It’s not one of the cinema’s acknowledged holy grails, but let’s call it a miraculous discovery nonetheless: there’s now five to six minutes of Buster Keaton footage previously unknown. “Discovery” and “unknown” in the technical sense; it was found by historian Fernando Pena on a French print of The Blacksmith intended for home projection, and so Pena admits might have been on all such reels had anyone ever bothered to look, a fatalistic twist to the tale I like to think Keaton would have enjoyed. The story, and a minute-and-a-half of as-yet unrestored footage, courtesy of Variety’s Scott Foundas.
Advance press for what is very much the movie of the moment, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, can’t help but explore the relationship between fact and fiction that drives the film itself, albeit from some widely divergent angles. Thus, in an article for Slate, executive producer Errol Morris examines the contemporary US response to the slaughter of one million in Indonesia—which wasn’t to bury the news, but hold it up as a marvelous example of blocking communist insurgency in Asia. While in an interview with Fandor’s Jonathan Marlow, the name Oppenheimer himself drops most frequently isn’t Morris’s go-to George Kennan but Dušan Makavejev, who taught him to “[use] film as a way of making things that are invisible in the world visible.”
By now I think reappraisals complaining that 1980s cinema was unfairly written off as mere Reaganite flash-and-bang have outnumbered the original dismissals, but it’s still nice to see someone put a good word in for the decade. At Moving Image Source Eric Hynes salutes the ambitious sweep and anti-authoritarianism of Reds, The Right Stuff, and Paris, Texas as epic-scale works of subversive intent. At the other end of the scale, The Dissolve’s first selection for their feature The Movie of the Week is the paradigmatically punk Repo Man: Scott Tobias has the introduction, Noel Murray considers the soundtrack, and the staff participate in a roundtable.
“But if we consider the sheer number of films made about, say, Paris in 1968 (Olivier Assayas’ Something in the Air being just the latest example), it becomes clear that there remains a Black Power-shaped gap in large-scale, politically-engaged, fictional cinema.” Ashley Clark surveys how the movement was captured in film, beginning with white documentarians and ending with, well, Swedish documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. At Shadow and Act, Andre Seewood cites recent research on empathy to suggest part of the reason for that gap is white audiences’ reluctance to accept black characters in a dramatic narrative.
“Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch; and where it would not, I have used my credit.” Michael Dawson, restoration producer on Welles’s Othello, talks with Wellesnet’s Mike Teal on how relatively easy a restoration of Chimes at Midnight would be, and the complicated legal tangles so far preventing such an effort. Though Dawson suggests advancement is being made; surely fresh and exciting news never before heard by any Welles fan.
Between his cheerfully giving odds of humanity’s survival as 50/50 and dreaming of buying his own personal skyscraper in Johannesburg, Neil Blomkomp comes off in Mark Yarm’s profile like a character from one of his movies—not necessarily one of the good guys.
“A personal cinema, always on the move, fugitive, displaced, ephemeral—it’s always been Linklater’s dream.” Adrian Martin salutes Richard Linklater for maintaining that independent smallscale dream even as he moved into commercial Hollywood production. Part of a series of articles at Transit dedicated to the director, though apparently the only one translated into English. Here’s the rest if your Spanish (or faith in Google Translate) is good enough.
The new Interiors describes the collaboration between location manager, production designer, cinematographer, and even costume designer that made a whole of a wide-ranging selection of Oregon locations in Wendy and Lucy.
Steven Shaviro offers what he admits are “disconnected and unpolished notes” about “one of the best new films I’ve seen in the last several years,” Joseph Kahn’s Detention. Heavy on theory here and there, but some intriguing thoughts on what makes the movie unique.
More notes, courtesy of The Unspeakable Act’s Dan Sallitt, who has gathered up his thoughts, written between 2005 and 2013, on every extant Naruse film save Shanghai Moon. Ranging from concise little blurbs to longer, more engaged appreciations, all with the immediacy and observant enthusiasm of a cinephile’s journal. Spotted by David Hudson. (Click through for .pdf)
John Sunyer reports on China’s burgeoning movie industry from the rural province of Hengdian, once farmland, now home to the world’s largest film studio.
Though he’s lived for years in self-imposed exile in London, don’t think Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s visiting the Jerusalem Film Festival would fail to stir up controversy in Iran.
“She was the kind of person who seems to live adjacent to the rest of us, subject to different rules and different laws of cause and effect. Adventures just accrued to her, like money for some and lovers for others (‘I’m not wild,’ she wrote, ‘I happen to stumble onto wildness. It gets in my path’).” Alexandra Molotkow writes with empathy she admits borders on envy of the short but eventful life of Cookie Mueller, John Waters star, go-go dancer, and celebrated writer of both art criticism and a medical advice column.
“You can destroy a film several ways: you can cut it up, you can burn it, or you can subtitle it. A subtitled film is like a running text with an image in the background. See, it’s not the film anymore.” Adam Lambert’s Brooklyn Rail interview with Peter Kubelka (with brief interjections from Jonas Mekas) was so long they split it up over a few months’ issues; part 2, with terrific stories about screening films for Russ Tamblyn, playing pranks on Adorno, and Kubelka’s short-lived judo career, is now up. Another find by David Hudson.
Also in the new Brooklyn Rail, Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker interviews self-described “eternal student” Magarethe von Trotta on her identification as a feminist, and what separates her films from recent cinematic portraits of German history: “I’m interested in the roots and not only the consequences or effects. In this way, I am much more a philosopher than a filmmaker.”
“If I have to play someone who is angry in a scene I’ll laugh a lot, just before, to find the other end of the scale. And then, when we start filming, bang!” Interviewed by Dan Crowe, Ray Winstone never loses his it’s-just-a-job-mate cred whether he’s railing against taxes or talking about a night on the town with Leo DiCaprio (“He is a top lad.”)
Ten lovely, enigmatic photographs from Resnais’s long-out-of-print photography book Repérages capture what Ehsan Khoshbakht calls “the uncanny silence and tranquility of the mysterious spaces.” (Some more have been posted in the comments, as well as a Penguin paperback with a cover photo by Chris Marker.)
Nick DeSantis pairs ten films with the artwork that inspired them; includes the factoid that two of this summer’s would-be blockbusters took visual cues from Goya’s nightmarish imagery, should anyone be looking for the basis of a half-baked thinkpiece. Via Criterion.
An odd anecdote, halfway between charming and creepy, about Cassavetes, Kael, and a sweater gets told in comic form by Nathan Gelgud. Via Ray Pride.
Steven Rea’s delightful tumblr Rides a Bike, collecting photographs of movie stars doing just that, has been around for years; in fact, there’s even a book. But it was new to It’s Nice That, and via them, new to me, so here, enjoy.
Cory Monteith, who briefly became a pop culture star for playing Finn in the TV series “Glee,” was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room. He was 31. More from The Washington Post.
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.