You’ve certainly decided by now whether you find Terrence Malick’s filmmaking methods daring and exploratory or alarmingly shambolic. Bilge Ebiri’s account of the production of To the Wonder won’t change anybody’s mind on the subject, but it offers more evidence of a director who employs actors, cameramen, and editors in his own unique fashion. Ebiri links to a revealing interview with Emmanuel Lubezki by the ASC’s Jim Hemphill. (“Terry didn’t say this, but I felt that he was trying to separate To the Wonder from all the moviemaking that’s still connected to theater—from movies that feel acted, prepared and rehearsed.”) And inseparable from the sights of Malick are the sounds: composer Hanan Townshend writes briefly about his experience scoring the film.
Daniel Kasman’s ingenious reading of Melville’s Un Flic as “a picture that envisions the ruins laying beyond cinema’s construction of society, of masculinity, of modernity, of genre” depends upon three key shot/reverse-shots and a fourth close-up left hanging without its matching opposite.
“Watching, watching the street and the gate from the dark study window, Hightower hears the distant music when it first begins.” Jonathan Rosenbaum’s attempts to discern a link between Sátántangó and Faulkner’s Light in August get dismissed by Béla Tarr, but he finds some support in a quote from screenwriter and source novelist László Krasznahorkai.
Rosenbaum himself is the subject of a fond portrait by John Lingan in the LA Review of Books that captures his contrarianism and the optimism that grounds it. (And also gives the official answer for how to spell Tati’s PlayTime.) Meanwhile fellow jazz fan and film critic Otis Ferguson gets remembered this week by Terry Teachout; I don’t know how Rosenbaum feels about his predecessor, though I’d guess he’d find even this linking paragraph too close a brush to the Wall Street Journal.
Manohla Dargis spins her discussion of Portrait of Jason into an interesting consideration of Shirley Clarke’s career-long fascination with black America.
“The Union forever!” It’s not as unprecedented a theory as he makes it out—there’re hints to it in David Thomson’s Suspects, for one—but Michael Atkinson’s guess at Charles Foster Kane’s parentage does provide interesting shading to Agnes Moorehead’s magnificent scene.
The latest issue of Interiors analyzes the gleaming white fascist architecture stretching across the screen in a scene from the Conformist.
Looking for an immersive, visually daring bit of avant-garde ethnographic cinema? There’s the “(over)acclaimed” Leviathan, sure, but Adrian Martin suggests you skip that and go for the real deal: Justin Bieber’s self-directed video for Beauty and a Beat.
“Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?” “Each, in its own way….” “Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to—Rome! By all means, Rome.” Luca Dotti offers charming recollections of his mother Audrey Hepburn and the vibrant, film-centric city that she loved. Vanity Fair appends the memories with Laura Jacobs’s interviewing Dotti on Hepburn’s simple, practical fashion sense and a collection of photographs where the sunshine and smiles are both as sparkling as you’d expect (though some have been needlessly colorized).
“He did not smile with the ease of his father; in fact, smiling seemed to take a lot out of him.” Dan Callahan admires the grand beauty—so perfect for homoerotic turns—of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who so often delivered more than you’d expect. Also at The Chiseler, Jim Knipfel on the parallel careers of Edmund Gwenn and Cecil Kellaway.
The Siren hunts down what little information she can about poet and screenwriter Samuel Hoffenstein. She unearths no grand discovery, but the tale ends with a lovely little find nonetheless.
David Bordwell chats with C. O. “Doc” Erickson, who started as budget estimator for Paramount in the ‘40s before going on to work with Huston and Hitchcock, among others.
The A.V. Club’s Joshua Alston finds one bright consequence of Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor’s notoriously awful coda: it’s so legitimately distasteful that white critics have peeled off their but-in-fairness-I’m-not-the-audience kid gloves when discussing Tyler Perry.
“One scene, he said, ‘Well, what are you going to be doing in here?’ I said, ‘You know, Stanley, the funny thing is, whenever I’m in a big building where you wouldn’t ordinarily be alone, I like to do something like throw a ball….’ And he goes, ‘Throw a ball! Great!’ He goes for that immediately…. When I gave him the ball idea, I didn’t realize I’d be throwing it forever; until my arm was practically dropping off!” Matt Zoller Seitz passes along a terrific find, Nev Pierce’s 2009 interview with Jack Nicholson on the making of The Shining, where Nicholson touchingly speaks of his old friend and collaborator in the present tense even a decade after his death. (.pdf warning)
“I didn’t do any of it willfully. You have a little bit of dough and you can manage everything. You have a little bit more dough, and you reach out toward the boundaries of where you think you can now go, and the wind blows the wrong way and you’re fucked for five years.” Some may take heart that Chris Heath’s profile of Robert Downey Jr. finds the actor talking of weaning away from his blockbuster phase; others can just enjoy him being the same garrulous egoist he’s always been.
“I never had this much fun before. That’s right. Good old-fashioned, all-American fun.” Interviewed by Dave Itzkoff, Sandra Bernhard recalls the making of The King of Comedy.
“They needed something bigger, more orchestral; it was hard for me to be told that my music was too indie for the film. I was pissed most of the time, but this is how it works. It’s like, ‘Take it or leave it.’ And I took it.” M83’s Anthony Gonzalez discusses the thrilling, frustrating process of writing your first film score for a Tom Cruise sci-fi blockbuster. Via Movie City News.
Adrian Curry offers a gallery of the marvelous deco designs of Austrian poster artist Gustav Mezey.
This Must Be the Place has the photos of an early-80s pilgrimage Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, John Milius, and producer Tom Luddy made to Akira Kurosawa’s New York hotel suite. Godard didn’t say a word, Herzog later presented Kurosawa with a book, and Milius, of course, asked for kendo lessons.
The above via Adam Cook, who also spotted Martin Sichetti’s drawings of Hitchcock film stills, anonymous close-ups of gloves, suitcases, keys, and eggs that capture the free-floating menace of their source.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with assist by Sean Axmaker.