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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of September 12

Young women’s roles in the movies

In response to an industrial bias that has grown from little-remarked upon oversight to universally decried embarrassment in a few short years, the New York Times’s movie section of late has a decidedly female slant, from A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis’s roundup of the new roles (or at least more complex variations on the old ones) movies are offering women; to Brooks Barnes laying out the reason Hollywood has leapt on the female-centric bandwagon (which, yeah, is exactly the reason you think).

“The fact that [Victim] features a sympathetic homosexual protagonist—the first in British cinema—was no small matter, and the effect it would have had on a boy of 16 struggling with his own homosexual feelings is incalculable. At the same time, its depiction of the gay lifestyle as one of despair and social invisibility could have proven to further frighten him; in fact, it seems to have laid the emotional groundwork for his cinematic intimations of love as tragic and doomed.” In the latest excerpt from his book on Terence Davies, Michael Koresky contextualizes and defends the director’s controversial conflation of shame and sexuality. Via David Hudson.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book on British silent cinema and the First World War, Lawrence Napper finds Walter Summers’s 1927 The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands both an heir to British Instructional Films’ then-current series of wartime recreations and a movement beyond, “a moment when BIF shifted the aesthetic of its battle reconstruction films towards fiction, possibly in response to the more general popularity of the first world war as a subject for film stories.”

A recent screening of Renoir’s little-seen Simenon adaptation Night at the Crossroads has inspired Richard Brody (“Here’s what Renoir displays in a brisk seventy-five minutes at that unappealing crossroads, home to a gas station, a few houses, and little else, amid the mud and the fog: xenophobia, anti-Semitism, craven penny-pinching, liberal alcohol-slogging, unremitting squalor, sneaky adultery, drug addiction, and a general closed-ranks conspiracy of cold and brazen crime.”) and R. Emmet Sweeney (“It’s a traditional whodunit, except all of the motivations are missing. Instead of attributing the crime to a single perpetrator, the whole town becomes culpable through their xenophobia and greed.”). Sweeney also does a good job dismissing the apocryphal explanation of the film’s fractured narrative to missing reels: “this expository lack fits the whole theme of the film.”

Joan

Like too many careers that began in the silent era, the early films of Joan Crawford are lost or difficult to come by. Dan Callahan sifts through her “phantom” career, including a turn as Norma Shearer’s body double in Lady of the Night, and pines for the roles unseen.

John Bailey is so impressed by “the way in which [Ménilmontant] defies but simultaneously embraces both avant-garde and commercial narratives” he offers nearly a scene-by-scene breakdown of Kirsanoff’s famed silent film.

“[T]he power of the ephemeral real can be driven by what we don’t know enough to know—even by what we don’t want to know. Some images of the real defer our recognition.” Drew Johnson considers one of the most disturbing intrusions of reality into fiction film, the notoriously hard-to-source execution footage that makes a grisly appearance in Antonioni’s The Passenger.

At This Long Century, Yto Barrada offers a brief account of her frustrated efforts to track down a bit of family lore: the Ahmed Rachedi film her mother claims to have played a small role in. A quest that may finally get a happy ending now that Barrada’s has founded the Tangier Cinematheque.

Art of the Title offers not just Saul Bass’s title sequence for Attack but his boldly graphic 10-page advertisement for the film from Hollywood Reporter. And an interview with Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s Erin Sarofsky on the film’s vivid title sequence reminds you Bass’s legacy only keeps growing.

“I remember being at rushes and not really getting what I was seeing. It all seemed so blank, the sets were sparse, and everything seemed to be white in the background. Everyone else watching was thrilled with the footage. I said: ‘It looks kinda blank to me,’ and someone replied: ‘That’s David’s style,’ to which I answered—like the bitch I can be sometimes—‘Style? It looks like a fuckin’ dentist’s office!’ Of course, I was later to grow to appreciate such backgrounds and even the occasional nurse’s uniform. That’s progress.” Cronenberg fans can argue about his best film or the general direction of his career but we’ve long been united on the worst lead performance in the oeuvre. Now Scanners’s Stephen Lack gets his own say, interviewed by Emma Myers, and turns out a smart, funny guy with a better-than-halfway-decent explanation for his affectless turn in the movie.

