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by Bruce Reid

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

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

Henry Fonda walks through 'The Grapes of Wrath'

“A black friend of mine, after seeing Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath, swore that Fonda had colored blood. You could tell, he said, by the way Fonda walked down the road at the end of the film: white men don’t walk like that! and he imitated Fonda’s stubborn, patient, wide-legged hike away from the camera.” At Kino Slang, Andy Rector posts James Baldwin’s excellent, provocative reading of Lang’s You Only Live Once, from The Devil Finds Work.

Say this if you’re looking for a silver lining: Who ever thought Kathryn Bigelow would be mainstream enough that one of her films would be helped along by classified leaks from the White House? Yet that’s exactly what happened during the preproduction of Zero Dark Thirty. Here’s your links, helpfully sorted in order of outrage. If this strikes you as, ok, odd, but honestly no big deal, The Playlist has you covered. If you’re somewhat troubled by the implications, try The Guardian. Sputtering indignantly at the confluence of statist arrogance and Hollywood propaganda? Glenn Greenwald’s your man. And if you’re barely even upset because really, what did you expect after we placed a socialist traitor in the Oval Office, join the conversation at Judicial Watch, the organization which (admirably, in all sincerity) obtained the government records and has posted them online to sort through yourself.

“Creating something beautiful and becoming beautiful oneself are indistinguishable.” John Bailey recalls one of the highlights of filming Mishima: working with the incomparable Eiko Ishioka.

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

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here, with a focus on SIFF 2012.

Whatever the financial tally when all’s said and done, the contributors to this year’s For the Love of Film blogathon have simply provided too many riches on too many topics to offer any meaningful list of highlights; any such won’t so much scratch the surface as gently buff it. So head over to the event’s three hosts—The Self-Styled Siren, Ferdy on Film, and This Island Rod—and sample the offerings for yourself.

The new Bright Lights journal devotes special focus to Anthony Mann, his career somewhat schematically broken up into low-budget noirs where he learned the craft (Robert E. Smith), westerns still underappreciated for their forcefulness and originality (Stephen Handzo), and late epics more complicated and subversive than they appear (Lee Westen Sabo on that “shambling, beautiful beast” The Fall of the Roman Empire). Another strong article in a dense issue is Christina Riley’s overview of the provocations—not least the casting of Dietrich—that run throughout Wilder’s A Foreign Affair.

“I would rather make the gravest of mistakes than surrender my own judgment.” A recent screening of The Last of the Mohicans was followed by a Michael Mann Q&A with Geoff Boucher. Kristopher Tapley has the highlights, but even he admits these outtakes can’t do justice to the wide-ranging, highly detailed thoughts you’d expect from Mann, so he’s fortunately appended the audio from the evening.

Translator Ted Fendt’s website Howling Wretches is barely a few months old yet already hosts two invaluable backstage reads, making their debut in English, from a 1984 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma. Alains Bergala and Philippon describe the shooting of Rohmer’s Full Moon in Paris, while Marc Chevrie’s visit to the set of Love on the Ground provides a fascinating look at the lengths to which Rivette will go to keep his films an unpredictable series of games. Via David Hudson.

Jean Epstein's 'Coeur Fidèle'

“That Epstein’s films are uneven is part of their essential nature; he was genuinely experimenting, aiming not for a consistent level of craft or a seamless vehicle for narrative, but for moments that would kindle, images that would pierce.” The Chiseler’s Imogen Smith discusses, in prose nearly as vivid and transfixing as their imagery, three films by Jean Epstein.

In a similar vein, Ed Howard surveys the six “fascinating, poetic documentaries” that Maurice Pialat shot in Turkey in 1964, with topics ranging from studies of harbor life to the region’s religious history to the spectacle of a three-day wrestling match.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s earliest, least-known films are the subject of his interview with EG’s Mohamed Bouaouina and Anel Dragic.

“French women are not quiet…. They’re not submissive little bunnies. They have lives of their own. They don’t retreat into kitchens. And their men better not fuck around.” An engaging, rousingly uninhibited interview with Julie Delpy, courtesy of the Irish Times’s Tara Brady. Passed along by the Cinetrix.l

“He said, ‘We’re going up to Big Sur, we’re going to shoot up there.’ And we went up there. That’s where I met what’s-his-name, who makes the wine. Coppola.” The great Dick Miller (his recollections charmingly buttressed by his wife Lainie), interviewed for the A.V. Club by Caelum Vatnsdal, looks back at the barest fraction of the films he’s made. Which still makes for a wealth of anecdotes.

When it comes to celebrity handouts, Steve Martin’s legendary business cards have their first real competition via Tom Wilson, who preemptively answers fan questions about Back to the Future on a postcard (“Crispin Glover is unusual, but not as unusual as he sometimes presents himself.”).

“Do you know what time it is?” “A watch doesn’t really go with this outfit, daddy.” Josie Sampson revisits Clueless, and praises the deliberately tacky, “tasteless attempts at sophistication” of its costume design, a vibrant marker of childish things to be put away.

