“When Haddish was 13, she and her siblings were placed in foster care; she spent almost two years living in group homes and with foster families until her grandmother gained custody of the kids. Money remained tight, so they technically remained in the foster-care system (hence the taxes line [in her standup]). When her foster-care subsidy ran out, Haddish left home. As a young adult, she became homeless three times, living in her car. ‘I think that was God teaching me a lesson over and over,’ she says. And, as often happens when Haddish reflects on the profound hardships of her life, she cuts up, laughing. ‘I wasn’t paying attention the first two times.’” Caity Weaver’s profile of Tiffany Haddish can’t help but note how performative Haddish’s genial public persona is, another dazzling showpiece from an actor talented enough to pull off anything, smart enough to know what plays, and tempered enough by life’s hard knocks to chart out her success to the dollar.
“In an essay for Artforum from 1993, Arthur Jafa recalls telling a friend, “[Menace II Society] makes Boyz in the Hood seem like The Cosby Show.” The level of violence alone is enough to make that distinction. The Hughes Brothers’ camera repeatedly takes us right up to where we don’t want to be. When Caine is shot for the first time and goes into shock, we are on the ground with him, as though we’re coughing up the same blood. Bullets have consequences. But what Jafa was also getting at is the preciousness of Boyz in comparison to Menace. Boyz n the Hood’s sense of tragedy is meant as a cautionary tale to black men making poor choices. We grieve because those choices mean the wrong people sometimes get shot and killed, or because good people get mixed up in bad situations created by bad people. In Menace, tragedy is ubiquitous to the point of meaninglessness.” Mychal Denzel Smith rates the Hughes brothers’ Menace II Society the best of the hood films for its welding of an emotional honesty to a genre story in a way that freed it from the burdens of homilies and inspirational uplift that have weighed down so many liberal filmmakers’ depictions of race.
“I believe art in its most radical form is done completely without purpose. Earlier in my work, I would create things in that way—without any purpose whatsoever. Later though, I would trade this work for ways to survive and ways to have access. I noticed then that there was some purpose driving me which felt dependent on the public. That all became uncomfortable. There is no purpose to my work now and the public has no part in it.” Split, like those films of his we’ve been allowed to see, between breathtakingly intimate and unintentionally hilarious, Vincent Gallo’s essay about his life and work—an attempt to claim himself as the quintessential artist, truth-teller, and American—has some fascinating insights about his intentions as an filmmaker and provocateur in between his portrayals of himself as the victim of Roger Ebert, Christina Ricci, and so many others, and the essay ends with a series of one-sentence paragraphs calling out various foes and frauds. Via Mubi.
“’I was like, ‘Vivica Fox!’’ he said, shouting my name like I already was an action hero. ‘I am going to take this home, and if she moves me on the screen, that’s who’s gonna play my Vernita Green.’ Quentin loves telling stories, and if he likes you, oh, he is going to talk. At like Mach 5. We discussed favorite movies, of course. I talked about Pam Grier and how much I loved her, and Richard Roundtree, who’d played my dad on Generations. ‘Yeah, I’m Shaft’s daughter,’ I joked.” An excerpt from Vivica A. Fox’s memoir offers a breezy look at the grueling preparations of getting into shape for Kill Bill, and the even bigger hurdle of starting on a Quentin Tarantino set without knowing the caustic ramifications of his hyper-perfectionism.
“It was all about the school bully. When something speaks to me, I don’t question where it first began talking. I just accept it’s something that fits and that I feel familiar with and I need to make it and I need to get it out of my system. But I can often trace it back to schoolyard origins, often in interviews years later. The interview process is gestalt therapy for filmmakers who don’t have therapists, which I never did. But years later, I look back at Duel and to some extent Jaws and say that some of my earlier films were either about my fear of going to school because there were big kids who would go after me and would make my life a ruin.” Tasked with writing a short appreciation of his favorite Steven Spielberg movie, Duel, Edgar Wright—always an excitable fanboy, but now one with connections—got the director on the phone to talk about filming in twelve days, asking Dennis Weaver to channel his Touch of Evil energy for one scene, and how Barry Sullivan saved his butt on the Night Gallery set. Via Movie City News.
“Movies are strange, man. Sometimes, you hear the writer talk about it, and you read about some of this stuff. For example, we spoke to someone who actually does [hostage] extractions. He goes in with a team. Some of the stories that he told were impossible not to be affected by. But to be honest, sometimes you’re fuckin’ eatin’ Fritos, and you shoot a scene. [Laughs] And you want to take credit for stuff as an actor, but the truth is that it’s really the filmmaking, ultimately. Probably some of the greatest moments in movies the actor was just thinking what was for lunch.” Joaquin Phoenix talks with Bilge Ebiri about his role in Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here—or talks around it, more accurately, as he describes the importance of intuition and improvisation to create a performance that he’ll probably never see.
“As Emperor Meiji became the top-grossing domestic hit of the decade, there was a rush of widescreen titles from all the major studios, using their own branded formats, such as NikkatsuScope, TohoScope and Shochiku GrandScope. The changeover was so swift that in 1960, 545 of the 547 domestic releases (99.6%) were widescreen. The only Japanese director of the era to shun the new image size was Yasujiro Ozu.” Which left plenty of films to exploit the format, as Jasper Sharp demonstrates by highlighting five of them, from Masumura, Ichikawa, Suzuki, Shindo, and Hasebe.
French actress Stéphane Audran starred in dozens of films directed by Claude Chabrol, her husband of 16 years, and worked with directors Luis Buñuel, Orson Welles, and Sam Fuller in a career that spanned 50 years. Chabrol met Audran while she was acting in Eric Rohmer’s The Sign of Leo (shot in 1959, released in 1962) and cast her in his second feature Les Cousins (1959) and in Les Bonnes Femmes (1960) and wrote increasingly rich roles starring for her in arguably his greatest films: Les Biches (1968), playing opposite her ex-husband Jean-Louis Trintignant, La Femme Infidele (1969), La Rupture (1970), Le Boucher (1970). She became known for playing icy, elegant, reserved bourgeois women, which made her perfect as a society hostess in Buñuel’s Oscar-winning surreal satire The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), and she was cast in supporting roles in Sam Fuller’s Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) and The Big Red One (1980) and Orson Welles’ famously unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind, as well as the British TV mini-series Brideshead Revisited (1981) and The Sun Also Rises (1984). Her greatest international success, however, came from starring in Babette’s Feast (1987) for Danish director Gabriel Axel. Though she kept acting through 2008 (including a supporting role playing Jean-Claude Van Damme’s mother in Maximum Risk, 1996), she had few roles as good as the ones in Chabrol’s movies. She passed away at the age of 85. More from Ronald Bergan for The Guardian.
Delores Taylor produced, co-wrote and co-starred in Billy Jack (1971) and three sequels with her husband, Tom Laughlin. She was active in Native American rights all her life and her activism helped shape Billy Jack. She died this week at the age of 85. Mike Barnes for The Hollywood Reporter.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker.