Adam Thirlwell, writing for the New York Review of Books, suggests that Raúl Ruiz’s "career can be understood as a sustained resistance, a manic guerrilla operation, against two forms of power: the violence of Pinochet’s dictatorship, and the control on conventional movie-making exerted by Hollywood. He is the exile director: a Latin American who made most of his movies in English, French, or Portuguese—and whose aesthetic inhabits an absolute alien territory. His films are drifting, fantastical, introspective, melancholy, erudite, raucous—sometimes telling no story at all, sometimes telling too many. He made so many films, and they so consistently refuse to obey whatever formal rules we’ve come to expect from cinema, that they tend to develop into a blurry whole in your mind. Ruiz’s films form a climate more than a series of individual works."
Patrick Holzapfel and Ivana Miloš introduce a conversation in the Notebook: "On November 10, James Benning premiered five of his latest works (thinking of red, wavelength, measuring change, Spring Equinox and Fall Equinox) at the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna, accompanied by a short response film by Michael Snow.... Prompted by the pleasure as well as the discontent of the encounter with these films, we decided to engage in a dialogue that would offer us the time to interweave thoughts with as little space in between as possible."
Gene Tierney's "seductive charge was so strong as to overwhelm every other talent," writes Locarno Film Festival artistic director Carlo Chatrian, also in the Notebook. "No matter how hard she tried, submitting to tests and following classes in acting technique, Tierney was never acknowledged for her performances but as an irresistible icon of attraction, to the point where those features of hers—so singular, and so singularly beautiful—became both a weapon and a prison."
"Ming Wong borrows scenes and characters from films he loves in a way not so dissimilar from someone raiding a friend’s wardrobe." So begins Dominic Eichler's account for frieze of accompanying the artist on a trip through Italy, revisiting locations where Pier Paolo Pasolini filmed Teorema (Theorem, 1968) and where Wong created his homage, the five-channel installation Devo Partire. Domani (I Must Go. Tomorrow, 2010).
Editors Catherine Grant and Chiara Grizzaffi have posted a new issue [in]Transition, where we find five new audiovisual essays, curatorial statements from their makers and peer reviews. In Issue 3.4:
- As Jennifer O’Meara writes, in Thinking Through Acting: Performative Indices and Philosophical Assertions, Bryn Hewko and Aaron Taylor translate "a complex, cognitive approach to film acting into a lucid, even pleasurable, videographic lesson—one which tests their opening assertion that ‘screen acting can be an embodied form of philosophical activity.’"
- Adrian Martin: "I was instantly gripped and fascinated by [Caroline Rumley's] Give Me a Smile."
- "Lori Morimoto’s Hannibal: A Fanvid offers an understanding of Hannibal informed by the scholar-fan perspective, and also an argument about the relationship between TV producers and fan culture," writes Louisa Stein.
- Richard Misek on Shane Denson's Don’t Look Now: Paradoxes of Suture: "Anyone interested in the on-going evolution of digital film studies needs to see, and reflect on, this experiment in close analysis."
- And for Stephen Mamber, Booth Wilson's Landscape in Paradigms: Ford’s Monument Valley "would be one of the few examples I’d use to demonstrate what’s possible in the digital realm that simply couldn’t have been done in any other way."
And via Catherine Grant, Adam Scovell suggests that both Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970) and Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971) "capture a brief moment where the landscape, far from being the bastion of healing chastity and solitude that it is regularly portrayed as today, comes to life as the most beautiful and sentient of erotic entities."
Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted his review, which originally ran in the Chicago Reader in 2000, of Chris Marker's homage, One Day in the Life of Andre Arsenevich (1999), "the best single piece of Tarkovsky criticism I know of, clarifying the overall coherence of his oeuvre while leaving all the principal mysteries in the films intact."
