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Bruce Reid

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of July 12

Kiarostami shoots ‘ABC Africa’

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.)

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of July 5

Gloria Swanson in Allan Dwan’s ‘Star Struck’

The unofficial campaign to make Allan Dwan the most written-about director on the internet in 2013 gets a fresh push at Movie Morlocks, where R. Emmet Sweeney presents the first of a series celebrating his work with actors in the silent era, from staging one of the cinema’s first tracking shots to record William H. Crane’s waddle to celebrating Douglas Fairbank’s “easy athleticism.”

Michael Glover Smith gathers a few good reasons to agree with his selection of Richard Linklater as the director of his generation; the most quietly compelling being that Linklater displays all the necessary cinephile bone fides while making films enthralled by the vagaries of life, not just other movies. Via Adam Cook.

The new issue of the bilingual journal Cinema Comparat/ive Cinema has as its central topic the ‘60s; an impossibly broad topic that in practical terms means is defined as what France was up to. Peter van Bagh and Miguel Marías’s dialogue recalls the heady rapture of those days for a cinephile, at a time when the old classicists and new rebels were both creating at a feverish clip; speaking of rebel voices; Marcos Uzal traces the divergent paths taken by the New Wave directors; and an interview with Bernard Eisenschitz describes the changes at Cahiers du cinema as the decade dribbled close. Another interview highlight comes from David Phelps sitting down in a movie lobby with Ken Jacobs and his wife Flo for reminiscences mostly autobiographical (and fascinating), but that can turn on a dime to Israeli politics or the semiotics of the TCM sets.

“I promise! I’m much better now!” Producer Stuart Cohen recounts the extensive salvage job John Carpenter performed on the first cut of The Thing—streamlining the narrative, providing a central hero, and cutting to the bone with a ruthlessness worthy of any of his antiheroes.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of June 28

Much excellent reading of late in the LA Review of Books. In the latest of his autobiographical essays, John Kaye tells the story of his selling the script for Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins—as well as the story of his marriage, and of the madness that was seeping through all of Los Angeles at the time, so omnipresent that inspiration could take the form of two Mansonite hippies with Xs carved in their foreheads hopping into the front seat of his car. Also, a new series on Poets at the Movies gets a strong start with the first two entries:  Rebecca Morgan Frank offers a lovely survey of cinematic adaptations of poems, finding silent movies offer the only real chance for the two media to successfully intermarry, where “images and text have been brought together to make something new.” And in a deeply moving essay, Tom Sleigh recalls the magical nights spent watching movies at his family’s drive-in, a business his Northern transplant parents reluctantly acquiesced to running by Jim Crow laws; remembers how mysterious and compelling his eight-year-old self found the film of To Kill a Mockingbird; and regrets that James Baldwin was right, the camera (of Hollywood, of memory) can only lie because it only “sees what you point it at: the camera sees what you want it to see.”


Kent Jones is simply marvelous on the expressly cinematic power of Lanzmann’s Shoah, and how the director “achieved something that was not only unprecedented but was, and is, an astonishment: he returned the Shoah to the civilized world that had disowned it.”

David Bordwell considers both the Big Picture and the Small. First, partly in celebration of the new website launched for the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (which some initial poking around suggests will be an invaluable resource), he celebrates some of his academic colleagues for spearheading a new understanding of how the movie industry, with its technological advancements and economic demands, influenced decisions previously thought strictly creative. And in a separate post focusing on Mildred Pierce, Bordwell considers flashbacks, “replays” (where previously viewed action, seen again with new footage and more information, changes its initial meaning), and how much filmmakers could get away with between the two in the days before home video and rewind buttons.

With a much appreciated lack of condescension, Film Comment’s Laura Kern selects a half-dozen off-the-radar but easily streamable films about female psychos that gain from the delight they take in their anti-heroines’ rampages. Starring, among others, Ava Gardner, Anik Borel, and of course Joan Crawford.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of June 21

Alfred Hitchcock directing ‘The Mountain Eagle’ (1926)

Despite being the formative works of a supreme master—as well as a string of engaging, entertaining films in their own right—the nine surviving silents of Alfred Hitchcock (excepting The Lodger) haven’t received nearly their due. A touring program of newly restored prints is finally beginning to draw some attention their way, with Dave Kehr noting such technical details as Hitchcock’s early reliance on subjective camera work “in contexts as benign as a simple conversation and as menacing as an attempted rape,” and Doug Cummings noting Los Angelenos can view the series in concert with a separate program dedicated to the director’s home movies. David Hudson rounds up other reactions, and generously collects some reviews of the movies from previous revivals.

