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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of October 31

‘Mon Oncle’

All due (and seasonally apposite) respect to Clive Barker, the video release of the moment is clearly Criterion’s complete Tati set. At their website the company is offering some fine essays connected to the release. Jonathan Rosenbaum displays how precise Tati’s use of color and sound was to guide the viewer through his open, detailed frames. (“This means that any discussion of Tati’s mise-en-scene has to cope with the reality that he effectively directed each of his films twice—once when he shot them and then once again when he composed and recorded their soundtracks.”) James Quandt outlines the intellectual underpinnings of comedies that, for once, it’s not condescending to say they have more on their mind than making you laugh. (“This contradiction [of using rigidly designed imagery to decry mechanized life] is central to understanding all of his work. His Cartesian comedies inveigh against order and logic but generate beauty and laughter from both.”) And Kristin Ross places these films in context against the hustling economic boom of postwar France’s Thirty Glorious Years. (“Commenting upon the strikingly memorable soundtracks that he designed to accompany all of his important films from Mon oncle (1958) to Parade (1974), Jacques Tati remarked, ‘Well, when people are in strange surroundings, natural sounds always sound louder.’ Each of Tati’s films works to turn the most familiar lived landscapes of postwar French society into strange surroundings.”)

“This is a cinema ruled by the shadow of destiny—a powerful force that casts its spell and grows like a malady, contaminating everything.” Cristina Álvarez López runs through a series of films—from naked kisses to stolen faces, from The Stranger to The Trial—that shut down cinema’s rich tradition of offering second chances, trapping their protagonists in fates by forces external and otherwise.

‘Life Lessons’

“You make art because you have to, because you’ve got no choice. It’s not about talent, it’s about no choice but to do it.” Andrew Lewis Conn offers 44 thoughts (one, he points out, for each minute) on Life Lessons, Scorsese’s installment of New York Stories, which he finds the filmmaker’s most perfectly realized achievement and, in its repeated shots of Nolte mixing and attacking his vibrant, sensuous paints “the purest sex scenes Scorsese’s ever done.” Via Movie City News.

“A moment she has in another number in this movie epitomizes her overall character: after an extremely difficult set of acrobatics, she stands and salutes the camera and then quickly brushes an out-of-place hair behind her ear. Something like that indicates that nothing was going to be allowed to mar the picture she wanted to present, her superhuman image of control.” Dan Callahan argues that very control kept Eleanor Powell’s career from exploding, her screen presence never as welcoming or sexy as the technically inferior dancers who eclipsed her. But it lead to “two minutes and 51 seconds of perfection,” dancing “Begin the Beguine” with Astaire.

As Norman Lloyd approaches 100—his tips: avoid shellfish, eat in moderation, enjoy one whiskey before dinner (“I find it stimulates my appetite”)—Todd McCarthy walks him back over a career that involved working with Welles, Kazan, and Losey before he even got into the movies.

Norman Lloyd

As brazen pre-release hype goes, the “news” that Interstellar’s computer effects led to a breakthrough in scientific understanding of how black holes appear is exactly what you’d expect for a Nolan production: outsized, a bit pompous, but so naïve about the overreach it becomes entertainingly goofy in spite of itself.

Citizen Kane was unveiled at an unboxing ceremony on January 1, 1941, at the Pantages Theatre, 6223 Hollywood Boulevard. Everyone at the unboxing was given a booklet with words and images printed on it explaining what was on the film, although this wasn’t very objective since it described what was in the pictures with loaded phrases like “excitement-packed,” instead of focusing on the unbiased facts.” All those who have taken to their keyboards to rail against critics’ indulgent tendency to entertain subjectivity in their reviews finally get what they asked for, as Matthew Dessem offers a totally objective review of Citizen Kane. Via Matt Singer.

