“It’s an attitude that hits with the opening notes of David Shire’s score, a rolling atonal jazz-funk cacophany that can legitimately be called brassy because there’s a hell of a lot of brass in it. It’s a warning that this city is an irritable, stressed-out motherfucker, and you better watch yourself. This is a city that enjoys being obnoxious….” Flop House co-host and Daily Show head writer Elliott Kalan scores just the right mix of seen-it-all smartass and third-rail crackle in praising Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three as the quintessential portrait of ‘70s New York. His well-observed criticisms of Scott’s remake are also the only reason to check out The Dissolve’s roundtable on the movie.
Another year, another issue of Movie, the University of Reading’s fine film journal. Two articles on Lubitsch this time out, with Andrew Klevan breaks down the pattern of linked oppositions that make Trouble in Paradise “a model of economy, crisp, cogent, and condensed,” while Josh Cluderay examines the vagaries of adaptation by praising what Lubitsch and Sam Raphaelson added to the László play that inspired The Shop Around the Corner, and how Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich drained so much from the story by leaving crucial elements out of their musical remake In the Good Old Summertime. Elsewhere pieces on two directors that, no matter how great, could hardly be accused of aping the Lubitsch touch: Katerina Virvidaki shows how the voiceover in Malick’s The Thin Red Line has less to do with philosophical argument than ambiguous, allusive dramatic relevance to the characters; and Julian Hanich explores the riches of Roy Andersson’s deep-focus frames. Also a tribute to and some selections from recently deceased Jim Hillier, a contributor to the journal since 1970. (All .pdfs)
“The characters in Hotel du Nord (1938), all residents of the eponymous boarding house, are frustrated dreamers in cramped, confining quarters. But their lives and identities have fluidity and mutability; despite their tendencies toward suicide and romantic passivity, they’re not automatons of fate. Neither are they independent agents or authors of their own lives. They just muddle along.” Hotel du Nord might have “a lighter tone and less fatalistic outlook” than Carné’s more celebrated films, but Imogen Smith finds it one of his great achievements nonetheless.
“Has there ever been a movie more in tune with the world of a girl’s room? King understands that witnessing the heroine’s private rituals is as close as we’ll get to going inside Margie’s mind. The most piercing moment in the film is the silhouette of Crain pacing the floor brokenhearted as she contemplates a lonely prom night.” Farran Smith Nehme has nothing but praise for Henry King’s Margie—which it always has enjoyed from audiences, if not critics. Or even its own studio, based on its current unavailability.
An excerpt from Shawn Levy’s DeNiro: A Life looks back to the time right after Taxi Driver when it looked like the actor could do anything; and then Mike Nichols fired him because he couldn’t do Neil Simon.
Matías Piñeiro conducts an interesting experiment, reconstructing the mood of nine takes of a scene in his The Princess of France from the video footage caught in-story by one of the actors wielding a camera. Via David Hudson.
Lynn Hirschberg profiles Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse productions, whose low-investment high-return horror franchises, including Purge and Paranormal Activity, have now been joined by Whiplash, a savvy move toward respectability coupled with the even savvier decision not to abandon or apologize for the crowd-pleasing money streams. Throw in such inventively frugal quirks as the mobile office he built into a Chevy van (he was wasting a lot of time riding to meetings) and you have to wonder: has an heir finally appeared for Roger Corman’s crown? Via Movie City News.
“No, we are not friends. I don’t take this shit from friends. Only lovers.” Michael Koresky praises Teri Garr’s scene-stealing in Tootsie—whipping in a comic flash between “thrilling vivacity and no-nonsense pathos”—that marks her as “MVP in a supporting cast that’s all potential MVPs.”
Staying at Criterion, Peter Cowie recalls an encounter at the 1992 Edinburgh Film Festival that reminds you Sam Fuller was the kind of guy anyone would want to hang out with—anyone save pompous jerks like Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, that is.