More early works of legends in the new issue of Screening the Past, though the net’s cast wider than cinema: some poems by the teenage Bertolucci (“Use your rebel passion for the boys betrayed, / if not for us—bourgeois, penitent, dismayed.”), and Adrian Martin takes stock of six radio plays by Orson Welles, including 1939’s The Magnificent Ambersons (and, yes, The War of the Worlds). Also, Felicity Chaplin’s defense of Une femme est une femme, beginning with the notion that Godard’s description of the film as “un néo-réalisme musical” has often been mistranslated as a neorealist musical, not a musical neorealism; Jeannette Delamoir’s terrific walk through the fashions of The Sentimental Bloke, and how their astutely considered realism may have doomed the Australian silents’ reception in America; and much, much else I haven’t yet had time to read.

Of course in his later years Welles was still putting that unmistakable voice to good use, regaling young admirers over lunch with marvelous yarns which were received with almost charming credulity. Henry Jaglom used to record them, and in advance of publication later this year, he and Peter Biskind offer excerpts from three of the sitdowns; eminently quotable at every line, and there’s maybe even a stray truth or two stirred in.

Video: Not that great stories are solely the provenance of Old Hollywood—or Hollywood at all for that matter. Such as the time Jackie Chan played up an injury to hang out with Bruce Lee.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of June 14

‘A Colt Is My Passport’ (Koruto wa ore no pasupoto, 1967)

As Jasper Sharp acknowledges, western knowledge of Japanese films is so auteur-driven that his recounting the story of Nikkatsu Studio is practically an alternate history, wherein a once-defunct brand roared back in the ‘50s and ‘60s on the back of gangster films, an insurgent, disaffected youth movement, and a string of pop stars. Till Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill took all of that so far he was fired by the studio he’d helped grow, and the writing was on the wall.

The new issue of The Cine-Files investigates mise-en-scène. As is typical for the journal, the articles from regular contributors are quite fine (K. Brenna Wardell on the subversive “dining room” scene from The Phantom of Liberty; Jae Matthews on images of the titular prop in The Wolf Knife; Calvin Johnson’s thoughts on what the term can mean now in the age of digital, CGI cinema), but it’s the denser pieces from invited guests you really want to read. Thus V. F. Perkins on the marital miscommunication signaled by a bow tie in Stella Dallas and the aspirational hints of a chandelier in Johnny Guitar; Christian Keathley on Advice & Consent’s shot of the Vice President in the backseat of a car; and Adrian Martin unpacking the character traits displayed in a brief scene of awkward solace from Breaking Bad. Passed along by Kristin Thompson (herself interviewed in the issue), who on her own blog demonstrates the benefits of close analysis of mise-en-scène by posting 13 frame grabs from Late Spring, a dozen featuring a sewing machine, one, heart-breakingly, without.

Wandering through Cinémathèque Française’s exhibit dedicated to Jacques Demy has Tom Paulus thinking of Demy’s editing, the directors who influenced it (Bresson), the ones who didn’t (Pudovkin), and the ones who’ve inherited the style (Soderbergh). Via David Hudson.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of June 7

So many collaborative projects on the internet come out piecemeal, dribbled out over several weeks and spread across half-a-dozen websites. None of that for Gina Telaroli and David Phelps, who have followed up their previous Dossier on Wellman with an equally exhaustive one dedicated to Allan Dwan, and present it to you in one glorious package. Free for download right now, 46 articles, with only five reprints, from writers such as Ted Fendt, Fernando F. Croce, R. Emmet Sweeney, Cullen Gallagher, and Farran Smith Nehme, exploring one of the finest and longest careers in Hollywood. Currently the articles are all in their writer’s original languages; English and (courtesy of project host LUMIÈRE) Spanish language editions are forthcoming.

