The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of October 18

The Eyes of Myrna Loy

Video: Matt Zoller Seitz’s 2009 video series on Wes Anderson, The Substance of Style, led to the writing of his acclaimed book A Wes Anderson Collection. In a bit of recursiveness the boxes-within-boxes loving director himself might appreciate, Seitz has decided to update the series in collaboration with editor Steven Santos, incorporating details he’d learned in the interim and of course getting around to the films from the intervening years. Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are up now; the rest will be posted over the next week. Seitz admits the new installments are “more emotional” than analytical, but his sharp observations and enjoyably unpredictable connections remain intact.

“It’s easy to imagine Bette Davis in the role, her eyes popping with restless desire. Whereas Loy had the kind of eyes that always seemed half-closed even when they weren’t.” Dan Callahan savors the judicious underplaying of Myrna Loy.

Kim Morgan recounts the accelerated rise and fall of Wallace Reid, who raced his way into movie stardom even as the position was being created, then crashed out in a literal trainwreck.

“Tell the crew they can sleep in the next world.” Dan Sallitt examines how in Air Force, one of Hawks’s most blatantly propagandistic films, the director’s “streak of dark humor combines with the project’s built-in tone of righteous vengeance” to create something that doesn’t subvert jingoistic trappings so much as open them up to real pain and loss.

Serge Daney in English presents the critic’s playful imagined conversation with Minnelli’s Home from the Hill, stumbled upon one night on television. And amid the jokes notice that in 1988 Daney already diagnosed the problems a TV generation would have with old movies isn’t that they’re too long, but too short: “You tell in two hours the type of story that they are used to follow over two years.”

At To Be (Cont’d), Bill Ryan and Keith Uhlich present the first two of a four-part conversation on that very odd, very interesting mix of genre playfulness and naked confessional, Coppola’s Twixt. (Ryan’s part one here, Uhlich’s part two here.)

“It has to be tomorrow. I’ve arranged things that way.” “Where?” “Approximately where you’re standing now.” The latest issue of Interiors examines the apartment in Dial M for Murder.

1974 is the latest year to fall under the scrutiny of Michael Koresky’s Here & Now & Then column, from which he plucks three films (two horrors and an urban thriller) that were “dubiously influential” on their genres down the line.

Art by Albin Grau

David Kalat doesn’t deny that Murnau was a “once-in-a-generation talent,” but in assessing the authorship of Nosferatu he makes the case for Albin Grau—set and costume designer, but also instigator and co-financier of the project, designer of the lead’s unique appearance, and the guy who hired Murnau in the first place.

The 1936 John Wayne feature The Oregon Trail has been lost, but a recent discovery of film stills from the production gives us a hint of what we’re missing, as Tara McKelvey relates. Via David Hudson.

“I said, ‘Jordan also mentioned that he had a chimpanzee on roller skates in a diaper that was handing out tickets to all the stockbrokers.’ And Marty’s like, ‘That’s great, how do we get a chimpanzee?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And he’s like, ‘All right, somebody get on it.’’ To hear the way Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill tell it to the Wall Street Journal’s Logan Hill, those who enjoyed complaining that Goodfellas’s hedonistic excess overwhelmed any attempts at moral critique will have a field day with The Wolf of Wall Street. Via Movie City News.

After 50 years as a filmmaker, Jon Jost calls it quits—not the filmmaking, but the gauntlet of the festival circuit, with its ever-increasing costs for ever-diminishing returns.

“So I told him through fax, ‘Mr. Bergman, I saw the movie and to be honest it didn’t work for me quite like the others, but I’ll do the best I can and if it works, it works, and if not, thank you.’ I get the following response the next day: ‘Dear David, the important thing is you told me the truth. Ff [sic] it works, I will be thrilled. If it doesn’t work, it will bother me for about five minutes. Yours, Ingmar Bergman.’ He made it, we released it, it didn’t do well, and it bothered him for about five minutes.” Indiewire presents some highlights from producer David V. Picker’s recent talk at the NYFF.