“You know what, I’ve talked to Cody and Daniel, and all we need to play live is a million dollars. Then we’ll be glad to. No, we would have to put together a band to play this stuff live. This is hard. And it’s not cheap. If you’ve got a million dollars, then I’ll play at your party.” John Carpenter talks about scoring movies and the pleasure he took recording his new album with his son and godson (and also, of course, about basketball, but we’re not made privy to that part of the discussion) with Steven Hyden.
“Time is very cruel to cinema, more so than to literature in my opinion. But I’m very happy because time has respected me. Many critics in Spain haven’t but I don’t care about that. I value time more than [I do] the critics.” After fussing a bit over his seat, Pedro Almodóvar shares a tea with Rafael Abraham and discusses musicals (a genre he surprisingly hasn’t explored, even though the talk is prompted by a stage adaptation of Women on the Verge…), Spanish politics, and his repulsion/fascination with dubbing.
“But people are formalists. I don’t know if it’s because they become too educated or too academic, it’s just that they have conservative instinct. They don’t know when to laugh, they don’t understand that laughter can bring you to new levels. They say things like: I want to go to a film to be scared or I only want to laugh. And some of these straight-on comedies are not even funny. When you think about European cinema, like the Czech New Wave or even Italian neorealism, they were all very serious movies but there was always laughter in them. Some people just don’t like to see the two blending together, they want basic things, not variations.” Interviewed by Marta Ba?aga, Philip Kaufman looks back at the challenges he’s been seeking out and embracing—including the blending of comedy and drama—since Fearless Frank. And the challenges such determination ensues, in terms of convincing the money men to sign the checks.
Australian-born actor Rod Taylor came to Hollywood in 1954 and worked his way up the ladder in supporting roles in such films as Giant (1956), Raintree County (1957), and Separate Tables (1958) before he became a star playing H.G. Wells in George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960), which the actor cited as his favorite role. He went on to star in Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), Young Cassidy (1965), and the violent mercenary adventure Dark of the Sun (1968), and co-star in Michelangelo Antonioni’s American debut Zabriskie Point (1970). Though considered a brawny action star, he also played light comedy, such as The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) opposite Doris Day, and voiced the heroic dog Pongo in the animated film 101 Dalmatians (1961). In the 1980s, his appearances were mostly on television and he went into semi-retirement. His final screen appearance was a small role playing Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009). He died on Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of 84. Ronald Bergan at The Guardian.
News came in this week that cinematographer Gerry Fisher passed away on December 2 at the age of 88. He worked his way up as a camera assistant and then a camera operator on over 50 films, including The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Cleopatra (1963), and Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise (1966). The latter film led to his promotion to director of photography on Losey’s Accident (1967), the first of eight collaborations with the director, including The Go-Between (1971), The Romantic English Woman (1975), and Mr. Klein (1978). Also among the 60 films he shot since Accident are Richard Lester’s Juggernaut (1974), Billy Wilder’s Fedora (1978), John Huston’s Wise Blood (1979), and the cult films Malpertuis (1971), The Ninth Configuration (1980), Wolfen (1981), and Highlander (1986). More from The Telegraph.
Polish writer and filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki was most famous for his novels but was a respected screenwriter, scripting Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) for Jerzy Kawalerowicz, and director. His films include The Last Day of Summer (1958), which won the Grand Prix at Venice, Salto (1965) and Valley of the Issa (1982), adapted from Czeslaw Milosz’s Nobel Prize-winning novel. News via David Hudson at Keyframe Daily.
A second screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language at the Cinerama has been added. Only a few seats are left for the Monday screening but as of Friday morning, there are plenty of seats available for the second screening on Tuesday, January 13. And note: it’s reserved seating so don’t wait until the last minute. The good seats may be gone.
The locally-made My Last Year With the Nuns, adapted from Matt Smith’s one man show and directed by Brett Fetzer, who shot the film on location in Capitol Hill, was a favorite at SIFF last year. It opens for a week-long run at Northwest Film Forum.
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.