But even with that bounty you can never get enough Dwan. Richard Brody has some good thoughts on how the density of the director’s social and psychological observations give his outbursts of violence a “strange, removed side.”

Speaking of great westerns, one of the genre’s best but relatively unheralded director/actor pairings gets some attention, as Nick Pinkerton salutes three marvelous films made by that two-man band of outsiders, Robert Aldrich and Burt Lancaster.

The early films of Ford and Harry Carey, on the other hand, are hardly masterpieces, but unmistakably show signs of a master in the making, argues Bristol Silents’s Rosie Taylor.

“His Oscar acceptance speech began: ‘If you ever wondered what reflected glory looks like, this is it!’ And it went on to remind the Academy of Hollywood’s wretched record, destroying 73% of pre-sound films: ‘By God, your predecessors did a terrible job of preserving the silent era!’” The Guardian’s Philip Home offers an introduction to Kevin Brownlow’s body of work.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of May 31

“Every Democrat who has presidential ambitions is now going to beat a path straight for Jeffrey’s door. Or they’re too dumb to be president.” Reporting on the fund-raising monster that is Dreamworks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mother Jones’s Andy Kroll dutifully reports the official line that Katzenberg doesn’t ask for any returns on his investment while also making perfectly clear how pliant the Obama administration has been to Hollywood’s concerns. Via Longform.

Then again, Katzenberg’s pleas for money from the next wave of Hollywood power players may fall on ears deaf to Democratic requests, should any of the animators studios have recruited from Brigham Young University rise through the ranks to moguldom. As Jon Mooallem reports, their work ethic and mature expectations have made quite the impression, and they’re already family-friendly by default.

Thomas Doherty’s new book, Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939, arguing that business interests and political intimidation combined to assure the American movie industry let Germany’s descent into horror proceed without comment, has received rave reviews thus far, including Dave Kehr in the NY Times and Christopher Bray in the WSJ. All well-deserved, based on the powerful excerpt available at Pop Matters detailing Carl Laemmle’s idealistic, internationalist hopes for Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front, and the brutal rejection it received in Berlin, a gleeful Goebbels leading brownshirts in chants against the “Judenfilm.”

“You don’t know whether you’re watching Robert Mitchum thinking, ‘Here I am making another crummy movie’ or watching his character thinking, ‘Here I am living this crummy life, and nothing makes any sense, but I don’t even care.’” Part two of Imogen Smith’s profile of Robert Mitchum has arrived, with particular focus on his RKO contract years.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of May 24

Chinese Villagers Documentary Project

“I have become an individual with a DV camera…it was DV that saved me, that allowed me to maintain a kind of personal relationship to documentary filmmaking, and made it far more than just an identity.” Inspired by a current MOMA retrospective, Aaron Cutler takes stock of 25 years of independent Chinese documentaries, a movement influenced by Japanese filmmaker Shinsuke Ogawa and American Frederick Wiseman, and (as Wu Wenguang’s words quoted above attest) altered forever by the introduction of light, affordable DV cameras.

“Redford was born in Santa Monica, because of course he was. His father was a milkman but, in a page straight from the American Dream handbook, eventually became an accountant, moving his family to Van Nuys. There, Redford played on the high school baseball team and, if looks are to be believed, slayed the entire female population.” Anne Helen Petersen is pretty terrific on the appeal of Robert Redford—and his limitations.

“Her Bride was certainly a success, but it was such extreme work that it led nowhere—she had been too weird in the part, too scary and sexually offbeat for easy casting.” Which is why many of Elsa Lanchester’s Hollywood roles merely tossed her in the shadow or sidelines of her leading-man husband; but she stood out even there, as Dan Callahan relates.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of May 17

Director William Witney sits on the edge of the camera platform at Republic Pictures in Studio City, California, circa 1930s

R. Emmet Sweeney’s profile of William Witney goes beyond just signing on to Tarantino’s endorsement. He paints the picture of a young man lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time—when your coworkers could include Yakima Canutt, and a friendly visit to Busby Berkeley’s set could show you a whole new way to choreograph movie action—but ambitious and creative enough to keep pressing on for decades, tossing out inventive picture after inventive picture to no one’s particular notice.

