Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links, Obituary / Remembrance

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of September 25

‘Portrait of Jennie’ and ‘Black Narcissus’

“Complicated and busy scenes still look ravishing though, and for this I am glad because I wanted everything this movie of excess could give. I wanted all the lions, all the jewels, all the scheming, and all the toasts to the woman that was destroying him that George Sanders could muster.” Having thought on her experience since attending the Nitrate Film Festival this last May, Gina Telaroli offers her reflections on how those movies were changed by the format—and how all art is, not necessarily lessened, but transformed, for later audiences who experience it in an unintended format. Marvelously illustrated by (non-nitrate, alas) screen grabs as only Telaroli can do.

“Moore is fond of quoting Flaubert’s dictum ‘Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.’ And she insists on that regularity. ‘I’m incredibly bourgeois,’ she said. ‘And I don’t care. I’m not wild. There’s nothing outrageous about me. I’m really a pretty nice person. I am not erratic in my behavior. You know the kind of people who are really irregular—they keep people off balance that way. I’m not that kind of person.’” Fittingly there are no surprising revelations in John Lahr’s profile of Julianne Moore—even the news she’s a clean freak seems to fit her air of maternal ordinariness—just a portrait of one of our finest actors, and the resilient intelligence that makes her so.

“Yes, it was over the top. And that was on purpose. The environments were very flashy. There were too many lights, too many idiotic things, and too much Vegas—not only in the surroundings, but “Vegas” in the way the people behaved, in the dialogue, in the acting. As for the finished product: I thought it was perfect.” You’ll never guess who’s defending one of his most derided—hmm? Yes, you’re right, that is Paul Verhoeven talking (to Jennifer Wood) about Showgirls. Via Joe Blevins.

David Bowie, Patsy Kensit and Eddie O’Connell in ‘Absolute Beginners’

“I couldn’t get work and had to exile myself to America. I missed the second half of Thatcher, but I got Ronald Reagan. I guess there’s plus points to being an enfant terrible, even if you can’t pay the fucking rent. If it had been a huge success, I’d have ended up floating face-down in a Hollywood Jacuzzi a long time ago.” More fond looks back at films that didn’t get their due, as Julien Temple and Patsy Kensit (separately) recall for Ben Beaumont-Thomas the making of Absolute Beginners, and how devoted its fans were from the beginning.

“Grounded in topical realities (where Kieslowski’s later work tends to float free from them), Blind Chance asks to be read for both its political and its philosophical implications. Finally condemning the domesticated Witek to an early death, Kieslowski appears to propose that even in the divisive, paranoid atmosphere of late Communist Poland, a retreat from politics is not the answer. The echo chamber of unhappy endings amounts to a howl of no-win pessimism. But Kie?lowski was a pessimistic humanist; his despair over humanity coexisted with a stubborn faith in it.” Denis Lim finds Blind Chance, with its on-the-street realism already fractured by dazzling experiments in narrative and form, the “Rosetta stone” of Kieslowski’s cinema.

“You can’t hide behind her forever.” “I don’t need forever.” 25 years on Ty Landis finds it “jarring to still see how dangerous” it feels. Via David Hudson.

‘The Poseidon Adventure’

“Both the conservative and radical strands of 70s cinema can thus be seen to derive from Romero, and it is hardly surprising that the disaster cycle so frequently overlaps with the reactionary wing of the horror genre during this period.” For Brad Stevens the dependable pleasures and workmanlike anonymity of disaster films comprised an explicit rejoinder to that other ’70s cinema movement that had everybody talking. (With Lester’s Juggernaut a rare, “oppositional” exception.)

At The Chiseler, a pair of tributes to actresses too little, or too narrowly, remembered. Rafaela Ottiano may go down in history for a string of roles as a maid, but for Dan Callahan it’s her creepy villain in The Devil-Doll that colors her whole career. (“Ottiano is clearly taking this whole thing seriously, which is the crucial difference between “camp” and “campy.””) While Jim Knipfel recalls the “meteoric and brutal” rise and fall of Marceline Day. (Who of course has a Browning connection of her own, having starred in London After Midnight.)

