“What a fitting end to your life’s pursuits.” One of the most charming details of Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb’s Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation—I mean, aside from the terrier standing in for the monkey pulling off the Nazi salute—is how the filmmakers just skipped right over the fight at the airfield, even these reckless teens realizing dodging the menacing wings and propellers of a spinning plane as something best left to professionals. Now, three decades later and desperate to prove themselves precisely that, they’ve finally shot the sequence, though not without some hitches, as Amy Nicholson reports; along with some interesting thoughts on what damage home video culture has done to the love and business of movies. Via David Hudson.
If you’re not in the mood right now to hear any praise for Bill Cosby’s acting talent, I certainly can’t blame you. But Charles Taylor’s quite fine on the intimate, musical rhythms he and Robert Culp shared almost telepathically, playfully jazzy in I Spy, ragged and almost punishing (but always marked by mutual respect) in Culp’s only feature film as director, the intriguing, defeated Hickey & Boggs.
“This must be serious. Where’d you meet him?” “On the road.” “Now, don’t tell me you’ve fallen in love with a bus driver.” Farran Smith Nehme revels in the inclusive depression-era fantasy—“both escapist and egalitarian”—of It Happened One Night, and reminds us how practically no one involved thought they had anything special on their hands till about halfway through. (Or, in Colbert’s case, when her maid delighted in the sing-along.) Also at Criterion, Smith Nehme is interviewed by Molly Haskell about the influences behind her debut novel “Missing Reels.” (“But when I went to [the Laurel and Hardy fanclub’s] website, I did notice that, rather delightfully in an age when every day is casual Friday, they still have a dress code. So I used that, too. Now that the novel is finished, I really want to go to one of their meetings. Properly attired, of course.”)
“Though the studio and screenwriters are still a little too wary of having a truly independent woman who can sleep with whom she wants, one look at Colleen Moore’s Charleston tells a completely different story.” A trio of recently restored silents has R. Emmet Sweeney praising not only Moore but William A. Seiter, whose directorial fluency was adaptable enough to service stars as diverse as the quintessential comedic flapper and child star Baby Peggy.
“In a city where privilege and poverty live side-by-side, the writing on the wall reveals a people in uneasy conversation with each other.” Mallory Andrews revisits Mur Murs, Varda’s documentary on Los Angeles murals, and finds a “a worthy precursor to her later autobiographical ethnography projects…similarly using a bricolage essay structure examining the cast-offs of society.”
At Filmmaker Magazine, a pair of items gives a sense of what it was like to act for Stanley Kubrick. Jim Hemphill finds that even on the Barry Lyndon set Kubrick was far warmer and more encouraging than his reputation suggests, as Ryan O’Neal, Dominic Savage, and Leon Vitali (the latter two young Lord Bullingdon and his adult incarnation, respectively) attest. (Credit where credit’s due: the sole commenter below the article is spot on that O’Neal’s pithy summation of what makes a good director—“ And if they don’t fall for the blonde on the picture they probably go on to have pretty good careers”—in fact spectacularly fails in Kubrick’s case.) While Vadim Rizov posts a video from a recent Toronto screening of 2001, in which Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood discuss the film and offer their own interpretations of the ending.
“Hope and Nixon had that kind of symmetry: the ski-jump nose; the hooded, darting, watchful eyes; the five-o’clock castaway shadow (in the thirties, Hope did razor-blade ads because of it); the flat, nowheresville American accent; above all, the constant show of regular-guy companionability, unable to disguise for long the coldness and isolation at its core.” Reviewing Richard Zoglin’s life of the actor, Adam Gopnik pretty brilliantly sums up all the qualities that makes Bob Hope unpalatable, then finds more than a sliver of respect for the time (early ‘40s) and place (by Crosby’s side, mostly) where his old-time shtick really did come off as something new.
Brad Stevens shows that respect for Jerry Lewis can be found almost everywhere—in the films of directors clearly influenced by him; in the writings of attentive critics—except for in the mainstream American audience.