Clancy Sigal "was a bright young lefty, engaged in several ways with the Hollywood Left then under heavy assault from the government and assorted red-hunters, all seeking indictments or bribes or both," writes Paul Buhle:
The beauty of [Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal, and Raging Egos], for most readers, will be found in the details, lovingly or painfully described, page after page. On one of those pages we meet Marjorie Main, the redoubtable tough-looking character actress best remembered for being Ma Kettle but with a stack of larger and smaller roles behind her. Or Boris Karloff, one of the first of the militant unionists in American film, badly reduced and desperate for cash by the early 1950s. Or Lou Costello, a former boxer who, with perfect timing, became Bud Abbott’s perpetual foil, but in private life vindictively sought to enforce the blacklist against all suspected Reds. Or Peter Lorre, a true Weimar German intellectual in a philistine America, also fallen upon hard times and also reliant upon self-drugging to drag himself along into degraded roles as movies themselves went down, down, down.
Also in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dan Hassler-Forest on "Anti-Fascism vs. Nostalgia in Rogue One," Colin Marshall on "Blade Runner 2049 and Los Angeles' Korean Future" and Antony Loewenstein: "After 9/11, Hollywood rushed to embrace the CIA."
"The inaugural film of postwar queer cinema and a watershed event in the history of the American avant-garde, Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks of 1947 is an autobiographical account of the awakening of desire," writes Ara Osterweil in the new issue of Artforum. "Although the modern sexual revolution and the civil rights and gay rights movements were years if not decades away, Fireworks explored the pleasures and perils of same-sex desire and interracial identification in a culture in which homosexuals and racial minorities were demonized and persecuted. Seventy years later, the film feels just as prescient. In an America perpetually at war with enemies real and phantasmagoric, Anger’s subversive eroticization of politics confronts the sadism of imperial power with the masochism of the queer subject. It is arguably the most political wet dream ever filmed."
This past weekend, Light Industry screened Peter Watkins's 873-minute 1987 film The Journey and, also writing for Artforum, Nick Pinkerton notes that a "fourteen-and-a-half-hour documentary about nuclear proliferation just doesn’t address itself to the broadest possible audience—although if you, like myself, happen to believe that the use of art as a tool for social change fails in just about every case other than maybe Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Blackfish, this isn’t necessarily a demerit."
"Tradition dictates that we list our annual faker’s dozen of movies that made us cringe," write the editors of Reverse Shot, introducing their "11 Offenses of 2016":
- Nick Pinkerton on Tim Miller's Deadpool.
- Violet Lucca on Pablo Larraín's Jackie.
- Adam Nayman on David Mackenzie's Hell or High Water and on Jeff Nichols’s Midnight Special.
- Michael Koresky on Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation and on Jeff Baena’s Joshy.
- Eric Hynes on Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.
- Farihah Zaman on Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon.
- Jeff Reichert on Trey Edward Shults’s Krisha.
- Justin Stewart on Jon Lucas and Scott Moore's Bad Moms.
- Michael Sicinski on Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals.
"Both American Sniper and Sully are 'based on the true story' about straight white Christian men who utilize their command over the technologies of war and transportation, respectively, in order to save the American people from looming danger," writes Daniel Spielberger. "These films aren’t merely exercises in cinematic glorification—like Clint Eastwood’s speech [at the 2012 Republican National Convention], they are a part of a uniquely American myth-making process, posing straw-man moral tests for their protagonists that ultimately validate their heroism by presenting them as fundamentally rejecting their fame. Eastwood’s 2012 performance wasn’t an old man stumbling on stage and freely associating, but prescient propaganda for the age of Trump."
With Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), W.C. Fields became "the first major figure at a major studio to present mainstream American audiences with a stab at a meta-narrative," argues Jim Knipfel at the Chiseler.
In Chris Petit’s "cult road movie" Radio On (1979), "the British landscape is partially viewed through a German lens," writes Oliver Lunn, who revisits the locations from London to Bristol for the BFI—"in Google Street View to see how the English landscape has changed."
Trailer for Agnieszka Smoczynska's The Lure
"Three new memoirs by people who grew up in the 1980s argue that movies were their saving grace." For the Washington Post, Amy Henderson reviews Kevin Smokler's Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to '80s Teen Movies, Jason Diamond's Searching for John Hughes: Or Everything I Thought I Needed to Know about Life I Learned from Watching '80s Movies and Hadley Freeman's Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and Why We Don't Learn Them from Movies Anymore).
