“[Wyler] felt a case could be made for Fran, a woman who has waited for many years in a small mid-West town to go to Europe and have her fling, but Chatterton insists on the discord in Fran, the shrillness, what life has done to her. There’s always something slightly off about her clothes, about her hairstyle, so that Fran is always trying to be something that she is not, and failing. This must have hurt Chatterton deeply to play, because her whole acting style was based on the magic trick of convincingly playing something that she was not.” Dan Callahan finds in the brief but inimitable career of Ruth Chatterton a fine example of the war between authenticity and technique that can affect every actor—and the audience’s perceptions of her.
Of all the lies Hollywood has fostered, few are as harmful or repellant as the Lost Cause; but surveying Civil War films, Eileen Jones finds they’ve been the favored narrative almost unanimously, from Griffith to Keaton down—chronologically as well as aesthetically—to Redford. (No mention of Run of the Arrow, but her larger point still stands.) Via David Hudson.
“These films showed us that not all contemporary cinema is equally “contemporary.” Thousands of films are made around the world each year, but few of them truly take hold of important realities of our moment and reveal them to us in ways that resonate both universally and viscerally. Like all of their films of the past two decades, Two Days, One Night feels urgent and jolting because it holds a mirror up to life lived in our current global economic regime. And this time around, the picture they paint acquires a redoubled resonance in the ongoing aftermath of the financial crisis.” Despite its political message, Girish Shambu doesn’t paint the Dardennes’s Two Days, One Night as a simple-minded tract, instead praising the “traits of commercial, narrative-based genre cinema that [the film] quietly hides in plain sight.”
“[T]he movie is chock-full of American iconography turned bad. There are farms worked by strapping blue-eyed blondes in overalls, amber waves of grain, white clapboard houses in the beautiful countryside. And every one of these bits of Americana is intruded on by violence or bloodlust or leering fantasy.” Charles Taylor praises Ritchie’s Prime Cut, placing it in its ragged, Silent-Majority time as “a sardonic report from the battle to define what America was and who it was for.” Since Taylor’s always sensitive to great actors, there’s a fine appreciation for Lee Marvin’s unique heaviness on screen as well.
“I have been dead for two years. But so much of me is still living that I know now that the end is only the beginning.” Exploring the trope of films narrated by dead men, David Bordwell finds that not only wasn’t it as rare as you might think, many clever films were made by tweaking the audience’s expectations of what the format implied. Spoilers for several films told to us from beyond the grave, and a few, wickedly, that only pretend to be.
“I look awful.” “What are you talking about? You look great. It’s that haircut that looks awful.” Life lessons drawn from Anthea Sylbert’s costume designs for Rosemary’s Baby, courtesy of Olivia Singer. Though how you could post a picture of Roman Castavet’s pink checkered suit and not comment on it is beyond me.
“It would show his humble beginnings as poor white trash from “Squirrel Town” in Tupelo, Mississippi. It would show his awkward teen years, where his long hair and predilection for “colored” clothes made him a target of bullies. It would show his discovery at Sun Studio by Sam Phillips, his record-shattering musical career and his many personal victories in the face of adversity and personal tragedy. It would end with his triumphant return to the stage in 1970. It would not show his unseemly weight gain, or his struggles with substance abuse, and it would not show him dying on a goddamn toilet. It would air just 18 months after Elvis died, and it would restore the King to his people.” Phil Nobile Jr. admires the strengths of Carpenter and Russell’s Elvis biopic, while acknowledging the plastering over of unpleasant truths and shoring up of a tarnished reputation that keeps it from greatness. Via Matt Fagerholm.
“I’m a legit filmmaker of my generation who’s leading the pack. Hitchcock saw his techniques done by other people, and that was all great. Spielberg saw his techniques copied—that just means you’re having an impact. Before I ever made a movie, my mission statement was that I wanted to make movies that, if young people saw them, it would make them want to make movies. That is one thing I can definitely say I’ve done.” Interviewed by Lane Brown, Quentin Tarantino remains the delightfully passionate, optimistic figure he’s always been. And still so garrulous the website doesn’t only relegate some of his comments to footnotes, but carves out his analysis of David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows to present separately. (“I don’t buy that the thing is getting clever when they lower him into the pool. They’re not clever.”)
“It’s just, like, very innocuous questions that people ask you in this kind of cocktail-party context—it’s just small talk—but we were both saying we find that kind of stuff oddly invasive, how much we want to answer, ‘Well, I don’t know. I’m so tired. I don’t want to talk about it.’ So we were saying how funny it is that independent filmmaking, which is probably the least-important thing in the world, sparks real-world conditions. We felt like there was this kind of push and pull where, even as guys who do something that’s pretty irrelevant, our privacy, in certain contexts, was something people wanted to pry right open and dig into. It was all kind of coming out of that.” Alex Ross Perry talks with Nick Newman about the inspiration behind and filming of his latest, Queen of Earth, and adjusting to the rhythms of writing for television. Also, Perry takes up the keyboard himself to plunk for shooting on film at even the smallest budget at Indiewire. (“You definitely will have to make a compromise or two but what you get in return is an instant and overwhelmingly present aesthetic that will do more in carrying the audience to whatever place you want them to be than just about anything else money can buy.”)
“Maybe you have to talk to my mom, but I get an idea every 30 minutes. But I’m not pretentious about it. Every time I’ve got an idea, I bring it internally through Europa, to check that idea. If I see stars in the eyes of people and they smile and they say, oh my God, that’s great, then we are looking for a writer. If everybody is like, mmmm, eh, what else? Then I drop it without a care. It comes all day long. So I don’t care. I love the excitement of collaboration. I will never impose something. To me, there is nothing better than seeing the smile or the desire in the eyes of the people when you tell them the story.” Luc Besson talks with Mike Fleming Jr. about the day-to-day workings of his production company, and the scope of his upcoming science-fiction epic Valerian, in an interview that gets its charm as much from Besson’s chipper admiration for the art of the deal as it does his faithfully transcribed Gallicisms. Via Movie City News.
A pair of interviews with the relatives of deceased, cinema greats offers warmer, more intimate portraits than the fairly remote legends tended to receive while alive. Dan Callahan talks with Ingrid Bergman’s three daughters about their mother, and the films they each selected for an upcoming retrospective. (“Father always said she was so loud that she didn’t need a telephone! […] And yes, she was like that at home. It wasn’t so much that she spoke loudly, but her voice had a certain pitch, so that she could be heard in the back of the theater, and yes, she was like that at home, too.”) While John Hooper sits down with Antonioni’s widow Enrica Fico and hears about a man, true to form, who couldn’t express his love for his wife till his stroke prevented him from saying it. (“I had what he lacked. If he was a man who did not acknowledge his feelings, I did. It was this distance that kept us united.”)
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with other contributions from friends of Parallax View.