And speaking of Welles: once again news that The Other Side of the Wind will finally get a release raises hosannas from some, but merely eye rolls from those of us who’ve heard this talk before, and know it means nothing without Beatrice Welles signing off. Except this time she has.

“When I first saw the scenes from Pee-Wee, it was Pee-Wee riding his bike in the bike race, and I was like, “This isn’t an American comedy.” I mean it’s set in America, but it’s almost European in a weird way, and I was just drawn to Italy and Nino Rota. So I thought that would be not understood, in terms of where music was in contemporary comedies at that point. And I did expect that when Warner Bros. heard it, they’d toss it and have someone else score it. So it was kind of a surprise that it stayed in the movie.” Danny Elfman goes over some of the highlights of his career, and also Spider-Man 2, in conversation with Sean O’Neal.

Conchata Ferrell

Staying at The A.V. Club, dependably wry character actor Conchata Ferrell’s talk with Will Harris naturally focuses most on her stage and TV work. But her amusing recollections include the definitive Rip Torn quote and a delightful portrait of her favorite actor (“other than Judd Hirsh”) to have ever worked with, Slim Pickens.

“I’ve never met a human being who was so productive, so energetic. He lived off of four hours sleep and a small catnap in the afternoon. I would never not hear his typewriter. So the sound of the typewriter for me is the most comforting thing. He was tireless.” Samantha Fuller talks with Lincoln Flynn about her documentary, A Fuller Life, about father Sam, and suggests an autobiographical take on Shock Corridor I don’t recall coming across before but which makes perfect sense once you’ve heard it.

“Some of the sequences that take place at the house were up for debate. But part of it is, that house serves as such a great iconic image in the middle of this neighborhood and suggested so much more than it actually was. Once you get inside, you realize it’s really a McMansion that’s impersonal and has no character and there’s too much space. It’s a perfect place for them to spiral.” Jeff Cronenweth’s sitdown with fellow d.p. Jamie Stuart gets a little technical in spots, but that helps to give you an excellent sense of the preparation and planning it takes to be David Fincher’s cinematographer. Via Mubi.

If you’re still on the fence about that Tati set, one, we really have nothing in common; and two, you must not have seen David Merveille’s absolutely wonderful illustrations for the packaging, a “match made in heaven” so perfect Adrian Curry’s compelled to display them as his Movie Poster of the Week despite not counting as movie posters at all.

Marcia Strassman


Marcia Strassman had a long career on TV and in the movies. Best known for playing Julie Kotter, the wife of Gabe Kaplan character on Welcome Back, Kotter, for the show’s four seasons, she was also Nurse Cutler in the first season of the TV version of M*A*S*H and had recurring roles on Providence and Third Watch, and co-starred in the Disney movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and its 1992 sequel. More from The Los Angeles Times.

Actress Elizabeth Norment, best known for playing Kevin Spacey’s executive secretary in the Netflix series House of Cards, died earlier this month at the age of 61. She had small roles in the films The Woman in Red (1984), Runaway (1984), and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997) and made guest appearances on numerous TV shows, including L.A. Law and Law & Order. Mike Barnes at The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

The 9th Annual Seattle South Asian Film Festival launches on Friday with an evening of short film, screening at the Renton Pavilion Event Center, and continues through Sunday, November 9 with features, shorts, and events in Bothell and Renton and one screening at SIFF Cinema. Complete schedule here and more information at the SSAFF website.

Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese’s triple-Oscar-winning film editor and collaborator and widow of the late, legendary British director Michael Powell, is returning to Seattle to present Scorsese’s 35mm print of Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcisuss (on Tuesday, November 4) and the Motion Picture Academy 35mm print of Raging Bull (Wednesday, November 5), for which Schoonmaker won her first Oscar. The screenings are at the Seattle Art Museum downtown.

If you can’t get to the screenings but would still like to see Schoonmaker, she will also appear at Scarecrow video on Wednesday, November 5th from 2-3pm, where she will greet fans and answer questions.

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.