art work and not vice versa.” J. Hoberman contextualizes, both art historically and within his concurrent career as a filmmaker, the paintings of David Lynch.
I’ve never bothered much with year-end top ten lists for this column, with the happy exception of Adrian Curry’s wide-ranging, well-annotated rundown of the year’s best movie posters.
Virna Lisi passed away this week at the age of 78. The Italian actress made her screen debut in 1953 and rose to international fame in the sixties with Joseph Losey’s Eva (1962). She played glamorous beauties in Hollywood films such as How to Murder Your Wife (1965), Assault on a Queen (1966), and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) before returning to Europe and striking out in more serious roles such as Liliana Cavani’s Beyond Good and Evil (1977). She won the David di Donatello award for The Cricket (1980) and Time for Loving (1983) and earned the Best Actress award at Cannes for Queen Margot (1994). Marc Santora at The New York Times.
Cinematographer Chan Kwok-hung worked his way up from the camera crew on films like Last Hero in China (1993) and Jingle Ma’s comic caper Tokyo Raiders (2000) to shoot such high profile Hong Kong action movies as Seoul Raiders (2005), Benny Chan’s Invisible Target (2007) and Jingle Ma’s Playboy Cops (2008). He died in a marine accident during the filming of the Jackie Chan action film Skiptrace, directed by Renny Harlin and said to be the most expensive Hong Kong production to date. More from Variety.
NWFF celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Oscar-nominated documentary Hoop Dreams with screenings of a new digital restoration through Sunday. Showtimes and more information at the website.
Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival, which plays the weekend of February 6 at EMP. Tickets and more information at the SIFF website.
And speaking of science fiction, Blade Runner: The Final Cut is back for a midnight screening and weekend matinees at The Egyptian. The Rocky Horror Picture Show takes the Saturday midnight slot. Tis the season…
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.