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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of November 28

Nastassja Kinski

While the recent career of Nastassja Kinski has taken some odd, intriguing turns worthy of attention, the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s retrospective of her early work has writers remembering that decade or so when she was the most consistently surprising of It Girls, walking through her movies with an erotic air so languorous you barely noticed how deftly she kept stealing them. Melissa Anderson has a brief overview of the films that best used her qualities of “deep wells of serenity and stillness behind a feral sexuality.” Peter Sobczynski goes in at greater length (appropriate considering she’s his “all-time favorite actress”) and gets some thoughts from Kinski herself on a few notable efforts. (“My love for animals, and that animal side inside of us. When or how would I ever be able to be that close to panthers, those big cats that belong to the wild, yet are only for us to see in zoos, sadly? How would it be to interact with them, and touch them and be so close to them? That to me was beautiful, like a dream.”) Via David Hudson.

The new issue of LOLA has begun rolling out its contents. Joe McElhaney surveys the work of German and Eastern European émigrés in Hollywood, finding everyone from Lubitsch to Dieterle to Sirk looking in two directions at once, “one eye focused on America, the other looking back at their cultural origins.” Dorian Stuber and Marianne Tettlebaum consider how To Be or Not to Be makes its great unspoken detail—Greenberg’s Jewishness—the one you can’t help noticing. (“Whereas his fellow actors are conscious that they must play roles other than themselves in order to survive, Greenberg realises that he must play a role simply in order to be himself.”) And Lesley Stern offers an academic tour of movies about performance—The Band Wagon, The King of Comedy, Bamboozled, among others—to trace the self-conscious acting style she terms “the diva gesture.” Via Mubi.

‘Dangerous Game’

“This is a story of what really happened….. and what might have happened.” Revisiting one of his old passions, David Bordwell uses his recent discovery of the 1934 film adaptation of Priestley’s Dangerous Corner to lay out the methods of the “what-if” or “forking-paths” movie.

The recent video release of The Shooting has led to much worthy praise of Monte Hellman and Warren Oates, but Nick Pinkerton salutes the woman who was there when the pages were as blank and foreboding as the movie’s landscapes: Carole Eastman, whose scant but compelling screenwriting career has been too long undervalued.

Staying at Film Comment, Genevieve Yue takes a look at the current state of experimental film and the university programs that teach it; a perhaps unavoidably symbiotic relationship, as the academies not only teach avant-garde filmmaking but provide one of the few viable platforms for its dissemination, but one Yue thinks has avoided most (not all) of the problems that come with such insularity.

“We were pioneering in that kind of insertion of actors into historical events. For example, we combined footage of the real Alan Shepard being loaded into the capsule with Scott Glenn doing it on the stage. We had Scott Glenn shaking hands with Kennedy; they did the same thing in Forrest Gump and made a big thing out of spending a million dollars to do it. We did that in one afternoon.” Alex French and Howie Kahn compile an oral history on the making of The Right Stuff, chronicling the unique mix of old-school and cutting edge that marked every aspect of the production, from the 1800 storyboards spread out over conference tables during the studio pitch to the hand-tooled special effects in which Philip Kaufman (quoted above) takes such pride.

‘The Right Stuff’

Antonio Monda wonders why Italian cinema has lost its favor with American audiences. Some good points are raised, but points docked for limiting the discussion to art-house cinema, excluding entirely giallo, zombies, and the dire consequences of inadvertently reading forbidden grimoires. Via Movie City News.

“And today a new man is being born, fraught with all the fears and terrors and stammerings that are associated with a period of gestation. And what is even more serious, this new man immediately finds himself burdened with a heavy baggage of emotional traits that cannot exactly be called old and outmoded but rather unsuited and inadequate.” Speaking of when Italian cinema could be a cultural touchstone, Criterion reposts Antonioni’s famous comments following the Cannes premiere of L’avventura. Call them prescient or pretentious, but the words remain one of the director’s most important statements of purpose.

“A lot of artists say anger or even the experience of fear or these things feeds the work, and so the suffering artist is a romantic concept. But if you think about it, it’s romantic for everybody except the artist. If the artist is really suffering, then the ideas don’t flow so good, and if [he is] really suffering, he can’t even work. I say that negativity is the enemy to creativity.” Ariston Anderson posts some of David Lynch’s comments at the recent Lucca Film Festival, ranging from the familiar (transcendental meditation, good; overthinking bad) to the surprising (he’s gotten over his dogmatic preference of digital to film).

“Now, Lee always said that America was founded on violence, like the destruction of the Indians. So he could only express himself through the violence in the cinema. I think you can take that position. There’s something cathartic about destruction. Though it’s always very easy to blow something up in the end. [Laughs.] But that’s much more basic: It’s really based on the Hindu notion of birth coming from destruction. That’s always my guiding principle.” John Boorman—so that’s Lee Marvin referenced above, natch—discusses movie violence, Marcello Mastroianni, and The Lord of the Rings with Simon Abrams.

Jim Jarmusch plays with Sqürl at the ATP festival in Iceland

“I love making films. I love collaborating with people. I love editing, where you shape it. I love the whole process. But it is a million questions that have to be answered constantly… Music is very different. To me it’s just a release. It’s communicating with just a few other people, not with words and just seeing where it goes.” Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan talk with Melissa Locker about their band Sqürl (though not where the name comes from).

Paul Schrader’s latest endeavor, besides the web series and going around proclaiming the end of cinema as we know it, is the curation of a gallery exhibit entitled Absent Friends. He explains how it came about, and offers some more of his uplifting thoughts, interviewed by Courtney Duckworth. (“We didn’t have movies 100 years ago, and we did quite fine without them, and now they’re going to become something else again.”) The sample of the exhibit itself shows Schrader’s still brazen mix of high and low; and do note for all the director’s insistence he’s fine with leaving 35mm film, public exhibition, and all that “revanchist claptrap” behind, pride of place goes to one of Sugimoto’s ghostly, vacant movie theaters.

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.