“He’s not a lost auteur—the kind of work he did bears little relation to what we now know as screenwriting, and no one’s ever said he was anything more than an adequate director. And he’s not a hero—his life ended in shame, dissolution, and tragedy. But at the height of his powers, Bruckman worked on a series of masterpieces that built film comedy as we know it today. The least history can do is remember his birthday.” Matthew Dessem does a grand job as both researcher and wordsmith filling out our sketchy knowledge of Clyde Bruckman, revealing a life sufficiently fatalistic and doom-laden even Keaton might have blanched to contemplate it.
Highlights of the new cléo include Mallory Andrews reading Tampopo’s sensual delights as much self-referentially cinematic as they are sitophile; Zorianna Zurba on the “unflinching observation of contemporary feminine consciousness and the negotiations of teen sexuality” in Breillat’s Fat Girl; and the latest dazzling if sometimes perplexing “visual essay” by Gina Telaroli, interlacing stills from Stahl, Mizoguchi, Dreyer, Rudolph, Paul Anderson (yes, that Paul Anderson), and others to form a crescendo of women glancing, stepping, or falling out of frame.
“Throughout his career, Siegel was drawn to extreme situations, states of exception that reveal the truth about the supposedly normal conditions they interrupt.” And the first great test case he examined, Chris Fujiwara writes, is the Riot in Cell Block 11.
Considering the role national identity has played in Wenders’s road movies, Nicole Huber and Ralph Stern show how a citizen of Germany that could write “I don’t think that any other country has had such a loss of faith in its own images, stories, and myths as we have” had to journey to a half-imagined America to rediscover imagery, before the space (and studio politics) sent him back home to Berlin. Via David Hudson.
“Simultaneously anchored in the real world and tuned into an imaginary one, Diop’s work offers a resolution to what is perhaps cinema’s oldest divide: the split between documentary observation (as practiced by the Lumière Brothers and their globetrotting band of cinematographers) and fictive creation (as seen in the magic films of George Méliès). In a statement typical of her enigmatic style, Diop has said of her hybrid style ‘nothing is true and nothing is false.’” Genevieve Yue surveys the dreamily ambiguous cinema of Mati Diop.
When you’re looking for a sympathetic take on the deliberately outré behavior of an artist indulging her natural wickedness, you won’t do better than Kim Morgan. So naturally she’s the best person to evaluate the Lindsey Lohan reality series. (“This doesn’t make her so much a diva, but more a dizzy movie star, a screwball who taxes everyone’s patience. She’s charming and also really fucking annoying. She knows exactly what she’s doing and then…she loses something. Like a white couch. She’s a delightful little pain in the ass.”) And but of course she’s got the most excited, live-wire write-up of the many who attended the staged reading of Tarantino’s Hateful Eight script. (“When Jackson relays one of the script’s most provocative high points…my mind lingered on the visual force of watching those two faces on the big screen. And then the subject at hand: Cocksucking, in ‘big super CINEMASCOPE 70MM filmed gloriousness.’”)
David Bordwell wraps up his series on American film critics of the ‘40s with a look at their oversights, and how the apparently surprising late opinions of those who lived to have them (tough-guy Hollywood fancier Farber glomming onto European and experimental art films; chronicler of myth and camp Tyler rejecting the films that consciously reached for those effects) grew out of their earlier writings.
“I don’t like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me.” Government archivist Cody White relays how the US Parks Department handled MGM’s request to film at Mount Rushmore and to recreate it in studio for North by Northwest; and how they handled the backlash, despite early assurances that the climax would reveal the monument “in all its granite glory… In the end, the enemies of democracy are defeated by the Shrine of Democracy itself.” Via Matt Zoller Seitz.
“Hit a Moonite with your arm, tap him with an umbrella, and poof! Obliterated. A ball of smoke. The same cloud hovered over Star Film Studios when Méliès, watching his fortunes fall, set every reel, every mask, every prop ablaze.” Gregory Robinson’s All Movies Love the Moon collects 37 prose poems inspired by silent cinema, from A Trip to the Moon to the earliest heralds of the talkies. The publisher’s website offers two tantalizing examples (.pdf warning); Michael Jauchen’s review gives a sense of the bigger picture.
“That whole chaos thing? I don’t know what the hell people are talking about. I’d love for them to tell me what they’re talking about. It’s not chaos, I can tell you that: it’s storytelling.” David O. Russell talks with Terrence Rafferty about his influences (Capra, mostly) and methods. Also in the new DGA Quarterly (spotted by Movie City News): compared to Russell’s back-from-the-wilderness journey, it’s become clear that James Gray’s never going to be let through the gates in the first place, but he’s found the rewards of his financial limitations, as he explains to Robert Abele. (“I have huge admiration for what James Cameron and Peter Jackson can do, but you know there are visual effects there…. It doesn’t make it less, but it was interesting to pursue the opposite—to have the audience never notice a single visual effect.”) And some dynamic storyboards Ed Verreaux drew for Raiders of the Lost Ark’s climax.
“I think the great quality of my so-called reputation is that 90% of the shit passes me by…. Occasionally I still get shit offered to me. I think that people who would have the temerity to work with me know they’re in for a ride, and I’m proud of that.” If you were idly wondering whether Christopher Doyle might have mellowed or found the self-censor switch since the last interview you read with him, Alex Godfrey’s assures you that no, he has not.
“I’m always seeing images. I just thought everybody was like that.” Art of the Title concludes their career overview interview with Pablo Ferro and his son Allen, with some terrific excerpts from Ferro père’s book of fonts.
Dangerous Minds’s Paul Gallagher presents a gallery of sketches by Ray Harryhausen, as detailed, imaginative, and fantastically alive as the model work they became (or, in the case of War of the Worlds, should have). Via Sam Fragoso.
Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger, the acclaimed documentarian most famous for his series of documentaries chronicling people at work around the world (Megacities, 1998, Workingman’s Death, 2005, Whores’ Glory, 2011), died this week while filming a new project in Africa. He was 54. Via David Hudson at Keyframe, our man in Europe, since picked up by the mainstream press, including a generous notice in The New York Times.
Framing Pictures, the monthly (mostly) free film discussion at NWFF, is changing days. The next event is this Sunday, April 27 at 5:30pm. Discussion topics this month include the revivals of two maverick independents: John Cassavetes’ Love Streams at the Grand Illusion (April 25-30), and Orson Welles’ Othello at Northwest Film Forum (May 2-8). Hosted by film critics Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and Robert Horton. Details here, and keep up with Framing Pictures via the Facebook page.
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.