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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of March 9

“Inspired by theoreticians such as the Jamaica-born, UK-based public intellectual Stuart Hall and the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci as much as by avant-garde filmmakers Dziga Vertov and Derek Jarman, BAFC’s work blended cascading montage and complex sonic experimentation with personal reflections on race, memory, post-colony and migration, with the rigorous yet non-didactic interrogation of official, state-sanctioned national histories pertaining to such matters.” Ashley Clark’s 50+ page monograph on the UK’s Black Audio Film Collective, written for the True/False Film Festivals Neither/Nor series, is a fine history of the collective’s official 16 years, plus the influences that fed into it and the ones it left upon others.

Including analyses and directors’ statements for key works such as John Akomfrah’s Testament (“It locates beauty and emotional resonance in its sensitive exploration of what it means to be “home””) and Reece Augiste’s Twilight City (“When I first came upon Calvino’s work, and [Invisible Cities], I was completely blown away. It constructed a gateway through which I could begin to think about London as a historical city, as a metropolitan city, and a city that has meant a lot to the Caribbean subject”); interviews with Akomfrah (“You heard about this figure [“black youth”], but you didn’t think it had anything to do with you, and then—and everyone I’ve spoken to experienced this—there’s a mirror moment when you suddenly realize: fuck, they’re talking about me! At that Fanonian moment, you think, OK, either run further away to escape this doppelganger moment, or do the opposite, which is to head towards it, to claim it, to fuse with it, or essentially to make friends with it.”), Augiste, composer Trevor Mathison (“We didn’t want to rush into a big statement—that was the main thing. In the juxtaposition between the image and the sound, that’s where you get the statement.”), and onetime intern and current BFI Southbank head Gaylene Gould (“And I remember John and the company standing really firm in the face of all that criticism [that BAFC’s output was too experimental and needed a more commercial focus], from both sides. Their attitude was: what we’re doing is bigger than now; you cannot criticize a culture without changing the form. That’s a line they’ve always stayed true to.”) Via Mubi.

James L. Brooks and Jack Nicholson on the set of ‘As Good As It Gets’

“The big deal when any picture works is, you’ve found the right tone. On this one, it was particularly difficult. There was another scene from the script, where we look for the person who had beaten Simon. We wanted to find that person and punish him. When I cut that scene, I had to cut Jack saying a line, which will not appear again in a hurry, because he’s trying to get a male prostitute from leaving and stall. And his line is, ‘I would like to purchase a blowjob!’” Twenty years after making As Good as It Gets James L. Brooks, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear—c’mon, you knew Nicholson wouldn’t show up for something like this—discuss the tensions of casting and final acts, and how Hollywood would never make a film like it today (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing) with Ramin Setoodeh.

“Anyway, I’m not in the movie business anymore and I feel really sorry for all my contemporaries and friends that I’ve known for years who are still in the business ’cause they’re still trying. It cracks me up. I laugh, but I also feel a lot of sympathy for them, because I don’t feel like there’s anywhere they can go. They keep trying to do the same thing over and over again. And expecting different results. It doesn’t work anymore, but they just keep on doing it, doing it, doing it.” Penelope Spheeris got herself happily off the hamster wheel, telling Samuel B. Prime how content she is trading movies for real estate and sharing details of a traumatic personal life she’s grateful less to have put behind than to have accepted and transcended.

Penelope Spheeris

“[Bobby Deerfield] was a huge disaster, but when I saw it again, I saw someone struggling with something, and it was part of my life, and I thought, Well, why not put in the ones where I sort of slipped and fell, even if it’s tough to look at? It kinds of works when you put it in context, doesn’t it? It’s a retrospective.” One of the charming paradoxes about Al Pacino is that he comes off so guarded and inscrutable even though he’s one of the most nakedly reflective actors we’ve ever had. His latest tour of the good old bad old days and the roles that made him famous—prompted by a retrospective to which he insisted be added some pet projects and, almost perversely, Bobby Deerfield and Revolutioncomes in conversation with David Edelstein.


David Ogden Stiers joined the cast of the hit TV series M*A*S*H in Season 6, taking the cot vacated by Larry Linville’s Frank Burns and giving the Pierce and Hunnicutt a much more capable nemesis. It’s still the role the actor is most remembered for and it earned him two Emmy nominations, but he has over 160 TV and movie credits on IMDb, many of them for voice work. He was a busy stage actor when he made his film debut in a small role on Jack Nicholson’s Drive, He Said (1971) and voiced the announcer in George Lucas’ THX-1138 (1971) and had appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and other TV series before being cast in M*A*S*H. On the big screen he had supporting roles in Oh, God! (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), Magic (1978), The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), and The Accidental Tourist (1988) and starred in a number of TV movies and miniseries including The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (1984), which earned him his third Emmy nomination, and a recurring role in Perry Mason TV movie revival in the 1980s. He remained busy through 2017, with guest appearance on TV shows, recurring roles on Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place and The Dead Zone, and supporting roles in dozens of movies, but he was most in demand as a voice actor. He was Cogswell in the original animated Beauty and the Beast (1991) and became a Disney regular with voices in Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Lilo and Stitch (2002), and numerous Disney series, and narrating dozens of movies and documentaries. Between movies, he was the resident conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra on the Oregon Coast, where he lived for decades. He passed away this week at the age of 75. Anita Gates for The New York Times.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker.

David Ogden Stiers