“Herzog grins as he takes a seat in a conference room at UCLA, which has been set up for an event later this evening. His eyes droop, but his skin is remarkably smooth, like the surface of a slightly underinflated balloon. And then there’s that voice—silky, portentous—you can imagine it coming out of a GPS system giving driving directions to Valhalla. ‘I like to look back at the evolution of modern human beings,’ he says of his interest in the Internet. ‘Using fire or electricity was an enormous step for civilization, and this is one of those. And I think the poet must not avert his eyes.’” Jason Tanz’s profile of Werner Herzog makes a lot of hay over the meme-ification of its subject, the fun the Internet has mocking his somber philosophical ramblings. But almost accidentally the piece also shows what a level-headed hustler the director has to be to constantly keep working, convincing his backers to expand their plans for online advertisements and finance his latest documentary feature—Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World—the outtakes from which themselves are now lined up to be a television series.
“Luis Buñuel is usually regarded as quintessentially Spanish, yet he only made three films that fully qualify as Spanish — a short documentary called Land without Bread (1932) and two features, Viridiana (1961) and Tristana (1970). Furthermore, Viridiana created such a scandal in Franco Spain that when it was rejected by the censors there, it was identified exclusively as a Mexican feature, simply because it had a Mexican coproducer and by then all its Spanish credentials on paper had been destroyed (a tale told by one of its two Spanish producers, Catalan filmmaker Pere Portabella). Tristana, on the other hand, stars Catherine Deneuve in the title role, a French actress whose Spanish lines had to be dubbed by someone else. And every other film by the “most Spanish of Spanish directors” is either French or Mexican.” Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted an interesting 2008 article he wrote on expatriate filmmakers—both those who thrived and some (including Fuller and Makhmalbaf) whose filmmaking suffered outside their native lands as if they’d been cut off from their source. Via Criterion.
“It’s often said (by me, anyway) that you could construct an excellent survey course in Hollywood movies using only the filmography of Ward Bond. Despite the comparative brevity of his career, you wouldn’t do too badly with Tim Holt, either. ‘One of the most interesting actors that’s ever been in American movies,’ Orson Welles told Peter Bogdanovich, ‘and he decided to be just a cowboy actor. Made two or three important pictures in his career, but was very careful not to follow them up—went straight back to bread-and-butter Westerns.’” And outside of those solid but unexceptional B-movie oaters, Farran Smith Nehme argues, Holt did some remarkable, almost unprecedented, work.
“The New York Times reported regularly on the controversy during that fateful summer in 1984; a May 21st article details the [Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’s] many horrors, including not only the heart-tearing scene but also “the ghoulish remains of previous victims, the flogging of children, and the death of a caged man by immersion into a pit of boiling lava.” (Parents at the time didn’t seem overly concerned with the film’s depiction of Indian people as either bloodthirsty cult members or impoverished village mystics—one could only imagine the uproar being a little different today.) A call was made for an intermediate rating—“PG-2,” as Spielberg himself mused in the Times—and finally, in August, Red Dawn and Dreamscape became the first releases with the new PG-13 seal. No matter: so much wonderful damage was already done.” Michael Koresky looks back fondly at the time when a PG rating offered no guarantee the film was free of gory horrors, and Steven Spielberg, in particular, took that license to become the purveyor of wonderfully traumatizing movie-fueled nightmares. Via David Hudson.
“I’ve had to take a hard look at my personal issues. But I want you to know something, judge and prosecution lead attorney/love interest I’m trying to win over, and it’s this: I’ve overcome these flaws and combined that with my already-existing positive character traits to become a better person. Heck, I’ve even learned a thing or two about what justice actually means in the broadest sense of the word.” Joe Luther offers up the definitive closing argument from every lawyer movie ever made.
“I believe in my gut. Most people intellectualize their instincts away, but when you feel something, you have to go for it. A Fistful of Dollars was a great instinct for me, because here I was, a guy who’s doing Rawhide. I’m in the saddle every day playing a screwball. And then somebody comes along and says, ‘How would you like to go to Italy and Spain and do an Italian/Spanish/German coproduction with an Italian director who’s only directed one movie?’ It wasn’t like I was going there to be with Fellini. But something was there, and I thought, Well, I loved this story when it was told by Akira Kurosawa; maybe this is a good idea. That’s an instinctive moment.” Clint Eastwood following his gut has led to some great movies—and also, talking with his son Scott and interviewer Michael Hainey, a weird empathy for Donald Trump (that at least stops short of a full endorsement). So chalk one up for the movies over real life, I suppose.
