“The Western is a genre that, more than any other, has been connected to white chauvinism, but it’s also the only genre that, during its heyday, consistently gave the impression of the United States being what it actually was and is—an ethnically diverse polyglot experiment in democracy in which misunderstandings and outrages abounded and violence was frequently the first resort.” Nick Pinkerton runs through a dozen or so examples of Hollywood versions of Apache; nearly every one played by whites and “conciliatory rather than revolutionary,” but variously empathic, pained, and shamefaced for all that.
“Inspired by a childhood trip to a film festival honoring James Dean in the star’s hometown of Fairmount, Indiana, Jones decided Harry Dean was just as worthy. And though Stanton traveled from his adopted home of Los Angeles to Lexington in 2014, he was unable to attend the festivities this year, which seemed strangely fitting. As with most Harry Dean Stanton movies, you’re always waiting for him to appear.” James Hughes travels to Kentucky to visit the 5th Annual Harry Dean Stanton festival, whose attendees come off as charmingly obsessed as any other crew you’d find at a film convention, if considerably more laconic.
“‘Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?’ she asks Ben Lyon in Hell’s Angels, taking joy and pride in the way she makes his temperature rise. The distinctive thing about Harlow is her total lack of shame about sex on screen, her sheer anticipatory enjoyment of it as an idea, and an ideal of pleasure, a force that totally loosens her up. Harlow’s relation to sex in her movies makes Bow seem slightly jittery and insecure about it in comparison, and makes Monroe look like a sexual basket case.” Dan Callahan’s superb series of actor appreciations continues with a salute to Jean Harlow’s tragically brief but so very, very bright incandescence.
At Criterion, a pair of articles that serve double-duty as photo galleries. Peter Cowie appraises the different but equally invaluable genius that Gunnar Fischer and Sven Nykvist brought to the films of Ingmar Bergman, with a selection of striking frames from both masters of light. While Chuck Stephens runs down the cast of Merchant of Four Seasons, with just enough behind-the-scenes anecdotes to remind you that not the least remarkable aspect of Fassbinder’s great acting troupe was that so many agreed to work with him more than once.
An excerpt from Jeff Lipsky’s forthcoming memoir chronicles his rise from film fanatic teen to excited Cassavetes acolyte to film distributor to director with a refreshing gentleness and relative lack of ego—mark this as the only filmmaker autobiography where the writer confesses to losing his virginity on the cusp of 30.
There’s ephemera and then there’s ephemera. Elon Green digs up the lesbian shower scene from ‘70s porno 3 A.M. that Orson Welles, frustrated by Gary Graver’s attention being derailed by this strictly-for-the-money gig, edited so the pair could get on with not finishing The Other Side of the Wind. Whether you agree with Bilge Ebiri’s admiring appraisal or find this a waste of everyone’s time, this is as NSFW a link as they come. Via David Hudson.
Where some critics have found fault with Noah Baumbach’s portrayal of women—all those domestic-minded providers with little ambition or passion—Arielle Bernstein praises his admiration for their strengths, and his sharp portrayal of how men are blinded to their mates’ contributions by their own misogyny.
The above via Matt Fagerholm, who also spots Michael A. Gonzalez’s fine appreciation of Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack for Claudine, an evocative portrayal of ‘70s urban experience that may not reach the heights of Superfly, but then what does?
“Occasionally somebody will come up and say: ‘Oh, I love Point Blank.’ And I want to say: ‘It was made by somebody with my name but quite different from me.’ I made those early films out of fear and daring. Once you get to the point where you understand the process, you can never work in that state of innocence again.” John Boorman’s valedictory series of interviews for Queen and Country, his proclaimed final film, continues with a talk with Xan Brooks.
Amir Ganjavie returns from Cannes with a pair of interviews for the new Offscreen. Miguel Gomes discusses Arabian Nights, including the po-faced assertion that there’s around 15 minutes of credits so, you know, six hours isn’t really all that long. (“I think there is a cliché and a very dangerous idea nowadays which is that when you are dealing with tougher realities you have to be serious, and being serious means putting out fiction. I think that bad fiction is fiction that pretends to be reality. This is a lie and so what I try to do is to show these fictional qualities in my films, to really make it look like fiction.”) While Yared Zaleke, whose Lamb was the first Ethiopian film to screen at the festival, might be too eager to please to come off as truly informative, but you do get a sense of what it’s like to make a movie in a country with no infrastructure for such an undertaking. (“It was very hard since it was rural Ethiopia and there is no electricity for the most part so we had to have trucks with generators. We were also shooting at an elevation between 2,500 to 3,000 feet and at one point we shot in the lowlands so the environment lacked modern facilities. At the same time, this provides some benefits. For example, I used the local villagers and some of them did not know what we were doing so I had to say to them, ‘you know today is the day before the feast of the Holy Cross, so let’s talk about that.’”)
