“Watching all this, Hersh would note how savvy Ryan was politically; [Paul] Newman was always seeking advice on how to handle certain questions, but not Ryan. ‘He didn’t have to be educated about what the best thing to say about the draft was. And there was never blowback on anything he said. Newman would sometimes be maladroit a little bit, but not really. He was smart enough to know what he didn’t know. Ryan didn’t have to be.’” In an excerpt from his new biography of the actor, J. R. Jones tracks Robert Ryan’s political activism before, during, and after the filming of The Wild Bunch—and, intentionally or not, convincingly demonstrates how much Peckinpah’s madness was of a piece with his times. Via Movie City News.
The latest issue of (not intimidatingly so) academic film journal The Cine-Files focuses on sound in film. In larger pieces Matt Van Vogt unearths the efforts to reduce theater noise during the early years of sound cinema, while Laura L. Beading shows how the Coens use sound, voiceover, and music to mark the sharp difference between the exhausted masculinity of No Country for Old Men and the implacable, feminine vitality at the heart of their True Grit. The journal’s “dossier” section, edited by Jacob Smith, is as wide-ranging as ever, with (among many others) Michel Chion exploring a phone conversation in The Player; Mack Hagood on the audio cue he calls the “tinnitus trope” (and for which I would never have guessed we have Arthur Hiller to thank); Jean Ma on a song from an early Chinese sound film whose soundtrack has been lost, and has thus reverted to silence; and Keir Keightley on some deliberately disastrous, “schizophrenic” lipsynching in Lewis’s The Patsy. Via David Hudson.
Hudson also gathers together writing on what sounds a terrific program, MoMA’s A Road Three Hundred Years Long: Cinema and the Great Migration, a journey through Black American cinema from 1920 to 2009, with a commissioned documentary by Thom Andersen. A series so vast different critics have no problem picking their own entryways and highlights: Micheaux’s The Symbol of the Unconquered, the first work of “reflexive autofiction” for Richard Brody; for Nick Pinkerton, an entrepreneurial documentary series, Movies of Local People, that for a fee recorded lives Hollywood cameras passed right over; and J. Hoberman is blown away by Spencer Williams’s The Blood of Jesus, a “raw and visceral morality play that represents the life of the soul with startling literalism.”
“There was a lot of dialogue about race when Girls started. I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.” The Hollywood Reporter gathers a collection of funny women—including Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Kate McKinnon—to talk about sex scenes, typecasting, and the sense of humor needed to stay positive in an industry sexist enough that power players like these still get cold shoulder treatments. Worth it for the camaraderie, but also the class with which Ross sidesteps all the white ladies when they start talking over Gina Rodriguez.
He’s been one of our most articulate and passionate cinephiles since before he stepped behind the camera, so it makes sense that Oliver Assayas provides some intelligent context for his Top 10 Criterion picks; all 22 of them.
“You may have read or heard this story, but… one time, long after, I was driving my car and I had NPR on. They were interviewing Mick Jagger for some promotional thing or book—I’ve never been able to track it down—and so I’m just driving along and I hear him say how he really hated those titles! I thought, ‘Oh my God, well, I hated your song, too!’” Lola Landekic interviews the great cartoonist Sally Cruikshank about a career that’s gone from cult status in the ‘70s through a period in the mainstream animating title sequences (including Ruthless People) before coming full circle, paying gigs for Sesame Street balanced with one-woman Flash shorts that allow her surreal wit to shine like it hasn’t since Quasi at the Quackadero. Part two here.
“It is the scenes where you don’t know what to do where you surprise yourself. And you ask yourself why certain scenes are impossible to shoot. It turns out they are for very banal and prosaic reasons—for reasons of our upbringing and middle-class morality. Suddenly then what seems impossible to shoot, it gives you wings—it is a poetic force that carries you along that makes you better than you are and brings you to new heights. That is why I am always writing these scenes for myself….” Catherine Breillat talks her first film, A Real Young Girl, and her most recent, Abuse of Weakness, with Nicole Richter; though prompted by their shared enthusiasm, most of the discussion is devoted to Anatomy of Hell.
