The new Senses of Cinema opens with two fine examinations of auteurist documentaries that turned out far from their commissioners’ expectations: Alice Xiang shows how the “everyday” situations Antonioni insisted on capturing in Chung Kuo led to the film’s condemnation by a Chinese government expecting heroic bombast, and the appeal it’s developed among the nation’s current generation; and Matthew Abbott tries to philosophically reconcile Kiarostami’s assertion that the video camera allowed him “truth from every angle” with the many poetic, anti-documentary ellipses in ABC Africa. Varda’s autobiographical The Beaches of Agnès didn’t suffer the same perplexed response, but it’s of course a marvel in its own right, as Maryann De Julio’s appreciation makes clear. Elsewhere Chris Carter finds Disney combining CG advances and tried-and-true character animation in Tangled; Josh Anderson praises the originality of Wellman’s Westerns; and Jaimey Fisher does the honors of placing Christian Petzold in the journal’s Great Directors pantheon.
This week saw the launch of The Dissolve, even at its inauguration an admirably wide-ranging film site you’ll surely want to visit often. And with no disrespect to the roster of fine writers, many drafted from The A.V. Club, the best bit of criticism they’ve published so far comes courtesy of John Hodgman, who in conversation with Scott Tobias breaks down the formal structures and surprisingly long-lasting cultural influence of Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. (And tosses in a nifty defense of Stephen King as an uncompromising auteur of his own to boot.)