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Bruce Reid

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of March 1

The New Republic’s Jason Farago worries that Amour might not just chronicle a death but embody one, if it turns out to be the last, grand gasp of a European cinema whose state subsidies are drying up.

Emmanuelle Riva in ‘Amour’

Charles Barr takes the current resurgence in all things Hitchcock as opportunity to argue that the greatest of all cinematic oeuvres is insufficiently recognized as one that’s British, born and bred.

The above link comes from John Wyver, who also spots Henry Jenkins’s four-part interview with scholar Donald Crafton about how animation evolved from exaggerated lunacy into a “realistic” art of performance, indebted to Stanislavsky more than it ever was to the comics pages. Generously illustrated with cartoon clips. (Parts two, three, and four here.)

Speaking of Disney, Brad Bird and screenwriter Damon Lindelof have kept characteristically tight-lipped on details about their upcoming production Tomorrowland, originally called 1952. Recalling a tall tale about government agents and UFOs that legendary animator Ward Kimball loved to pass along, Disney historian Jim Hill thinks he might have sussed out the plot. Via Drew McWeeny.

“When co-star Walter Brennan saw Mitchum in his elegantly rugged costume, he declared, ‘That is the goddamndest realest cowboy I’ve ever seen!’” Imogen Smith on the dark pleasures of noir western Blood on the Moon, and its inspired use of Robert Mitchum’s mesmerizing but untrustworthy rambling spirit.

His review of Glenn Frankel’s new book on The Searchers allows J. Hoberman to consider the real-life events, and the national myths they became, that inspired Ford’s masterpiece.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 22

Anonymous Oscar ballot

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here. Spotlight this week is on Noir City 2013.

Even if Oscar predictions and politicking hold as little interest for you as for me, you can still relish the ballot provided by an anonymous director to the Hollywood Reporter. Not least for the way his explanations of the votes—some reasoned, some petty—ring out with the unexamined jealousy and casual rage of a true insider. Via Richard Jameson.

For decades, as Ted Scheinman tells it, slapstick “flirted with the notion of inflicting serious pain on the dainty female body without quite allowing it to happen.” But now Melissa McCarthy has arrived, and he’s anxious to see if her fearless leaps of knockabout will continue to succeed on her terms or instead be flattened by her crueler, misogynistic collaborators. Also at the LA Review of Books, Julie Cline interviews Errol Morris about Jeffrey Macdonald, the unacknowledged legacy of psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, and “our almost unfettered ability to foster, create, engender error.”

“”Argus”—good name for a cinema.” In an engrossing bit of literary detection, David Brody hunts down the movie clues—Disney, Garbo—to explain what’s going on in Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark, while simultaneously looking at the relative success and failure of some recent movies that attempt something like the “beautiful idea” of an animated tableau vivant that grips the novel’s protagonist. Via David Hudson.

In what seems to be a recurring feature now (a previous installment featured Janusz Kaminski) Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan sits down with Roger Deakins to explain the method and reasoning behind ten of his iconic shots—one of which, Fargo‘s opening drive, he’s gentlemanly enough to admit was second unit.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 15

I Know Where I’m Going

In the new Bright Lights Film Journal, Imogen Sara Smith offers a marvelous analysis of how Powell and Pressburger use narrative ellipses (and Roger Livesey) to very different ends in two different movies. Other highlights include Oren Shai’s tracking the changes of the Women in Prison genre, from silent-era message movies still experimenting with the form to the great ’70s run of knowing, politicized parodies nearly all produced by Roger Corman; and James MacEachern’s salute to Mickey Rooney, which nicely captures the almost incredulous amazement with which some of us apprehend the longest-active star in Hollywood history, and one of the best.

“You know, to a man with a heart as soft as mine, there’s nothing sweeter than a touching scene.” David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s analysis of The Man Who Knew Too Much—included in the first version of their textbook Film Art, dropped from subsequent editions—is presented by Criterion. Stimulated by its reappearance, Bordwell expands upon it at his own blog, touching on Hitchcock’s masterful use of set pieces and the film’s “vigorous reassertion of Englishness.”