“Of course, Iranian people love cinema. At the beginning, poetry was the voice of Iranian culture; today, cinema has taken over. For my film, Hello Cinema (1994), I announced that I had some roles I wanted to give out to whoever was interested. To my surprise, thousands of people flocked to ask for these few roles. The audience is well aware of the strength of cinema. Banned films [in Iran] are circulated on the black market and millions of copies are sold. Three million copies of one of my banned films have been sold.” The great Mohsen Makhmalbaf talks with Mohammed Rouda about his latest, The Dictator, and the unique concerns—including assassination attempts—of being the head of an Iranian filmmaking family in exile. Via Movie City News.

A pair of video companies are offering packaging sure to delight horror fans both new school and old. For a Halloween-themed release of 13 titles from the MGM/Fox library, design company Skuzzles has come up with some elegantly creepy covers. (Via Keith Phipps.) If, despite the inarguable awesomeness of putative EC fan Ghoulish Gary Pulin’s design for Teen Wolf, the crisp lines and compositions of those turn you off, the vintage era covers for Gorgon Video might be more up your alley, each living up to company rep Nicole Mikuzis’s praise of Evils of the Night as “prime example[s] of going to the video store and realizing the cover doesn’t make sense at all.”

Time Lightbox offers a gallery of behind the scenes material from Gone With the Wind—make-up stills, concept art, but shockingly only two memos—culled from the collection of packrat supreme David O. Selznick, housed at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center.

Richard Kiel from earlier days

Obituary

Richard Kiel is most famous as the villain Jaws opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond in two films, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), but his career spanned decades. His hulking 7′ 2″ frame made him a go-to guy for such roles as the intimidating alien in the memorable “To Serve Man” episode of the original The Twilight Zone or a comic creature in the episode “I Was a Teenage Monster” for The Monkees, among his many TV appearances. He had a regular role on the short-lived seventies TV series Barbary Coast, had small but memorable roles in The Longest Yard (1974), Silver Streak (1976), and most recently voiced a character in the animated Tangled (2010). He passed away at the age of 74. More from Ryan Gilbey at The Guardian, and an affectionate tribute to the unique evolution of his Bond baddie Jaws by Peter Bradshaw, also for The Guardian.

Denny Miller, a college athlete who made his film debut in an uncredited role in Vincent Minnelli’s Some Came Running (1958) (he joked “I was the only one who came running”), played Tarzan in the 1959 feature Tarzan, the Ape Man and played Duke Shannon on Wagon Train from 1961 to 1964. He spent most of his career doing guest spots on TV shows (including a Tarzan-like character on an episode of Gilligan’s Island) well into the 1990s, but he was notably memorable as “Wyoming Bill” Kelso in Blake Edwards’ The Party (1968). He died this week at the age of 80. Highlight Hollywood pays tribute.

Seattle Screens

Film historian and movie poster archivist Mark Fertig will be at the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery on Saturday, September 13, from 6-9pm to discuss and sign copies of his new book, “The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s.” A gallery of featured posters will be on display through November 10. More details here.

Robert Horton hosts another “Magic Lantern” event at the Frye Art Museum this weekend, discussing the films of Zacharias Kunuk, the Inuk director most famous for the 2001 film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. It’s on Sunday at 2pm and it is free. Details at the Frye website.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

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.

Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of September 5

“At this point, John had been burned three times by commercial animation: during the Disney strike, at UPA, and by Finian’s Rainbow. Faith had never had anything but distrust of commercial projects to begin with. So as a condition of their marriage, they made a pact: They would make one serious film a year, for themselves, and do whatever they had to do to support it.” In a sterling example of lateral thinking, The Dissolve ends its Movie-of-the-Week coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with Matthew Dessem’s thorough history of the Hubley family’s trail-blazing career in animation. (Since, if you’d forgotten, Hedwig’s explanation of Aristophanes’s take on the origins of the sexes is illustrated by second-generation Hubley genius Emily.)

Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin’s latest, typically engrossing video/text essay pairing explores some paths through Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door…, “a broken puzzle at every level, virtually begging us to rearrange its pieces and find its key.”