Federico Fellini, Jean Cocteau, Giulietta Masina at Cannes 1953

The Movie Morlocks’s morlockjeff’s two-part runthrough of the lesser-known, offbeat, and sometimes outright embarrassing byways of Mickey Rooney’s career becomes, when you remember that unique sprite’s indefatigable energy, a litany of perseverance both pathetic and oddly heroic, Rooney pressing on full bore whether aiding a talking duck, forcing a captive to play out Cyrano de Bergerac, or crawling about in a diaper and breast-feeding from Marianne Sagebrecht.

Also at the Morlocks, Kimberly Lindbergs offers some of her favorite photographs chronicling the Cannes festival, from Louis Lumière meeting in a train station with the town’s mayor to a lovely 1959 image of Cary Grant and Kim Novak lost in one another’s eyes. Another post, covering the ’60s, is to follow.

Even before seeing the colorfully desolate images, hanging midway between cinematic studies and tourist snapshots, of Wim Wenders’s latest photo exhibit, the title ‘Places, strange and quiet’ would probably give you a hint as to their maker. The Deichtor Hallen Hamburg offers a slideshow (click “Dia Show” at bottom right on the banner); a few more are viewable at Wenders’s own website. Spotted by Criterion.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid in collaboration with the editor of and contributors to Parallax View.

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of May 11

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

Musing over 'The Artist'

A few months ago you couldn’t throw a rock without beaning a think-piece on silent cinema prompted by The Artist and Hugo. Geoffrey O’Brien in the New York Review of Books caps the mini-genre with a winner, a lovely hymn to silent movies as “a perpetual learning how to see, and a way of coming to the truth of one of Emerson’s observations: ‘The eye is final.'”

Regrettable as it is that such a well-regarded figure in the New German Cinema as the late Werner Schroeter still requires an introduction before his first North American retrospective, Brooklyn Rail’s Mónica Savirón is ably up to the task.

“Let Britain brag her motley rag/We’ll lift the green more proud and airy/Be mine the lot to bear that flag/And head the men of Tipperary!” Apologies that my forgetfulness let slip the new issue of Screening the Past last week. The silent film journal devotes its entire issue to the 1918 Irish classic Knocknagow, placing the movie at the center of fascinating histories of Irish cinema, popular song, and even sport–with national pride coloring them all. Spotted, among others, by Film Studies for Free.

“In fact, it was such a drain on his finances that Barbara Stanwyck warned Sturges, ‘That goddamned greasy spoon is ruining you!'” The Lady Eve looks back on Preston Sturges, restaurateur, and his beloved The Players supper club.

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

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

Shirley Clarke directs 'The Connection'

“Right now, I’m revolting against the conventions of movies. Who says a film has to cost a million dollars and be safe and innocuous enough to satisfy every 12-year-old in America?” Fifty years after her debut feature screened, fifteen years—sadly—after her death, Shirley Clarke and The Connection are making headlines again, courtesy of a restoration and return to theaters. Manohla Dargis offers a career retrospective, shot through with disbelief that such a game-changer remains a marginal figure in the histories. At Indiewire, Ann Hornaday and David Sterritt discuss how forward-thinking, and mischievous, the director truly was. Glenn Kenny takes exception to the glibness of that latter description in a fine appreciation. Milestone Films, for whom this is merely the first step in restoring many of Clarke’s films, also deserve a nod for their informative press kit, source of the opening quote and well worth a read. [this last link is a .pdf]

That last link above was spotted by David Hudson, as all of them are eventually. Hudson’s film roundups, which render efforts by others (yes, even Your Humble Aggregator) superfluous, have a new home at Fandor, which partnership is kicked off with a marvelous find:  Trevor Stark’s history, from October Magazine, of Chris Marker and the SLON film cooperative’s partnership with workers from the Rhodiaceta textile factory in France. A revolutionary effort—admirable in its intentions, stymied by fractionalism and mistrust—that Marker, inevitably, viewed through the lens of the cinematic past, in this case Medvedkin’s ciné-trains. [.pdf]

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 27

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

“She knows the score…She’s someone who was abused. I could identify with her. I never could identify with any other white movie star. They were always white people doing white things.” Jacqueline Rose, in a beautifully written article that sniffs out more connections than most books on the subject, finds Marilyn Monroe the perfect embodiment of mid-century America—not the one we dreamt on movie screens, but the sometime cruel, confused one most pretended wasn’t happening.

Director Saba Sahar and crew

Onscreen, Saba Sahar is “a kind of superhero, doing kung fu high-kicks in traditional dress, carrying victims to safety over her shoulder or riding a motorbike with no hands while firing a gun.” Behind the scenes, Afghanistan’s first woman director is far more impressive, as Jenny Kleeman’s profile attests.

“I always presume every movie I make is my last. My career is very smoothly in decline, each movie making half as much as the prior one.” Todd Solondz, interviewed at the Sarasota Film Festival by David Carr, on the business end of things, working with actors, and how he stole a key scene in Welcome to the Dollhouse from North by Northwest. Link via Movie City News.

