DAILY | Critics and Scholars, News and More
A late summer tsunami of reading, browsing, listening, and viewing.
Thanks to tweets from Catherine Grant, Adrian Martin, and Girish Shambu, there’s quite a lot of reading, browsing, listening, and viewing to highlight today. For starters, you can now listen to the discussion of the current relationship between film criticism and academic film studies that Nick Davis moderated back in May. His fellow panelists are Adrian, Girish, and Elena Gorfinkel.
Girish flags Adrian‘s latest column for Filmkrant, an appreciation of “the great, truly cosmopolitan educator/theorist/critic Paul Willemen“: “Paul posed two major ‘regimes of subjectivity and looking’ in cinema: a pre-capitalist (feudal or medieval) regime; and a capitalist one. Capitalist looking, in and through cinema, is all about individuation (‘warm and wonderful humanity emoting in close-up’), in order to cover up the dominant role of capital itself in society’s formation. Pre-capitalist looking is something much starker: its seemingly ‘primitive’ visual quality of frontality comes from its acknowledgement of some grand authority (God, the King, Stalin…), and the need for social subjects (including film spectators) to submit to this authority—literally, through the gaze allowed by the angle or position of the camera. One glance at any Sergei Paradjanov film (like The Colour of Pomegranates, 1968) confirms the survival—sometimes strong, sometimes weakened—of this pre-capitalist look.”
Via Catherine comes word that issues of Moving Picture World, “the key motion picture trade publication that covered the film business during the transformation of the viewing experience from the nickelodeon to the movie palace,” appearing between 1907 and June 1919 are now online. “The collection of over 70,000 pages is open access, and each issue is searchable, and free to read and download.”
Also, I hadn’t known about Real|Reel Journal before yesterday; glad I do now. And “Blockbuster Reboots” is the theme of the week at In Media Res. Plus! Video essays by Steven Benedict on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
More reading. “For all its visual prowess and humor, the most powerful single aspect of Eraserhead may be its sound,” writes Mark Richardson for Pitchfork. “Working with legendary sound designer Alan Splet, who would collaborate with Lynch until his death in 1994, the drones, creaks, hisses, and furnace blasts of the film’s world are brought completely to life through sound alone. Eraserhead‘s soundtrack is being reissued on vinyl by Sacred Bones this week, and the label is screening a 35mm print of the film in San Francisco next Thursday, August 16, as well. We spoke to Lynch about the importance of sound in the film, his memories of creating the soundtrack from scratch, and how he imagines people might listen to it.”
IndieWIRE‘s Eric Kohn introduces an interview with Roger Avary: “Four years ago, the co-writer of Pulp Fiction and True Romance—as well as the director of Killing Zoe and The Rules of Attraction—faced a situation far more disturbing than anything depicted in his movies. Driving under the influence in Ojai, Calif., Avary got into an accident that killed his friend Andreas Zini. Released on bail, Avary was eventually charged with vehicular manslaughter and pleaded guilty, serving time in a one-year work furlough and then later behind bars for eight months. Reasonably enough, he discusses the incident with trepidation. ‘I spend nearly every waking moment thinking about how I can live my life in such a way as to honor this absolutely terrible loss that occurred,’ he said. The answer has slowly come to him with new work. Based on the sheer volume of projects currently in his queue, Avary may have entered the most productive period of his career, not to mention an entirely different stage of artistic expression.”
At Not Coming to a Theater Near You, David Carter and Glenn Heath Jr. reconsider the work of Andy Sidaris, whose “twelve films of the 1980′s and 90′s form a single storyline and subvert several conventions of the action genre, most notably the role of women. His atypical depiction of females within the context of action cinema is the most recognizable facet of his work and has lead to them being referred to as ‘Girls with Guns’ films…. Sidaris’s work has primarily been judged on a superficial level only, making it fitting to use a term that represents an underestimation of the films’ sophistication and intelligence.”
Let’s begin today’s in the works roundup with word of a forthcoming DVD/Blu-ray release. Kino Lorber will release Stanley Kubrick’s first feature, Fear and Desire (1953), recently restored by the Library of Congress, on October 23.
“In a sly piece of casting, Paul Schrader has hired his fellow filmmaker Gus Vant Sant to play a psychiatrist—or more likely psychotherapist—in The Canyons.” Graham Fuller at Artinfo: “Stills of Van Sant’s scenes in the film, a contemporary Los Angeles noir written by Bret Easton Ellis, depict him in session in his book-lined office with the protagonist, Christian, who is played by the 26-year-old crossover porn star James Deen. The film’s female star is Lindsay Lohan.”