“One of the most talked-about shots in all of Davies’s films is a galvanizing image about two-thirds of the way into The Long Day Closes. In Davies’s published script, it is inconspicuous: the simple sentence “Hold on floor” in no way augurs the impact of the scene as it appears on-screen.” In an excerpt from his book on Davies, Michael Koresky gives a fine reading of the metacinematic and queer subtexts behind the carpet shot that will forever be the dividing line between the director’s detractors and admirers.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 29

Miguel Gomes on the set of his film ‘Arabian Nights’

As the title indicates, Arabian Nights—Miguel Gomes’s follow-up to Tabu—doesn’t seem to lack for ambition. Featuring real news stories (researched for the director by a trio of journalists) filtered through the telling by a modern Scheherazade, it looks another dazzling intermingling of Portuguese history and fanciful imagination. Rachel Donadio has a set visit, complete with a colorful photo gallery.

“Noir was in part an expression of disillusionment on the left, as the populist anger and idealism of the Depression years gave way to the Cold War demonization of communism. […] The most subversive aspect of noir is its profound distrust of ambition. Whenever someone in a noir film dreams of a better life, or says, “I just want to be somebody,” you can write his or her epitaph right then and there.” Imogen Sara Smith spins off of a pair of film series to run through a two-part history of noir and the blacklist (part 2 here), particularly the screenwriters who were silenced or forced to work behind fronts for decades. An offense that deserved the witty revenge of Polonsky’s refusal to identify his pseudonymous work, letting history assume the blacklisted writers wrote all the good scripts and none of the bad ones.

“This is a very strange love affair.” “Why?” “Maybe the fact that you don’t love me.” Adrian Martin does a fine job exploring the “extraordinary open[ness]” of Notorious, the way narrative, editing, and mise-en-scène render “the question of point of view…complex, and constantly unsettled by the film itself.” Via Adam Cook.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 22

Pedro Almodóvar

“My brother and I have always been fans of B movies. Agustiín would kill to make a women-in-prison film, pack it to the gills with girls of all races, each more deviant than the next. We’d follow the line of Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat, or the line of films made by Linda Blair after she developed physically. Lots of skin, a large helping of irreverent humor, and very little money, of course.” At Criterion, Pedro Almodóvar relates the inspiration—strictly financial, a cheerfully admitted Cormanesque gambit to reuse an expensive set—behind Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! While Kent Jones and Wes Anderson carry on a conversation about Almodo?var’s “one ongoing movie.” (“Desire rules. Like in Andre? Te?chine?’s movies, which are very different in many ways, although they both love melodrama and Hollywood cinema. Their films are neither heterosexual nor homosexual, they’re just sexual.”)

Mark Asch gives close reading to two disparate scenes—Veidt and Hobson tied up in the basement lair in Contraband, and 35 Shots of Rum’s rapturous bar dance to “Nightshift”—to show how filmmakers (with their respective editing partners John Seabourne and Guy Lecorne) tackle the pure cinema challenge of constructing action to music and wind up with something quintessentially tight and contained (Powell-Pressburger) or diaphanous and unreadable (Denis).

Also at Fandor: Why does Kiva Reardon style her perceptive comments on the fearless eroticism of Trouble Every Day as a schoolchild’s alphabetical primer? If only to get away with C is for Cunnilingus, that’s good enough for me.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 15

On the set of ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’

At Mubi, a fine pair of appreciations, on a great master’s last film and a current master’s first. Sarah Salovaara shows how Buñuel’s bifurcation of the female lead in That Obscure Object of Desire makes its own kind of sense. (“The film presents a world in which a woman is capable of pathologically taunting a man who tries to buy her affection, if only because they cannot clearly communicate their honest desires to one another. Just how far removed from reality is this?”) And Cuyler Ballenger finds Carax’s Boy Meets Girl, with characters and images both engaged in soft, romantic self-absorption, the quintessential young man’s movie. (“What we are left with is transcendent self-involvement through time, space and person: otherwise known as being in your twenties.”)

