The Museum of the Moving Image’s retrospective of Maurice Pialat has been one of the most celebrated of this busy year. Julien Allen finds a director completely unclassifiable and incomparable, beating out his own path (and letting you damned well know how difficult that turned out to be) his entire career. (“His ten features (not counting the dozen or so shorts and one TV miniseries, La maison des bois) constitute from beginning to end a series of autobiographical portraits, throughout which the act of autobiography itself—of laying oneself open to the world—is deconstructed and filleted into its most basic elements.”) Richard Brody, on the other hand, sides with Desplechin that in fact Pialat has had the strongest influence on young French filmmakers, but finds the works no less remarkable. (“But those who want to be influenced also want a ready-made paradigm to adapt to their own uses, and Pialat—whose pugnacious naturalism burns with the flame of modernity—seems to promise them one: a template for non-nostalgic realism.”) And Craig Keller has been providing the invaluable service of transcribing notes originally included with Masters of Cinema’s UK DVD releases, including a series of interviews with Pialat—expectedly outspoken and provocative—that had never previously been translated; no group link, unfortunately, but all of the Pialat articles are clearly identified in his index of posts to the left. Via David Hudson.
That omnipresent, apocalyptic wind in Tarr’s The Turin Horse turns out to be a looped sample of some 19 seconds. Which leads Cristina Álvarez López to wonder, how apocalyptic a force can such a short repetitive drone evoke? And why didn’t anybody notice?
A new edition of the essential cinema studies text, Film Art: An Introduction, is forthcoming (with a perfectly chosen image from Moonrise Kingdom gracing the cover), but in the process of final editing, David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, and Jeff Smith decided a chapter on the use of sound in Nolan’s The Prestige didn’t really fit in. Rather than waste their efforts, the article has been made available on Bordwell and Thompson’s website; where it’s another fine example of their making cinematic tricks of the trade graspable by the layman, without draining a drop of film’s magic.
“Maddin, who has been friends with Egoyan for over 25 years, opened by joking, ‘I’m really sick and tired of not being Atom Egoyan!’ When the friends were in their twenties, Egoyan was enjoying substantial early success. ‘You seemed to already have seven features when we were in our mid-twenties,’ said Maddin. ‘So annoying!’” At the Woodstock Film Festival, Canadian iconoclasts Guy Maddin and Atom Egoyan talked about resisting the lure of Hollywood to sell out (ok, that’s more Egoyan talking) and learning how not to care when critics drub your film (again, mostly Egoyan). Emily Buder offers the highlights.
Sam Mendes, who must have an impressive contacts list, gets responses to a series of short questions regarding onset behavior and routines from a list of directors including Spielberg, Soderbergh, Fincher, Wright, and Coppola (well, Sofia). Via Mubi, who wrote up the article the only way it really deserves.
Nelli Fomina writes of designing the costumes for Solaris—a task made tougher by prickly perfectionist Tarkovsky firing her predecessor and rejecting his work a month before filming, leaving her with little time and less budget to imagine the future.
Grady Hendrix surveys the Asian film industry. Long story short, China doing well, Korea feeding off China’s growth, Hong Kong anxious about it, Japan and others collapsing, and Hollywood dropped down from domineering trendsetter to just another market.
“And I think—and in a way this is a French way to think about it—I’m the only one who’s useless, and it’s great because they need me. They need someone who is absolutely useless. They could do the film without me, but they need me all the time. I’m not a good actor, I was a bad DP, I was a quite good editor but I prefer my editor, and they need me because they need someone who is useless to make it work. To me, that’s what it is to be the boss.” Arnaud Desplechin talks with Hillary Weston about his latest, My Golden Days, and the discrepancy between the number of great American actors and great French ones; which may be why he’s so admittedly possessive when it comes to Mathieu Almaric. And speaking of Desplechin, it’s always fun to see French cineastes send their American admirers’ for a loop recommending the genius of a film not generally considered under that rubric; in this case, Notting Hill.
“You can’t imagine the lengths I went to, growing up, to actually see films. I remember that I would see every single film that was released and shown in the theater. I had to find a way to get in there. So when I was a boy, what I would do is pretend that I was someone else’s kid—I’d tug the shirt of an adult and pretend that I was with them so I could get into the theater for free.” Weston also transcribes some of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s remarks from the New York Film Festival on the films that most profoundly affected his as a young man and helped steer him away from a self-described “dark path.”
“We would prepare it the way you would a musical number, only with punches instead of dance steps. If somebody had to take a horrible fall, I had a double for each of them, professional boxers whose sizes and skin tones matched the actors exactly. Everything was very carefully choreographed, but then at the end of the shoot at Mandalay Bay Woody and Antonio asked if they could really go after each other. I let them, and I think they lasted about two minutes. [laughs] That’s how exhausting this sport is.” Ron Shelton talks with Jim Hemphill about the underrated Play It to the Bone, the necessary pitfalls of test screenings, and how he got his start rewriting The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper.
“I don’t want to make the same album twice in a row or the same score twice in a row. Career-wise it’s been maybe not as clever. I think the key to having a successful career is to find the thing you do well and do it again and again for the rest of your life. But I’m not really interested in that. I’m interested in expanding my language as an artist and as a composer. And I try to expand it with every project.” At The Talks, Jóhann Jóhannsson discusses the differences between his abstract compositions and his film scores—and puts in a good words for La Monte Young’s The Second Dream of The High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer, if you’re wondering what his own music sounds like.
Your nifty interactive time-killer of the day comes courtesy of the Cinémathèque Française, which has google-mapped the NYC locations for Martin Scorsese films. Click on the dots (or the links in the text—French only, hélas) and catch the video clips of lonely men (and, briefly, Michelle Pfeiffer) walking down those streets, be they Mean, After Hours, or a site for Bringing out the Dead. Via Movie City News.
Adrian Curry offers a series of international designs for Traffic, most of which, despite the iconic (and, surprisingly, anonymous) treatment of the title in the original French poster, fell back on reliable images of Monsieur Hulot elegantly befuddled by motorcars as he is by all things.
It seems that every obituary of actor and comedian Marty Ingels, who died this week at the age of 79, identifies him as Shirley Jones’ husband, which indeed he had been since 1977. But he also starred opposite John Astin the 1960s sitcom I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, made guest appearances in dozens of TV shows from The Phil Silvers Show to CSI, appeared in the movies The Horizontal Lieutentant (1962), The Busy Body (1967), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), and If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium (1969), and was a busy voiceover artist for years, including voicing Pac-Man in the animated series. Stephen Chawkins for Los Angeles Times.
Fathom Events presents a 1931 Dracula double-feature: the original Tod Browning-directed films starring Bela Lugosi and the Spanish version shot on the same sets at night with a different cast. The films play in select theaters nationwide on October 25 and again October 28. Theater locations and ticket information at the Fathom Events website.
French Cinema Now continues through SIFF Cinema Uptown through Thursday, October 29. 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.
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.