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Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here.
What value a week without news of the Sight & Sound poll? Now up, the Director’s Poll, their individual ballots searchable by filtering the results on this page. A must-bookmark boon for film critics, who can use it to craft dozens of mix-and-match glosses of the surveyed. Cul-de-Sac by way of Los Olvidados? Makes sense. Salo crossed with 2001? Perfect. Avatar meets Biutiful…. Well, every system breaks down eventually.
Director’s Poll winner Yasujiro Ozu deserves his spot argues Thom Anderson, who breaks down the radical “denaturalization” roiling beneath Ozu’s deceptively modest formal gestures. Also at the BFI, some designers for the latest round of the organization’s Film Classics book series describe the inspiration and process behind some truly beautiful covers.
Of late I seem to only be hearing about long-term projects when they’ve passed halfway through. In contrast, I learned (from Film Studies for Free’s Catherine Grant) of Keith M. Johnston’s “Great Ealing Film Challenge” only after he’d finished. Finished what? Reviewing every film Ealing released, 95 crisp, perceptive appreciations written over almost exactly a year. Johnston tackled the films in no particular order; if you require one, Grant has arranged her links roughly (year-by-year) by the studio’s chronology.
Reverse Shot’s Take Four series on the use of color adds several fine entries, including Adam Nayman’s appreciation for a sustained bit of desaturation in Twohy’s A Perfect Getaway and Caroline McKenzie tracking Cammell’s ominous use of blue throughout Demon Seed.
“There are fanciers of gold curls everywhere, in the theatre, on the streets and in the home, and one man’s innocence does not rid the world of guilt.” Michael Wood looks past his initial disappointment with Hitchcock’s The Lodger and finds a method and a horrible vision behind the seemingly creaky plot mechanics.
With Ruiz’s final film doing the festival circuit and his final script reaching the screen directed by his widow Valeria Sarmiento, Geoffrey Macnab recalls a director who fit in as comfortably at the University of Aberdeen as he did his every other port of call. Melvil Poupaud’s anecdote about one of Ruiz’s on-set traditions speaks marvelously to his uniqueness, and his sense of humor.
Steven Shaviro’s good-on-him reaction to the “ludicrous” cost of the book publishing his close, socioeconomic reading of György Pál?’s body-horror satire Taxidermia is to make the essay available for free (right here; .pdf warning).
Julie Cline crafts a joint tribute to Ernest Borgnine and one of his last costars—her father, movie extra Jim Cline.
“Their true name is Sequoia sempervirens: always green, ever-living.” In honor of Vertigo‘s recent coronation, Jim Emerson revises an excellent analysis he wrote of the film’s dizzying color scheme.
“Oh man, shut your anorexic, malnutrition, tapeworm-having, overdose-on-Dick-Gregory-Bahamian-diet-drinking ass up.” Thomas Golianopoulos conducts—or, in the sadly unavailable case of Wesley Snipes, compiles—an oral history on the making of White Men Can’t Jump. Coming from Grantland, there’s as much focus on the ballplay as you’d expect. Which probably suits Ron Shelton just fine.
“A day would come when Jerry Lewis would no longer be able, alone and in one film, to make complete a survey of his own personality. That day has come. It’s today.” The indispensable blog Serge Daney in English offers a newly translated review where Daney considers Jerry Lewis’s two 1983 offerings—the self-directed Smorgasbord and his magnificent turn in The King of Comedy—as cracked reflections of one another.
J. Hoberman on the unjustly neglected career of Wallace Markfield, whose film criticism and movie-soaked novels were as groundbreaking as they were bedeviled by bad timing and flashier competition.
Glenn Kenny admits he’s not much into thinking up alternate history filmographies, but if you’d come up with one as good as Frank Tashlin directing The Seven Year Itch there’s nothing for it but to share.
“There was one critic who said ‘The dialogue is making me think kill me, kill me now, I can’t take any more of this,’ and I thought, ‘Yes, I’d be happy to kill you now, no problem.'” David Cronenberg gives his thoughts on adaptation and the (cinematic) power of words in an interview with Film Comment’s Amy Taubin.
everyday_i_show offers Ken Russell’s “Last of the Teddy Girls,” a 1955 photo study of natty youth preening on still war-blasted streets that displays the future director’s fondness for outre subjects, enthusiastic embrace of pop, and general indifference to framing.
Few images so call up the magic of movies as an actor sitting patiently in a make-up chair being transformed into a monster; a fact coincidentally confirmed by two galleries put up this week: The Retronaut’s gathering of behind the scenes shots from the ’30s Frankenstein series, and Criterion’s look at the process that turned Jean Marais into Cocteau’s Beast.
Tony Scott, the prolific director of big, busy American action movies and revenge thrillers, jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 19. Details and motivations are uncertain (which has not stopped the speculation), but it has produced a groundswell of defense for and commentary on the younger Scott’s often dismissed filmography. Scott’s career has been at least as interesting his brother Ridley’s and in some aspects moreso, with its mix of flashy pop hits (Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout) and well-tooled thrillers grounded in an ethos of working class commitment and professional duty (Crimson Tide, Unstoppable), and his pitch-perfect translation of Quentin Tarantino’s idiosyncratic storytelling to mainstream cool in True Romance. Ben Sachs appreciates the art in the artiface at Chicago Reader and David Hudson collects the tributes and remembrances at Fandor Daily and Film Studies for Free compiled a massive selection of academic articles on Tony Scott and the narrative-free action cinema he spawned.
Phyllis Diller, the groundbreaking comedienne and sometime film actress, died Monday, August 20, “peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face,” according her longtime manager Milt Suchin. She was 95. More from David Hudson 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.