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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 22

Anonymous Oscar ballot

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here. Spotlight this week is on Noir City 2013.

Even if Oscar predictions and politicking hold as little interest for you as for me, you can still relish the ballot provided by an anonymous director to the Hollywood Reporter. Not least for the way his explanations of the votes—some reasoned, some petty—ring out with the unexamined jealousy and casual rage of a true insider. Via Richard Jameson.

For decades, as Ted Scheinman tells it, slapstick “flirted with the notion of inflicting serious pain on the dainty female body without quite allowing it to happen.” But now Melissa McCarthy has arrived, and he’s anxious to see if her fearless leaps of knockabout will continue to succeed on her terms or instead be flattened by her crueler, misogynistic collaborators. Also at the LA Review of Books, Julie Cline interviews Errol Morris about Jeffrey Macdonald, the unacknowledged legacy of psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, and “our almost unfettered ability to foster, create, engender error.”

“”Argus”—good name for a cinema.” In an engrossing bit of literary detection, David Brody hunts down the movie clues—Disney, Garbo—to explain what’s going on in Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark, while simultaneously looking at the relative success and failure of some recent movies that attempt something like the “beautiful idea” of an animated tableau vivant that grips the novel’s protagonist. Via David Hudson.

In what seems to be a recurring feature now (a previous installment featured Janusz Kaminski) Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan sits down with Roger Deakins to explain the method and reasoning behind ten of his iconic shots—one of which, Fargo‘s opening drive, he’s gentlemanly enough to admit was second unit.

“In 1988, he published a short memoir called “Stolen Letters.” In a chapter devoted to “Money,” he wrote, ‘In analysis, money is shit. I was truly in the shit, pal! Money, for me, had become completely abstract.'” For the New Yorker, Lauren Collins unpacks all the nuances—political, social, and perhaps most interestingly for non-Francophones, linguistic—that have swirled around Gérard Depardieu’s tax revolt and self-imposed exile, and made it such a lightning rod in his now former country.

Follow Me Quietly

At Mubi B. Kite and Bill Krohn—who prankishly sign off their individual contributions with their initials—offer a remarkable reading of Richard Fleischer’s Follow Me Quietly, “a narrative streamlined to a nearly generic efficiency which holds at its center an image so odd and resonant that its phantoms crowd the surface.” With ample attention paid to the evolution of Anthony Mann, Francis Rosenwald, and Martin Rackin’s screenplay.

“We are peaceful creatures. We are happy to be here. May we be unchained?” Richard Harland Smith’s argument that Escape from the Planet of the Apes was patterned after the formula laid down by WB gangster pictures is one of those notions you greet with indulgent amusement at first, gain interest in as you read along, and by the punchline (courtesy of Leslie Howard) walk away from utterly convinced.

Cartoon Brew’s Amid Amidi celebrates a great man’s centennial with “15 Reasons Why Frank Tashlin Was Awesome.” And this is without mention one of Cinderfella, mind.

The latest issue of Interiors charts the apartment in Amour, with Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen Karaoghlanian paying special attention to the sounds that carry across those rooms.

Glenn Kenny has posted a fine, lightly prescient 1989 article by Martin Scorsese on how home video had and could continue to change the cinephile landscape; Kenny’s introductory reminiscences of how it came about are nearly as good a read.

Many industry practices only come to public light when they’re about to fly apart. To wit, theater chains charging studios to show their trailers; a practice responsible for those endless streams of coming attractions, and one, Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier claim, about to flounder upon the studios’ growing frustration with the bill. Via Movie City News.

“My whole class did their first communion and so I went along with my class and the priest said, ‘Well, tomorrow you’re going to get the body of Christ and before you come to church tomorrow get your fathers to give you a blessing.’ So I tripped up to my father in my white suit for his blessing and he picked me up and said, ‘If you tell my friends about this, I’ll kill you.'” To preview the forthcoming book A Companion to Luis Buñuel, Rob Stone has made available a wonderful interview with the director’s son Juan Luis (.pdf warning), wherein we learn of the great director’s indifference to the masterpieces he shot in France, his love of pistols, and that he hated paintings for the sublimely Buñuelian reason that spiders could hide behind them. Spotted by Film Studies for Free.

“When you work with great directors, some of them love music, some of them like music, some of them think that music is necessary, some of them don’t really know what to do with music and they trust you, and some of them don’t really know what to do with music and they don’t trust you.” Alexandre Desplat, interviewed by Tyler Malone, describes his music less than the love of cinema you can hear in his every note. Another link passed along by Movie City News.

The Siren relates an anecdote confirming that few endeavors in history were more doomed to failure than trying to one-up Mary Pickford.

Sheila O’Malley posts a short excerpt from James Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work about “Joan Crawford’s straight, narrow, and lonely back” that reminds you few writers have written more beautifully about movies, the stars inhabiting them, and the odd moments we find them recreated in daily life.

For all the horror stories about his aloof ruthlessness towards collaborators, Stanley Kubrick’s letter to Anthony Burgess rejecting his Napoleon novel as source material is charmingly apologetic.

Any one of Hayao Miyazaki’s lush, vibrantly drawn concept sketches would be worth noting; Buzzfeed presents 98 of them, including a set from his unrealized 1980 film Mononoke Hime (no relation to the later film of that title). Via Mubi.

The actors in Sam Taylor-Wood’s photo series “Men Crying” go about presenting the emotion openly—it’s in their job description after all—but there’s still a noticeable gap between the wracked, nearly unbearable anguish written on the faces of Forest Whitaker and Ed Harris and the more reserved display of, oh, let’s say Sean Penn.

Aleksei German


Aleksei German, a Russian director whose work should be much better known around the world, passed away in Moscow at the age of 74. His filmography is shockingly small for such a long and influential career—six features in 45 years, including Trial of the Road (1971, but banned in Russia until after Perestroika), My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1986), and the savage Stalin satire Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998). For a little background, check out this essay by Anton Dolin for Film Comment, written for an Aleksei German retrospective in New York last year: “to many Russian critics, cinephiles, and viewers German is their national cinema’s foremost figure after Tarkovsky.” Via David Hudson at Keyframe Daily.

Korean director Park Chul-soo died in a car accident this week. He made the first digital feature film and the first 3D sound film in South Korea, and his thriller 301/302 was one of the first South Korean features to get commercial distribution in the U.S. More from The Hollywood Reporter.

Film historian, critic, translator, and all-around Japanese film aficionado Donald Richie passed away this week at the age of 88. David Hudson rounds up appreciations and obituaries at Fandor Daily and the invaluable Film Studies for Free has a roundup of his works available online.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker.