“The three features Berger and Tanner made together are essentially films about class. Characters are struggling to live life after political failure, finding ways to resume their resistance to a value system that remains ever-present and crushing. Berger, as a writer and as a human being—the two were never truly separated—was engaged in a similar process. His work became increasingly focused on the poor and working class following his move to Quincy, and he was searching for a form to match his subjects.” Craig Hubert traces the political and formal evolution—which would lead to the dissolution of the partnership—of the three films that writer John Berger and director Alain Tanner made together. Via David Hudson.
At Criterion, a pair of essays on crime films that couldn’t have less in common. Adrian Martin traces the history of distillation that resulted in Bresson’s final film L’argent standing alone even within such a unique filmography. (“Rather, the ominous “agent” at work here is money: the workings of an entire capitalist system boiled down to the movement of a forged note and the unstoppable catastrophe that it triggers. As money travels, it dehumanizes everyone it touches, no matter their class status or religious or ideological beliefs. What, in other hands, could be played as the premise for a screwball comedy (the phony dollar bill that caused such riotous havoc in a small-town community!) is treated by Bresson as the darkest tragedy.”) While Benjamin Mercer salutes one of Japan’s finer directors of detective films, still underacknowledged in the West, Yoshitaro Nomura. (“The director was certainly something more than an ace at operating within any given genre, often avoiding clichés, combining narrative modes in unusual ways, and wisely taking a page from Matsumoto in his eye for telling details and attention to contemporaneous social realities. Nomura’s films are perhaps most remarkable, though, for their immersive sense of place, most strikingly felt when their protagonists find themselves amid what is to them foreign terrain, if still on Japanese soil.”)
“Schiavelli, who would become a Forman cast regular, appears as the guest SPFC seminar leader who teaches a room of parents how to smoke pot: ‘This a joint. The joint has two ends. Don’t hold onto the joint. This is called bogarting the joint and it is very rude.’ It’s the film’s funniest sequence, yet within the bravura hilarity, there’s something touching and melancholic about these people letting go. Freedom is too frightening to them on their own accord.” The warmly humanist satire of Taking Off keeps it Steve Lippman’s favorite Forman film.
“Angel uses her binoculars to get an eyeful of Randy riding a dirt bike. Soon after, like a mini-Melanie Daniels, Angel paddles her canoe across the lake to pursue her target, Randy, inviting him to a private tryst in a boathouse, his male teenage companions reduced to shirtless eye candy. In the context of teen romance, it’s a radical departure, and not without its feminist import. Shirtless and clueless, with his feathered hair and cut-off jeans, Randy is the perfect boy-toy, arguably prettier than any of the girls.” Staying at The Talkhouse, Bruce LaBruce plunks for Little Darlings—for all its teensploitation clichés and, or including, its ultimate conventionality—as a rare, admirable portrait of teen female sexuality, now with added lesbian subtext.
“While both are audiovisual, VR is all that cinema is not, and vice versa; the frame is gone and the two-dimensional limits are dissolved…. During this realistically unreal experience, our brain wires and most of our senses were tested. No experience in CARNE y ARENA will ever be the same for any visitor. We created a truthful alternative space where you as a visitor will walk alongside the immigrants (and into their minds) with infinite possibilities and perspectives within a vast landscape, but you will go on your own terms.” In two articles [the second here] Benjamin B offers the fullest description yet of Alejandro Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki’s virtual reality installation Carne y Arena, hailed at Cannes and now on view and select museums.
“I was a pretty happy guy, but I also had a lot of rage. When I was a kid, I had real emotional problems. I would have these tantrums. [Later] I used to fight a lot. I used to go to bars and fight the guys I thought were bullies. I’ve got scars everywhere. But it’s like my buddy says: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” And I guess I do live on the edge.” Stephen Galloway just lets the flow of Woody Harrelson’s voice roll uninterrupted, which proves the best decision to capture the cagey, born wild but happy to be tamed sardonicism of the actor raised by a “buckle on the Bible Belt” mother and a father separated from the family by jail time for committing “well, murder.”
“I really found a great deal of value in getting personal. I always try to keep myself at arm’s distance when I’m making my films. I’m a little scared of getting intimate and personal. With this one, I found that it got better the more personal it got, and that it was okay to do that. I didn’t feel like I was navel-gazing, or that I was being self-obsessed. I felt that I was just finding a better way to communicate something that felt true and sincere to me. I guess the third big lesson is to just always make movies with your friends, because it will always turn out better.” Interviewed by Tomris Laffly, David Lowery discusses the fears of grief behind A Ghost Story, the benefits of filming a movie in secret, and the unexpected difficulty of designing as simple a costume idea as a sheet with eyeholes cut out.
“So I think what was happening was, Bob [Zemeckis] started to take on a whole different way to approach the father’s death without ever seeing him, which is of course great. And just putting the young Ellie in this horrible moment and then shooting it and presenting it in a way that if you’re not paying attention to it, you probably don’t even know anything happened, but there’s something off about it. And it’s just matching the feeling I think she has trying to find the medicine.” Ian Failes talks with Contact’s vfx supervisor Ken Ralston about the film’s still dazzling effects—and gets a particularly detailed breakdown of the legendary mirror shot from compositing supervisor Sheena Duggal. Via Movie City News.
Italian actress Elsa Martinelli made the leap from fashion model to movie actress in 1953 but made first made her name playing a Native American maiden wooed (rather physically) by Kirk Douglas in the Hollywood feature The Indian Fighter (1955). Returning to Italy she starred in Raffaello Matarazzo’s Rice Girl (1956) and Mario Monicelli’s Donatella (1956) and later in Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses (1960), but to international audiences she’s best known as the photographer in Hatari! (1962) and as Hilda in Orson Welles’s The Trial (1963). Other credits include The V.I.P.s (1963), The 10th Victim (1965), Candy (1968), and If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969). Her roles were more sporadic and less international after that. She passed away at the age of 82. More from Richard Sandomir for The New York Times.
Nelsan Ellis became a fan favorite as Lafayatte Reynolds in the HBO series True Blood, the series that launched his career. On the big screen he had supporting roles in The Express (2008), The Soloist (2009), Secretariat (2010), The Help (2011), played Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), and co-starred in Get On Up (2014). More recently he had a recurring role in the fifth season of Elementary. He died at age 39 due to complications from heart failure. Jennifer Calfas for Time.
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.