“You know what everyone said.” “No, but I’m sure you do.” The Dissolve’s Movie of the Week is All That Heaven Allows. The roundtable, fine for what it is, ironically proves a lot less insightful and dancingly alert than Noel Murray’s solo survey of ten contrasting props, showing how much information Sirk could pack into shots of pianos and cornbread. More on the master at Film International, where David Hudson spotted David Sterritt explaining the painful personal associations in A Time to Love and a Time to Die that led Sirk to “[charge] it with a desolate beauty as haunting as anything this consummate stylist ever created.”
“I’m willing to wager on all the holy icons that I was the only one to make the connection.” Also via Hudson, the first translation into English of one of Chris Marker’s rare responses to a journalist’s question. When the jazz fanzine Le Journal des Allumés du Jazz asked the fairly esoteric question, “Images gravitate around music. Which has marked you the most?” Marker replied with a lovely short text about harmonica player Dany Kane, which ends with a rhapsodic skip across decades and marries personal epiphany to the sweep of history as only Marker could.
Richard Brody takes a look at French cinema past and future. In a “shamelessly promotional post” announcing the publication of François Truffaut by Lillian Ross: from The New Yorker, 1960-1976, he traces the director’s evolution across three decades of interviews with Ross. And his own interview with producer Marin Karmitz finds the latter despairing his country’s cinema is locked into an institutional straitjacket that stifles innovation and has failed to produce a genius on the order of earlier generations. (“We’ve achieved something that’s very instructive, that’s extremely managed in the general interest but I’m not sure that it’s managed in the special interest of creation.”)
“Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest, And like a forest it’s easy to lose your way, to get lost, to forget where you came in.” As monotonous, predigested three-act structures become ever more the rule in Hollywood movies, David Bordwell examines the structural variant of telling stories in long, distinct, even overlapping blocks; a structure possibly inspired by modernist and mystery fiction that enjoyed something of a vogue in the ‘40s, then mostly died out till returning with a vengeance in the films of Quentin Tarantino.
Jersey Boys comes out shortly, so time for Clint Eastwood to go on about his follow-up project—American Sniper, possibly due before the end of the year—with Scott Foundas. And if you’re wondering whether famously “unflappable” Eastwood was bothered by the reaction to his GOP convention speech, his casual recounting of the incident suggests not.
Scott Johnson’s reporting on the events preceding Malik Bendjelloul’s suicide is thorough enough to show the way Searching for Sugar Man’s success blew him off his comfort zone but honest enough to reject the idea any tidy solutions lay behind an act that continues to stun his friends and collaborators.
Ekkehard Wölk recounts his encounters, beginning in 2004, with Bruno S., still as singularly emotional and intense as he had been for Herzog three decades earlier. Illustrated with photos by Wölk of Bruno working his then-sideline gig of street musician.
John Bailey’s salute to Gordon Willis, which includes the lovely text Caleb Deschanel read as introduction when Willis received his honorary Academy Award, portrays the late cinematographer as a legendarily exacting technician, and an iconoclast to the core. An independent spirit Bailey pays tribute to by beginning his piece on “The Prince of Darkness” talking about the ranks of fluorescents he used to make the Washington Post offices such a bright, shadowless realm.
Now that the “so-serious-it-might-pop-a-blood-vessel” Rigor Mortis has returned hopping vampires to movie screens, Grady Hendrix catches you up on the goofier, less po-faced heritage of Hong Kong moviemaking it’s following.
“Laura hands me the first of the standard large FedEx boxes and gets out a pistol-grip tape dispenser. She quickly notices from my panicked expression that I have no idea how to assemble these boxes and gently takes the packaging back. ‘That’s okay,’ she whispers gently, ‘you deserve to be directing, not doing manual labor.’” The first featured excerpt from John Waters’s Carsick is tellingly not only fictional, but a naked wish-fulfillment fantasy for every director whose sources have dried up, and who can’t imagine raising the money for another film unless a kindly drug dealer drops it in his lap.
David Thomson selects Norman Mailer’s The Deer Park as the greatest novel about the movie business, for its conflicted, power-mad characters, the taut writing, and (most Thomsonian reason of all) for knowing “how terrible a destiny it was to make movies, but [admitting] that it was irresistible, too.”
Also at the New Republic, Molly Haskell, Wesley Strick, and Carl Franklin give their ideas to Peter Gerstenzang as to what happened to kill off the American detective movie. TV’s part of the problem, sure, but less familiar suspects—the internet’s tendency to make “every case…a big case”; Jim Carrey’s salary—are wheeled out as well.
“I’ve worked under the most painful conditions any man has ever felt in his life…. But when I walk out on that stage, the pain goes away.” Scott Feinberg has a brief but typically frank interview with Jerry Lewis about the past demons (the suicide of his son Joseph, his constant pain from too many pratfalls) that haunt the 88-year-old actor even as he enjoys the latest of his many career resurgences. Accompanied by a gallery of photos by Christopher Pratey.
Adrian Curry presents a gallery of stunning posters by the German designer Isolde Monson-Baumgart, most taking an iconic photographic image then overlaying or collaging it to produce something altogether marvelous.
Video: To promote the Blu-ray release of Twin Peaks, David Lynch is interviewing the Palmer clan. Not the actors, mind you, but the characters. First up, finding out what Leland remembers now that he’s been dead 25 years.
Ruby Dee, the great star of stage and screen and inspirational civil rights activist, passed away this week at the age of 91. Her career spanned seven decades in which she defied the stereotypical roles that African American actors relegated to. She created the role of Ruth Younger in the original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun and recreated it on the screen in the 1961 film, and her big screen appearances include The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), St. Louis Blues (1958), and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989), playing opposite her husband Ossie Davis, but she had to wait until 2007 for her first and only Oscar nomination playing Denzel Washington’s mother in American Gangster. On TV she was in Peyton Place, Roots: The Next Generation, and The Stand. But her legacy off screen is at least as important as her work onscreen: she and Ossie Davis were mistress and master of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington and were leaders in the civil rights protests. More from Steve Chawkins at Los Angeles Times.
British actor and comedian Rik Mayal was best known for his work on British TV, notably the cult hit The Young Ones, which he created and starred in with Ade Edmondson, and a recurring role on Blackadder, and in the American film Drop Dead Fred (1991). He died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 56. Alice Philipson at The Telegraph.
Martha Hyer earned an Oscar nomination for Some Came Running (1958), playing a schoolteacher opposite Frank Sinatra, and co-starred in Sabrina (1954) as a society dame engaged to William Holden. She passed away at the age of 89 at her home in Santa Fe. Colette Fahy at The Daily Mail.
Mona Freeman, famed as New York’s first “Miss Subway” in 1941 (an honor satirized in On the Town), starred in the 1946 Black Beauty and had supporting roles in numerous films through 1950s, including The Heiress (1949), the good girl to Jean Simmon’s bad girl in Angel Face (1952), and Raoul Walsh’s Battle Cry (1955), After moving to TV in the 1960s, she retired from the screen and returned to painting. She died this week at the age of 87. Margalit Fox for The New York Times.
KEXP DJ Hannah Levin will host Q&As with director Megan Griffiths this Friday, June 13, for opening night of the Seattle theatrical premiere of Lucky Them at NWFF.
The Best of SIFF continues at SIFF Uptown, with awards winners and audience favorites play one last show through the week. Festival favorite Ida has also opens for a week-long run.
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.