Jerry Whyte’s long, circuitous survey of the influences on and critical reactions to Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc pays the best tribute one can to a masterpiece: an attempt to rip down the pre-conceptions that surround it, and marvel anew at the strange, lovely work that remains. Via John Wyver.

Richard Brody notes the horror that Birth of a Nation is so clearly the work of a great artist; with a lamentation towards the end that the same cultural forces behind Griffith’s racist imaginings kept any documentarians from picking up the new sound cameras and recording the testimonies of still-living former slaves.

Amanda Petrusich provides the story behind one of the more obscure recent additions to the National Film Registry: Melton Barker’s The Kidnapper’s Foil, remade in town after town for decades, the locals hit up for cash to include their children in the production. A cynical bit of hustle that’s emerged as an invaluable (and entirely inadvertent) record of forgotten small towns all across America. Several versions of the film can be viewed here.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 8

Richard Pryor in ‘Wattstax’

“Cuz the slave is a Negro in your cinema/In your cinema/In your cinema/Jamie Foxx plays this Negro in your cinema/He even blows White chicks away.” All due respect to Groundhog Day, February’s gladdest tiding for movie lovers is the annual return of Odienator’s Black History Mumf, with sharp, observant, and very funny pieces already published on Brock Peters, the oddly apt casting of Richard Wright in the 1951 film version of Native Son, and, inspired by BAM’s current retrospective, the peaks and valleys of Richard Pryor’s film career.

The contradictions of Richard Pryor—electrifying in concert films and Blue Collar, variously wasted, underutilized, or indifferent elsewhere—are on the mind of Colin Beckett too, who joins in Odienator’s applause for the underrated Bustin’ Loose. In the new issue of Brooklyn Rail, which also celebrates Jonas Mekas’s recent 90th birthday by soliciting salutes from some of his friends and collaborators, including P. Adams Sitney and Ken Jacobs.

At the bilingual film journal Transit, Adrian Martin beautifully lays out the case for teen movies, “the least sacred and the most secular of genres,” as unjustly neglected. His essay introduces some rectification of that slight, as Transit’s co-editor Cristina Álvarez López rounds up enthusiastic appreciations of everything from The Breakfast Club and Never Been Kissed to Wild Boys of the Road and The Aviator’s Wife.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 1

Joan Blondell in ‘Golddiggers of 1933’

“No other actress had quite the same ability to be simultaneously wised-up and unprotected, generous yet nobody’s fool.” In the first of a two-part series, this installment covering from her debut in Sinners’ Holiday to singing for her Forgotten Man in Golddiggers of 1933, Imogen Smith marvels at Joan Blondell’s endlessly arresting, electrically modern turns in a series of movies mostly unworthy of her talents.

Invoking the care, compassion, and magic of Cornell and Nabokov, Michael Chabon praises Wes Anderson’s omnipresent boxes as artifices containing wondrous truths.

Jonathan Rosenbaum argues for Michael Roemer as “the best Jewish director you’ve never heard of”; considering, as Rosenbaum reports, he made Malcolm X’s favorite movie, it’s probably a fair call.

“It makes a difference: when you have a crew of six people, you can be a director; when you have a crew of a hundred, catering trucks and all this, you’re not really an artist, you’re a general commanding an army, which is a different kind of work. Not necessarily evil work, just different.” A 2006 conversation between Thom Andersen and Pedro Costa on Huillet/Straub offers some insights on the pair’s working method, as well as enthusiastic praise from two fans. A related posting at Diagonal Thoughts, which is fast becoming an indispensable resource for this kind of thing, Philippe Azoury’s 2001 interview with Straub and Costa (and one line from Huillet which confirms Andersen’s observation that “He talks a lot, but in a certain way she has more to say.”)