‘August and After’

“Well, the images and I, we cooperate. We try to work together. Ultimately, they’re the boss, and I’m more their servant. You bring them some water, or remind them that they have an appointment in an hour—that kind of thing, that they are too late or too early. I think that, in my films, I’m trying not only to express, but also to bring about and nurture wholeness in the audience.” Interviewed by Film Comment’s Max Nelson, the great experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky displays the emotional directness that makes his films among the most humane of avant-garde offerings.

“For me, making a film is a bit like switching off the light in the room and trying to navigate around by touch and feel and smell and not by doing the sort of obvious thing of opening your eyes and looking around. It’s a different way of trying to make a reality on film, and that’s what I’m interested in.” Steve McQueen talks with Elvis Mitchell on the making of 12 Years a Slave, working with actors, and crafting a film with respect for the audience’s intelligence. Also in Interview, the Carrie remake has them digging out a charming 1977 interview with Sissy Spacek, her Texan gregariousness rubbing nicely against co-interviewer Andy Warhol’s deadpan earnestness. One bit of casting trivia I was unaware of: Spacek mentions her next project is going to be Roeg’s Bad Timing.

For the same reason as the Interview reprint above, Patti Greco talks to P. J. Soles about the original Carrie, from her casting (she humbly credits The Hat, which she’d worn to the first audition) to drawing inspiration from Spacek’s dedication to method, and trying to warn Nancy Allen away from dating Brian De Palma. (“Look, he’s got that look on his face, like he’s enjoying all this. There’s a sadistic guy in there.”)

“I used to get excited about these things, but I have become weary in my old age. Now it is clear to me that it is going through cycles—you know, at the moment, the government is very down on indie film. Maybe in three years’ time, they will forget about indie film, they will stop noticing and things would go back to what it was before. That has already happened at least twice in my lifetime.” Tony Rayns, interviewed by Festivalists’s Jia Xu, lays out a “brief history” of Chinese independent cinema. One ominous note: Rayns obliquely refers to, then refuses to expand, on this being a “difficult moment” for Jia Zhangke. Via Adam Cook.

Jean Cocteau by Philippe Halsman

“I think that beauty is connected to loss, certainly, but incipient loss. People find youth beautiful because it’s fleeting. I think this figure is beautiful partly because it’s about life and death.” At Gilded Birds, a website built around the lovely idea of interviewing people about artifacts they treasure, Miranda Richardson rhapsodizes over the figurine of a Minoan bull-leaper (exactly what it sounds like), ca. 1500 BC.

On the 50th anniversary of his death, Life reprints a 1949 photo shoot of Jean Cocteau by Philippe Halsman that does a decent job of mainstreaming surrealist imagery. Mirrors abound, of course, as do arms piercing the walls.

Eric White’s cramped, off-kilter paintings of automobile scenes in movies combine photorealist detail (check out the el-lay sun bouncing off the hood of Tony Robert’s Mercedes) with a surrealist humor that delights in telescoping a kiss from Pierrot Le Fou or spotting the sea life out the back window of James Bond’s Lotus.

Hey, Axmaker here with a plug from the self-promotion department: Cinephiled, a new film website created by editor Noah Walden and tech guy Michael Taus and a collective of former MSN Entertainment writers and editors (including many Parallax View contributors) who lost their positions when MSN cut all original content from their Entertainment site, launched late this week. Initial contributors include James Rocchi, Frank Paiva, Martha Brockenbrough, Danny Miller, Don Kaye, and me, and by the end of the month we should be joined by many others, including Glenn Kenny, Jim Emerson, Richard Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and Kim Morgan.

Ed Lauter

Obituary

Character actor Ed Lauter passed away at the age of 74, after a career spanning over forty years. He may be most memorable to movie fans of a certain age as the head prison guard in Robert Aldrich’s The Longest Yard (1974) or the shady gas attendant in Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976), he appeared in supporting roles in The French Connection II (1975) and King Kong (1976), teamed up with Charles Bronson in Death Wish II (1985), and was in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and Mulholland Falls (1995). More recently, he had substantial supporting roles in The Artist and Trouble With the Curve, and he has three finished films in the can to be released in the coming years. More from Mike Barnes at The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

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.