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by Bruce Reid

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

Mulholland Drive

The new Senses of Cinema has arrived. Among the highlights are Michael Pattison on the Surrealist bona fides of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, and Tom Ryan (in what’s billed the first of a series) looking at Sirk’s employment of and struggles with genre in three of his “lesser” films: Taza, Son of Cochise, Captain Lightfoot, and Battle Hymn. For the journals Great Directors series, Anton Karl Koslovic explores some of the contradictions of Cecil B. DeMille, racing through his filmography with only 15 uses of the phrase “love triangle.”

The surrealists also pop up in the new issue of Scope, where Seth Soulstein looks back at the cult they formed around the films of Harry Langdon, and convincingly argues that the Little Elf had a greater influence than has been acknowledged on those seminal masterpieces Un chien andalou and L’age d’or. Elsewhere Sarah Artt makes note of Lynn Ramsey’s brilliant silences (timely irony noted) in Morvern Callar, and Peter Lester explores the backlash the IMAX brand suffered after their 2008 announcement that they weren’t about big screens, you know, if that was a hindrance to market penetration. Via Film Studies for Free. (Article links are .pdfs)

“‘She was still really quite beautiful and, if you could forget her connections, really very charming, and I would think that, to many people, very convincing in her intensity about her art, her love of the mountains, and winter sports,’ he said years later. ‘She was really quite a—quite an imposing piece of work.’” In Tin House, Bruce Handy has the fascinating story of Budd Schulberg’s postwar efforts in Germany to hunt down incriminating film footage, and the assistance he received, in good faith or otherwise, from Leni Riefenstahl.

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

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

Mad Magazine’s ‘Casabonkers’

“How gauche! Stop that fighting this minute! You want to wake up the audience?!?” If you recognized that as a line from Borey Lyndon, Grady Hendrix’s tribute to Mad Magazine’s movie parodies should prove right up your alley. Supplemented by interviews with editor-in-chief John Ficarra and artist Tom Richmond that underline how much the format has had to change in the current blockbuster-oriented, spoiler-phobic landscape. Also at Film Comment, Chuck Stephens’s short appreciation of Jay C. Flippen.

Generally overshadowed by his costars whether they were romantic partners (Lucille Ball) or antagonists (Richard Widmark), Mark Stevens still managed a kind of small-scale immortality as he rushed through noir pictures ever anxious and impatient about his future, onscreen and off. Mark Fertig offers praise, not least for his two turns as a director.

Absolutely indispensable tumblr Cinephilia & Beyond (which will pop up again later in these links) spots a pair of magnificent resources available to read for free on the University of California Press’s website. Backstory 2 and Backstory 3, both edited by Patrick McGilligan, collect interviews with screenwriters from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, including Leigh Brackett, Arthur Laurents, Curt Siodmak, Stewart Stern—and that’s only scratching the surface of the first volume.

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

Nick Pinkerton, driving through the Midwest, thinks upon the region’s cinematic apotheoses; specifically, two Minnelli masterpieces and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Speaking of Pinkerton’s “pride of Kenosha, Wisconsin,” Joanne Hill Tarbox Styles, daughter of the headmaster at the Todd School for Boys, which Welles attended during his teens, offers a memoir of those years that reminds you there are two main reactions prompted by encounter with a genius as precocious, prodigious, and self-assured as Welles’s: enraptured bedazzlement, and the urge to throttle. Spotted by the Cinetrix.

Orson Welles on the set of ‘Othello’

And why not make it a triad, with Jonathan Rosenbaum reprinting (from a 1992 Sight and Sound) his takedown of the “restored” Othello, and offering a fine appreciation for how the film signified Welles’s break with mainstream moviemaking and his embarking on a new career as an independent filmmaker.

The path that led to Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise, as chronicled by Businessweek’s Devin Leonard, are rather less Joseph Campbell than your standard boardroom negotiations. Via Movie City News.

In the story above Lucas emerges, as always, as a rather glum technocrat; for a better sense of the flair and danger of capitalism rampant, try John Strausbaugh’s account of the rise and fall and (after he got into the movie business) rise and fall of Fox Film Corporations’s William Fox.

Faced with storage considerations David Bordwell gives up his 16mm collection, but not without fond memories of what the format meant to cinephiles in the days before home video.