So far, Jonathan Rosenbaum has interviewed Godard twice—at considerable length, too. The first interview ran in the Soho News in 1980, the other in Trafic in 1997.
Kaleem Aftab meets Steve Carell for The Talks.
Tonight will be the last night of Illuminating Moonlight, a brief series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York featuring Barry Jenkins's two features and a few films Jenkins has selected: "I sought to draw from films that could be more felt in the workings of Moonlight rather than seen," he writes for Film Comment. Carlos Reygadas's Silent Light (2007) screens at 6:30, followed by Jenkins's Medicine for Melancholy (2008) at 9:15.
And tomorrow night, Jenkins will be in Los Angeles for a world premiere, the live performance by the Wordless Music Orchestra of Nicholas Britell's score for Moonlight.
New York. Antoine de Baecque, co-author with Noël Herpe of Éric Rohmer: A Biography, will be at the Metrograph this evening as the theater launches its Rohmer series with Chloe in the Afternoon (1972), followed by My Night at Maud’s (1969), which Cosmo Bjorkenheim writes about for Screen Slate: "Superficially, the film is conservative in many ways—the chaste traditionalism of its hero, its unadventurous cinematography (by Nestor Almendros, who would go on to work with François Truffaut, Jean Eustache, and Terrence Malick)—but by upsetting our expectations about the narrative function of its characters’ debates, it reveals the neglected potential of cinema to simply invite us into a conversation that can change our attitudes and thereby our lives."
Also at Screen Slate, David Savage on Max Kalmanowicz's The Children (1979), which "combines both the eco-horror and the child-as-monster horror subgenres into one campy package, recalling films such as Village of the Damned (1960) and Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)." Tomorrow at the Alamo Drafthouse.
The exhibition Sergei Eisenstein: Drawings 1931–1948 is on view at Alexander Gray Associates through February 11.
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest is on view at the New Museum through Sunday. Robert Storr for the New York Review of Books: "Deploying relatively simple special effects—digitally increasing contrasts and denaturing color, dropping out shadows or increasing highlights to the point that forms break up—in support of medium-tech strategies involving montage, mirroring, and uncanny juxtaposition, Rist has conjured a pantheistic pleasure dome."
Comedy on Film: What Makes the French Laugh?, a series at the French Institute Alliance Française, runs Tuesdays, from tomorrow through February 21.
Los Angeles. The retrospective Not Reconciled: The Cinema of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet is currently on at the Billy Wilder Theater through February 6.
In Wallace Fox’s Kid Dynamite (1943), screening tonight at the New Beverly, Leo Gorcey is "so mean to moist-eyed, tall and gracious Danny [Bobby Jordan] that he becomes less funny and more aggressively unpleasant," writes Kim Morgan. "And he’s jealous. This is not a criticism; it makes the movie deeper and more poignant as we root for both guys."
Seattle. The 2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour makes a stop at Northwest Film Forum on Wednesday.
Vienna. Sicily: Cinema of the Isles: An Italian Journey is on at the Austrian Film Museum through February 9.
IN THE WORKS
Yorgos Lanthimos will direct Kirsten Dunst in On Becoming a God in Central Florida, "a 1990s-set one-hour dark comedy series," reports Deadline's Nellie Andreeva. "Recently widowed and left with nothing, minimum-wage Orlando water park employee Krystal Gill (Dunst) lies, schemes and cons her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise—the cultish, flag-waving, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her to ruin in the first place."
"What are you working on now?" Variety's Elsa Keslassy asks Cameraperson director Kirsten Johnson (via the Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth). The reply: "I’m working with Jill Soloway and her sister on the pilot of a hybrid project. And aside from that I’m beginning to work with my father on another hybrid project, an observational documentary which I hope will be an hilarious heartbreaker. You know Groundhog Day, Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati and Jackass? That will be the spirit of it. Before I lose my dad, I want to keep him for the future. You can’t keep people from dying but you can keep them alive through films."
