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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of October 6

A Girl’s Own Story stands out for the concrete stylistic choices elaborated in each scene, but also owes much to an overall tone: passionless, desolate. This atmosphere is soaked in the experience of a world that is too small and gives too little, a world filled with boring rituals and sickening family dynamics. Costume, décor, and sound play an important role in the depiction of this milieu. Listening to the film attentively, one can appreciate that there are many details unifying its soundscape: music cues that are never gratuitous; voices coming from TV sets; animal, electrical, and human background noises. However, the main dialogue sounds raw, as if projected into a void space.” Cristina Álvarez López offers a sympathetic reading of Jane Campion’s A Girl’s Own Story that remains somewhat in awe how fully-formed and still ambitious the director was in this 25-minute short.

“And what does that puppet master have to say about the accusations of sexism and promoting real-life violence addressed in Tenebrae? He actually seems to agree with them. This film is an utterly despairing, nihilistic vision of art and artists as unable to achieve anything positive in the world. If art can change the world, in Tenebrae, it can only damage it. I’m sure this was adopted as a devil’s advocate position, and the film’s early scenes express it with dark humor, but by the time the film’s final 10 minutes turn into a parade of slaughter, it cuts pretty deeply.” Steve Erickson argues for an appreciation of Argento that doesn’t just acknowledge the filmmaker’s misogyny before passing over it, but keys into the director’s self-awareness of the issue as a way of making his films even more despairing, no-escape labyrinths. Via David Hudson.


“These images are all hallmarks of the gothic, but Corman does little to mask the artificiality of the sets. The wooded exteriors appear to be cut out of cardboard, and castles look as though they could be painted on canvas. Interiors simultaneously appear ancient and barely lived in, quickly constructed set pieces. Colors are a bit too saturated. In this artificial environment, characters are adrift, able to explore the porous divisions between this world and the next. Consequently, the living and the dead cross paths in odd places. Living humans are enclosed in walls while corpses repose in bedrooms. The living become trapped in tombs, wrongfully imprisoned on the opposite side of this tenuous boundary.” Kate Blair offers a similar rehabilitation for what’s often seen as a horror director’s flaw, pointing out how the studio artificiality and economical reuse of certain expensive effects make Corman’s Poe cycle seem even more haunted and fatalistic.

“Should crime be so stylish? Should death be so beautiful? These questions are always lurking around film noir, especially around movies like these three, in which Decaë’s masterful artistry casts such visually seductive spells. Noir’s great cinematographers and charismatic stars demonstrate how easily moral compasses can be deranged by the magnetism of beauty, so that we root for lovely killers and mourn their inevitable punishment. They’re only movies, of course—but these particular films recognize and draw attention to the insidious power of style” In three vastly different but psychologically true portraits of wandering killers, Imogen Sara Smith shows how much variety and, yes, beauty cinematographer Henri Decaë could explore in the supposedly limited style of noir.

Purple Noon

“’What’s perfect about the union of the Wooster Group and the Shakers is that both are matriarchal, both are about discipline and rigor and work,’ McDormand explained to me over drinks with Valk and LeCompte. LeCompte had a glass of Sancerre, McDormand had a glass of viognier and Valk had a smoothie. ‘Its foundation is postmenopausal women. The five of us, Liz being the oldest and in a position of power, and Kate directing us—so it’s six postmenopausal women. And what you gain after menopause is the power of invisibility. You become sexually invisible to both men and women. You gain the power of not giving a [expletive].’ ‘And we love the music,’ Valk added. McDormand nodded, looking pensive. ‘And I love the bonnet.’” Jordan Kisner’s profile of Frances McDormand finds the actor long judged (her words) “too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too blond, too dark” to move past the margins of Hollywood reveling in the creative and personal freedom of reaching an age where she’s comfortable calling her own shots and clearly, pace the Times’s cautious editors, doesn’t give a fuck.

“Here is a glass atrium with a hexagonal glass booth inside, and in the booth there is a 60-million-year-old tree, pulled out of the ocean off Shanghai not long ago and given to Jackie as a gift. Or maybe it’s a 65,000-year-old tree. Honestly, Jackie is a little hard to pin down on the precise age of the tree. But it is almost definitely thousands and thousands of years old, this tree. The glass inside the prism is moist, and the tree behind the glass is moist and seems almost to be breathing, like it is the ambassador from a planet ruled by sentient driftwood, placed within a warming prism for optimum comfort during its diplomatic visit. If you visit Jackie, he will look at the tree with you. If you ask who gave it to him, he’ll say he doesn’t remember, that people give him “so many presents.” It seems like it should be hard to forget who gave you a thousand(s)-year-old tree, but nothing is impossible if you are Jackie Chan.” Alex Pappademas visits Jackie Chan at his International Stunt Training Base to find the actor as charming, driven, and restlessly entrepreneurial as ever—and as willing to badmouth Hong Kong in comparison to the mainland as he has been in recent years. Via Movie City News.

Jackie Chan at the International Stunt Training Base

“I ask the question because now you see where the movies are, you see where the stories are: it’s only benevolence. George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, and French actors, too, who want to try to save the planet. And you have your president saying… [Distorts face into a shockingly accurate Trumpian mask and blathers incomprehensibly] “I THINK….” You think bullshit. This makes me laugh. All of this makes me laugh. You have all these people who make lots of money, which is fine, very good, but even if you have a lot of money you have nothing to say. Angelina Jolie, who saves the children, she’s like Josephine Baker, she had 13 children of all nationalities. I prefer to make love and to have children, even from a lot of bellies. But, with 10 billion people…” Gérard Depardieu sits down with Nick Pinkerton for a conversation that’s not so much wide-ranging as rambling, checking off enough points about the movie industry, the history of the Crusades, and Putin to ensure the actor will never be accused of the politically correct bromides he finds poisoning so much of modern discourse.


Anna Wiazemsky

French actress, novelist, and memoirist Anna Wiazemsky passed away this week at the age 70 after a battle with cancer. She made her debut in Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) and starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967). They married during the production and she went on to star in Weekend (1967), One Plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil) (1968), and Wind from the East (1970) in the director’s increasingly political output (they divorced in 1979). She also worked with Pier Paolo Pasolini in Teorema (1968) and Porcile (1969) and Philippe Garrel in L’enfant secret (1979) and acted steadily throughout the 1980s. The granddaughter of novelist and Nobel literature laureate François Mauriac, she published over a dozen novels, and in the 2000s she directed a handful of documentaries for French TV. She wrote two semi-autobiographical books about her life with Godard, one of which is the basis for the new Michel Hazanavicius film Redoubtable (2017). Jonathan Romney pens an appreciation for The Guardian.

Actor, writer, producer, and director William Tepper starred in Jack Nicholson’s directorial debut Drive, He Said (1971) and produced the beat generation drama Heart Beat (1980) with Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek. He died at the age of 69. More from Greg Evans at Deadline.

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.