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.
“He fled the set of Darryl Zanuck’s The Egyptian, dressing up in the most expensive clothes he could find because they were looking for the Marlon who always wore a t-shirt and jeans.” Just one of Ellen Copperfield’s “25 Verifiable Facts about Marlon Brando,” which transcends the lazy list-making format so popular on the internet to become a wrecked portrait of a public artist only happy when he was alone.
Reviewing a collection of Siegfried Kracauer’s American writing, J. Hoberman finds a passionate, catholic appetite for films ironically analogous to the writer who most famously shot him down, Pauline Kael. He ends with a lovely, Nabokovian quote of Kracauer’s reaction to seeing his first movie, compared to which Hoberman finds “nothing that anyone has written on cinema…more moving.”
Among a clutch of terrific links, John Wyver passes along a pair of articles for those who like a little scientific rigor in their cinema studies. At Mythbuster’s Tested site, Wesley Fenlon chats with Psychology Sciences professor Tim J. Smith about what exactly is going on when we watch 48fps; while Scientific American’s Maria Konnikova rounds up some of the latest research on how—and how surprisingly similarly—we process movies.
Jon Weisman passes along an interesting catch, a Variety article about the US government’s tentative reaction to a movie portraying violations of the Geneva Convention in a recent military conflict. Published in 1950, about The Steel Helmet. Via Movie City News.
“It’s like Murnau’s films, you know—dark/light, night/day, city/countryside—there’s all these oppositions that nowadays in cinema have disappeared, because contemporary cinema tends to have much more psychological approaches. They’ve given up on these kinds of simple oppositions that were possible because the viewer was more in a state of belief. And that’s precisely what was lost.” In advance of his celebrated Tabu, Miguel Gomes has become a favored interview subject for film sites. Here’s two, a sitdown with BOMBlog’s Giovanni Marchini Camia (source for the opening quote), and a shorter but no less thought-provoking interview with Reverse Shot’s Chris Wisniewski.
“I really would much rather have a fight with you in person than do it on a computer screen. And I’d rather make love to a woman in reality than some game on a machine. I’d rather disagree, agree, laugh, cry in person.” I don’t think it’s remotely a coincidence that as Frank Langella has entered the grand lion phase of his career, he’s not only becoming a greater actor but steadily revealing himself—as in this interview with The Guardian’s Catherine Shoard—as one of our great sensualists.
“However, in the case of one’s having to use bourgeois actors who are not intellectuals, I think that you can get what you want from them, too. All you have to do is love them.” James Blue’s 1965 interview with Pasolini takes a marvelously detailed look at the methods of directing both professional and amateur actors. Also at Film Comment, R. Emmet Sweeney talks with Nina Hoss about her marvelous turn in Barbara.
“I know exactly what you’re going to say. You’re going to say that I wouldn’t respect you, right? Look…I want to tell you right here and now that I would respect you like crazy!” The great coup of the Apatow-edited Vanity Fair is surely Sam Kashner’s getting Mike Nichols and Elaine May to sit down and reminisce, which they do with such intimate spontaneity the nominal interviewer admits becoming almost superfluous.
Video: “A blue lady’s cashmere sweater has been found in the restroom. It can be claimed at the manager’s desk.” On the website for fashion house Hardy Amies is an interesting video describing the work their founder did designing costumes for Kubrick’s 2001. Spotted by Clothes on Film.
Roland-François Lack’s latest cinematic perambulations recreate a 1900 photography tour of London curated by filmmaker Robert Paul, before looking closely at Paul’s Footpads (1895 or 96) and, through his ever-diligent detective work, finding perhaps the first film whose stage design attempted “not a generic representation of any London street, but the exact reconstruction of a specific location.”
Adrian Curry passes along some favorites of his latest poster artist discovery, the colorful, freewheeling collages of ’60s Czech designer Eva Galová-Vodrázková.
Charles Durning passed away on December 24 of natural causes. He was 90. The prolific character actor scored Oscar nominations for his supporting turns in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Mel Brooks’ remake of To Be or Not to Be and nine Emmy nominations between 1975 and 2004, and won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But he is probably most famous for his roles as a corrupt cop in The Sting, the exasperated police officer in Dog Day Afternoon, fast food tycoon Doc Hopper in The Muppet Movie, and a widower with amorous intentions toward Dustin Hoffman’s alter ego in Tootsie. He worked on numerous occasions with director Brian de Palma and buddy Burt Reynolds. More from Chris Weigand at The Guardian.
Jack Klugman, the beloved star of stage and screen best known for playing Oscar Madison on the TV sitcom The Odd Couple and the mystery-solving medical examiner on Quincy, M.E., died on Christmas Eve at age 90. His film career reaches back to the 1950s and 12 Angry Men and he co-starred in The Detective (with Frank Sinatra), Goodbye Columbus, and Two-Minute Warning, among others, but his legacy lies largely on the small screen. Among other credits, he starred in four episodes of The Twilight Zone. More from Bruce Weber at The New York Times.
Supermarionation creator Gerry Anderson, produced a couple of feature films (the live action Journey to the Far Side of the Sun in addition to a couple of “Thunderbirds” movies and other TV spin-offs) but is most famous for his science fiction TV, both with puppets (Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons) and actual actors (UFO, Space:1999). He died at 93, after suffering from Alzheimer’s for the last few years. Obituary and remembrances at BBC News.
Composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who earned Academy Award nominations for his scores for Far From the Madding Crowd, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Murder on the Orient Express, passed away at the age of 76. Notes on a rich career of compositions and collaborations from Adam Sweeting at The Guardian.
Visit the film review pages at The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.
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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.