“Come on, show me what you’ve got to show.” Since December of last year the Walker Arts Center’s Matt Levine and Jeremy Meckler have been engaging in a fun, fantastic project, analyzing in round-robin fashion The Third Man via frames spaced 62 seconds apart; a method that allows for minute observation and a floating series of associations, both of which Levine and Meckler handle deftly. At least from the bits I’ve sampled; I only caught wind of this when Press Play noted it this week. One upside of jumping on 2/3rds through is entering just when “one of the greatest closeups in the history of the artform” lights up from the shadows.
Levine and Meckler admit right up front their idea is borrowed from Nicolas Rombe’s similar breakdown of Blue Velvet for Filmmaker Magazine. This was mentioned back when the project started and seemed like it could go on forever; but in fact Rombe will be finishing up in just a couple of weeks, so if you’d missed it before, why not catch up before the home stretch?
The Movie Morlocks blog has been devoting the past week to the films of Toshiro Mifune, whose great, long career led to a filmography diverse enough to allow discussions of masterpieces by Kurosawa and Boorman alongside misfires by Frankenheimer and curiosities like Samurai Pirate, opportunistically retitled The Lost World of Sinbad for its American release.
“It’s not paradise all the time.” Not Coming to a Theater Near You has selected the next director for their retrospection: Andy Sedaris, who in fairness did come up with the cleverly exploitive idea of combining a James Bond backbeat with kinda-sorta feminist riffs. David Carter and Glenn Heath, Jr., team up for the introduction; Heath tackles Hard Ticket to Hawaii; Carter, Picasso Trigger.
Drew McIntosh has been finding much to savor in some late, generally dismissed Walsh. For instance, The King and Four Queens, “a very weird and kind of sad movie masquerading as an extremely jovial one.”
John Bailey recounts the two films that cemented his love for cinema—and specifically cinematography, when an open window in The Conformist revealed how “‘light’ in a movie [could be] used to argue philosophy, to literally radiate ideas.”
“Did you really have 25 gag writers on Looney Tunes: Back in Action?” “Yes, even though there’s only one credited writer.” “What’s that like?” “It’s not fun.” In a two-part interview with the Chicago Reader’s Ben Sachs, Joe Dante covers the gamut of technical resources, recalling his adjustment to CGI and 3D before looking back to the making of The Movie Orgy. Part one here, and part two here. Link via Movie City News.
“After we premiered Crocodiles, we got a call a call the next morning to do the Peter Gabriel video. We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘It’s come to this!’” “We thought, ‘It’s all downhill from here.’” The Quay Brothers on their methods and inspirations, and an interesting anecdote about Chris Marker and the score for The Piano Tuner, in an interview with Fandor’s Jonathan Marlow.
The Media History Digital Library has added another wonderful collection to their scanned archives: early trade paper The Moving Picture World, every issue save the first from 1907 to 1919. From the first available article I learned of New York Nickelodeons shut down as fire hazards because “instead of using up-to-date appliances, made of iron, to receive the film, it was run into linen bags, for the sake of cheapness”; such unfamiliar histories of the movies’ earliest days are captured on nearly every page with refreshing, feet-on-the-ground immediacy.
Piggybacking on NASA’s triumphant return to the red planet, Criterion offers some striking vistas courtesy of Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
Video: B. Kite and Alexander Points-Zollo present a series of three video essays on the newly crowned greatest film of all time, a collection intended as a “number of side doors, each indicative of a way of seeing [Vertigo].”
Mel Stuart directed and produced the original landmark documentary “The Making of the President” in 1960 (as well as two subsequent incarnations on 1964 and 1968 elections), the Oscar-nominated documentary Four Days in November (1964), and the cult concert movie Wattstax (1973), but he still identified by almost everyone as the director of the original 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) with Gene Wilder. He continued directed TV (mostly but exclusively documentary) into his seventies. (Check out his production website for more on his career.) He died at the age of 83 on Thursday night after a battle with cancer, according to his daughter. The AP obituary is here.
Marvin Hamlisch – composer, songwriter, arranger, conductor, pianist, entertainer – won three Academy Awards, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony, and three Golden Globes over his career. He sparked a revival in Scott Joplin after using his rags in The Sting and co-wrote the definitive Broadway musical A Chorus Line. Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times and Adam Sweeting at The Guardian.
Judith Crist, one of the most prominent and influential popular film critics of the 1960s and 1970s, passed away this week at the age 90 after a long illness. Aljean Harmetz remembers her career and legacy for IndieWire. More from The New York Times.
Kurt Maetzig, East German film director whose career took place largely behind the Iron Curtain, died at the age of 101. His films only recently became widely available to American viewers thanks to First Run’s release of the best of the DEFA studios. Among the films First Run made available to American audiences: The Rabbit is Me (1965), which was banned in East Germany for years, and the science fiction spectacle Silent Star (1960), which was cut up and dubbed with a rewritten script to become First Spaceship on Venus (1962). David Hudson, our man for German film news of all kinds, remembers his legacy at Fandor.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.