The latest excerpt from Michael Koresky’s book on Terence Davies logically should maybe have been the first, being primarily a career overview. But Koresky lays out the argument for placing Davies squarely in the queer cinema tradition with which he’s had a troubled relationship, and it’s always nice to read someone praising The Neon Bible. Or remembering it exists.
“Mackenzie’s key battleground is the romantic relationship. Incited by knowing eye contact and waged through a sensual collision of skin, these trysts end in epiphany, tragedy, and many variations in between depending on the genre. […] Internal apocalypse might always be on the precipice, but it’s never rendered through anything less than a sublime lens and lyrical sense of time and place. As the universe fades to black (either figuratively or quite literally), the process of becoming someone new remains poetic.” Glenn Heath Jr. makes the case for the cinema of David Mackenzie.
Still at Mubi, David Cairns makes available To the Public Danger, an early short by Terence Fisher warning against drunk driving. Though as Cairns states, despite (or rather because of) the film’s morbidity, its true auteur is Gaslight and Hangover Square writer Patrick Hamilton, who had his own reasons for hating reckless motorists.
Among the finds passed on this week by Mubi’s Notebook are appreciations of some fairly disparate filmmakers. Discussing Kingpin, R. Emmet Sweeney nails the unblinking humanism that’s part-and-parcel of the Farrelly brother’s taboo-busting body humor. (“When you watch [quadriplegic actor Danny Murphy] in Kingpin, he is not “the guy in a wheelchair”, but “that asshole who chopped of Munson’s hand”. And that’s how he preferred it.”) While a director with whom the Farrellys have nothing in common (though I can imagine them good-naturedly giggling at his name), experimental filmmaker Robert Beavers, receives rapturous praise for his latest, Listening to the Space in My Room, from David Phelps. (“And yet—each vase, leaf, paper, hand becomes a screen for light and shadows from an outer atmosphere that the film, like the titular room, reflects from within. Each is inscribed by circumstance, like the homemade movie itself.”)
“I hope that I won’t be that wrong anymore/And maybe I’ve learned this time/I hope that I find what I’m reaching for/The way that it is in my mind.” Glenn Kenny salutes a tender bit of pop loveliness in the midst of an avant-garde nightmare as Billy Kinsley recounts how he came to cover Waylon Jennings’s “Dreaming My Dreams with You” for the soundtrack to Nic Roeg’s Bad Timing.
Also at Criterion, Peter Cowie’s brief account of a 1974 encounter with Jacques Tati offers a fine explanation for how the director picked his performers.
“Who else has made a film about a star who makes a comeback and, as a premonitory result, has a comeback? What better example of art-imitating-life is there?” Trey Taylor plugs for A Star Is Born’s “Born in a Trunk” medley as “the best musical sequence in film history,” a triumph made possible by Garland’s bravery in embracing the setpiece’s emotional and autobiographical transparency. Via It’s Nice That.
A recent incident on the set of the TV series Gotham brought to light an industry practice many thought long-dead: “painting down” stuntpeople, a noxious little euphemism for blackface. Kelly L. Carter relays the efforts of pioneering black stunt performers like Jadie David and Willie Harris—aided by the sudden commercial viability of blaxploitation films—to end the practice back in the ‘70s. And finds both, as you’d expect, disappointed but hardly shocked to see it rearing up again.
I don’t know who’ll write the next great Hollywood novel, but I’d like to think it would include a fictionalized version of the recovery, from the desert sands of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, of the Egyptian set built for Cecil B. Demille’s 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. Especially now that they’ve found the Sphinx. I mean, the metaphor’s right there. Via Movie City News.
“You know that in a city as big as Chicago, there will be a certain number of car accidents tonight. Coming in from the airport yesterday, I saw that there have been 680 people killed so far this year. Somebody will be killed tonight in his or her car, which is now being filled up with gas, but we don’t know who. So what is the link? When I see human life, I see mystery, which is most exciting. What can be explained sociologically, psychologically, that’s easy. But there’s this field of mystery—the things that will happen to me or you that we don’t know—that we can’t expect and can’t influence. There will be an accident or no accident. You will have cancer or not. To me, this is scientific thinking.” In a two-part interview, Krzysztof Zanussi talks with Ben Sachs about science, faith, and Leslie Caron. (Part Two here.)
“Shouldn’t being at that socioeconomic level make us think: “How do we change other people’s situations? How do we fight for other people’s rights? How do we deal with extreme poverty in other parts of the world?” But Western society, and the whole culture that we are basing our society on, is telling us that we are allowed to put all our effort into relationship problems. I mean, I feel totally connected to this kind of behavior. Of course, they’re silly. [Laughs] But I still have sympathy for people who are silly.” Above, Zanussi expresses some reservations about Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure; Östlund ably defends what he’s up to (while, yeah, coming off more than a bit clinical) discussing the film with Violet Lucca.
“And actually, when Carolco put up the money for the movie, they really had no idea of what kind of movie it was. They said, ‘We desperately need you to make a movie, we have nothing in our pipeline,’ and I left the next day to start making it before they could change their minds. I called my producer and said, ‘For gods sake, they approved a budget. I’m leaving tomorrow, make this legal!’ He did, and I began shooting four months later.” Matt Zoller Seitz interviews Bob Rafelson about Mountains of the Moon, that unexpected, relatively obscure entry in his filmography that remains his personal favorite.
“Hollywood says you shouldn’t have more than six centimeters between cameras, so I began at 12 to see what happened.” You’d expect that Godard’s first use of 3D filmmaking came from a place of learning the rules then figuring out how to break them. Which is pretty much how Goodbye to Language cinematographer Fabrice Aragno describes it in conversation with Vadim Rizov.
Writer, producer, director, and actor L.M. Kit Carson passed away this week at the age of 73. The Dallas native co-wrote and starred in the indie mockumentary David Holzman’s Diary (1968) and reteamed with director Jim McBride to co-write his 1983 remake of Breathless, stepped in to work on the script for Paris, Texas when Sam Shepard had to leave the production, mentored filmmakers at the Sundance Lab, co-founded the USA Film Festival in 1970, and helped Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson get their first film, Bottle Rocket, made. “He gave us so much advice and so much input I couldn’t even begin to know where to start,” said Anderson to Matt Zoller Seitz in The Wes Anderson Collection. Robert Wilonsky pens the obituary for The Dallas Morning News.
Seattle-based filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s new film Laggies, shot in Seattle and starring Keira Knightly, Sam Rockwell, and Chloë Grace Moretz, opens this weekend in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and members of the cast and crew will attend the 6:15 screenings on Friday and Saturday at Pacific Place and participate in Q&As after the screening. Here’s the film website.
French Cinema Now continues at SIFF Cinema Uptown through Thursday, October 30. Among the highlights this weekend is a revival of Alain Resnais’ Life is a Bed of Roses (1983), playing a matinee on Saturday, and Oscar winning director Michel Hazanavicius and actress Bérénice Bejo are coming on Tuesday for screenings of The Last Diamond (starring Bejo) and Jacky in the Kingdom of Women (starring Charlotte Gainsboug and co-starring Hazanavicius) and on Wednesday for “An Evening with Michel Hazanavicius and Bérénice Bejo,” featuring a sneak preview of their latest film The Search. For more information, see the SIFF website.
On Saturday, October 25, Robert Horton will read from his book on the classic 1931 film Frankenstein, from its roots to its resonance in the culture, at Elliot Bay Book Company. The reading begins at 7pm and the event is free.
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.