“The smartest ones, they went underground. Into the new wilderness: your cities. Into the great slum areas, the graveyard of your fucking species.” Sean Nortz praises Wolfen as both “a transitional moment in the history of New York cinema” and “eerily prescient,” straddling the apocalyptic portraits of the city in ‘70s films (particularly its burnt-out Bronx locations) and the gleaming, yuppified ‘80s.

“It is part of the film’s design to refuse the straitjacket of roles, to insist that what we mean to one another is fluid, provisional, subject to reinvention. The woman in the opening scene, whom we first assume to be an ex or lover of Robert’s, is eventually introduced as “my secretary, my friend, my accountant.” Sarah, who at one point says she has no relatives, refers later to Robert as “my closest and my dearest friend.” In the film’s strangely enchanted, gently electrified atmosphere, almost any role is up for grabs.” Dennis Lim agrees Love Streams is Cassavetes’s final masterpiece; the last, giddy demonstration that “realist” was ever the wrong label for a filmmaker so mercurial and fabulist.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 8

‘Score’

“Those who dismiss Metzger’s films as stylish but low-brow are at best uninformed and at worst snobs. For the bulk of a 25-year career, he staked a claim on a shifting territory and worked it with intelligence and a certain Continental flair that was equal parts inclination and practicality (the dollar went further in Europe than it did at home).” The latest beneficiary of a Lincoln Center revival is softcore maestro Radley Metzger, whose career gets an appreciative overview from Maitland McDonagh. The director himself sits down with Steve MacFarlane for an interview that makes clear how ambitious a filmmaker he was—and how pragmatically adaptable. (“A well-known critic died recently, and someone sent me some of his early reviews of my pictures, and they were astounding in the fact that they never reviewed the film; they reviewed the climate of the times, the amount of nudity, whatever, but the essential structure of the film, or the acting—none of that was referred to. Except trying to make it kind of a silly show. It came with the territory.”)

Or maybe you prefer your erotica less Continental and more Far East? David Hudson passes on news that the anthology The Pink Book: The Japanese Eroducation and Its Contexts—with essays from contributors including Kimata Kimihiko, Andrew Grossman, and Donald Richie—is available as a free download. (Click through for .pdf or ePub).

Rick Paulas—who deserves praise both for kicking off with nicely terse hard-boiled prose and for dropping the conceit before it gets old—relates the gambles, bureaucratic hurdles, and dead ends involved in the restoration game, telling how Noir City’s Eddie Muller went about securing a print of Too Late for Tears. Via Vadim Rizov.

‘Out 1’

In a video and written essay, Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin lay out the avant-garde theatrical influences at play (crucial word) in Rivette’s Out 1.

As Ben Sachs explains, Richard Linklater has never been one to wear his cinephilia on his sleeve, preferring to treat his references “more like personal talismans, tucked into the work for his own satisfaction.” So a backwards tracking shot of a couple walking in Boyhood maybe doesn’t immediately bring Fassbinder to mind, but Sachs is convinced, and convincing, that the allusion is there.

David Mermelstein reminds us that movies set in the past have much more to say about their present, tracing the varied purposes of the World War I film as the events themselves receded into history. Via Criterion.

It may seem contrary to the Altman ethic to single out one performance from the teeming drift of his ensembles; but a great exception has always been Lily Tomlin in Nashville, as Michael Koresky notes, “an emotional anchor in a film full of wayward souls and pompous pills.”

You have to root for it through some strained jocularity (as was ever the case with Reynolds), but there’s a certain wintry nobility in Gaspar González’s story of Burt Reynolds teaching acting in Lake Park, Florida, the erstwhile biggest star in the world, having outlived not only his career but most of his friends, returning in twilight to the scene of his first triumphs. Via Matt Singer.

The back of 125 Christopher St.

“Let’s go down to the garden and find out what’s buried there.” “Why not? I always wanted to meet Mrs. Thorwald.” Lou Lumenick visits 125 Christopher St., inspiration for L. B. Jefferies’s apartment and courtyard in Rear Window, and later, in homage, shooting location for Serpico and Manhattan Murder Mystery.

