“Where do you go from here? Obviously no place but down. Ekberg has been taking rent-paying jobs ever since Boccaccio ’70, but Tashlin in a sense used her up and Fellini brought her to unimagined heights, on a billboard on Mount Olympus from which there was no turning back. Or coming down, although she literally does step down from her billboard pedestal. Tashlin created a “star,” Fellini a myth.” Mark Rappaport, in an essay written to expand on his latest short film, tracks the rise and apotheosis of a sex goddess as Anita Ekberg becomes a comically exaggerated joke on celebrity under Tashlin and an erotically exaggerated icon for Fellini.
“This was the hidden fault line in all classic slapstick. Get a great comedian working at the height of his powers and relatively unfettered creative freedom and you could get a masterpiece. But the added value of great collaborators was always going to be limited. There was a wellspring of talent in Hollywood—they were pouring into the city by the bus load, and some of them were geniuses. The working method and style of the great slapstick auteurs had little use for these talents, whose skills were being wasted. Or, put another way, Slapstick 2.0 didn’t have much room for women.” David Kalat traces the cracks that would end slapstick and lead to screwball—and in his telling it’s not about sound—focusing on a scene in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp that required nothing more from Joan Crawford than the back of her head.
“This was the America in which Welles was functioning. If we interpret his life strictly in terms of his frustrated relations with the film industry, we lose touch with what he actually cared about, and what he meant to his contemporaries.” An excerpt from F. X. Feeney’s Orson Welles biography examines the political activism that had more to do with his ostracism and self-imposed exile than any wastrel behavior with studio funds, placing particular emphasis on the appalling case of Isaac Woodward, Jr.
“I do not like to be interrupted in the middle of an insult.” Glenn Kenny and the Self-Styled Siren have a fun, four-part exchange where they take up the defense of The Paradine Case from its detractors—including, of course, Alfred Hitchcock. The Siren tends to focus on the actors and the production values—can’t beat that million-dollar set—while Kenny digs more into Hitchcock’s visuals. Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 . Via Mubi.
“This isn’t a bible, this is a dictionary!” Film Studies for Free rounds up an excellent series of links to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alphaville.
“The doctor says she expects that Danny’s present problems are connected with these family difficulties, and agrees with Wendy that a peaceful and relaxed winter at the Overlook will probably be good for them all.” Cinephelia & Beyond makes available Stanley Kubrick’s original treatment for The Shining, which has more superficial similarities to King’s novel but makes clear Kubrick’s conception of Jack Torrance as an irredeemable bastard was locked in from the get-go. (Click through for .pdf.) Via Matt Fagerholm.
The new Film Comment takes a look at South Korea’s cinema, with Jean Noh offering well-observed CVs for a dozen of the country’s stars, and Tony Rayns giving brief but enthusiastic endorsement of yet another subject for future research in his salute of writer/director Jang Jin (“probably you’d call him a modern Joseph L. Mankiewicz: hooked on theater, but in love with what cinema brings to the party”).
“I do not expect $100 million movies to constantly, deliberately, and explicitly speak to the real world; at the same time, I do not want $100 million movies that constantly, deliberately, and explicitly decide to have nothing to do with the real world whatsoever.” James Rocchi’s exhaustion with superhero movies has less to do with the artistic worth of what’s onscreen than their status as marketing/merchandising/synergizing juggernauts that make each installment something endlessly talked about without typically having much to say themselves.
“There has been a wholesale shift towards ahistoricism that really started with [Ronald] Reagan and [Margaret] Thatcher. Where we stopped looking at political problems as ‘political’ and we start seeing them as ‘moral.’ The consequences of that is a complete blindness to how the world really works and, therefore, a devastating folly in which we are riding our imaginary white horse with our imaginary white hat shooting at phantom enemies right towards the edge of the cliff.” Interviewed by Jonathan Marlow, Joshua Oppenheimer goes on at great length answering most (though not all) of the criticisms that met The Act of Killing, debating his moral responsibility as a filmmaker, and explaining why he considers it a “badge of honor” that Kazuo Hara called him an idiot. Spoilers for Act of Killing’s companion piece The Look of Silence.
“I have to thank the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] on this, because someone there had the films brought to the U.S. 20 years ago, after the fire happened. Someone knew about the fire but still asked for everything to be sent over rather than having it be thrown out. Even though there wasn’t a way to restore it at the time, someone was smart enough to say, “don’t throw it out, keep it.” That saved the movies.” Criterion technical director Lee Kline, who recently shepherded their restoration of The Apu Trilogy, gives an in-depth look at the process in an interview with Ryan Vlastelica.
“I don’t know if I’d do another light comedy like that. I’m not a comedy person, for some reason. I tend to go deeper. I’m a darker person, but it was fun while I did it and it had a weird, jazzy, almost cartoony feel to it, as it should do, actually, for the story… Whatever happened to Rick Moranis?” James Horner talks to Sophie Monks Kaufman about one example each of five distinct genres he’s worked in: Sci-fi, historical drama, family adventure-comedy, children’s animation, and Terrence Malick film. Via Movie City News.
Ozu’s rhythms seem natural as breathing, but it required split-second timing to pull off the effect. Here’s the stopwatch to prove it, which he had specially designed to measure the film stock he was using. Via Criterion.
Another director, another paradox. Hitchcock may have consistently claimed to prefer the control available in the studio, but there’s few shots of him on set looking more congenial and relaxed than Life’s photo shoot from the Shadow of a Doubt location.
British actor Nigel Terry made his film debut playing Prince John opposite Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) and starred as King Arthur in John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) and Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio (1986), the first of four films he made for the director. He was a frequent actor on British TV, both as guest star in long-running shows and in telefilms and mini-series, but was busiest on the London stage. He passed away last week at the age of 69. More from Michael Coveney at The Guardian.
Norman Thaddeus Vane wrote and directed the eighties horror film Frightmare (1983) with Ferdy Mayne and Midnight (1989) with Lynn Redgrave and Tony Curtis, and the screenplays for the Herman’s Hermits vehicle Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter (1968) and Richard Donner’s Lola (1970) with Charles Bronson and Susan George. He died at the age of 86. The Hollywood Reporter.
Patachou, the famed Parisian cabaret chanteuse born Henriette Eugénie Jeanne Ragon, is better known as a singer than an actress but she had small roles in Jean Renoir’s French Can-Can (1954) and Sacha Guitry’s Napoleon (1955) and then returned to the screen after a 30-year absence in numerous TV show and film appearances, including Pola X (1999), The Adventures of Felix (2000), and the big-budget Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre (2001). She passed away at the age of 96 this week in her home outside of Paris. Margalit Fox at The New York Times.
The Seattle International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, May 14, with the opening night gala presentation of Spy, a comedy with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, and Rose Byrne. Director Paul Feig will be in attendance. On Friday, May 15, the festival proper begins with a full day of screenings in multiple venues across Seattle and Bellevue. Paper guides are also now available at SIFF Uptown and Egyptian and other locations. The full schedule is here and you can purchase advance tickets online 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.