“Jimmy was the kind of guy that rooted for bad guys in the movies.” Kim Morgan rounds up her 10 favorite performances by actors playing real-life gangsters, from Charles Bronson to “Warren fucking Oates.”

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of January 25

Robert Mitchum serves a sixty-day sentence in the Los Angeles County jail for marijuana possession, 1949.

The new issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review is dedicated to Classic Hollywood; which topic is interpreted in agreeably diverse fashion to include Anne Helen Petersen on the evolution of the PR game from the fake news reports on Florence Lawrence’s death to the age of Twitter and Tumblr; excerpts from Bret Lott’s biography-in-progress on Columbia’s Frank Price; Nina Revoyr recalling how her fascination with silent movie actors Mary Miles Minter and Sessue Hayakawa led to her novel “Age of Dreaming”; and Chip Hayes’s marvelous recollection of being a teenager on the set of Satan’s School for Girls. Even poetry, such as David Gioia’s “Film Noir,” distilling the genre in a charmingly incongruous sing-song rhythm (“Their eyes meet, and he can tell/It’s gonna be fun, but it won’t end well”). This being a literary journal, no real surprise that the highlights of their cinema issue focus on scriptwriters: an unearthed 1973 interview with Horton Foote, full of insights and anecdotes on his film work to that time; and David Kipen’s salute to Paul Dehn, supreme screenwriter of the Cold War spygame. Much more at the first link. Spotted by Longform.

Also new this week, the latest issue of film journal La Furia Umana, with a focus on Joseph H. Lewis including short pieces by Fredrik Gustafsson on the pain (physical and moral) central to his work; Robert Keser on Lewis’s low-budget inventiveness; and Fergus Daly on his links to Godard (less than you’d think). Among the longer articles, Paul Cuff emphasizes the humane and spiritual concerns that drove Abel Gance’s cinematic experiments, each “influenced as much by ancient mysticism as by modern science”; Will Scheibel looks at Ray’s three “Outlaw Couple” movies, They Live By Night, Johnny Guitar, and Party Girl; and Paul Douglas Grant recounts the national history and state censorship that informed the Filipino filmmaker Lino Brocka. Some flubs in translation (or possibly just poor writing) keep Emmanuel Herbulot’s article on Antonioni’s habit of interviewing artists during his pre-production stage from clicking together satisfactorily, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

“Walsh once said that he could never make a woman’s movie (“call up Bette Davis if you want!”). It may be because he was already doing them with men.” Tom Conley’s introduction to Harvard University’s Raoul Walsh retrospective is an excellent survey and defense of a “pantheon” career, only slightly tainted by interpretive overreach. Via Adam Cook.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of January 18

Humphrey Bogart

“Movie has always been a kind of Dorian Gray process. Many of you were not alive when Bogart died, but you can revel in his early middle age (especially when he acquired the 19-year-old Lauren Bacall)—and hardly ever find a picture of him where he looks young.” David Thomson, prompted by the grand turns of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, recalls that aging in the movies has always been a different—less fraught, less human—process than in real life.

Film offered us new ways to look at the world; and now computer analysis is offering myriad new ways to look at film, as Lev Manovich magnificently demonstrates by laying out a half-dozen ways of revisualizing the frame-by-frame information in Vertov’s The Eleventh Year and Man with a Movie Camera. Available as a downloadable .pdf with or without hi-res versions of the images. Via John Wyver.

“I like to blow up everything and anything so, before we shot the gunfight scene, I walked around the whole restaurant looking for things to explode. If I saw stacks of papers on a desk we’d use that. Or maybe the tickets waiters used for their food orders. If we were close to the kitchen, I might ask, ‘How about blowing up a gas tank?’” In the new DGA Quarterly, John Woo walks Jeffrey Ressner through Hard Boiled‘s iconic opening shoot-out. Less bloodily (well, what wouldn’t be?), Lynn Shelton describes to Margy Rochlin adapting her improvisatory style to scripted dialogue for Mad Men and her latest feature Touchy Feely; while Milos Forman screens and rhapsodizes over De Sica’s “absolutely unique” Miracle in Milan for Rob Feld.

