Article Archive for February 2012
Nearly a year after detained Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s THIS IS NOT A FILM was smuggled from Tehran to Cannes, and only a few days after his countryman Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for A SEPARATION, the clandestine movie opens at Film Forum for a two week run today. Among the fresh raves for the film, A.O. Scott writes that “While THIS IS NOT A FILM bristles with a topical, real-world urgency pointedly excluded from the Surrealist project, it is also a provocative, radical and at times surprisingly playful meditation on the nature of representation. Using modest, ready-to-hand techniques and a format that seems to emphasize the most banal, literal-minded…
A couple of days after the Academy Awards, but some writers are still trying to figure out THE ARTIST’s earlier win at the Independent Spirit Awards. Scott Macaulay recounts the entire evening for Filmmaker, including the late arrival of THE ARTIST crew fresh from their victories at France’s Cesars the night before: “When Ben Kingsley opened the envelope and announced THE ARTIST as Best Feature, a prize it would score again a day later at the Academy Awards, this charming shapeshifter of a film had succeeded in truly being all things to all people.
Movie illusionist Georges Méliès anticipated 21st-century filmmaking norms, including the fight against ‘pirated’ work. Part two of a two-part essay.
You don’t need us to tell you who won last night, so better to point to a few of the editorials that ran over the weekend. First up, Nick Pinkerton’s critique of Oscar’s cultural pretensions for the Sundance Now blog takes a longer view than most, going all the way back to the 18th century to revisit a document called “Hierarchy of Genres” by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first president of England’s Royal Academy of Arts. Then the closer: “If the Academy’s simpleminded criterion for weighing accomplishment in this most extraordinarily multifaceted of art forms isn’t enough reason for the gorge to rise, there is also the return of host Billy Crystal this year, a comedian who to my remembrance has only once made me laugh, with his jaw-crashingly ill-calibrated monologue…
How an early 20th-century movie magician brought us to the moon and then fell back to earth.
The weekend’s big release is WANDERLUST, David Wain’s follow-up to ROLE MODELS and WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. “Shopping between the prefab identity options available to them—squeezed, stressed urban professionalism; suburban McMansion soul death; rural counterculture opting out—George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) are looking to find a social model somewhere in America where they can be true to themselves and each other,” writes Nick Pinkerton for The Los Angeles Weekly. “And though WANDERLUST finally laughs off the real discomforting conclusion that it’s edging toward, it’s gut-bustingly funny when mocking their hopeless options.” Manohla Dargis is similarly measured writing for The New York Times:
From the THE GAY SHOE CLERK to INTOLERANCE: A brief primer on silent film’s biggest voices.
Legendary publisher and first amendment crusader Barney Rosset died Tuesday at the age of 89. Though best known for the many outré literary masterpieces he published under the Grove Press imprint, Rosset also had a hand in distributing several controversial European films in the United States, including I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW). MUBI Notebook’s David Hudson puts together a fine cache of recent Rosset profiles, including Loren Glass’s extensive feature for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Toward the beginning of that piece, Glass wrote, “It took over ten minutes for Rosset to mention Grove, and when he did it was in order to dismiss everything that had been written about it…‘People write about Grove — they think I came out of an egg or something.’ Barney Rosset did not come out of an egg.”
Geoff Dyer’s latest idiosyncratic panorama, this one about Andrei Tarkovsky’s STALKER, came out from Random House yesterday. Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, was the source. Rose McLaren begins her piece for The White Review with a line from Dyer: ‘So what kind of writer am I, reduced to writing a summary of a film?’—a question some of us have paused over often enough. At Movie Morlocks, R. Emmett Sweeny describes the book as “a pellucid scene-by-scene ramble through Tarkovsky’s sci-fi head trip, alive to the film’s textures as much as its ideas.”
With HUGO in the headlines, early film pioneers walk the red carpet.
Wrapping up Berlinale for The New York Times, Dennis Lim draws special attention to Miguel Gomes’s FIPRESCI-winning TABU, contrasting the film with the box-office sensation of the moment: “If THE ARTIST, the quasi-silent movie of the moment, has the winking quality of pastiche, TABU—named for the final film by F.W. Murnau, one of cinema’s great romantics, and filmed in luminous black-and-white—is a living, breathing demonstration of cinephilia in action. For Mr. Gomes, a former film critic, the extinct styles and moods of classic cinema are not fodder for imitation or parody but more like communal dream material, to be mined for something new and mysterious.” Lim also combs the Berlinale “behemoth” for three films that to his mind channel John Berger’s essay “Why Look at Animals?”: FRANCINE, POSTCARDS FROM THE ZOO, and Denis Côté’s BESTIARY.
THE GRAND INQUISITOR filmmaker and ‘czar of noir’ Eddie Muller brings Hollywood backstory to 1945’s SCARLET STREET. The second of two parts.