“I think my actors or my crew do not respect me because I have been athletic before in my life. It’s something much, much deeper. It’s experience in life, it’s how you see the world, and it’s how you can transform everyone on the set into what is the very best in him or her. And I can do that. That’s what I get paid for. Insight. Things that I see. And others do not see.” For someone who has always emphasized the importance, even the necessity, of the visual, Werner Herzog remains the most deliciously quotable of directors, whether talking (with Steve Marsh) about the virtues of traveling on foot, the blessing of being fatherless in post-war Germany, his hatred of drugs or his love of Mel Brooks. He even gets off a great one-liner about how quotable he is.

“But I just don’t think it’s realistic now to think that the kind of film culture that really gave us Scorsese, Coppola, Malick or any of the great foreign directors… Wertmuller, Bergman… is going to be there in years to come, because it’s already gone. It’s already in the rear-view mirror. But I think there are good things about where we are now too, and one thing I’ve been focused on lately is documentaries.” Fifteen years after his prescient essay “Death of Film/Decay of Cinema” Godfrey Cheshire talks to Matt Zoller Seitz about how much he got right, the few things he got wrong, and how TV and social media changed the landscape in ways no one could have predicted.

Main title card for Tarsem’s ‘Immortals’

“After viewing a cut of the film, I thought the titles should be as secretive as the story and the characters. I suggested the thinnest weight of Helvetica in caps and lowercase to represent the anonymous nature of the characters. They had to be very quiet as they entered, small and elegant and almost unnoticed.” Art of the Title has a pair of interesting interviews about credit typographies that couldn’t be farther apart. Dan Perri, quoted above, talks with Ian Albinson about his deliberately almost subliminal credits for All the President’s Men. And Stefan Bucher tells Alexander Ulloa and Lola Landekic about designing titles for the movies of Tarsem that play as beautiful and elegant as the director’s images themselves. (Just so we’re clear, his words not mine.) Related: title designer Karin Fong describes what makes a great credit sequence, and how sometimes even the perfect idea has to go when it introduces too much too early. Via It’s Nice That.

Fiction: “0:37 – 0:39. A schoolroom. An elderly woman speaks to survivors. Hers is the voice of the V/O. She says, ‘Life adapts.’ 0:40 – 0:44 V/O: ‘So does death.’ Zombie alone on the flat roof of a tower. Looks down at humans on the street. Grabs its own solar plexus with both hands and tenses.” China Miéville’s short story “Trailer—“The Crawl”,” which transcribes the events of a trailer advertising a film about a zombie civil war, provides both a knowing skewering of movie hype and a vision so out there it’s equal isn’t likely any time soon even with our current flood of walking dead stories. Via Longform.

Metzger was always fond of roundelay structure, so let’s end where we began, with Adrian Curry’s collection of posters from Audubon Films releases demonstrating the man knows how to sell films nearly as well as make them.

Marilyn Burns

Obituary

Marilyn Burns, the original “final girl” of horror cinema, survived Tobe Hooper’s iconic original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). She also appeared in Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1977) and the TV miniseries Helter Skelter (1976). She passed away this week at the age of 65. More from The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

The longest-running film noir series in America is back for it’s 37th year at the Seattle Art Museum this fall, opening on Thursday, September 25 with John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, and plays on successive Thursday through December. All film are showing on 35mm, just as they showed to darkened theaters back in the day.

Series tickets are now on sale at Seattle Art Museum and Scarecrow Video.

The schedule:

Sept 25: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941). Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Jr. From the Library of Congress. 100 min.

Oct 2: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming. From the Library of Congress. 96 min.

Oct 16: He Walked By Night (Alfred Werker, 1949). Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, Jack Webb. Cinematography was done by that master of film noir lighting, John Alton. 79 min.

Oct 23: Abandoned (Joseph M. Newman, 1949). Dennis O’Keefe, Gale Storm, Jeff Chandler, Raymond Burr. 80 min.

Oct 30: Shakedown (Joe Pevney, 1950). Howard Duff, Brian Donlevy, Peggy Dow, Lawrence Tierney.     80 min.

Nov 6: 711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950). Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Don Porter, Sammy White. 102 min.

Nov 20: The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955). Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy, Jean Wallace, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman. Cinematography by John Alton, music by David Raksin (Laura). Restored by the UCLA Film Archive. 89 min.