“After toying with the idea of Gene Hackman, Robert Forster, Jack Nicholson, Robert Duvall and Bryan Cranston for the lead of his upcoming film Nebraska—along with Casey Affleck and Paul Rudd for the supporting role in a father/son road trip tale—director Alexander Payne, finally settled on the unlikely pair of Bruce Dern and MacGruber star Will Forte.” Edward Davis at the Playlist on what we know so far.
“For the first time ever, a David Sedaris story will become a movie,” reports indieWIRE‘s Peter Knegt. “‘C.O.G.’—a short story from Sedaris’s best-selling 1997 essay collection Naked—will begin production in October from writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the ‘Someone To Watch’ Indie Spirit Award for his 2009 directorial debut Easier Than Practice.”
Variety reports that Jennifer Lawrence will star in Ends of the Earth: “Written by Chris Terrio (Argo) and based on the lives of Ernest and Lydie Marland, story follows the controversial love affair between an oil baron and his adopted daughter, which destroys the empire they built together.”
“Catherine Keener and Toni Collette have joined Fox Searchlight’s untitled Nicole Holofcener project, which began shooting in Los Angeles Monday.” According to Borys Kit in the Hollywood Reporter, they’ll be joining “Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini as well as Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson.” Oh, and it’s a comedy.
The release date for Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby has been bumped from Christmas Day to next summer. “Is Warner Bros. really just now realizing that they’ve made a popcorn movie and not a serious period piece?” asks Flavorwire‘s Caroline Stanley. “The Playlist thinks that the move has more to do with an overcrowded December release schedule (which includes Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, and This Is 40, as well as The Hobbit—also a Warner Bros. film) as opposed to any issues with the actual movie, but we’re still skeptical.”
Speaking of Zero Dark Thirty, a teaser was released yesterday:
Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan notes that “while there’s enough there to get a sense of the plot—this is the inside story of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden—you get precious few glimpses of the actors, and it’s not clear whether Bigelow’s approach is going to recall Paul Greengrass’s fact-based United 93, her own Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, or something else entirely. Still: This is the teaser for Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie! Kyle Chandler and Jessica Chastain are in it! We’re onboard.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ Goeff Boucher talks with Guillermo del Toro about Pacific Rim (video, 15’41″): “Slated for a July 12, 2013, release, the film chronicles an epic battle between alien kaiju and giant robots piloted by humans.”
“Will Ferrell has been confirmed in the cast of the upcoming office film The Internship, alongside Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, seven years after they appeared together in Wedding Crashers,” reports the AFP.
Obits. Indiana University confirmed yesterday that scholar, professor and chair of its Department of Communication and Culture, Alexander Doty, has passed away: “Doty’s scholarship centered around gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and feminist film theory. He wrote seminal books on queer film theory and gay culture. At the time of his death he was working on a book with IU Associate Professor of English Patricia Ingham, titled The Monstrous and the Medieval, an exploration of representations of medieval monstrosity in 20th century film. He was simultaneously at work on a book-length project on contemporary film melodrama, as well as articles about Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock.”
“Robert Hughes, the eloquent, combative art critic and historian who lived with operatic flair and wrote with a sense of authority that owed more to Zola or Ruskin than to his own century, died on Monday,” writes Randy Kennedy in the New York Times. “With a Hemingwayesque build and the distinctively rounded vowels of his native Australia, Mr. Hughes became as familiar a presence on television as he was in print, over three decades for Time magazine, where he was chief art critic and often a traditionalist scourge during an era when art movements fractured into unrecognizability.” Tyler Green has a fine appreciation at Artinfo. With his 1980 series for PBS and the BBC, The Shock of the New, Hughes became to modern art what Carl Sagan was to science, a populist explainer, and I do mean that as a sincere compliment. You can watch all eight episodes here.
Also in the NYT, Robin Pogrebin: “Martin E. Segal, whose puckish warmth and old-fashioned ways belied his power and influence as one of the city’s leading cultural figures, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 96.” Segal, chairman of Lincoln Center from 1981 to 1986, “was also the founding president and chief executive of the Film Society of Lincoln Center from 1968 to 1978. During his tenure the Film Society honored Charlie Chaplin, whom Mr. Segal went to great lengths to bring to the United States from Britain, at its first annual gala tribute. The second award went to Fred Astaire, the third to Alfred Hitchcock.”
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