“Buñuel hated the word “understand.” ‘There is nothing to understand in my films,’ he used to say. There are things to watch, and to listen to, but nothing to understand. Of course there is a story; there are characters. But to analyze what it means, you are lost. You are losing your time. You should use your time in any other way but understanding.” Jean-Claude Carrière discusses in general terms his lifetime of collaborations with great directors, and in detail on the greatest of them, with Colleen Kelsey.
But of course Martin Scorsese owns a poster collection to die for (and of course Powell features prominently), as Adrian Curry demonstrates picking some highlights from a MoMA exhibit.
Wim Wenders’s (what else) landscape photographs are (what else) lovely, hauntingly depopulated, and widescreen.
Kimberly Lindbergs presents a selection from photographer Eliot Elisofon’s 1969 book The Hollywood Style, offering peeks into some celebrities’ homes. No surprise James Coburn’s pad tempers its macho with a whimsy verging on camp, or that DeMille’s office/screening room doubled as a shrine to himself; but who would have figured Negulesco for such a good erotic artist, or one to crowd the drawings along a curved staircase wall so they’re almost overwhelmingly sensual.
In addition to seeing one of the great Hollywood faces age from remarkable beauty to something weathered and more lovely for it, Time’s collection of photographs celebrating Clint Eastwood’s 85th birthday boasts precise, appreciative annotations from Eliza Berman and the late Richard Corliss.
Proving what he calls the “interconnectedness” of the 20th century’s two great pop culture pilferers of high and low, Ehsan Khoshbakht assembles a playlist of jazz artists making something of their own of soundtrack music: Yusef Lateef blazes through Alex North, Ahmad Jamal makes a breathtaking journey through Joseph Kosma, Coltrane deconstructs a Mary Poppins tune, and Don Ellis brings a funky edge to… Don Ellis, actually.
Japanese actor Hiroshi Koizumi made his big screen debut in Kon Ichikawa’s Mr. Lucky (1952) and appeared in Late Chrysanthemums (1954) and Chushingura (aka 47 Samurai, 1962) but may be best known for his appearances in giant monster movies and other films of the fantastic: Godzilla Raids Again (1955), Mothra (1961), Matango (1963), Atragon (1963), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964), Dogora (1964), Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), Godzilla 1985 (1984), and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). He passed away at age 88 after a battle with pneumonia. More from Gavin Blair at The Hollywood Reporter.
Alberto De Martino, who worked in pretty much every popular genre in the Italian film industry from the sixties through the eighties, is likely best known for the James Bond knock-off Operation Kid Brother (1967), which starred Neil Connery, the Exorcist knock-off The Antichrist (1974), and The Omen knock-off Holocaust 2000 (1977) with Kirk Douglas. He also shot the second unit for Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker (1971). He died at 85. Thanks to the heads up from Tim Lucas.
British costume designer Julie Harris won an Academy Award for setting the style of Darling (1965), dressed The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965), and designed the fashions for Casino Royale (1967), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), Live and Let Die (1973), Rollerball (1975), and Dracula (1979) with Frank Langella. She passed away at age 94. Ronald Bergan at The Guardian.
Actor and comedian Reynaldo Ray appeared in the films Harlem Nights (1989), A Rage in Harlem (1991), White Men Can’t Jump (1992) and Friday (1995) and on TV in the series 227. He died last week at age 75. Peter Keepnews at The New York Times.
American actress Betsy Palmer began in the 1950s, appearing in such films as The Long Gray Line (1955), Mister Roberts (1955), and The Tin Star (1957), but became a cult figure after starring as the mother of Jason Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th (1980). She passed away at age 88. Mike Barnes at The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s the final weekend of the Seattle International Film Festival—and the final screening at The Harvard Exit Theatre ever! Parallax View has you covered here.
Not screens but Seattle Cinema pages: Stephanie Ogle’s Cinema Books, a Seattle institution for decades, is closing its doors. Ms. Ogle made the announcement earlier this month and is currently selling off the inventory at 50% off all books and posters. Drop by and buy something, and say goodbye to this Seattle landmark. Located at 4753 Roosevelt Way, in the same building as the 7 Gables Theater, less than a block away from Scarecrow Video.
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.