“One day in September, I got a phone call. On the other end of the line, a voice with a strong Swiss accent says to me: ‘I am Jean-Luc Godard. I’m looking for someone who knows a little bit, but not too much.’ That was exactly the state I found myself in.” A terrific 2012 talk by the great director of photography Caroline Champetier, newly translated by Ted Fendt, offers both a fine idea of how choosing camera technology can stem from a philosophic, poetic sensibility and one of the best senses of what it’s like to collaborate with Godard I’ve read.
“What makes Becker so radical a director was his interest in just these things that are usually discarded: the space around events, the in-between moments when we see people just being. He called it “dead time,” but it is filled with life….” Imogen Smith has a brief but lovely assessment of Becker’s Antoine and Antoinette, a film suffused with “an ordinary beauty, or perhaps a beautiful ordinariness.” Related: Adrian Curry presents some of the film’s posters, along with a few delightful shots of the advertising on the streets of 1947 Paris.
“My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.” “Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.” Attending 2001 at the New York Philharmonic, Richard Brody found his immersion into the music’s live performance clarified as fully human some of Kubrick’s seemingly impersonal gestures. Brody also links to a pair of short but interesting posts by Alex Ross explaining why Ligeti was less than happy to discover that his avant-garde compositions were being extensively used in “a piece of Hollywood shit.”
Errol Morris’s ongoing concerns about the epistemological limits of photography and film engage with exhibit number one in the debate, as Smithsonian Magazine’s Ron Rosenbaum talks to him about the Zapruder film. Featuring a surprise (but let’s be honest, not exactly out-of-character) cameo by Alex Cox as Conspiracy Guy.
“Who’s responsible for her death? I don’t know. This may also be why the story is worth telling—because it is not so simple to say.” The Los Angeles Review dedicates three articles to Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills. Supplementing Clara Dawson and Jolyon Mitchell’s review, Costica Bradatan’s interview with the director (quoted above) is an amusing example of Mungiu shutting down every interpretation his admirer tries to foist. Most interesting, though, is Jean Harris’s essay on the true story that inspired the film, and how even Mungiu’s miserablist aesthetics can’t do justice to the tragic, artless sordidness of Maricica Irina Cornici’s life. Spoilers for the film, but you didn’t expect it to end well, did you?
Another exciting addition to the bounty of lost films rediscovered—which in only the last few months has included items by Keaton and Welles—comes with Their First Misunderstanding, the first film for which Mary Pickford was credited in the advertising. Happy news via David Hudson.
“You’re the first woman I’ve seen in one of these things that dresses like a woman, not like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.” “Thank you, I guess.” Christopher Laverty praises the sharply observed (and maybe even subtly subversive) work of costume designer Ann Roth for the iconic ode to dressing for success ‘80s style, Working Girl.
Jonathan Rosenbaum’s latest video column for Cinema Scope runs down the awards from Il Cinema Ritrovato (on whose jury he sat); below the list he has some interesting thoughts on, among others, how Out 1 and Out 1: Spectre should be considered radically different works rather than variations on a theme; and an extra feature on a Foolish Wives release that confirms Orson Welles’s assertion that Stroheim’s budgetary extravagance was entirely overblown.
The criticisms of Ben Urwand’s The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler keep coming, David Denby buttressing his original negative review with amazement that Harvard University Press would have published this. (“Perhaps I’m naïve about academic publishing….” Well, perhaps.) Harvard’s rebuttal is pretty boilerplate, but Jennifer Schuessler’s write-up of it informs me that the person you most want/dread to hear dive into this already did so back in August: Quentin Tarantino, not having read the book, stuck up for Jack Warner while castigating Hollywood’s other racial blindspots in an interview with Danielle Berrin.
“I didn’t opt out. Who wants to hire a monster? The phone wasn’t ringing, bro. I didn’t want to leave Hollywood. But the way the system works is that if people believe that you’re a certain way, or they think you supposedly hate them… how can I expect them to take a call on my behalf if they’ve been led to believe that I’m this monster? And now, cut to: Now I’m playing a monster, and everybody wants to represent me and talk to me.” Isaiah Washington’s enforced absence from screens may have led to salutary self-reflection, but as his interview with Bilge Ebiri shows it didn’t lead to a tendency to censor his provocative intelligence.
“I want to talk to you face-to-face. I want to have you so close that I can put my hand on your shoulder and let it sink in. And I want to hear your voice and I want to have a glass of wine with you or eat with you and enjoy it and laugh with you.” Werner Herzog’s animosity toward the antisocial nature of cell phones, revealed in an interview with Fandor’s Jonathan Marlow and Eric Ames, is of a piece with the respectful humanism that animates his recent documentary projects under discussion, the interviews with prisoners On Death Row and the anti-texting From One Second to the Next.
“You know, the truth is—like, even admitting it, I’ll probably get laughed at for the rest of my life. But it is just tragic, and it happened. […] But I wasn’t knocked out. I stood right the fuck back up, and I ain’t aiming to take another punch in the face ever again. Do you understand what I’m saying? It happened to me. I moved on.” Idris Elba has done that—stood back up and moved right on—a lot in his life; Zach Baron’s profile of the actor probably isn’t wrong suggesting that very untouchable reserve is the secret to his unique charisma.
“That’s not love-light…that’s MURDER in her eyes!” Mark Fertig presents a selection of posters featuring about the most smokily fatale of all movie femmes, Lizabeth Scott.
The business end of poster design—including contractually obligated credits, the pressure to have a branded object, and movie stars who aren’t all as understanding about being out of the limelight as Tom Hanks—is covered in Brandon Schaefer’s interview with designer Alex Griendling.
Video: Ingrid Bergman’s home movies from the filming of Stromboli are so infused with sun-soaked lazy charm you couldn’t imagine any scandal lay waiting in the shadows.
Among the dozens of screenplays written or co-written by Italian screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni are Pietro Germi’s Seduced and Abandoned (1964), Billy Wilder’s Avanti! (1972), the Jaws-knock-off Orca (1977), and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (2000), yet his most influential and celebrated contributions to both Italian and world cinema are his two Sergio Leone collaborations: For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). He passed away at the age of 87. More from John Schwartz at The New York Times.
Visit the film review pages at The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.
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The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.