Dec 11: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Arnold Laven, 1957). Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, Dan Duryea, Walter Matthau. 103 min.

Dec 18: House of Games (David Mamet, 1987). Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Ricky Jay, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh, William H. Macy. Written by David Mamet and filmed in Seattle, often near where we’ll be watching the film. 101 min.

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.

Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 1

Claude Chabrol and Isabelle Huppert on the set of ‘Comedy of ‘Power

There are filmmakers so effortless, with careers unruffled by the type of obstacles and struggles that make for compelling narratives in their own right, that their reputations must be constantly shored up against those willing to airily dismiss them. Consider Claude Chabrol, in whose late, little-discussed films, a string from The Color of Lies to Inspector Bellamy, Jonathan Kirshner finds so much to admire and marvel at, well, why not call them masterpieces?

“If we are to understand Legrand’s canonization of Hajji Baba, we must understand it as championing an intoxicant, imagist cinema over a sober, responsible cinema. Because films like I Love Melvin and Hajji Baba have no redeeming social value beyond their cinematic brio, they are ideal rallying points for anyone championing “movies for movies’ sake,” as Hoberman and Rosenbaum identify the MacMahonist creed in Midnight Movies.” And then there are reputations that were ever burnished only by a cult, and have faded to obscurity. Nick Pinkerton can’t call himself a full convert to the cinema of Don Weis—he admits there’s so much to go through, especially if you count the TV work—but a screening of the director’s two iconic oddities has him understanding the fascination he held for a small band of ‘50s film critics.

Certain incidents on the set of Passion of the Christ—including dangerous lightning strikes—were taken by the more devout members of cast and crew as literal Satanic efforts to prevent the film from being made. If there’s any truth to that, the saga of Passion screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald’s attempt to make a prequel on the life of Mary, which as Luke Dittrich relates includes lawsuits, extortion, and prison terms, has to be chalked up a clear victory for Mr. Scratch. Via Matt Singer.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 25

‘Moonrise Kingdom’

Noting there’s nothing all that wrong about auteurs making themselves a known brand, David Bordwell breaks down the impeccable Wes-Andersonness of Moonrise Kingdom, finding some unremarked subtleties amidst the fussiness, including a looping chronology that can slip by you the first time through and a drift away from his trademark center-frame shot-reverse-shot that marks the emotional highpoint of the film, “[a violation of] the film’s intrinsic norm by bringing in a common technique—which now gains a force it doesn’t customarily have.”

For a first look at potential brandname auteurs of the future, Filmmaker Magazine’s annual list of 25 New Faces arrives. One intriguing development: the inclusion of film critics specializing in visual essays, such as Gina Telaroli and ::kogonada. Via Criterion.

“Philip took vivid stock of everything, all the time. It was painful and exhausting work, and probably in the end his undoing. The world was too bright for him to handle. He had to screw up his eyes or be dazzled to death. Like Chatterton, he went seven times round the moon to your one, and every time he set off, you were never sure he’d come back….’ John le Carré, who knows from observing behavior, offers a fine appreciation of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“One inevitably develops an appreciation for Siskel, Ebert, and Roeper as actors, able to remain in-character despite flubs and technical snafus, and to read the teleprompter and then improvise an argument in the same voice. I never master these skills, because I am the wrong man for the job.” Of the many Ebert tributes inspired by Steve James’s Life Itself, by far the best—generous but clear-eyed about what thumbs-up, thumbs-down wrought—is Ignatiy Vishnevetsky’s account of his brief turn as co-host of Ebert Presents: At The Movies.

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 18

Jean-Pierre Léaud in ‘Out 1 ‘

The new (and newly re-designed) Senses of Cinema offers plenty to explore, including Stuart Bender on how Gravity’s sound design convincingly fakes reality and, sticking with Cuarón, Ben Ogrodnik trying to free Children of Men’s narrative use of the camera from overly politicized critical readings; Marc Saint-Cyr describing the humanist sympathy for the underclass that unites two A. K.’s generally considered incompatibly maximalist (Kurosawa) and minimalist (Kaurismäki); Daniel Fairfax praising Jean-Pierre Léaud’s crucial, daringly raw performance in Rivette’s Out 1 (with Léaud’s own anecdotes from the film as given at a 2013 screening); a clutch of articles of Švankmajer (on Faust, Jabberwocky, Conspirators of Pleasure, and Little Otik); and Sam Littman doing the honors of placing Kelly Reichardt in the journal’s folio of Great Directors. (Jumping the gun? I don’t think so, but even if you do, c’mon, her seat’s been saved since the last frames of Old Joy, at least.)