“Films are typically funded by very few people, and very few companies. Films unfortunately need a pretty big investment, even small ones. It’s a group endeavor—I mean, I’m sure there are some people, what Gibson called ‘Garage Kubricks,’ geniuses who can do everything with themselves and a mirror, and can build everything or whatever, but I’m not one of them. [Laughs]. I need the actor, the writer, the DoP; we conceive these things in real time together.” Trust Abel Ferrara to make even talking about Kickstarter fundraising, as he does with Adam Cook, idiosyncratic.
Richard Brody explains how Raymond Cauchetier’s set photography—an exhibit of which is on display at James Hyman Gallery—was as groundbreaking and artistic as the New Wave films whose making he chronicled.
Guy Maddin and poet John Ashbery have already collaborated on a recreation of a lost Dwain Esper film; now they’re sharing an exhibition of the work each has done in collage. Both create some terrific images; Maddin’s, no surprise, having the rougher edges, the more frenzied eroticism, and the thicker patina and greater wear of time. Via Mubi.
Christopher Lee played Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein’s monster, Saroman, Rochefort, Fu Manchu, and Rasputin. He’s been a Bond villain and a Jedi master, helped build the house of Hammer, was a darkly dashing hero in The Devil Rides Out (1968) and a mysterious laird in The Wicker Man (1973), worked with Orson Welles, Michael Powell, and Nicholas Ray before he became a horror icon, and became a favorite of Peter Jackson and Tim Burton when he was well into his seventies. He never stopped working and brought class and dignity to everything he did, whether it was British TV, a low-budget horror film, or a Star Wars prequel. He was a gentleman and a professional. He passed away at the age of 93. Peter Bradshaw revisits his life and career for The Guardian. David Hudson collects more remembrances at Keyframe Daily.
Producer Robert Chartoff partnered with Irwin Winkler for a series of interesting, adult, and generally successful films, from Point Blank (1967) and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1967) through Raging Bull (1980) and The Right Stuff (1983). In between, he won an Oscar for producing Rocky (1976). They dissolved their partnership in 1985. More recently, Chartoff produced Julie Taymor’s The Tempest (2010) and Ender’s Game (2013), his attempt to launch a young adult franchise. He died this week at 81. Mike Barnes at The Hollywood Reporter.
Richard Johnson, a handsome leading man with a long and storied stage career (he was involved in the creation of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre), made his film debut in the 1959 film Never So Few and starred in Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963), The Pumpkin Eater (1964), and Khartoum (1966). He was rumored to have turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No (1962), and a few years later he spoofed the spy genre in the films Deadlier Than the Male (1967) and Some Girls Do (1969). On the cult movies side, he appeared in Italian horrors Island of the Fisherman (1979) and Lucio Fulci’s notorious Zombie (1979) and in the British anthology film The Monster Club (1981), and he produced and co-starred in the tender drama Turtle Diary (1985) with Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley. He continued acting on stage, on British television, on the radio, and in films through 2014. He passed away at age 87. Michael Coveney at The Guardian.
British character actor Ron Moody is most famous to American audiences for reprising his stage performance as Fagin in the 1968 screen version of the musical Oliver!, for which he earned an Oscar nomination. He starred in Mel Brooks’ The Twelve Chairs (1970), sang and danced in Dogpound Shuffle (1975), played Merlin in the Disney comedy Unidentified Flying Oddball (1979), and guest-starred in dozens of TV shows in the US and Britain. He died this week at the age of 91. Bruce Weber at The New York Times.
French screenwriter Jean Gruault collaborated with some of the greatest French filmmakers during his 35-year career, beginning with Jacques Rivette’s feature debut Paris Belongs to Us (1961). His worked with François Truffaut on Jules and Jim (1962), The Wild Child (1970), Two English Girls (1971), The Story of Adele H. (1975), and The Green Room (1978), Jean-Luc Godard on Les Carabiniers (1963), Rivette again on The Nun (1966), Alain Resnais on Mon oncle d’Amerique (1980), Life is a Bed of Roses (1983), and Love Unto Death (1984), and Chantal Akerman on The Eighties (1983) and The Golden Eighties (1986), as well as Italian director Roberto Rossellini on Vanina Vanina (1961), The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) and The Messiah (1975). He won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for The Story of Adele H. and earned Oscar and Cesar nominations for Mon oncle d’Amerique. He was 91 years old when he passed this week, two decades after he retired from screenwriting. Most of the obituaries have been from the French press, so here’s the note for Keyframe Daily.
SIFF is officially over but there’s always a victory lap to run and this weekend at the Uptown is Best of SIFF 2015: 12 features, a collection of shorts, and an archival presentation. It’s a collection award winners and audience favorites, plus two screenings of The Red Shoes (1948), the Powell and Pressburger classic restored by The Film Foundation. The festival screening was cancelled due to projection issues. Second (and third) time should be the charm. Complete schedule and ticket information 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.