As Lola continues to roll out its contents piecemeal, Luc Moullet attempts some small correction of Ulmer’s reputation, acknowledging his frequent dreary efforts surrounding the legitimate masterpieces; Miguel Marias reminds us that decades before Inglourious Basterds Jerry Lewis imagined his way through a deliberately artificial WWII, complete with Hitler murdered ahead of schedule, in Which Way to the Front?; and if Emmanuel Siety doesn’t quite pull off linking Rivette and Carpenter, despite finding some intriguing affinities, it’s still the kind of never-thought-of-that-before thesis you’re glad to encounter.

Film Studies for Free notes that the journal Framework has placed nine of their issues online for all-access. Their most recent features several brief but interesting contributions from architects, asked to comment on a single frame, which leads to thoughts on weightlessness in 2001, cathedrals in Winter Light (here) and Good Morning, Babylon (here), and the thorough finality of Kiss Me Deadly‘s title proclaiming The End. (.pdf warnings)

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of January 4

On the set of ‘The Innocence of Muslims’

Down-and-out actors lured to the desert for $75 a day and the promise they’d qualify for SAG cards, on a set so chaotic and unorganized they started taking the piss, playing their Arab warrior parts as growling, scimitar-waving pirates. Michael Joseph Gross describes the making of The Innocence of Muslims.

An annual highlight of David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s blog (and that’s saying something for such a consistently rewarding site) is their Best-of lists looking back 90 years. Lest you think nearly a century is enough to set such things in amber, Thompson’s write-ups for the best films of 1922 includes commentary on some surprising omissions as well.

A wealth of links passed along by Film Studies for Free, or a “Stocking Full” as they seasonally put it. All I’ve been able to read (and enjoy) so far are some pieces from the new Alphaville: Melissa DeAnn Seifert’s look at the way homophobia was employed to keep women divided in female-oriented blaxploitation and Dina Mansour charting the anti-colonial sentiments underlying Egypt’s censorship laws. But there’s so many articles something’s bound to catch your interest.

“The frames of Pasolini’s films combine the language of the cinema with the figural traditions of painting; his images are often equal parts Rossellini and Giotto, Mizoguchi and Bosch, Chaplin and Pontormo, Dreyer and Brueghel.” Prompted by MoMA’s retrospective, Patrick Rumble revisits the clashes—of class, religion, sexuality, even language (as Rumble reminds non-Italian speakers, thick dialects rendered his films effectively bilingual)—that comprise Pasolini’s endlessly eclectic cinema.

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

Bela Lugosi

If you don’t mind some Christmas cheer a few days after the actual event, this week saw, along with several thousand reviews of It’s a Wonderful Life, some links of note. Susan Doll posted several holiday-themed publicity shots over at Movie Morlocks. Even though Doll’s got Joan Crawford straddling a chimney, she somehow missed Bela Lugosi dressed as Santa Claus; the Retronaut’s got your back on that one. The Siren passes along the brief but delightful tale of George Sanders catching wife Zsa Zsa Gabor in flagrante delicto on Christmas Eve, both parties behaving exactly as you imagine they would. But for a certain mindset among members of a certain generation, surely no yuletide link can surpass Dr. Ryan St. Clair sitting down with The Week’s Lauren Hansen to diagnose just how horrible injured hapless burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern would have been by each of impish Caulkin’s brutal traps, as passed along by The A.V. Club.

The new issue of Screening the Past arrives, with Adrians Martin and Danks tackling Ruiz’s undervalued film theory writings and Lester’s Petulia, respectively; Michelle Langford providing a revealing take on gender in recent Iranian war films; Alan Wright on the affinities (and at least one crucial difference) between Godard’s recent cinema and the writings of Holocaust survivor Jean Améry; and a collection of the early writings of recently deceased cultural critic Vikki Riley.

