Nick Pinkerton, driving through the Midwest, thinks upon the region’s cinematic apotheoses; specifically, two Minnelli masterpieces and The Magnificent Ambersons.
Speaking of Pinkerton’s “pride of Kenosha, Wisconsin,” Joanne Hill Tarbox Styles, daughter of the headmaster at the Todd School for Boys, which Welles attended during his teens, offers a memoir of those years that reminds you there are two main reactions prompted by encounter with a genius as precocious, prodigious, and self-assured as Welles’s: enraptured bedazzlement, and the urge to throttle. Spotted by the Cinetrix.
And why not make it a triad, with Jonathan Rosenbaum reprinting (from a 1992 Sight and Sound) his takedown of the “restored” Othello, and offering a fine appreciation for how the film signified Welles’s break with mainstream moviemaking and his embarking on a new career as an independent filmmaker.
The path that led to Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise, as chronicled by Businessweek’s Devin Leonard, are rather less Joseph Campbell than your standard boardroom negotiations. Via Movie City News.
In the story above Lucas emerges, as always, as a rather glum technocrat; for a better sense of the flair and danger of capitalism rampant, try John Strausbaugh’s account of the rise and fall and (after he got into the movie business) rise and fall of Fox Film Corporations’s William Fox.
Faced with storage considerations David Bordwell gives up his 16mm collection, but not without fond memories of what the format meant to cinephiles in the days before home video.
The New York Times considers violence on screen, with A. O. Scott finding more accord between the fantasies of Hollywood and Wayne LaPierre than either party would probably admit, and Manohla Dargis reminding that movies were condemned for their violence pretty much from the moment they were born. (Alessandra Stanley and Chris Suellentrop tackle TV and video games, respectively.) Also at the Times, Tom Roston rounds up filmmakers praising invaluable advice tossed their way by Steven Spielberg.
Ian Christie remembers his encounters with Alexei German, and the unique post-Soviet thaw that finally made his masterpieces available to the west. Via David Hudson.
“You know, you can’t tell about your life till you’re all through living it.” Kim Morgan celebrates John Garfield’s centennial bewildered he’s not universally acknowledged as one of our greatest actors, and posts some videos of loving recollections from his daughter Julie. As you’d expect for the venue, J. Hoberman at Tablet focuses on the background and social consciousness of the “Jewish Brando,” and clears up why a line of dialogue got cut from some prints of Body and Soul.
Raymond De Felitta finds criticisms of Susan Hayward overacting to miss the point; here, in all her over-the-top glory, is “the ultimate B-girl,” nonpareil at playing “lonely, betrayed, and desperate alcoholic/addicts.”
“What is he hoping for, this amorous calico, this moon face with a double chin?” MUBI’s Noah Teichner translates a 1929 article by Paul Gilson that attempts less an analysis or appreciation of Harry Langdon than a poetic evocation of his persona. It doesn’t completely work, but when it strikes (as in the passages on Langdon’s sleepwalking quality) it’s quite fascinating.
At Fandor, Houshang Golmakani, editor-in-chief of Iran’s Film Monthly, offers a list of 50 films “essential to understanding Iranian cinema.” The descriptions are brief but tantalizing and there’s plenty here beyond the usual suspects. (I had no idea there even was an “Iranian Hitchcock,” though of course it makes perfect sense someone should be.)
“Don’t let’s spoil everything, we’ve only just met.” The BFI’s Matthew Thrift takes a look back at the English-language debuts of ten directors, journeying from Renoir’s swamp to Dumont’s desert wastelands by way of swinging London and action-packed New Orleans.
This week’s account of Stanley Kubrick’s control-freak fastidiousness comes courtesy of Tim Deegan, summer intern at MGM during the release of 2001.
Looking at the underrated late period of the already underrated career of Frank Perry, Bilge Ebiri finds much to praise in Man on a Swing and Dummy.
“That’s what filmmaking’s about. Who is going to be the last guy holding on to the moral center and moral soul of a film? Are you going to follow it everywhere, no matter what it takes, no matter who’s standing in the way, who’s dragging you down, who doesn’t get it and doesn’t see it? When you get to the finish line, man, if you’ve got five people there, you should kiss their fucking feet.” I honestly feel that, like Bob Dylan or Dennis Potter, Abel Ferrara should count his interviews among his greatest artworks. His sitdown with Aïda Ruilova doesn’t disappoint.
The above via Adam Cook, who also spotted Max Goldberg’s interesting interview with Ernst Karel about the contributions his work as sound editor and mixer for the Harvard Sensory Ethnographic Lab has made to their celebrated documentaries.
“The moments have to have their coherence if you work with one shot per scene because the whole essence of this technique is that time flows like in real time. You don’t eliminate the moments that aren’t important or relevant—everything is relevant, as in real life.” Christian Mungiu describes his method with Frieze’s Rob White; spoilers for Beyond the Hills. Via Catherine Grant.
“My inspiration is the deadline. If I didn’t have the deadline, I’d still be working on Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” Danny Elfman speaks with American Film about his sideways entry into film composing, and how his latest score, Oz the Great and Powerful, is more Herrmannesque than his work on Hitchcock. Also in the new issue of American Film, Paul Schrader offers some brief but pungent thoughts on how he created Travis Bickle.