The New York Times considers violence on screen, with A. O. Scott finding more accord between the fantasies of Hollywood and Wayne LaPierre than either party would probably admit, and Manohla Dargis reminding that movies were condemned for their violence pretty much from the moment they were born. (Alessandra Stanley and Chris Suellentrop tackle TV and video games, respectively.) Also at the Times, Tom Roston rounds up filmmakers praising invaluable advice tossed their way by Steven Spielberg.

Ian Christie remembers his encounters with Alexei German, and the unique post-Soviet thaw that finally made his masterpieces available to the west. Via David Hudson.

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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 11

Paul Schrader and Lindsay Lohan on the set of ‘The Canyons’

If Stephen Rodrick’s already notorious fly-on-the-wall article about the making of The Canyons were just stories of Lindsay Lohan flaking and Paul Schrader seething, it’d be a fun, if queasily voyeuristic, bit of nothing. But it’s the not-so-subtextual portrait of movie mavericks flailing now that Hollywood has no place for them that makes it such a wild, tragic read.

Another onset report, from the other side of the world in more ways than one: David Bordwell hands over his blog to James Udden, relaying his set visit to Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin, a wuxia being filmed with the same patient, meticulous attention to mise-en-scène Hou has devoted to his previous, sans-martial-arts films.

“One day, apropos flooded New York, I mused what you might see by way of statues or such from the window of Macy’s. Within moments Tony had the Public Relations Manager of Macy’s on the phone for Stanley. ‘This is Stanley Kubrick. I’d like you to go to the window and tell me what you can see.’ The man’s description wasn’t too good. ‘That’s the trouble with this positive discrimination,’ Stanley grumbled. ‘They employ retards.'” Ian Watson’s account of working on the script of A.I., expanded and with a brief but amusing postscript added from a 2000 Playboy article, features all the eccentricities and paranoia we’ve heard of from other collaborators, but also the invigorating rush of being drawn into the man’s orbit. Via Movie City News. Related: Kubrick’s worried letter to the studio about IBM’s attitude towards a psychotic computer antagonist, and the reassuring reply, at Letters of Note.

It’s only fitting that the AFC’s interview with Holy Motors‘ cinematographer Caroline Champetier is so devoted to technical matters; it’s that formal grounding you need to capture imaginative, surreal leaps like these.

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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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Parallax View’s Best of 2012

Welcome 2013 with one last look back at the best releases of 2011, as seen by the contributors to Parallax View and a few notable Seattle-based film critics.

Sean Axmaker

1. Holy Motors
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Margaret (2011 in NY and LA, didn’t screen elsewhere until 2012)
5. Cosmopolis
6. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
7. The Master
8. The Turin Horse
9. Tabu
10. This is Not a Film

Ten more: Amour, Barbara, Deep Blue Sea, Django Unchained, Hyde Park on Hudson, I Wish, The Kid With a Bike, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Magic Mike

My greatest cinematic events of 2012
Hands down the cinematic experience of 2012 for me was the American premier of the complete restoration of Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) with live accompaniment by Oakland East Bay Symphony conducted by Carl Davis. The density of Gance’s ideas, the frisson of his images and experiments in cinematic expression, and the complicated perspectives on the legacy of Napoleon have a weight that is undeniable. And watching the full 5 ½ Napoleon with a live orchestra in a magnificent theater elevates the film to a cinematic experience without parallel, and that experience electrifies the storytelling and imagery.

Local (Seattle) Event: Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy, one-night-only at Grand Illusion. It was a perfect marriage of film and venue: the tiny, independent house with a storied history and an audience of regulars, and a scrappy compilation movie with some surreal moments and a climax that manages to bring over dozen films into the same narrative universe, if only for this moment. And hey, don’t crowd me, man.

Other published Top Ten Lists: MSN, Village Voice, Fandor

Best of Home Video lists: Top Ten Disc Debuts, Top Five Blu-rays, Top Five TV on Disc Releases, Top Five MOD Releases and Notable Achievements for 2012

Sheila Benson

(as published in Village Voice)

1. Rust and Bone
2. Amour
3. Argo
4. Lincoln
5. Holy Motors
6. The Master
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
8. Life of Pi
9. Quartet

David Coursen

(the first nine in alphabetical order, the last as the film of the—um—year)
Holy Motors, Hugo, Lincoln, Margaret, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Rust and Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, Tabu, Take this Waltz, and La Rabbia: the Rage of Pasolini (“a film released, in what must have been an infinitely less compelling form, in 1963, but listed this year by the National Gallery of Art as a “Washington Premiere” in a form so imbued with greatness it triggered a private pre-New Years Pasolini epiphany”).

