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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 1

Joan Blondell in ‘Golddiggers of 1933’

“No other actress had quite the same ability to be simultaneously wised-up and unprotected, generous yet nobody’s fool.” In the first of a two-part series, this installment covering from her debut in Sinners’ Holiday to singing for her Forgotten Man in Golddiggers of 1933, Imogen Smith marvels at Joan Blondell’s endlessly arresting, electrically modern turns in a series of movies mostly unworthy of her talents.

Invoking the care, compassion, and magic of Cornell and Nabokov, Michael Chabon praises Wes Anderson’s omnipresent boxes as artifices containing wondrous truths.

Jonathan Rosenbaum argues for Michael Roemer as “the best Jewish director you’ve never heard of”; considering, as Rosenbaum reports, he made Malcolm X’s favorite movie, it’s probably a fair call.

“It makes a difference: when you have a crew of six people, you can be a director; when you have a crew of a hundred, catering trucks and all this, you’re not really an artist, you’re a general commanding an army, which is a different kind of work. Not necessarily evil work, just different.” A 2006 conversation between Thom Andersen and Pedro Costa on Huillet/Straub offers some insights on the pair’s working method, as well as enthusiastic praise from two fans. A related posting at Diagonal Thoughts, which is fast becoming an indispensable resource for this kind of thing, Philippe Azoury’s 2001 interview with Straub and Costa (and one line from Huillet which confirms Andersen’s observation that “He talks a lot, but in a certain way she has more to say.”)

“Jimmy was the kind of guy that rooted for bad guys in the movies.” Kim Morgan rounds up her 10 favorite performances by actors playing real-life gangsters, from Charles Bronson to “Warren fucking Oates.”

Lest you forget that Hollywood was a different place in the ’70s, Playboy’s Joshuah Bearman recounts the time that Bert Schneider smuggled Huey Newton out of the country. Via Longform.

Shortly before Christmas, Allison Anders attended an auction and placed the winning bid on lot 420:  50 rock and pop albums once owned by Greta Garbo. And now she’s doing what any of us would, playing them and dreaming what went through the head of our most iconic reclusive star as she listened to Chubby Checker, Hildegard Knef, and Introducing…The Beatles.

If you like manifestos, Keith Sanborn’s 1988 “Modern, all too modern,” presented with updated footnotes at Idiom, hits most of the highlights of the form: a rejection of old hierarchies (in the experimental film world Sanborn is discussing, the “great American art machine” as constructed by Sitney and Mekas); emphatic urging toward an idealized DIY future; pithy epigrams that border on the meaningless (“Film is not dead, He is just marvelously sick.”). Sanborn’s calls for inclusiveness are particularly sharp; even if you skip over most, don’t miss the two-line exchange he quotes between Brakhage and Frampton on woman artists. Via David Hudson.

Of course, if you prefer your mission statements in a more lyrical, quasi-mystical bent, you won’t do better than Maya Deren, whose film writings (as collected in her 1946 book An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film and a 1965 issue of Film Culture) are available for download at Making Light of It. (Click through for .pdfs.)

“They’re not gonna ask me to make Blade Runner. I can fight to make Blade Runner. Because in order to write, all I need is a laptop.”  In the course of a Women Directors’ Roundtable held at Sundance, Gabriela Cowperthwaite ponders how socialization determines the film jobs women generally attract, Cherien Dabis notes as a woman of color she’s dealing with other layers in her films, Hannah Fidell praises Michael Bay as one of her favorites, Naomi Foner mentions the gap between 45 and 65 where women are excluded from the screen, Liz Garcia cautions that being able to direct is only the first step, and all agree the conversation proved inspirational. The LA Times presents the transcript.

“What do you think people mean when they call a film Soderberghian?” “I have no idea. But never use that word to describe your movie in a pitch meeting because it won’t get made.” The reason everyone and their mother has been passing around Mary Kaye Schilling’s interview with Steven Soderbergh is that it is, quite simply, one of the best to come along in months; clear-eyed on the trade-offs and disappointments of the movie business even as it’s still optimistic enough to hope for a new way for movies themselves to tell their stories.