“Defended by the left-wing press as well as the Surrealists, L’Âge d’or became a cause célèbre, but Buñuel was not there to soak up the attention: he was in Hollywood.” Reviewing Román Gubern and Paul Hammond’s Buñuel biography The Red Years, J. Hoberman tracks the contradictions of the director’s peripatetic pre-war decade. Noted by Mubi.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 20

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

Who created that greatest of silent icons, The Tramp? Surviving recollections from Chaplin and Sennett mostly stake their claim each against the other, but John Boorstin points out it’s no stretch at all to infer considerable credit should go Mabel Normand’s way.

From the oeuvre of "the elder, least pretentious, and most consistently amusing Anderson of the current director trifecta"

The new issue of Cinema Scope salutes 50 directors under 50 years old; their website is offering a sample of 20 sharp, compact appreciations of filmmakers ranging from Jia Zhangke to Maren Ade to “the elder, least pretentious, and most consistently amusing Anderson of the current director trifecta.”

Time Out didn’t fool around compiling their list of the 100 best horror films, polling a murderer’s row of 126 experts (the Cs alone offer up Roger Corman, Antonio Campos, Alice Cooper and Coffin Joe) and writing up the results with good observations and considerable brio. Which allows for some admirably off kilter selections, though lest you think this lineup differs radically from other such, the accompanying interview is still with William Friedkin. Noted by David Hudson.

The New York Film Academy may be a barely credible institution, but they know an opportunity when they see it. Thus their series of classes in the blossoming film community of Nigeria. Become the Dream, as the bodyguards’ t-shirts urge.

Revisiting The Devil, Probably, Dennis Lim assigns the same uncompromising nihilism that ensured the film’s relative obscurity to the draw it has on its partisans. Link, one of several of interest, via Girish Shambu.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 13

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

She Who Is Called Feather Meets He Who Is Called Chance

“She Who Is Called Feathers manifests the most dazzling changes in raiment.” David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s mock exegesis on Rio Bravo isn’t just a delightfully sustained gag, but a vessel for several profound interpretations of the film, including a deconstruction of some song lyrics that is, keeping with their conceit, revelatory.

A father’s haunting anecdote about the moral confusions of living in a nation under occupation kicks off what is shaping up to be a lovely project from Vermillion and One Night’s Murderous Ink: a survey of Japanese films from 1949 that the writer digs his way into by scratching at items ostensibly in the margins. Thoughts on the superstitions around Crepe Myrtle and the rareness of tomatoes expand a grief-ridden scene from Kurosawa’s Stray Dog; and Ozu’s Late Spring and Tadashi Imai’s Green Mountains become two more stops in Japan’s ongoing anxieties over women riding bicycles.

Your latest round-up on the hazards and economic hardships of switching to digital projection comes via the L.A. Weekly.

The article above opens with a discussion of Christopher Nolan’s recent screening for fellow filmmakers of a sequence from The Dark Knight Rises, in an attempt to proselytize for the benefits of 35mm over video. Nolan discusses the subject, as well as his directing style (which, surprise, is highly pragmatic and orderly) with the DGA’s Jeffrey Ressner. Link via Movie City News.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 6

The only links page that matters… except for all the others.

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

Watching Monica watching us

Issue two of the feminist film journal Joan’s Digest has arrived, keeping up the high quality of its debut. Among the highlights, Miriam Bale charts an unacknowledged genre, the “persona-swap” film, named for Bergman of course but ranging from Hawks to Rivette to Schroeder; Camila de Onís poetically recalls being in swoon to Monica Vitti, trying to find a place for her infatuation outside the male gaze; and Abbey Bender cheers the unpretentious but unmistakable feminism of Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan.

“A few years ago, I thought I might open a chain of eulogy stores where you could go in off the street and, for twenty bucks, they’ll tell you all the nice things they’re going to say about you after you croak. But I don’t want people to say wonderful things about me when I can’t hear them. Tell me now, while I’m still here.” The multilingual journal La Furia Umana takes Jerry Lewis at his word, making him the subject of their latest issue. Plenty of good stuff here even for those of you currently rolling your eyes, from Sadarshan Ramani’s tracing Lewis (and Tahslin) as inspiration for King of Comedy‘s Rupert Pupkin; Steven Shaviro’s closely observed defense of Smorgasbord‘s (aka Cracking Up) “therapeutically purging” humor; and if you missed it the first time around (2003, in The Believer), B. Kite’s magisterial The Jerriad: A Clown Painting, one of the finest bits of writing ever done on Lewis, not least for its succinct delineation of an essential opposition: “Buster makes extraordinary feats look incredibly easy. Jerry makes mundane activities seem extremely difficult.”

The timing for such celebration, of course, is that The Kid just celebrated his 86th Birthday. Publicly, in fact, with Richard Belzer as MC and an audience Q&A that went pretty much the way you think it did. J. Hoberman fills in the details.

Related, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s latest film books roundup and recommendations introduced me to the blog of Tashlin biographer Ethan de Seife, who’s posted a sharp look at the ambiguities—cultural, racial—of the music selections in The Girl Can’t Help It.

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