The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of May 19

“Virtually plot-less, Sheep alternates its focus on Stan, his wife and kids, and the people in his Watts neighborhood, representing a community oppressed, yet teeming with life. Stan works at a slaughterhouse, and it’s changing him so much so his wife (Kaycee Moore) does not recognize him anymore. He’s distant, frowns, and has the thousand-yard stare. Outside, in the neighborhood, it’s dog-eat-dog. Kids and adults alike must fend for themselves. Children taunt, throw rocks, and wrestle with each other. Adults borrow, rob, or barter just to make it to the next day. Inside, in the homestead, however, life’s pressures dissolve for a little while. Home is haven, at least in Stan’s it is.” The 40th anniversary of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep has Tanner Tafelski reminding us what a marvelous mix of diurnal struggle and daily grace it is. While Richard Brody orients it within the larger L.A. Rebellion movement by comparing it to Billy Woodbury’s contemporary study of work and manhood (written and photographed by Burnett), Bless Their Little Hearts. (“Where Burnett keeps the characters of Killer of Sheep in their neighborhood (Stan may work outside Watts but he seems to hardly touch the ground anywhere else), Woodberry starts outside Charlie’s local sphere, in the employment office, and continues to watch his characters as they pass, detached and rueful, through the wider city, in transit through a blasted post-industrial landscape in which Stan, in particular, sees his own enforced idleness reflected.”) Via—as so many of these entries always have been, even as a token number are acknowledged—David Hudson, who’s found a new home at Criterion.

Devoted to both the profound necessity and the sublime silliness of social interchange, Good Morning is therefore much subtler and grander than it might initially appear to be. Commonly identified as a remake of Ozu’s silent 1932 masterpiece I Was Born, But . . ., also included in this release, it is even more interesting for its differences with that film than for its similarities—above all, the difference between what a father’s authority meant in prewar versus postwar Japan…. [The] more pervasive humor of Good Morning extends to the rebellion itself and all it engenders, as well as the local intrigues surrounding it; one no longer feels that the father’s authority is a monument that can be toppled.” Jonathan Rosenbaum traces both the formal complexity and no less dazzling humanity in Ozu’s two comic masterpieces.

The Honey Pot

“But a job’s a job, and The Honey Pot is, sad to say, a job. It’s not a “You had to be there” movie, or even a “You had to be there and you had to be 10” movie, but at moments, it is discernible as a movie that could conceivably tantalize a proto-gay 10-year-old in 1967 who delighted in things like the oversized ornate hourglass filled with gold dust instead of sand that Capucine gives Harrison, and who also delighted in things like the fact that there was an actress whose entire name was Capucine.” Mark Harris’s tour through the films of 1967 reaches a potential nadir in his discussion of Mankiewicz’s The Honey Pot.

“Oh, we humans do love our self-regarding metaphors: It’s always about us. While there is a bottom-line rationale, and though I’m allergic to zeitgeist stories, it’s fascinating to think about the eras in which certain cinematic horrors emerge.” Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott kick off summer at the movies by discussing the various levels of identification and metaphor of the season’s pre-superhero preeminent draw: the movie monster (Dargis even getting off a good, original point about the 2016 election).

Colossal

“’I always think of space as being the great unknown,’ Goldsmith had said in an interview for 2004 DVD documentary The Beast Within, ‘sort of an air of romance about it. And I approached Alien that way … I thought “Well, let me play the whole opening very romantically and very lyrically and then let the shock come as the story evolves.” It didn’t go over too well.’” Charlie Brigden recounts the frustrations of Jerry Goldsmith discovering that Ridley Scott and editor Terry Rawlings were preferring their own mix of classical compositions and earlier Goldsmith scores to the music he was writing for Alien. (As Brigden points out, Goldsmith’s original main title shows up more in Alien: Covenant than it did in the original film.)