Meanwhile, LOLA continues to roll out their new issues piecemeal rather than dumping all the articles on you at once. So far we have an exquisite corpse round Holy Motors (some installments fantastic, others straining for the invention Carax pulls off so effortlessly), Erika Balsom’s account of attending the unique Gregory Markopoulos festival at Temenos, and Philip Brophy on Crispin Glover’s “strangely non-strange” It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. All fine indeed, but with articles in the pipeline on Rivette, Carpenter, and Which Way to the Front?, the best seems yet to come.

Unlike too many appreciations of Béla Tarr, Rose McLaren’s doesn’t try to smooth or reduce his roughly sensual monuments into something—grim ascetic platitudes, or Capital-A Art—easier to wrap your hands (and head) around.

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

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

David O. Selznick dictating a memo in 1941.

“After getting Selznick’s dense, eight-page telegram explaining why Since You Went Away’s nearly three hours could not be reduced, a colleague replied: IF I WERE YOU I WOULD MAKE NO FURTHER CUTS IN SYWA. YOU MIGHT TAKE ABOUT TEN MINUTES OUT OF YOUR TELEGRAM.” David Bordwell sifts through the most logorrheic resource available to film scholars, the David O. Selznick papers held at the University of Texas, for clues to how consciously the studio system achieved its effects.

Of course you can only search through an archive if one exists, and Hollywood studios, in their eternal chasing after the new and the profitable, have been criminally lax on that score. Film historian Wheeler Winston Dixon explains some of the obstacles members of his profession must surmount (and passes along, sub rosa, an encouraging word about the ongoing digital encroachment) in an interview with Moving Image Archive News.

Yes, “if I’m not grounded pretty soon, I’m gonna go into orbit” has finally been enshrined within the National Film Registry; but then so has “there’s no crying in baseball.” The complete list here.

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

Errol Flynn and the sea

I came across the new Senses of Cinema too recently to have sampled much beyond their “Special Dossier” on the cinematic history of Tasmania, but even that’s provided several articles of interest, including Jeannette Delamoir’s history of the now mostly-lost silent Jewelled Nights (whose star and chief creative force, Louise Lovely, claimed she here innovated the shortcut of using shots of ship’s funnels and locomotive wheels to stand in for long voyages); director John Honey on the making of the state’s first self-produced feature, 1980’s Manganinnie; and two looks at the island’s most famous son: Robert de Young on how Tasmania’s wildlife and raging seas formed Errol Flynn, and Adrian Danks on the star’s superb collaboration with Raoul Walsh. Elsewhere in the issue, Shirley Clarke is added to the site’s Great Directors ranks, Angelos Koutsourakis capably handling the honors.

Mark Harris describes the rapid rethink and restructuring Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal had to do when their planned Hunt-for-bin-Laden movie rushed up against his real-life assassination. And while we’re on the subject, Dexter Filkins’s short New Yorker profile reminds you that our best action director used to hang out with Susan Sontag and Philip Glass and has no problem dropping “Lacanian” into a conversation.

“The characters in Xenogenesis also visit a world called “Techno-Planet.” On this world, our main characters discover an advanced civilization that has collapsed because the people withdraw into highly realistic fantasy worlds generated by computers.” To fight off some seemingly frivolous lawsuits over Avatar, James Cameron has tracked his influences and inspirations (beginning with a sketch doodled in his 11th-grade homeroom) in a 45-page legal document, available at the Hollywood Reporter. It’s as meticulous as you’d expect, and in its endless conflations of technocrat idealism and hippie ethics, probably as close as Cameron will ever get to a Declaration of Principles.

Sadly noting that even its latter-day status as a parking garage has ended with its tearing down, Charles Simic recalls New York’s Comique Film Studio, and the day Buster Keaton showed up to do a bit in one of his pal Fatty Arbuckle’s movies.

