“He’s a conservative whose gravitas and charm can sway even the archest of liberals, a man who disliked horses but, more than any other figure, came to represent the entirety of Western ideals. Who avoided military service during World War II but became a hawkish supporter of Vietnam, and whose code of integrity was shadowed with racism, sexism, and thinly veiled bigotry, publicly stating his belief “in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to the point of responsibility” and calling the Native Americans “selfish” for refusing to hand their land over to white settlers. And yet: He’s so difficult to resist.” Anne Helen Petersen, nonpareil at how public fantasies feed into the creation of stars’ images, tackles that great example of Hollywood myth-making, when the third time proved the charm and John Wayne became America’s actor. Via Matt Fagerholm.
“From the seven hundred hours of footage shot in Kharkiv, she said, the editors in London are fashioning a dozen or more movies, a TV series, and a user-directed internet narrative system. I asked her for an example of the kind of scene they had in the can. ‘A man telling his wife how he cheated on her,’ she said. ‘It lasts for five hours.’ It was, she emphasised, the genuine confession of a real transgression.” The filming of Khrzhanovsky’s Dau—from 2009 to 2011 on a massive set where the actors agreed to live, abandoning all modern amenities and be potentially filmed at any moment—is already the stuff of legend (and inevitable Charlie Kaufman comparisons). James Meek reports the postproduction, currently ongoing in a five-story London office building, is every bit as cloistered and lavishly financed, and continues to suggest this may be the rare movie(s) made critic-proof by the extraordinary tale of their making. Via Movie City News.
Matt Zoller Seitz makes a set visit to season two of The Knick, finding Steven Soderbergh completely in his element, literally behind the camera and knocking out ten hours of television drama in the time it can take a feature film to get off the ground. (In case you were wondering about the sincerity of that whole “retirement” thing.)
“What kind of mother says to her ex that she’d rather kill her daughter than let him have custody? What kind of father strangles the mother of his child? Many parents of divorce think such things, they just don’t act on them.” 35 years on—with marriage and motherhood intervening—from her first viewing of The Brood, Carrie Rickey finds it every bit deserves Cronenberg’s famous description of the film as a more realistic take on Kramer vs. Kramer.
“In nearly all of Frank’s films… spare time is a challenge, a burden and a field for play. The role that Frank adopts in videos like Home Improvements (85), The Present, and True Story (04) is that of the solitary man with time to spare and thoughts to be kept at bay. These movies all track the movements of fidgety narrators who need to keep re-affirming their points of contact with the world beyond their heads, renewing earlier pledges to attend to business beyond their memories and dreams. The more time they have to kill, the more room their minds have to drift away from what Frank variably calls the present and the “outside.”” Max Nelson, inspired by a new documentary made by Robert Frank’s editor for 20 years, Laura Israel, find’s all of Frank’s films—from the diary essays to the banned portrait of listless Rolling Stones, to even the narrative misfire Candy Mountain—struggling with the paradoxical awareness that there’s nothing but free time, and that time’s too damned short to waste sitting around.
“It’d be a freezing cold day and you’d say, ‘Ok Divine, jump in the Gunpowder River, swim across. We only have one costume so you better make it work.’” “And hit your mark.” “And hit your mark, and don’t go out of frame because we can’t do it again. Whenever you hear some alleged movie star or actor say, ‘I couldn’t do that unless I had this, that, or the other,’ this poor thing had to crawl through frozen pig shit.” “They say, ‘I did my own stunt,’ but you haven’t crawled through pig shit, you didn’t eat shit, so shut up.” As what would have been Divine’s 70th birthday approaches, Gabriella Souza talks with John Waters and casting director Pat Moran about their collaborator and friend. Via Joe Blevins.
“Me, personally, I’m not a big fan of violent movies, it’s not something I like to watch. And it’s not my aim or goal to make a violent movie. My characters are very important, so when I’m trying to depict a certain character in my movie, if my character is violent, it will be expressed that way in the film…. The more I try to make the character come to life in the movie and depict what he’s really about deep inside, that’s when the movie tends to become violent. To repeat, my movie [sic] end up becoming violent, but I don’t start with the intent of making violent movies.” Takashi Miike—to repeat, Takashi Miike—talks with Sam Fragoso about how moviemaking changed his personality, why self-expression is more important than skill, and why he’ll probably never helm a Hollywood production (though there’ve been offers).