“It was a teen movie, right? And a horror movie. It was fun and kind of silly and cheesy, and we all knew it. And we all just had fun with it. It’s become a fan favorite over the past 30 years. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me, and they say, ‘You know what my favorite movie is? Chopping Mall.’ I say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ But I’m really happy they say that to me. It is a fun movie, and it’s hard to watch that movie and not laugh and be in a good mood, with the exploding heads, and people catching on fire, and all the cheesy lines.” Barbara Crampton talks with Katie Rife about working with Stuart Gordon, Jim Wynorski, Brian De Palma—and the young, budding horror directors that grew up on those films and have given the scream queen a career resurgence years after she’d retired.
An ongoing BAMcinématek salute to Joe Dante is both retrospective and mini-festival curated by Dante. Both sides are highlighted in respective interviews, the filmmaker’s career looked back over fondly talking with Glenn Kenny (“[Looney Tunes: Back in Action] was very frustrating to make: We got so much input from people who were never going to see the movie. I learned here that it’s not a good idea to go to work angry, although it might have helped with the Daffy Duck segments”); the film buff sharing some of his enthusiasms with Max Kyburz (“The opportunity with BAM was to bring out some warhorses that don’t get shown very much and show them to people that are lured by the fact that this is a series of movies for people who like movies. If you pull out a mystery like The Big Clock, or a weird one like Confessions of an Opium Eater, or an unseen American indie like The Fool Killer… then, for me, the fun thing about the BAM retrospective is not the part where they’re showing my movies, but the opportunity to promote other movies that I think people might like. I hope they sell a lot of popcorn”).
“You can’t imagine how much we laughed. We’d have big open-air lunches, and there were always lots of stories around the table—John Gielgud and Orson were great storytellers. Oh, it was wonderful. Then lunch would be cleared, and Orson would lie down on the table with his cloak wrapped around him and fall asleep. We’d all wander around and do the crossword, various things. Then suddenly we’d hear him wake up and he’d say, ‘Vamos!’ and we’d all start working again. Everybody adored and respected him, but he didn’t play “I am the great director” at all.” Keith Baxter may have been dining out on Chimes at Midnight stories for decades now, but they’re still great to read.
The LA County Museum of Art has opened an exhibit of Guillermo del Toro’s monster movie collection, in a dense sprawl that attempts to resemble his famous Bleak House. Jana Monji offers a walkthrough, while Criterion’s Curtis Tsui took snapshots at the opening reception, from a lifesized sculpture of Ray Harryhausen to statuesque Ron Perlman in attendance.
“I consider these Golden Age movie posters to be the visual equivalent of neon signage, but without the benefit of electricity. Whether viewed from a passing bus, through swirling dust at forty miles per hour, or studied from a distance of five feet on the side of the road, the imagery in these posters is undeniably arresting. Not uncommonly, these early Golden Age posters were filled with fantastical images that went far beyond anything actually depicted in the movie itself.” A Hong Kong gallery showing of hand-painted Ghanaian posters for kung-fu films receives fine introductory essays by Ernie Wolfe III and Chang Tsong-Zung. Via Mubi.
Gloria DeHaven, the daughter of a vaudeville act, was a band singer at 14, supposedly appeared in a small, uncredited role in Modern Times (1936), officially made her debut in Susan and God (1940), and did a number in the all-star Thousands Cheer (1943) as MGM promoted their new ingénue. She went on to co-star in musicals Broadway Rhythm (1944), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), and Step Lively (1944), where she became the first woman to kiss bobbysox idol Frank Sinatra on screen. She co-starred opposite Mickey Rooney in Summer Holiday (1948) and Red Skelton in The Yellow Cab Man (1950), had plum roles in The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and Summer Stock (1950), and played her mother in Three Little Words (1950). In later years she was a regular in the soap operas Ryan’s Hope, As the World Turns, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and appeared on numerous prime-time shows, from The Rifleman to Murder, She Wrote, and she returned to cabaret singing in 1989. She passed away at the age of 91. Ronald Bergan for The Guardian.