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

“Walden” by Jonas Mekas

The new issue of Scope is highlighted by Rachel Lister’s fine article on Nicole Holofcener (.pdf warning), which picks up the common critical assessment that her films work like short stories and runs with it, adducing mission statements from writers such as Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, and (most appositely) Lorrie Moore to show how closely Holofcener adheres to a short-story, as opposed to novelistic, approach. Passed along by Film Studies for Free.

“I was 27 and I had to make up for all the lost time in the displaced persons’ camp, so I started absorbing everything. I went to the cinema every day. I was so hungry for culture, for stimulation. It was all about grabbing the time, doing something after so many years of doing nothing.” Jonas Mekas made up for his lost time with a vengeance, as Sean O’Hagan’s interview/career profile for The Guardian makes clear. Part of the cause for the article is Mekas’s retrospective at London’s Serpentine Gallery, samples of which are viewable at their website.

MUBI’s Tony Scott salute continues, with ten more appreciations of an oeuvre that can’t be faulted for looking and sounding like everybody else.

Appropriately, the New York Times Magazine’s Hollywood issue opens with A. O. Scott sounding the latest death knell to the “death-of-cinema” complaints. Scott’s less persuasive arguing this was the “Year of Heroine Worship,” but Tierney Gearon’s playful, spangling photos of actresses who made a splash in 2012, from Emmanuelle Riva to Rebel Wilson, helps brings the argument home.

It’s not Eric Hynes’s fault if his appreciation of Max von Sydow’s career sticks mostly to the highlights; covering 63 years and nearly as many phases (with only the slightest signs of slowing down), it’s a life’s work hard to imagine any article encompassing.

There are many sights to see in Berlin; David Bordwell covers one of any filmlover’s crucial destinations in a visit to the Babelsberg Studio, former home to Murnau, Lang, and so many, many more.

Speaking of cinematic tourism, Brian Darr of Hell on Frisco Bay notes an unfortunate renovation has occurred at 900 Lombard, obscuring Scottie Ferguson’s apartment. Which opening, in pleasingly associative, Sans Soleil fashion, leads him to a charming anecdote from Tom Luddy about working with Chris Marker.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 30

Tony Scott’s critical standing among the MUBI cohorts is so strong that when Gina Telaroli and Daniel Kasman called for a series of essays, each to analyze one scene from any of his films, they were forced to split the results over two weeks time. The first ten are up now, mostly (but not exclusively) rapturous celebrations of light, sound, and restless motion, with enough film stills that this might be the most colorfully expressionistic page in the history of the Internet.

So apparently this time of year academic film journals flower no less than colorful displays and mall-wide sales. I wouldn’t have known had not all these been highlighted by Film Studies for Free. The new issue of the European Journal of Media Studies tackles the subject of “tangibility,” which brings a welcome sensuousness to such engaging but theory-heavy articles as Barbara Flueckiger’s beautifully illustrated disquisition on whether films can any longer be considered historical documents in the pristine digital age or Wanda Strauven’s tracing the early movie trope of the “rube,” tempted to tactile interaction with the movie screen, back to a long, mostly forgotten history of art presentation. In Issue 3 of Screen Machine, James R. Douglas lays out a measured respect for Christopher Nolan’s reassertion of Einsteinian montage over Bazinian imagery, while Robbie Fordyce’s attempt to rehabilitate Southland Tales is less successful. Finally, the latest Frames has Hannah Mowat on the differing juxtapositions of architecture and natural space in L’Année dernière à Marienbad, The Shining, and Hausner’s Hotel; John Trafton showing how Apocalypse Now and The Hurt Locker expand on different 19th-century influences (theatrical phatasmagoria and the battlefield panorama, respectively) to view war through fresh eyes; and Amy Sargeant on Britain’s aviatrix movies from the ’20s and ’30s.

