The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of February 2

“The fragile nature of the Trucolor takes things even further, with the light subtly shifting from red to blue over single shots, creating a hallucinatory otherworldly effect that deepens every Bill Elliott plea, Bible in hand. The movie often looks more like a watercolor painting than a film, especially as characters move in and out of the moonlight or the fog.” Gina Telaroli’s preview of MoMA’s Scorsese-curated series on Republic Pictures offers short, observant introduction for some excellent B-picture work by the likes of Witney, Auer, and Dwan. But as Telaroli’s focus on each film’s color and appearance hints, the blocked images peppered throughout the article are best seen in her original context, as a trio of her exuberant, dizzying “image essays.”

“Such was the pace of Pabst’s production that although Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft were made in adjacent years, they were separated by The Threepenny Opera as well as a picture called Scandalous Eva. You could nevertheless see them as twins; if they were the only two films by Pabst you ever saw, you would have a fairly clear notion of his auteurial stamp: men in groups; societies in stress; tight, enclosed spaces; bitter, foolish, ordinary heroism. That he nevertheless doesn’t seem to have ever made another film quite like them further strengthens the idea that they are paired, one idea in two parts.” Luc Sante finds two of Pabst’s earliest explorations of sound film as arresting as any of his silents:  the WWI-set Westfront 1918 (“[the film] alternates fleeting pleasure with durable horror in a rhythm that gradually abbreviates the former and extends the latter”) and the mining-accident drama Kameradschaft (“When in the morning the French town arises and heads off to work, as one, on foot and bicycle, the parade of faces puts you in mind of any number of photographs by August Sander, Brassaï, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange. They flit by in streams, and yet each is momentarily inscribed on our field of vision; they are what we have come to see as the faces of labor: thin, dignified, guarded, resigned, the impassive playthings of massive forces beyond their ken (as if we weren’t, with our consumer individuality)”).

Kameradschaft

“Everyone is eager to say that they support women, that they’re listening to women, that it’s more urgent than ever to give work and equal pay to women in addition to assuring their safety. But when it comes to taking chances on women-directed work and seeing it as commercially viable, Sundance 2018 mostly felt like a long lesson in just how far we still have to go.” Alison Willmore’s take on the most female-centric Sundance in the festival’s history is that the films by women are as daring and honest (and diverse—there’s some clunkers to be sure) as ever; and that, unfortunately, the reception they receive from studios hasn’t changed a bit either.

“But now that I have gone from here there’s no place I’d rather be/than to float my chances on the tide/Back in the good old world.” Clare Nina Norelli praises the international variety Tom Waits wrings—from LA rock to a “Fellini-esque carnivalia” for Rome—from his theme song to Jarmusch’s Night on Earth.

Jonathan Rosenbaum has made available on his website the afterwords he wrote for two published screenplays by Orson Welles, The Big Brass Ring (“The moral of this story is that most of THE BIG BRASS RING comes from life, not other movies…. A good deal more novelistic than the other Welles scripts I have read—and it is worth noting that Welles at one point planned to adapt it into a novel, exploring certain facets of the story in greater depth—it bristles with references to Welles’s life, which only incidentally included the movies he made.”) and The Cradle Will Rock (“…The Cradle Will Rock might be said to bear some of the same relationship to its predecessor as The Magnificent Ambersons has to Citizen Kane: after a flamboyant and fearless speculation about corruption, a modest and highly self- critical reflection on the brashness of innocence, tinged with sweetness and nostalgia.”)

“Eric was so convincing as the disturbed Snider that, for months after the movie came out, he would be walking in Manhattan and women would cross the street to avoid him. ‘The first dozen times this happened, I felt weird, but then I asked Chris Walken, Why is that?’ ‘Because you’re fucking spooky, dude,’ he said. That was the beginning of Roberts’s being cast as a troubled, dangerous guy—with the misconception that he was simply playing himself in the movies.” Sam Kashner’s profile of Eric Roberts plays up the Hardest Working Man in Show Business angle—tracking the actor’s career through slasher pics, music videos, Lifetime movies, even real estate ads—but actually spends most of its time on those early roles where Roberts seemed capable of greatness. But then part of the appeal was how capable he also seemed of fucking it all up.

Obituary

John Morris

Composer John Morris wrote the scores for 11 films by Mel Brooks, beginning with The Producers (1967), Morris’ feature debut, and including Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977) and the dramatic score to The Elephant Man (1980), directed by David Lynch and produced by Brooks. Along with the scores, which captured the flavor and the quality of the films that Brooks parodied by playing it straight, he also co-wrote “Springtime for Hitler” and the Oscar-nominated title song to Blazing Saddles (1974). Morris began writing music for the stage, which is where he met Mel Brooks and began a long collaboration. He became known for comedies—including The In-Laws (1979) and Clue (1985)—but also scored the period pieces The Doctor and the Devils (1985) and Ironweed (1987). He passed away at the age of 91. Richard Sandomire for The New York Times.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker.


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