The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of March 31

“For Rubin, working with Ramis and Murray wasn’t intimidating as much as reassuring: It felt like Hollywood had recognized him for who he was, like it had realized what he could do. ‘It was like, Finally,’ he says now. ‘This is where I belong.’ And then it never happened again.” S. I. Rosenbaum profiles Groundhog Day screenwriter Danny Rubin, who’s managed to repeat in real life the movie’s wringing of a happy ending out of eternal recurrence, following decades of rejected scripts with a decampment from Hollywood and a Broadway musical based on the film.

“Earlier in the week, the cast and crew had been shooting pyrotechnics-heavy action scenes in Maple Ridge Forest. The scenes mainly involved stunt guys repeatedly leaping out of the way of explosions. ‘No accidents,’ Boll reported happily. He was wearing a gray wool sweater and a Dungeon Siege baseball cap. ‘Well, a few people in hospital, but that’s usual for me.’ He laughed, and proffered a packet of biscuits. ‘Cookie?’” Visiting Uwe Boll on the set of what he claims is his final film, Darryn King finds the worst director in the world still fuming at critics, albeit in a more philosophical mood than when he pummeled them in a boxing ring.

The films of Uwe Boll

Of course, it’s not like monumental arrogance coupled with radical politics precludes a filmmaker from genius. Ryan Gilbey gets to the heart of Fassbinder’s monstrosity in a conversation with Hanna Schygulla. (“Fassbinder is rarely seen on screen without a leather jacket, a cigarette, a beer or all three, so I ask what he smelled like. She wrinkles her nose. ‘He had a strong smell about him. He smelled how he looked. Like a spotty rebel filled with angst.’”) And Kim Morgan unfolds how referential World on a Wire is, yet, even with all of Fassbinder’s callbacks to cinema’s past, how it remains somehow perpetually prescient. (“Much in this movie is satirical or strangely humorous while telling its story sincerely and chillingly, and in ways that bend what we perceive as homage or dead serious—it’s everything at once. We see Kubrick (2001), we see Godard (Alphaville, and with its star, Eddie Constantine, making an appearance), we see simulated Marlene Dietrich (twice, via Ingrid Caven, and once acting out the famous death in Josef von Sternberg’s Dishonored) and, as I said, we see Sirk. But this is a Fassbinder picture through and through.”)

“As he worked on Blow-Up, he became involved with this cultural milieu, just as he would four years later with the American student movement and the Black Panthers when he filmed Zabriskie Point. Critics often noted that Antonioni was projecting his own vision onto these foreign places, but the encounters worked in the other direction too. He was open and receptive to these new places and the people in them, and this affected the style and rhythm of his filmmaking.” David Forgacs examines Blow Up’s openness to Swinging London, and its carefully calibrated rifts between color and black-and-white, photography and cinema, and reality and illusion.

Blow-Up

“Nothing in the current state of cinema seems to measure up to Jean-Pierre Léaud, for he evokes, instead, the prospect of a cinema that would only have been possible, and that only remains possible, because he is there to embody it, and because he is waiting for it.” Olivier Assayas pens an impassioned, yearningly metaphysical salute to Léaud, whom he positions less as an actor than the spirit of cinema itself.

Much of the promotion for the new Twin Peaks series has focused on the returning actors and, of course, Lynch and Frost. But another returning player is every bit as exciting: Angelo Badalamenti, whose music defines the town as well as any image or character. An excerpt from Clare Nina Norelli’s new book on the soundtrack recalls its unprecedented impact (“Badalamenti works with harmonic suspension, dissonance, instrumental timbre, and melody to create such a sound, and his music has the ability to romance or disturb the listener even when removed from the cinematic images it often accompanies”), while Dorian Lynskey charts the soundtrack’s continued influence 25 years later. (“When Jamie Stewart and his bandmates were rearranging pieces from the TV show and movie for their 2016 album Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks they were ‘stunned by how extraordinarily simple the most famous and enduring pieces are’, Stewart says. ‘There’s almost nothing going on but you’re taken to this fantastical, emotional, dramatic place. It’s like a Rothko painting: three colours arranged in the perfect way.’”)

“A movie can’t ramble. Movies are like dreams, and there’s something about a tragedy, in movie form, that is almost too much for the audience to take. So what you try to do is bitter and sweet. You try to master something that has both levels working at the same time. It’s a very difficult thing to do, and there are very few perfect endings, but they always have both things operating. And if you can make a film where there’s something tragic and also something beautiful, transcendent, then you’ve really won.” In a marvelous, wide-ranging interview, James Gray talks with Tim Robey about filming in the jungle, dealing with Harvey Scissorhands, and the implied melancholy of Busby Berkeley; all the while protesting so much that he doesn’t care about criticism it’s painfully clear how heavily it weighs upon him.

“One day, [wife and regular cowriter] Amy [Jump] and I would like to make stuff that’s a bit more optimistic and happy. We’re not getting there yet—and I hardly think we’re likely to get there in the next few films either. But our goal is to make something like What’s Up, Doc?. Something funny and happy, where nobody dies. But we’re just a bit dark. It’s hard to get to the sunshine.” Ben Wheatley talks with Xan Brooks about how inherently commercial all his films have been (yes, even A Field in England) and the falseness of happy endings. Wheatley also shares his ten favorite action films with Samuel Wigley. (“The first films we ever rented were Watership Down (1978) and Death Race 2000. But the tracking was fucked on Watership Down, so I didn’t even watch it. I just went, “rabbits, whatever”, and watched Death Race 2000, which was like incredible exploitation jacked straight into my tiny young brain…. That set me up for life: five minutes of Watership Down and then 90 minutes of Death Race 2000 has defined everything I’ve done from that point forwards.”)

Obituary

Christine Kaufman

Austrian-born actress Christine Kaufman entered show business as a child and was a successful teenage actress in the German film industry when The Last Days of Pompeii (1959) catapulted her to international attention. She starred opposite Kirk Douglas in Town Without Pity (1961) and started dating Tony Curtis when they made Taras Bulba (1962). They married and had two children before their divorce in 1968, after which she returned to Germany and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows over the years, including Fassbinder’s Lili Marleen (1981) and Lola (1981) and Percy Adlon’s American debut feature Bagdad Café (1987). She also launched a line of cosmetics and a released a series of books on health and beauty. She passed away at the age of 72. Scott Roxborough for The Hollywood Reporter.

Darlene Cates was not a professional actress when she was cast as the mother of Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). She died this week at the age of 69. Seth Kelley for Variety.

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