Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of January 24

“He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians.” With Dr. Strangelove’s golden anniversary coming up, David Hudson spots a few tributes to the film. The BFI have posted an interesting grab bag of on-the-set photographs and a pair of marvelous Ken Adam design sketches. And at the New Yorker, in the course of arguing the film’s essential veracity, Eric Schlosser reveals that even as official sources were chastising Kubrick for disrespectful fear-mongering, none of our missiles featured security switches to prevent hijacking; and when they were finally added a decade later, the 8-digit code for launch at every Minuteman site was 00000000.

Stanley Kubrick on the set of ‘Dr. Strangelove’

With the assistance of passages from King Vidor’s autobiography, The Siren explores some of the technical innovations behind his great humanistic breakthrough The Crowd. In what I assume is the fruit of related research, Nehme’s also revealed a poster for The Big Parade where the cartoonist cannily (and charmingly) employs self-depreciation to pass along the film’s many plaudits.

After filming completed on The Crowd, The Siren relates that Vidor took his first trip to Paris, only to find newspaper headlines informing him that his industry had changed forever with the release of The Jazz Singer. Three 1930 films that resisted the transition to sound—the experimental Borderline and People on Sunday, and the much-delayed City Girl—are the subjects of Michael Koresky’s latest Here & Now & Then.

The new DGA Quarterly offers a revealing burst of—sure, let’s call it humility, why not?—from James Cameron, as he explains the many layers of visualization in Titanic’s iconic bow scene and the essential contribution made by evening sunlight they’d waited eight days to capture. Also a typically garrulous interview with Guillermo del Toro, Paul Feig discussing the comedy stylings of Allen’s Take the Money and Run, and some storyboards from Alien, drawn by Ridley Scott, whose finely detailed lines display his oft-stated indebtedness to Moebius.

‘Thief’

“You are making big profits from my work, my risk, my sweat. But that is okay, because I elected to make that deal. But now, the deal is over.” The recent release of a watchable home version of Thief has naturally led to some good writing on Mann’s feature debut. Even noting some important precedents, Bilge Ebiri finds it the wellspring of the modern thriller, the fingerprints of its “ethereal machismo” all over the genre films that followed. Over at To Be (Cont’d), meanwhile, Jordon Cronk and Nick Usen are three segments in to a four-part conversation on Mann’s use of nocturnal environments and his Denisian study of the human body. (Parts two and three here.)

Noting the scraping away of its source’s more florid excesses—and the historical accuracy of Wilms’s comically diminutive shots of wine—Luc Sante finds Kaurismäki’s La vie de bohème a tragicomic masterpiece both “romantic and realistic.”

Also at Criterion, their release of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World features new art by original poster artist Jack Davis; at their website you can find a gallery (including a terrific one of Jimmy Durante kicking the bucket) and a short interview with the artist by Eric Skillman.

In the films of Philippe Garrell, Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin argue, dance is a magic moment of collaboration—between the characters, between the director and his actors—that still inevitably contains “the seed of despair at the heart.” They’ve included with their essay a video they’ve made, gathering Garrell’s dances to the triumphal but weary strains of Nico.

‘The Fly’

In his introduction for a new translation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, David Cronenberg elegantly draws out the connections between Brundlefly, “Samsabeetle,” and his 70-year-old self; or, as David Thomson dryly put it, “the kinship of freaks and … the rest of us.”

If you’re looking for one handy, happily mercantile symbol for the rise (or fall) of Sundance, you could do worse than marketing firm president Christopher Ryan, who, as Sheila Marikar reports, used to crash the festival’s parties via the backdoor but now distributes an invite-only list of the hottest parties so desirable to those in the in crowd that the past few years he’s had sponsors bidding to place their logo at the top. Via Movie City News.

“I notice that all the filmmakers—my friends and the people that I run into that have heard about the project—they go, ‘You know, I’ve thought of something similar ….’ People have felt on the cusp of it. You know what I mean? They were like, ‘Yeah, I thought of that….’ It’s not that far off of a concept. It was sort of on the tip of a lot of people’s tongue.” Richard Linklater discusses the inspiration and ambitions behind Boyhood with kogonada.

“In some ways, if you are saying your film is a realist film, or documentary-like, you have to be loyal to reality. In real life nothing ends—no story ends.” Asghar Farhadi, interviewed by Calum Marsh, discusses how The Past, like all the films of his career, deliberately leaves part of the story up to his audience.

“What is it like being so awesome?” “Well, nothing prepared me for being this awesome. It’s kind of a shock. It’s kind of a shock to wake up every morning and be bathed in this purple light.” Reddit AMAs work best with someone left-of-center enough to spin any question into an interesting answer (because you’ll be asked some silly or old-hat ones), but also a straight-shooter willing to take on all comers. Perfect venue for Bill Murray, then.

“I don’t really get requests anymore, to make something look like film, because in large part, people have bought in on digital and the things that it can do.” One of the most important and overlooked film professions in the digital age, the digital intermediate colorist, gets a little light thrown on, as Ian Vertovec discusses his work on Short Term 12, Ender’s Game, and Fincher’s “Suit & Tie” with Stephen Saito.

A marvelously curated selection of echoing images, pulled from the Deutsches Filmmuseum exhibit Fassbinder NOW, make the case for considering one of the most cracklingly live-wire of directors a master of the still photograph.

Similarly, at the tumblr Image Not Clear, a collection of screenshots from Tsai Ming-liang’s Vive l’amour, devoid of people but aching all the same. Via Adam Cook.

Video:  Be sure to check out that mubi link above for a three-part conversation between Martin Scorsese, his assistant director Adam Somner, and Paul Thomas Anderson about The Wolf of Wall Street.

Riz Ortolani

Obituary

Italian film composer Riz Ortolani won a Grammy and earned an Oscar nomination for his song “More,” the theme to the docsploitation classic Mondo Cane (1962), one of the hundreds of movies and TV shows he score over his career. His most famous work was in genre films like Castle of Blood (1964), Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), and Cannibal Holocaust (1980), but he also scored romantic dramas for Pupi Avati (The Story of Boys and Girls, 1989, The Best Man, 1997) and the American films Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), The McKenzie Break (1970) and The Valachi Papers (1972, among others. Tarantino used his music in Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, and Django Unchained. He passed away at the age of 87. More from Variety.

American film producer James Jacks, co-founder of Alphaville Productions and producer of such films as Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing, Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan, John Woo’s American debut Hard Target, and the Mummy films with Brendan Frasier, died of a heart attack at the age of 66. Anne Thompson remembers his life and legacy at Indiewire.

American animator and director Michael Sporn specialized in adapting children’s book to the screen, each adaptation designed to preserve the style of the art in the original books. Among his more famous adaptations: Doctor De Soto (1984), which earned an Academy Award nomination, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, and Goodnight Moon. He also directed original short films and his 1994 Whitewash, based on a true story, won an Emmy Award. The New York-based filmmaker passed away at the age of 67. David Colker at Los Angeles Times.

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 curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.