At Letters of Note, the request from Fresno school librarian Jo Ellen Misakian that led to Coppola filming The Outsiders, and the replies from producer Fred Roos. Worth it alone for the sight of American Zoetrope’s deco letterhead.
Criterion presents a gallery of production shots from Cassavetes films, in which time and again the director is the most fiery, expressive figure on the set.
Patrick Swirc’s portraits, at everyday_i_show, capture a vivid sense of personality in some unexpected ways—I mean, has anybody else even considered photographing Martin Scorsese with his eyes closed?
Video: Kevin B. Lee and Chinese film critic and blogger Zhang Ling collaborate on a video essay on Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town, focusing on the soundtrack for this 1948 film, so avant-garde by western standards even as it plays with and adapts Chinese tradition.
Italian film director, screenwriter, and actor Damiano Damiani, passed away at his home in Rome at the age of 90. The news is all over Italian and European media, not so much yet in English language outlets, so details are still sketchy if you don’t read Italian or French. The filmmaker is best known in Italy for his 1984 TV series The Octopus and he made his stateside directing debut with the 1982 sequel Amytiville II: The Possession, but his international reputation rests with his output of gangster films (Mafia, 1968, How to Kill a Judge, 1975) and his superb revolutionary western A Bullet for the General (1966) with Gian Maria Volonté and Klaus Kinski. Via David Hudson at Fandor’s Keyframe Daily.
Ric Menello, who co-wrote Two Lovers and the upcoming Lowlife with director James Gray and directed two of the iconic music video videos for the Beastie Boys (“(You Gotta) Fight for your Right (to Party”) and “No Sleep ’till Brooklyn”), passed away of a heart attacks this week at age 60. The most personal memorial comes from his neighbors at Ditmas Park Corner.
Shame on me for overlooking the return of Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount and last week’s showing of Heart o’ the Hills (1919) with Mary Pickford, but there are still three Mondays to come. The theme of this series is The Women of Silent Film and on March 11 is The Scarlett Letter (1926), the gorgeous Lillian Gish production directed by Swedish silent master Victor Sjöström. Gish insisted on Sjöström, who had been brought to Hollywood by Samuel Goldwyn and directed the brilliant Lon Chaney picture He Who Gets Slapped (1924) with the anglicized spelling of his name Seastrom, to helm the production, and as one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood (male or female) at the time, she got what she wanted: a world class director and a superb production with the rich imagery pioneered by the Scandinavian filmmakers.
There’s also a special Sunday matinee on March 10 with a collection of Disney’s “Alice” comedies, short films with a live-action Alice (played by Virginia Davis) in an animated world. The next two films are Our Dancing Daughters (1926) with Joan Crawford (March 18) and The Kiss (1929) with Greta Garbo (March 25).
James Bond is at the Grand Illusion for the next three weeks. The series kicks off with weekend screenings of two of the greatest films from the series, both with Sean Connery: From Russia With Love followed by Goldfinger through the rest of the week, both screened from 35mm prints.
Week two of NWFF’s “L.A. Rebellion” series kicks off with Charles Burnett’s My Brother’s Wedding (I review it for Seattle Weekly) with Burnett in attendance. He also hosts Saturday’s film Bless Their Hearts and a free discussion event. Full schedule at NWFF here.
The Seattle Jewish Film Festival concludes this weekend, with screenings at The Uptown on Saturday and Sunday leading up to the closing night film The Words and a discussion with film critic and Parallax View friend Robert Horton. The complete schedule of features, documentaries, and special events can be found at the festival website here.
The big openings this week are Sam Raimi’s Wizard prequel Oz the Great and Powerful in 3D at multiple theaters (and select IMAX 3D showings) and the revenge thriller Dead Man Down, the American debut of Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev (of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) starring Colin Farrell and original Girl Noomi Rapace (area theaters).
Also opening this week: World War II drama Emperor with Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur; The Monk from France with Vincent Cassell at SIFF Film Center (moves to The Uptown on Monday) (Robert Horton at The Herald); Yossi from Israeli director Eytan Fox at The Egyptian (my review here); Lore, a German-language drama from Australian director Cate Shortland at Harvard Exit (my review here); The ABCs of Death at SIFF Film Center (moves to The Uptown on Monday) (Jeff Shannon at Seattle Times); rock doc Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey at The Uptown; skate doc Only the Young at NWFF; and the eco-doc Greedy Lying Bastards at The Varsity.
Wednesday night, March 13, Robert Horton presents “End of the Trail: How the Western Movie Rode Into the Sunset,” a free talk in the Humanities Washington speakers bureau series, at 7 p.m. at the North Mason Timberland library in Belfair, WA. Location info here.
And it’s not too early to make plans for the March edition of Framing Picture, the free discussion about movies about the current cinema with Seattle film critics Robert Horton, Richard Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and Bruce Reid. It’s at NWFF on Friday, March 15 and the conversation begins at 5pm.
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.