“Once I got the palette of the characters, a dozen, I thought “okay that dozen of people will create eight or nine storylines.” To get to the proper length of the film it should be around ten minutes, but ten is such a round figure…twelve has the connotation of the twelve apostles, 12 Angry Men. Thirteen is [makes dismissive gesture]. So eleven! It is a very nice figure, aesthetically speaking. This is how it happened.” Jerzy Skolimowski talks with Daniel Kasman about the latest flowering of his remarkable comeback after a nearly two decade break, 11 Minutes, in a way that makes clear how much the quality of his late work owes to his sheer sense of fun being back behind the camera. Spoilers for the film.
“In a powerful movie, the images will be remembered because of the movie. A still photograph has to work on its own, with no story or other elements to help it. A shot in a movie only becomes memorable if the film is memorable. There is probably no such thing as a memorable shot in a bad movie, so I feel that my work as a cinematographer only takes on meaning if the film is meaningful. I never want to set out to make memorable shots. There is nothing worse than cinematography that is straining to draw attention to itself.” Peter Suschitzky talks with John Bailey about his still photography, which switched from street scenes to nudes for the sensible reason he got tired of waiting around for good shots to happen on the street. NSFW, unless you work in an art gallery or nudist colony, I suppose.
A wealth of Ray Harryhausen memorabilia—including sketches, location photographs, and cameras—is coming up for auction. None of his models, unfortunately, but those charcoal prints for Valley of the Gwangi have all the master’s dynamism and childlike wonder. Via Smithsonian Magazine.
One person I’d certainly expect to see bidding on some of the above is Guillermo del Toro; assuming he has any more room to spare in one of the two “Bleak Houses” he uses to store his collection. The director takes Melena Ryzik and photographer Monica Almeida on a guided tour of the external manifestation of his prodigious imagination.
Joan Leslie worked the vaudeville circuit with her older sisters, dancing and singing and doing impressions, before she broke into Hollywood. After a series of uncredited and bit parts in MGM movies in the 1930s (under the name Joan Brodel), she was signed to Warner Bros. as a teenage ingénue and cast as the sweet young love interest of Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra (1941), Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941), and James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), where she actually got to draw from that vaudeville experience and perform song and dance numbers. She starred opposite Ida Lupino in The Hard Way (1943), danced with Fred Astaire in The Sky’s the Limit (1943), played the title role in Busby Berkeley’s Cinderella Jones (1946), and tangled with Joan Fontaine in Born to Be Bad (1950), and the Film Noir Foundation revived one of her forgotten films, Repeat Performance (1947). She married in 1950 and made a few more films but pretty much retired in the 1950s to raise her daughters, appearing occasionally on TV through the 1980s (she made guest appearances in such shows as Police Story, Charlie’s Angels, The Incredible Hulk, and Murder, She Wrote). She passed away this week at the age of 91. More from Margalit Fox at The New York Times.
Saturday, October 17 is the 5th Annual International Video Store Day, and it also happens to be the first anniversary of Scarecrow Video’s life as a non-profit entity. To celebrate, Scarecrow is offering sales and unveiling a new membership plan. More information at their official Facebook page. And if you can’t make it to Scarecrow, why not patronize your neighborhood video store, should you be lucky enough to still have one. Let’s see if we can keep some of those alive.
Tickets and passes for the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival are now on sale. To get the early bird prices, go to the SIFF online box-office.
The 10th Annual Seattle South Asian Film Festival continues at SIFF Film Center, NWFF, University of Washington, and Seattle Asian Art Museum. The complete schedule is here.
French Cinema Now kicks off at SIFF Cinema Uptown on Thursday, October 22 with Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan. It continues through Thursday, October 29. The complete schedule is here. Take note of the Seattle connection: Half Sister, Full Love, a remake of Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister directed by Marion Vernoux, plays on Friday, October 23, followed by an onstage conversation between Vernoux and Shelton. Complete schedule here.
My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary, which has been newly digitally restored for the occasion, is this week’s presentation of SIFF Big Screen Classics on Tuesday, October 20. More 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.