Sweeney’s also over at Movie Morlocks, discussing five Delmer Daves films. Nothing wrong at all with his brief appraisals, but the Daves articles you must read are at Criterion’s website, where Kent Jones writes beautifully on Jubal and 3:10 to Yuma, finding in both a transcendentalist strain that speaks of the director’s “steadfast dedication and moving attunement to the very best in people.”

“Scott did not concentrate on set pieces so much as approach an entire film with a tonality that extended to cutaways and connecting shots, all of which were dealt with at the same register of glossy enormity, so the opening of a car door exuded the same visual verve and finesse as any larger action scene.” Joseph Bevan’s take on Tony Scott balances admiration for his expressionistic, experimental visuals with dismay at his callous disregard for narrative, character, or decency.

Now that they’re putting out a print edition, La Furia Umana is offering less content on their website, but what’s there is still often fine. The current issue pays marvelously schizophrenic tribute to George Cukor and Abel Ferrara; Dan Sallitt’s reprinted LA Reader obituary and Marilyn Ann Moss’s look at the lifelong friendship between Cukor and Katharine Hepburn are part of the former; Brad Stevens finds the latter offering his characters a respect and autonomy that’s positively Jamesian; and Daisuke Akasaka bridges the gap reviewing the commonalities between Two-Faced Woman and Dangerous Game. (The latter is one of those articles that betrays the multilingual journal’s occasional struggles with English translations.)

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of May 3

“That’s why I’m spending so much time talking to you about the business and the money, because this is the force that is pushing cinema out of mainstream movies. I’ve been in meetings where I can feel it slipping away, where I can feel that the ideas I’m tossing out, they’re too scary or too weird, and I can feel the thing—I can tell; it’s not going to happen….” Proving again the futility of resistance when the internet rises as one to whine, Steven Soderbergh changed his mind and allowed the San Francisco Film Society permission to post his State of Cinema address. It is a pretty engrossing speech, with Soderbergh conscious of the potential to seem an old fogy even as he lays out the numbers to prove Hollywood has no idea what it’s doing. And what’s the director been up to in the week since? You know, posting a surreal, Robbe-Grillet-flavored spy story to Twitter, as one does.

Surf’s up

Some interesting reading in the new Bright Lights, including John Engle’s fine, poetically inclined survey of the surfing movie from Gidget’s safe but still open-hearted testing of countercultural waters to the genre’s current obsession with mythic coming-of-age stories steeped in Zen bliss (why yes, Milius’s Big Wednesday is considered a key transitional film); Roger Leatherwood’s look at what Ari Kahan’s exhaustive Phantom of the Paradise website has to tell us about archiving in these amateur-friendly internet days; and Angela Aleiss’s uncovering the fascinating history of James Young Deer, actor and technical advisor for D. W. Griffith, director for Pathè, who adopted one ethnic identity (falsely claiming membership in the Winnebago tribe) to obscure another less amenable to the times.

“This is not Italy!” For Sight and Sound, Pasquale Iannone rounds up a dozen crucial precursors to the post-war Neorealists, from Pudovkin and People on Sunday to the 1942 feature debut of Manoel de Oliviera. The BFI appends his excellent overview with a gallery of posters for the films.

Another combo KO from two of The Chiseler’s heavy hitters. First, Dan Callahan treasures the perseverance of Sylvia Sidney in so many masochistic parts: “She has the sort of face that looks like it knows the worst before it happens, and so when the worst does happen, it just confirms the anxiety in her eyes.” Then Imogen Smith nails the sincerity of Joan Blondell’s con artists, with particular focus on Nightmare Alley. (“What she brought to all these movies about rackets, about schemers and saps, was the ability to put over a con and let us enjoy her triumph, yet also to express, without sanctimony, the melancholy weight of too much knowledge.”)

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 26

Some marvelous audio finds from Cinephilia and Beyond. First, courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman work out the bishop’s kidnapping from Family Plot, the screenwriter cautious to fit the scene in to the movie as a whole, the director with the cathedral already constructed in his mind’s eye delighting in the possibility of “so many angles on this—so many shots.” (A transcript is also available.)