“We were born in the first century in history which has invented new forms of writing. In the 19th century, we could talk, you and me, only about theater and literature. So think about the cinema, the radio, the recording of voice and sound, the television and all of the new techniques. All of these new techniques that the century has invented, every time, they need a new language. If you want to be a screenwriter you have to know the language of the film.” Honorary Oscar recipient Jean-Claude Carriere talks with Kevin Noonan about Buñuel, Brook, and the first time he won an Academy Award and had to be told what that was; via Criterion. Also at Variety, Manouel de Oliveira consents to answer six questions from Martin Dale, in responses so terse (if anyone’s excused for not wanting to waste time, it’s de Oliveira) they’re pretty much impossible to excerpt.
“We didn’t ever expect that we’d be walking out for good. Within three hours of walking out, they had changed the locks on the doors, and we never went back in there. They decided they were going to replace us with somebody else who could get the job done. In every meeting, I was just incredulous and what they saw as probably unhelpful, and they probably just said, “Let’s get rid of this guy.” I’d like to point out it took them another year and half, and at least as much money as we asked for [to finish the movie].” Animator Bob Sabiston had such a pleasant experience working with Richard Linklater on Waking Life, the prospect of teaming up again on A Scanner Darkly seemed a natural fit. It wasn’t, for a host of reasons that he explains to Scott Tobias.
Inspired by but also pushing back against an upcoming gallery exhibit exploring “how in the Lynchian universe the use of words, sentence fragments and the act of naming something is never a simple gesture,” Emily Gosling offers a selection of David Lynch’s sketches and paintings that rather nakedly depict the objects—Factory Building, Telephone—in their titles.
Adrian Curry presents a gallery fully displaying the “lovely dark whimsy” of the late French poster artist Jean-Michel Folon.
Stage and screen director Mike Nichols, who first found fame as one half of the influential comedy duo with Elaine May (they won a Grammy for a recording of their Broadway show), passed away this week at the age of 83. He first made his name as a director on Broadway, earned an Academy Award nomination for his screen directorial debut Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), his first of five nominations, and won for The Graduate (1967), and earned nine Tony Awards for his much busier career as a director and producer for the stage. Later he won Emmy Awards for producing and directing Wit (2001) and Angels in America (2004) for HBO, making him a rare EGOT recipient (winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony). The span of his long and rich career is explored by Bruce Weber at The New York Times.
Japanese actor Ken Takakura is best known to American audiences for his appearances in Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza (1974) and Ridley Scott’s Black Rain (1989), but in Japan he was a huge action star in a series of yakuza movies in the 1960s and 1970s and then graduated to a more diverse array of characters in crime movies, action films, and dramas, He played the villain to Sonny Chiba’s hero in The Bullet Train (1975), which inspired the American hit Speed, and was the lead in Koreyoshi Kurahara’s Antarctica (1983), which was the top box-office champion in Japan until Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (1997) surpassed it. More recently he starred in Zhang Yimou’s Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005). He passed away at the age of 83. Mark Schilling for Variety.
Charles Champlin, longtime arts editor and film critic for the Los Angeles Times, passed away this week at the age of 88. In addition to serving at the head film critic for the paper from 1967 through 1980 (he was succeeded by Sheila Benson, whom he had mentored at the Times), Champlin hosted PBS foreign cinema showcase Film Odyssey that influenced a generation of young film fans and penned a number of books. Dennis McLellan at The Los Angeles Times.
Actress turned screenwriter Leigh Chapman followed a busy career doing guest spots on sixties TV shows with writing scripts, first for TV (including episodes of My Favorite Martian, Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, and The Mod Squad) and then for features, where she became the rare female writer of action pictures, notably the cult crime chase thriller Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) and the Chuck Norris action picture The Octagon (1980). She passed away at the age of 75 after a long battle with cancer. Mike Barnes for The Hollywood Reporter.
Prolific TV producer Glen A. Larson, creator of such shows as Quincy M.E., Magnum P.I., The Fall Guy, The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries, and the original Battlestar Galactica, passed away this week at the age of 77. Henry Hanks for CNN.
The third Seattle Turkish Film Festival runs this weekend at SIFF Film Center and SIFF Cinema Uptown. Program here.
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.