Decomposing frames: ‘La Mort de Mozart ‘(Louis Feuillade, Gaumont, 1909)

“We looked at shooting in Philadelphia, New York… possibly all of them and then moving to Arizona, just following the movements in the film. None of these worked to our advantage. Things came together as they always do on films; as they’re meant to be.” At devoted fan site Cigarettes & Red Vines, Paul Thomas Anderson discusses the making of The Master.

Interviewed by Indiewire’s Eugene Hernandez, Paul Schrader begins his efforts to rewrite the story of The Canyon‘s reception, with some help from Kent Jones.

“Action films are by their very nature more expensive than what are sometimes called, in the independent world, ‘relationship films.’ But I despise these categories. I’ve never made a movie I didn’t think was about a relationship.” However Bullet to the Head turns out, it’s brought Walter Hill back to the public eye, and that’s nothing but a good thing. As quoted he sits down with the Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton; while at Filmmaker Magazine Vadim Rizov presents some highlights from a Q&A after a recent screening of Southern Comfort.

At 50 Watts Joshua Yumibe has gathered (from the magnificent resource the Turconi Project) a selection of silent film stills warped and recast by nitrate decomposition into startlingly beautiful abstracts.

The aptly named blog Matte Shot presents a staggering collection of hand-painted skies, from alien tempests to serene vistas. This is in fact only half of the images ultimately to be posted, taking us through the Ls (some poetic moonlit clouds from The Letter; ominous formations over Lifeboat‘s choppy seas.) Via Movie City News.


Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrew Sisters, passed away at the age of 94. With her sisters Maxine and LaVerne, she had a string of hit songs and appeared in over a dozen films, including three with Abbott and Costello (Buck Privates, In The Navy, and Hold That Ghost) and Road to Rio with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. More from The New York Times.

Seattle Screens

“The Great Cinematic Clown Pierre Étaix” resuscitates the largely forgotten legacy of one of the greatest—and funniest—of French cinema comics. The five features and handful of shorts that he made between 1961 and 1971 have been unseeable for forty years due to legal conflicts, freed only in 2009 and restored and revived in France soon after. Finally making its way stateside in 2012, it arrives in Seattle this week. NWFF will be showing all five features and three shorts, all on restored 35mm prints, on Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of February.

Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country, starring Isabelle Huppert in three different stories about a French tourist in South Korea, opens for a week at Grand Illusion in the U-District. Robert Horton, in his review for The Everett Herald, writes that the film “is very light on its feet. It doesn’t worry too much whether you find its parallel narratives contradictory or logical, or even whether they take place in the same universe. So we probably shouldn’t worry about it too much either.”

Bullet to the Head with Sylvester Stallone marks the first feature from Walter Hill in a decade. If you don’t think that’s worth getting excited over, remember that Hill’s last two productions were the cable mini-series The Broken Trail and the pilot episode of HBO’s Deadwood, and he won directing Emmys for both.

The Oscar-nominated live action and animated short films are playing in two separate packages at Harvard Exit for the week. Cram in those last nominees before you enter you office Oscar pool.

The new 4k digital restoration of Lawrence of Arabia is back for a three-day run at The Uptown this weekend.

Actor and storyteller Stephen Tobolowski will appear at The Uptown for a screening of Groundhog Day on Saturday, February 2.

A pair of documentaries show for three days only this weekend at SIFF Film Center: Tchoupitoulas, a look at New Orleans at night, and Meet the Fokkens from Netherlands, a portrait of 69-year-old identical twins who still work as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s red light district.

Also opening this week: geriatric mob-guys movie Stand Up Guys with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin (area theaters); the zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies, adapted from a novel by Seattle writer Isaac Marion (interviewed by Tom Keogh here) (area theaters); and Consuming Spirits, an animated Appalachian noir (NWFF for a week).

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries and Seattle Screens curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.