But it’s the website of Tony Macklin that’s the real treasure trove. Macklin, former editor of Film Heritage magazine, has been posting the (crudely captured, fair warning) recordings of his interviews here; the most recently posted, up just this week, is a dandy 1973 chat with Andrew Sarris; previous subjects include Altman, Eastwood, Peckinpah, Poitier, Sylbert, Head…. Just look; there’ll be somebody you’re dying to hear talk.

Children of Paradise

Matthew Spektor’s stint as a director of literary acquisitions (i.e., the guy who read and recommended books), starting with Coppola and DeVito, taught him that Hollywood does actually know what they’re doing; and what they’re doing is tossing the middle class on the scrap heap.

“Post-modernism before the fact—trash-mashing the ghastly with the frivolous, history and horror trumped by consumer products, the grim and the soothing, the high and the low together, sleeping in one Procrustean bed.” At This Long Century Mark Rappaport has a typically allusive, thought-provoking essay on the stills from Children of Paradise that beguiled him as a youngster, and the magazine he found them in: a 1945 issue of Life juxtaposing grim stories of the surrender of Germany with slick, bouncy adverts.

“Who is Pierre Etaix?” The question posed repeatedly at the end of the director’s documentary feature Land of Milk and Honey is answered exquisitely by David Cairns. Also at Criterion, a collection of Etaix’s sketches that reminds how multivalent his genius is.

Imogen Smith revels in the melodramatic (and actorly) pleasures of Lewis Allen’s So Evil My Love, wherein “theft, forgery, blackmail, murder, sickness, alcoholism, adultery, and betrayals that have no name corrode this world from the inside, like a drug that numbs as it kills.”

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 19

Shooting ‘To the Wonder’

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here.

You’ve certainly decided by now whether you find Terrence Malick’s filmmaking methods daring and exploratory or alarmingly shambolic. Bilge Ebiri’s account of the production of To the Wonder won’t change anybody’s mind on the subject, but it offers more evidence of a director who employs actors, cameramen, and editors in his own unique fashion. Ebiri links to a revealing interview with Emmanuel Lubezki by the ASC’s Jim Hemphill. (“Terry didn’t say this, but I felt that he was trying to separate To the Wonder from all the moviemaking that’s still connected to theater—from movies that feel acted, prepared and rehearsed.”) And inseparable from the sights of Malick are the sounds: composer Hanan Townshend writes briefly about his experience scoring the film.

Daniel Kasman’s ingenious reading of Melville’s Un Flic as “a picture that envisions the ruins laying beyond cinema’s construction of society, of masculinity, of modernity, of genre” depends upon three key shot/reverse-shots and a fourth close-up left hanging without its matching opposite.

“Watching, watching the street and the gate from the dark study window, Hightower hears the distant music when it first begins.” Jonathan Rosenbaum’s attempts to discern a link between Sátántangó and Faulkner’s Light in August get dismissed by Béla Tarr, but he finds some support in a quote from screenwriter and source novelist László Krasznahorkai.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 12

Stanley Kubrick directs ‘Paths of Glory’

DGA Quarterly presents a collection of on-set photos of Howard Hawks, the master showing John Wayne how to throw a punch, Charles Coburn how to flirt, and Angie Dickinson…no, well, he’s just taking in Dickinson like the rest of us. (Click through for downloadable .pdf.) Also in the new issue, interviews with Robert Zemeckis on (surprise!) technology, Sofia Coppola on the differences between her style and her father’s, and James B. Harris on working with Stanley Kubrick; Richard Schickel praises the unflagging fecundity of Raoul Walsh; and Richard Donner takes you through the process of making you believe a man can fly, 1978-style.

The new issue of the regrettably annual Movie has arrived; grand news (courtesy of Film Studies for Free), since the academic journal manages to deal with theory without getting bogged down in jargon or floating off into airy pretentiousness. Must reads include Donna Kornhaber’s marvelous defense of A Countess from Hong Kong as not a masterpiece, exactly, but “a culmination of everything [Chaplin] had learnt since the turn to sound”; Adam O’Brien on movement and travel in The Last Detail; and Ian Garwood’s appreciation of Hoagy Carmichael’s savvier-than-you’d-expect sidekicks. Part of the journal’s mission is a reprint of articles Robin Wood wrote for the Times Educational Supplement; five are presented here, on four Altmans and a pair of Mizoguchis. .pdf warning.