Crispin Glover in ‘River’s Edge’

“In observation, I don’t know where this is headed, but the only one of us with the coordinates for this destination in his hardware is you. Go on whatever vision quest you require.” David Bordwell breaks down the decisions and intelligence behind some scenes directed by Tim Hunter, for large screen (River’s Edge) and small (Twin Peaks, Revenge).

“As she lies dying, the woman asks the cop who has hounded but reluctantly admires her to ‘come down to my level, just once’; then as he finally succumbs and leans in for a kiss, she laughs in his face.” Imogen Smith’s appreciation of Decoy is as brisk and blunt as the Poverty Row noir itself.

“I’m an egghead. I’m not only an egghead, I’m a premeditated egghead. I set out to become an egghead and at this moment I’m in full flower of eggheadedness, and I hope to spread the spores of egghead everywhere I go.” Serge Daney in English posts one of Daney’s first published works: a defense of Advise & Consent, and Preminger, that’s just the blend of striking insights (he’s marvelous on Preminger’s “coldness”) and overreaches you’d expect from a 19-year-old genius.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 23

Kirk Douglas

The Hollywood Reporter details the role former publisher Billy Wilkerson played in the blacklist, a mea culpa they admit is painfully overdue even as they kind of fudge it with a series of who-can-say shrugs about the paper’s impact towards the end. Included is a photo gallery of surviving blacklist victims that ends with Kirk Douglas, because white hats and happy endings, you know? Via Movie City News.

“But like any good student of Gurdjieff or Stanislavsky or Freud, Ray had come to his teachers with a question that was all his own, and had come away each time with a better version of his question: how can people—two people, or multitudes—love one another, to quote King of Kings?” Bill Krohn’s magnificent close reading of Ray’s We Can’t Go Home Again may not convince you of the film’s greatness, but he forever places it firmly amid the worried, questioning works the student-turned-teacher had made since the beginning.

In their latest discussion, Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott take heart from a number of recent films that, success or failure, are pushing against formulaic storytelling conventions.

Most of said conventions, of course, are hawked and hammered home in books on screenplay writing, a how-to genre that has exploded in recent years. Jonathan Zimmerman spent some time under their spell, and has returned to tell the tale.

Among other delights, the new issue of Experimental Conversationsspotted by Girish Shambu—has Fergus Daly drawing a dense portrait of film noir’s godless morality (and showing off an encyclopedic affinity for telling bits of dialogue); two articles kicking off a series by David Brancaleone on the underappreciated legacy of neorealist screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (part two here); and part two of Jit Phokaew et al.’s survey of Thailand’s alternative cinema.

At Film Comment, Maggie Hennefeld runs down her highlights of the recent Pordenone Silent Film Festival, which includes the rescue of Anna Sten from her relegation as a Cole Porter punchline.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 16

Ingrid Caven watches Fassbinder on television, ‘In a Year With 13 Moons’

“What should be stressed is that Fassbinder’s films are slow, their tempo gentle and carefully measured. There’s no rush, even as everything falls apart. Despite the furious speed with which they were made, they are meditative works of art.” Charlie Fox’s 13-part (one for each moon) essay on Fassbinder is pitched to a mordant excess perfectly appropriate for the subject.

Greil Marcus proves to be the perfect interviewer for David Thomson—able and eager to follow his trains of thought about every movie being part one big river, the way cinema has deadened our empathy, and the hidden links between Un chien andalou and your television’s remote control—in a sparkling sitdown for the L.A. Review of Books.

“It is in control, and if you think you’re in control, then you’re being an idiot! Not a single thing you’ve done has helped, and I’m sorry, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but the camera hasn’t helped.” David Bordwell salutes how much variety can be found in even the most restrictive premise, by tracing the innovative changes on the “discovered footage” conceit throughout the four Paranormal Activity films.

In honor of Anthony Asquith’s 110th birthday, Bristol Silents reprints a 2004 essay by Kelly Robinson on rediscovering the greatness of his silent films, and British cinema in general.

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