Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links

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

Lana and Andy Wachowski

“[The Wachowskis] once built an elevator shaft without any plans or previous experience, having projected unquestionable confidence to the people who’d hired them—not an unuseful talent in the film business.” Aleksandar Hemon’s profile of the siblings finds that courage and mutual respect in both their embrace of Lana’s transgender transition and their tenacity to pull off an adaptation of the seemingly unfilmable Cloud Atlas in the face of tenuous financing.

From the new issue of Scope (spotted by Film Studies for Free), Tricia Jenkins and Matthew Alford chart what can be gleaned of the CIA’s engagement with Hollywood (.pdf warning for this link), from placing “well-dressed [and thus contentedly “free”] negroes” in films like The Caddy to an assassination scenario that seems to have been fed to the TV series The Agency for a dry-run before being played out for real.

Elaine Castillo’s ambitious, searchingly personal conflation of coming through personal grief and her reawakened identity with Filipino cinema stumbles and soars; but she’s ended her thoughts with one of the great recent cinephile texts: the late Alexis Tioseco’s stirring call for a cinema, and a critical outlook, whose “first impulse… must be of love,” originally written for Rogue magazine. Passed along by David Hudson.

“You know what your fucking problem is, you think you’re better than people. Mister fucking clean, mister goddamn high and mighty. That’s what you think, but you grew up right here. Same rules that I did.” Contemplating the macho but decidedly unchiseled frame of Jeremy Renner and Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike (about “a man who yearns to work with his hands [who] is driven to exploit his body as stripper”), Anne Helen Petersen wonders if the working class hunk is making a resurgence. Passed along by The Cinetrix.

The cult Japanese site Midnight Eye returns after prolonged inactivity. Johannes Schönherr’s interview with producer (and Usual Suspects‘ villain namesake) Masao Kobayashi details some of the hurdles (not all one-sided) involved with producing films in North Korea; and in what’s advertised as a first installment, Tom Mes runs down the television incarnations of Lone Wolf and Cub—versions far better known in Japan, he claims, than the film series familiar to western audiences.

Denis Lim examines director Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass, Leviathan) and his colleagues at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnographic Lab, ground zero for a new wave of documentary filmmaking.

Also at the Times, David Carr fills us in on Errol Morris’s recent extracurricular activity, writing a book arguing for the innocence of Jeffrey MacDonald, of Fatal Vision infamy.

“When he went down, he said something. I put my ear next to his mouth, and what I think he said was this.” From an evolution in the way he photographs ears, Carson Lund extracts interesting notions about Michael Mann’s “swapping subjectivities” and the new technologies he’s embraced to convey them.

Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow – “one of Hollywood’s less likely marriages”

“When Robert Vaughn was on the $10,000 Pyramid, he gave the clue for Frank Sinatra by telling his partner, ‘Mia Farrow’s father.’ She got it in one.” In an engagingly clipped, punchy style, Ellen Copperfield recounts one of Hollywood’s less likely marriages.

Sure, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock turned out shoddier than the dream pairing of Lloyd and Sturges would have you hope; but, as the Movie Morlocks’ David Kalat argues, even as he traces what went wrong, there’s still plenty there to admire.

“It’s not really a violent film, but in some ways it’s completely abstract, like Eraserhead. I need to work with people on it who are not looking for a tremendous commercial return.” And since David Lynch never found them, Ronnie Rocket remains an unrealized project, though one that still tantalizes Michael Atkinson.

“You’d think, I say, that the studios would have been clamoring for the next project from the director of There Will Be Blood…. ‘I thought that, too!’ he says. ‘They had me convinced that the world was mine for a few days, and then they said, ‘Not so fast.”’ Paul Thomas Anderson on the lure of religion, the vanishing magic of dailies, and how Harvey Weinstein is (in a good sense) like the familiarly initialed Barnum, in an interview by Scott Foundas.

“It’s just that when people say, ‘I loved you as Bookman,’ I can’t help but think, ‘But what about the other 280 roles I’ve done?'” Interviewed by the A.V. Club’s Will Harris, Philip Baker Hall’s reminiscences are flavored with the peppery pragmatism of an actor who’s worked hard and marvelously well for years, and been a star, maybe, twice. On page 3 Harris links to an earlier sitdown from 2008 that’s just as enjoyable.

Michael Chaiken makes the argument for Norman Mailer’s first three features as “the most curious, misunderstood, lunatic snapshots of bombed-out late-sixties aphasia ever committed to celluloid.” Of course he’s doing so for Criterion, who also amass a collection of anguished close-ups from the films. Tom Carson is having none of it. (“[Mailer] only qualifies as the thing’s director in the sense that a landlubber who buys a yacht might award himself a commodore’s cap.”)

Their boxy, efficient layout deliberately lacks the grandeur of abandoned movie palaces, but shuttered video stores have their own small, elegiac beauty in Flavorwire’s photo gallery.

“You know, sometimes when a person don’t know what to do, the best thing is to just stand still.” everyday_i_show ropes together a series of set photos from The Misfits.

Michael Clarke Duncan

From 1971, a photograph of Dennis Hopper, John Huston, and John Ford in bed; an image, Hopper’s anecdote confirms, we owe to Ford’s unfailing “sense of drama.” Link via Criterion.


Michael Clarke Duncan, an Oscar nominee for The Green Mile and The Kingpin opposite Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, among many other films, died of a heart attack this week at the age of 54. Dennis McLellan at Los Angeles Times.

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.