“Saint Paul will suffer martyrdom in the middle of the bustle of a suburb of a large city, modern to the breaking-point, with its suspension bridges, its skyscrapers, its immense and crushing crowd, which passes without stopping in front of the spectacle of death…. But in this world of steel and cement, the word ‘God’ resounds (or starts to resound).” Pasolini’s unfilmed scenario St. Paul, which would have updated the saint’s journeys to the modern world while maintaining the textual fidelity of his St. Matthew, were recently published in English by Verso. Mubi offers an excerpt, and one from Alain Badiou’s forward to the volume, which explains how the atheistic, political Pasolini found religious stories valuable for providing a “poetic and historical paradigm of the possibility of scathing confrontation.”

RWF

Riffing off a fine photo of Rainer Fassbinder, his shirt emblazoned with his favorite football franchise, Ian Penman fills in the history swirling behind The Marriage of Maria Braun’s climactic radio broadcast of a World Cup match; associations that might be lost to those sketchy on European history or indifferent to soccer. No judgment, my fellow Americans. Via David Hudson.

Surveying the current crop of genre filmmakers such as The Purge’s James DeMonaco and Cold in July’s Jim Mickle, Clark Collis finds John Carpenter consistently cited as a primary influence. Carpenter’s response to the kind words is precisely the wry one you’d expect:  “I love it…. But I just wish they would send me money. It doesn’t have to be much—just a couple bucks.” Via Movie City News.

The movie distributor’s eternal goal of getting butts in seats has changed dramatically in the last few years—as in, does it matter whether the seats are in a theater or at home? Radius-TWC, a division of the Weinstein Company, has been experimenting with nearly day-and-date Video on Demand to some success, as Calum Marsh reports, getting some independent directors to chime in pro (Joe Swanberg) or con (Alex Ross Perry). And Bilge Ebiri notes the company’s about to take its biggest gamble yet, releasing Snowpiercer to VOD even as it expands to theaters across the nation. So those who love bemoaning change, start preparing your nostalgic reveries over the loss of the theatrical window.

The late, great jazz bassist Charlie Haden didn’t leave behind a filmography of note; but, as Glenn Kenny remembers, it does offer the curious sight of Haden playing drums in the background of a scene from Quine’s evangelical Synanon. Check the comments for a lovely remembrance of the musician from Kent Jones.

Walter Hill

“…I always felt that genre film-making was going to be my home, but I also understood that you couldn’t go on making them the way they used to do—there’s no challenge. If you were just gonna go at it the way the old guys did, then you were going to run up against the fact that they did it better than you ever could—not surprising, since they had invented the genres themselves. My generation found you had to use the old genres in new ways, pull them inside out.” Walter Hill, talking with John Patterson, reflects on what he learned from the old masters while humbly deflecting his right (earned absolutely) to claim his title as a current one.

“The full death toll for Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been officially published at 230,000. But in actual fact there were over half a million dead. And even now there are still 2,700 patients at the Atomic Bomb Hospital waiting to die from the after-effects of the radiation after 45 years of agony. In other words, the atomic bomb is still killing Japanese.” David Hudson also spots and passes on a pair of wonderful historic interviews. First, Kino Obscura posts excerpts from a 1990 conversation between Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa, the concerns of his then-filming Rhapsody in August heavy on the director’s mind.

“Each studio seemed to pick up a coloration, or style, of its own, and was known for it. Warners was supposed to be hard-driving, speedy. They played softball at Paramount and had refrigerators in the writers’ buildings. Metro was the top, the Bank of England—the posh English writers, Joe Pasternak’s talented Hungarians, the Broadway playwrights in New York City.” While at The Paris Review Aram Saroyan prints for the first time the 1989 interview he conducted by mail with novelist and screenwriter Daniel Fuchs, which Fuchs withheld over copyright concerns.