Guy Maddin writes up six of the most important books in his life. Bruno Schulz, definitely, and Cheever makes sense if you think about it (and squint), but baseball stats? Via Movie City News.

“I found out [Breaker Morant] was shown on the plane between New York and Los Angeles, as an in-flight movie. So a lot of the executives were basically forced to see it! When I started to get all these calls, I asked, “Where on Earth did you see this film?” They’d seen it on the flight.” Bilge Ebiri talks with Bruce Beresford about some highs and lows from a remarkably underrated career. Beresford reveals at the end he’s one of the directors for the update of Roots; so, you know, start preparing yourself for those thinkpieces now.

“Sometimes I miss some fantastic scenes, which is a pity. I have to be more careful in the future. The other day, I don’t know if it was in Stockholm or London. Pouring rain. I saw a little girl, about seven years old, holding an umbrella. I couldn’t see her face. The umbrella was colorful and had little ears, maybe cat ears. Her father, a tall man, was bent low, tying her shoes, getting wetter and wetter as she stood there. That’s enough of a scene to be in a movie.” Roy Andersson talks with Megan Ratner about his methodical process, and the working-class hang-ups that almost prevented him from arriving at his modern style.

‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’

“In Italy, for this movie Fatal Frames, I almost got hypothermia really bad because I had this machete sticking out of my shoulder and it was really cold there and we were in this castle in the cellar. It was cement, and I was laying there in fake blood and the coldness on my back for a long time…. So they took me to this place and said, “Oh, we’ll find you a shower.” It was the worst place. The shower was in a bathroom that didn’t have a curtain, it just opened out into everything, and the water wouldn’t stay warm, it kept turning cold, and oh, it was horrible. I was frozen…. Whereas Return of the Living Dead, they got the mud off me with a fire hose. There was nowhere to clean up. They just put the fire hose on me. The glamorous life I lead!” Linnea Quigley didn’t come by her immortality, such as it is, the easy way, and her good-humor way with an anecdote when interviewed by Alex McCown doesn’t hide the fact.

The Hong Kong Free Press tours the messy, dilapidated ruins of Shaw Studios’ Movietown. Yes the gloomy, dust rimed screening rooms and stacks of cracked film canisters have that beautiful decay beloved of urban spelunkers; but it’s the video where they tour the streets of some of the most famous sets in movie history that carries the loveliest thrill. Via Mubi.

Beginning with the startling confession—hey, he’s the movie poster guy—that he’d forgotten the key role Rita Hayworth plays in Bicycle Thieves, Adrian Curry offers a brief look at the posters hung in the film before one of his expectedly fine galleries surveying posters throughout De Sica’s career.

Marcin Wrona


Rising Polish filmmaker Marcin Wrona, whose latest film Demon was well received at its world premiere screening at TIFF earlier this month, was found dead in a hotel room in Poland. He was 42 at the time of his unexpected death. More from Maane Khatchatourian at Variety.

Italian filmmaker Mario Caiano directed Italian horror, spaghetti westerns, peplum, and other exploitation genres in a career that spanned 40 years. Among his accomplishments is Il segno del coyote (1963), cited by many as the first Italian western, and the gothic horror Nightmare Castle (1965) with Barbara Steele (he was billed Allen Grünewald on American prints). He passed away this week at the age of 82. Reported by Republicca (in Italian).

Seattle Screens

The 18th Local Sighting Film Festival continues through the week at NWFF. Among the highlights is a screening of a new 35mm print of Lynn Shelton’s feature debut We Go Way Back with Shelton and Jonathan Marlow (Chief of Content for Fandor) in attendance (Saturday, September 26). Complete schedule here.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

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.