Jim Emerson

(as published in Village Voice)

1. Holy Motors
2. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
3. The Deep Blue Sea
4. Lincoln
5. Amour
6. Tabu
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Turin Horse
9. This is Not a Film
10. The Master

John Hartl

Technically, Kenneth Lonergan’s remarkable Margaret may not have qualified as a 2012 film (a few people saw it in 2011), but the years he spent in the editing room paid off in this story of a high-strung teenager (Anna Paquin) who causes a horrendous traffic accident. The writer-director’s unique focus on responsibility–and its limits–led to the creation of the year’s most haunting and original film. Almost equally affecting were Michael Haneke’s wrenching account of an older couple facing the end of their relationship, Amour, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, about an American personality cult spinning out of control. Among the most playful new movies: Wes Anderson’s tale of romantic runaways, Moonrise Kingdom, and Richard Linklater’s stranger-than-fiction Jack Black vehicle, Bernie. The latter, like Ben Affleck’s self-assured Argo, Steven Spielberg’s painstaking Lincoln, and Kathryn Bigelow’s vigorous Zero Dark Thirty, is based on fact. Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games took a popular young-adult book and made something majestic of it. Northwest filmmaker Jon Garcia’s The Falls, a perfectly cast love story about 20-year-old Mormon missionaries, was the best of several strong gay films.

A second 10: Rust and Bone, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Keep the Lights On, Barbara, A Royal Affair, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Queen of Versailles, Any Day Now.

Robert Horton

(as published at Everett Herald)

1. Margaret
2. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. This Is Not a Film
5. Lincoln
6. The Turin Horse
7. The Master
8. Bernie
9. Searching for Sugar Man
10. To Rome With Love

For the second 10: The Secret World of Arietty, Wreck-It Ralph, The Deep Blue Sea, Cosmopolis, Django Unchained, Holy Motors, Elena, Moonrise Kingdom, The Dark Knight Rises, The Grey.

Richard T. Jameson

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Lincoln
3. Django Unchained
4. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
5. The Turin Horse
6. Silver Linings Playbook
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Cosmopolis
9. The Deep Blue Sea
10. The Sessions

Mooned by the misbegotten: Les Misérables, Rock of Ages

Other published lists: MSN

Jay Kuehner

(as published on Fandor)

1. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel)
2. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
3. Neighbouring Sounds/O som ao redor (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
4. In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
5. Two Years at Sea (Ben Rivers)
6. small roads (James Benning)
7. Viola (Matias Piniero)
8. O Gebo e a Sombra/Gebo and the Shadow (Manoel de Oliveira)
9. Vers Madrid/The Burning Bright (Sylvain George)
10. Arraianos (Eloy Enciso)

Moira Macdonald

(as published in The Seattle Times)

Anna Karenina
Argo
The Avengers
The Deep Blue Sea
Flight
I Wish
Lincoln
Margaret
Pina
Ruby Sparks

Ten more terrific movies, any of which might have slipped into my first ten on a different day: A Cat in Paris, Bernie, Liberal Arts, The Master, Middle of Nowhere, Moonrise Kingdom, A Royal Affair, The Sessions, The Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall, Smashed. OK, that’s 11. So be it.

Best 2012 movies that haven’t opened in Seattle yet (but I’ve seen them): Amour, Zero Dark Thirty

Kathleen Murphy

(as published at MSN Movies)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Lincoln
3. The Master
4. Amour
5. Holy Motors
6. Django Unchained
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Silver Linings Playbook
9. The Deep Blue Sea
10. Cosmopolis

Bruce Reid

1. The Turin Horse
2. The Kid with a Bike
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Cosmopolis
5. The Master
6. Holy Motors
7. This Is Not a Film
8. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
9. Not Fade Away
10. The Loneliest Planet

Andrew Wright

1. Django Unchained
2. Holy Motors
3. Elena
4. Looper
5. Margaret
6. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
7. Argo
8. The Master
9. The Grey
10. Skyfall

Lists of lists:
MSN Movies (lists at end of gallery)
Village Voice (poll and lists)
Indiewire’s Criticwire
Movie City News
Fandor
Time Out London
Keyframe Daily Lists and Award 2012 Index

Polls (no individual lists)
Film Comment
Indiewire Poll
Sight and Sound

Other lists
2012 additions to the National Film Registry
Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell’s Ten Best Films of … 1922
New York Times Year in Culture

See the 2012 Seattle Film Critics Wrap at the Frye, with Robert Horton hosting Kathleen Murphy and Jim Emerson, after the jump below.

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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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