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“CHESTBLONDELL as DONDIE” David Cairns presents a terrific gallery of frames from Warner Brothers credits caught mid-wipe, the two actors frozen into Janus-headed beasts.

If you live in a 90-year-old house in Vancouver, think about ripping up your floorboards. One homeowner did so for a renovation and found a marvelous cache of silent movie posters, used during construction as cheap flooring material. Via Adam Cook.

Video: Vadim Rizov offers video of Richard Linklater recalling a screening of Out of the Blue, after which Denis Hopper took the audience along to a racetrack to witness him surrounding himself with sticks of dynamite and setting them off. It’s the sort of tale that sounds apocryphal—ok, maybe not so much with Hopper involved. But no need to wonder, since the video goes on to footage of the event itself.

Elaine Stritch in ‘September’

Obituary

Elaine Stritch made her name on Broadway and she continued performing on stage well into her 80s, but she also appeared on the big screen and the small screen. On TV she starred in the 1960 series My Sister Eileen and the seventies British sitcom Two’s Company but is surely most familiar to modern audiences for her recurring role on 30 Rock. On the big screen she co-starred in the 1957 A Farewell to Arms and the 1987 senior citizen gala Cocoon: The Return and was featured Woody Allen’s September (1987) and Small Time Crooks (2000). Arguably her best film role was playing herself in the documentary Elaine Stritch: Just Shoot Me, currently available to stream on Netflix. She passed away this week at the age of 89. More from Charles Isherwood at The New York Times.

Tom Rolf, the Swedish-born film editor who worked with Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, New York, New York), John Frankenheimer (The French Connection II, Black Sunday), Paul Schrader (Blue Collar, Hardcore), Ridley Scott (Black Rain) and Michael Mann (Heat) and earned an Academy Award for editing The Right Stuff (1983), died at the at 83. He edited over 40 features in his career. In addition to his Oscar, he won the ACE Eddie award (given by fellow profession film editors) for WarGames (1983) and received nominations for The Right Stuff and Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer. Carolyn Giardina at The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

Framing Pictures is back at Northwest Film Forum on Sunday, July 20. Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Bruce Reid will be discussing (among other topics) the concept of the guilty pleasure, Richard Linklater’s long-gestating Boyhood, and Eric Rohmer’s long-arriving A Summer’s Tale. The talk begins at 5:30 pm, it’s free, and you are encouraged to join the discussion.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

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.

Posted in: by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Links

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of July 11

‘The Big Racket’

After a sensible warning against film critics drawing too many real-world implications they barely understand from movies that maybe have politics less on the brains than they’d like, Nick Pinkerton proceeds to a fine analysis of 1970s Italian politics based on Anthology Film Archives series The Italian Connection: Poliziotteschi and Other Italo-Crime Films of the 1960s and 70s.

“What makes Landis the artist tolerable is the sense that on some level Landis the moralist sees what he has done and will not let himself off the hook, even if the world (and Landis the survivalist) have managed to do just that.” Steve Johnson may be straining a bit to read Burke & Hare as a confessional from its director, then again, as he points out, there’s always been a slippery relation between genre and personal expression in Landis’s films, and if any director has some confessing to do he’s the one.

English highlights from the new issue of the bilingual journal desistfilm include Claudia Siefen tracing Kore-Eda’s humanistic lens back to his documentaries, patiently observed encounters with schoolchildren and sufferers of AIDS and amnesia; Adrian Martin, as part of a dossier on diary films, praising the ground broken by David Holzman’s Diary and the delicate absence of the filmmaker in Naomi Kawase’s Like Air/Embracing; and Craig Baldwin, interviewed by Mónica Delgado, talking about the many ways outsider perspectives get homogenized. (“Not only the commercial world, but also the academy, and the Art world itself, try to “recuperate” and co-opt many of these alternative gestures, and so it is difficult to stay out of the vortex that draws Difference and Otherness into the black hole of their illusion.”) Via David Hudson.

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