“’FADE IN: DEEP SPACE—THE FUTURE’ reads the script’s opening. ‘The silent field of stars—eclipsed by the dark bulk of an approaching ship.’ This is the Sulaco, the military transport ship from Aliens, now bearing the cryogenically frozen skeleton crew of that film’s survivors: Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop. We travel aboard and hear an alarm blare. Our heroes are no longer alone.” Speaking of things Alien that didn’t turn out as expected, Abraham Riesman talks with William Gibson about his never-produced script for the franchise’s third installments; one that Riesman perhaps overpraises (you can read it via a link in the article) but certainly would have continued the escalation of the first two films.

A Quiet Passion

Movie City News points to a pair of Terence Davies interviews that work in complement to give a broader picture of the director’s methods and meanings, for A Quiet Passion in particular, with the director talking with Ben Sachs about musicality and humor (“The best influences you don’t use consciously. You use them subconsciously, and then they come out refracted, which makes them different. What thrilled me—and what still thrills me—is when music moves and the camera moves through space. That seems to me to be utterly sublime. I just love it.”), while his conversation with Ray Pride focuses more on capturing the right quality of light (“There’s a moment at the end of some days, when the light is very low and it comes in at a certain angle that just leaves me absolutely desolate. I can’t explain it. I feel desolate, the way the light falls. I thought, I want to give her that. That time of day, when the shadows lengthen, that’s exactly how I feel. I wanted to use that. I’m fascinated by light falling on a subject. That’s Vermeer, you know.”) Though certainly both show an intimate understanding of pain.

“There’s no real secret to our collaboration. There’s just a lot of trust and love for the work and mutual respect among artists. If we hadn’t worked together, I still would’ve wanted Cristian to be my friend. I respect him so much, and my experience of making Graduation was ultimately the starting point for why I wanted to make movies here.” Maria Dragus talks with Matt Fagerholm about working with Haneke, Mungiu, and it being time for a female James Bond.

Obituary

The obituaries for Powers Boothe have tended to call out his recent roles in the TV shows Deadwood and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the movie Sin City, which misses the true legacy of his work and career. He won an Emmy Award for playing charismatic cult leader Jim Jones in the TV movie Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980), which launched him into the movies. Though remembered as a villain by so many writers, he was a lean, tough hero in Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort (1981), John Milius’s Red Dawn (1984), and John Boorman’s The Emerald Forest (1985), and he was superb casting in the lead of HBO’s period series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1983-1986). He shifted to villain duty in Hill’s Extreme Prejudice (1987), Tombstone (1993), and Sudden Death (1995), played Alexander Haig in Nixon (1995), was back in intimidating heavy mode for U Turn (1997) and Frailty (2001), and then (apart from the comic book/pulp noir Sin City movies) found his best roles back on TV: Cy Tolliver in Deadwood, the Vice President in the sixth season of 24, the mini-series Hatfields & McCoys (2012), Nashville (2012-2014), and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He passed away at the age of 68 earlier this week. Michael Carlson for The Guardian.

Powers Booth in ‘Deadwood’

Brad Grey changed the way talent managers worked in Hollywood. With Bernie Brillstein he formed Brillstein-Grey and started actively developing projects for their clients. They produced the groundbreaking series The Larry Sanders Show and The Sopranos for HBO, helping change the face of modern television. In 2001, Grey created the production company Plan B with clients Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (which went on to produce such films as 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight) and in 2005 he sold Brillstein-Grey to take the reins of Paramount Pictures, where he served as chairman for 12 years. He died at the age of 59. Mike Fleming Jr. for Deadline.

Actor Oleg Vidov was top box office star in the Soviet Union from the 1960s through the 1980s, starring in fantasies, romances, and historical dramas, and appearing in the international epics Battle of Neretva (1971) and Waterloo (1970), until he fled the country for the U.S. in 1985, at which point his films were blackballed from Soviet TV. Promoted as the “Soviet Robert Redford” for his good looks, blond hair, and blue eyes, he made his American film debut in Walter Hill’s Red Heat (1988) and appeared in Wild Orchid (1990), Love Affair (1994), and Thirteen Days (2000) and the TV shows Alias and Criminal Minds. He passed away at the age of 73. Mike Barnes for Hollywood Reporter.

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.


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