Also just arrived, the new Experimental Conversations. Many have been taken with Fergus Daly’s call for a new cinephilia as “a way of experimenting with perception, thought and the self,” and thus resisting The System; how stirring you find it may depend on whether you’re already on its wavelength. Elsewhere Tony McKibbin does a terrific job laying out Two English Girls’s secret concern with “the damage of time,” and how Truffaut employs color to suspend that constant erosion; and the latest installments of two valuable ongoing projects: David Brancaleone’s survey of Cesare Zavattini’s scripts, here Amore in Citta; and an alphabetic rundown of avant-garde Thai filmmakers.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of March 5

‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ – Woodcut by Guy Budziak

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here.

Video: Last Monday, for the first time in its 42-year history, the National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecture was given by a filmmaker. No prize for guessing Martin Scorsese. His presentation, a stirring call for visual language to be understood as vital and in need of education and preservation as any written one, can be viewed at the NEH website. With nearly as many film clips in support as you’d expect.

“Preminger’s city is one of the most bleak and somber in all of noir. It always seems to be the dregs of night, sour as boiled coffee.” Imogen Smith, brilliant as always, on Where the Sidewalk Ends (featuring a lovely woodcut illustration by Guy Budziak). Also at The Chiseler, and also excellent, Dan Callahan praises Brigette Helm, whose career could never live up to her robotic debut in Metropolis. And no, you won’t find a better GIF on the web anytime soon.

The new issue of Desistfilm can’t be accused of treading well-worn paths with such articles as David Phelps’s survey of Frantisek Vlácil; Tristan Teshigahara Pollack exploring the influence on Sufi poetry on Kiarostami; and a collection of poems by Ken Jacobs. Okay, maybe John A. Riley and Mónica Delgado’s interview with Alex Cox is on more familiar ground, though it still makes a good read.

Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig recount to The Guardian’s Steve Rose the making of The Servant, and their relief at having a director who seemed so assured of what he wanted he barely interfered when things were going right.

Andreas at Pussy Goes Grrr offers up his five favorite Casablanca quotes—and a fine job of breaking down both the truths behind them and the performances that make them so memorable. Via Matt Zoller Seitz.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of March 29

Seattle screenings and cinema events for the week are surveyed at Parallax View here.

David Bordwell’s been thinking about the many purposes of murder in 1940s suspense; which means, despite delaying the reveal behind an impressive collection of literary and cinematic antecedents, he’s been thinking about Hitchcock. Complete with an introduction cast in genially autobiographical (about his history with the genre, not the practice) mode.

Another fine survey of a movie genre and the literary roots to which it’s indebted comes in an excerpt from the late Eric Hobsbawm’s final book, tracing how the relatively multicultural, incident-free American West became the mythic stalking ground for that great Aryan loner, the American Cowboy.

Marker X 2 at the LA Review of Books: Jonathan Cushing looks at Marker’s changing attitudes towards the Olympic Games, from his first short Olympia 52 to the rather more troubling employ of Riefenstahl in The Owl’s Legacy; while Rebecca Ariel Porte reviews Susan Howe’s poetic threnody Sorting Facts, or Nineteen Ways of Looking at Chris Marker.

Fast Company’s Nicole Laporte introduces the New New Hollywood, profiling the tech-savvy producers and agents and early-adapting stars latching on to online sketches and interactive apps as the town’s latest saviors. (The real bosses, as they have for years, remain impatient teenage boys.) Laporte seems more convinced that things are really changing, now and forever, than the industry’s history would seem to support; but in fairness she also points out that the building used for YouTube’s new creative facility was where Hughes built the Spruce Goose. Via Movie City News.

“There was pre-mediation, lots of bared leg, insinuations of sex, but, according to Code rules, “comeuppance” for both at the end. Which is all to say it was not very Stanwyck. But Billy Wilder, crafty director that he is, asked the hesitant Stanwyck, ‘Well, are you a mouse or an actress?’ Stanwyck took the part, and the rest is noir history.” Anne Helen Petersen on the genius of Barbara Stanwyck, and the slippery way she avoided having one set persona for her fans to nail down.

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