"Sylvester Stallone is attached to direct and star opposite Adam Driver in Tough as They Come, based on the best-selling Travis Mills memoir," reports Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. "The drama tells the true tale of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mills, one of only five soldiers to survive a quadruple amputation from a battlefield injury."
"Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie are joining Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the comedy Holmes and Watson," reports Variety's Dave McNary.
The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth reports that Kevin Costner's co-written a western he's thinking of directing. "It’s about 10 hours long, how about that?" Costner says to Variety's Kristopher Tapley. "Maybe I’ll make three features out of it. There’s a fourth one, too, so it’s truly a saga. I could do TV, or I could also make it like every six months, have a big western that’s tied together like [Claude Berri's] Jean de Florette  and Manon of the Spring . I think those are fun to watch."
Also, Brillante Mendoza Presents: "Once per month, the show will present a made-for-TV movie created by Mendoza, but it isn’t said if he’ll be directing all of them, or passing on the reins to other filmmakers. Nor is it known how long the series is expected to run."
"Leandro Firmino and Mario Babic are set to star in Rodrigo Rodrigues’s upcoming adventure drama Goitaca, an upcoming film based on an indigenous tribe who used to live in the Atlantic rain forest during the 16th century," reports Shadow and Act.
"The actor Om Puri, who has died aged 66 from a heart attack, exuded a reassuring warmth and gravitas over a long career divided largely between Bollywood and Hollywood," writes Ryan Gilbey in the Guardian. "It is for his performances in two low-budget British films about immigration and assimilation, however, that he will be most fondly remembered by UK audiences. East Is East (1999) explored the tensions between George (Puri), a Pakistani patriarch, and the family he is raising with his English wife (Linda Bassett) in Salford at the start of the 1970s…. Two years before East Is East, he had been impressive as another immigrant father in My Son the Fanatic (1997), written by Hanif Kureishi."
Omar Ahmed argues that "it was the earlier phase of his career, from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, where we find him at his most productive, creative and accomplished. It was his formative associations with Indian Parallel Cinema, particularly in the second phase when the NFDC came to fruition, which saw Om Puri emerge as a notably gifted and versatile actor."
More from Amitava Nag in Silhouette: "A number of actors with lesser looks have gone on record saying that by watching Om and [Naseeruddin Shah] (more of Om because of his ‘unconventional’ looks) they got the courage to become film actors. Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin, Manoj Bajpai and a few more can be considered to be the direct descendants of Naseer and Om in a sense."
"Nat Hentoff, an author, journalist, jazz critic and civil libertarian who called himself a troublemaker and proved it with a shelf of books and a mountain of essays on free speech, wayward politics, elegant riffs and the sweet harmonies of the Constitution, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan," reports Robert D. McFadden for the New York Times. "He was 91." The Village Voice has posted a collection of "Nat Hentoff's Greatest Hits" and Ehsan Khoshbakht has posted a series of liner notes Hentoff wrote for jazz releases over the years.
"The British filmmaker Franco Rosso, who has died aged 75, always felt like an outsider, which may well account for the extraordinary empathy with the disaffected and marginalized that characterized his work," writes Martin Stellman for the Guardian. "Beginning his career as an assistant editor on Ken Loach’s Kes (1969), he went on to create a series of hard-hitting documentaries and dramas, but it was arguably his first fiction film, Babylon (1980), that marked him out as a fearless chronicler of the dispossessed."
The second part of Peter Labuza and Keith Uhlich's conversational countdown of their favorite films of 2016 is now up at The Cinephiliacs (135'26").
Adam Schartoff talks with Kirsten Johnson about Cameraperson on the year's first episode of Filmwax Radio (72'00").
As Sam D'Arcangelo reports for Offbeat, friends of artist, filmmaker and activist Helen Hill (1970 - 2007) have digitized several of her films and posted them at Vimeo. You might want to start with The Florestine Collection, completed by her husband, Paul Gailiunas, in 2011.