April 7, 2007

Weekend shorts.

Pantheon, Rome "[Walter] Murch's interests go far beyond the reach of cinema, encompassing architecture, astronomy, music theory, and mathematics - among an almost impossibly broad range of other subjects. When a friend of mine casually mentioned that Walter had 'discovered' something about the Pantheon, in Rome, and that this discovery had something to do with Nicolaus Copernicus and the origins of heliocentrism in Western astronomy, I was determined to write about it for BLDGBLOG." And so, Geoff Manaugh talks with the legendary editor about his research as well as about "the Mithraic religion of the ancient Mediterranean, urban acoustics, the music of the spheres, Brian Eno, Single Speed Design, the architecture of film, and even whether or not CCTV surveillance of city streets should be considered a new cinematic avant-garde."

"'I think the French are diseased,' says the director Bruno Dumont, taking a drag on the fourth or fifth cigarette he has lit in the past half-hour," notes Daniel Trilling who meets him for the New Statesman and seems a bit thrown off as he discovers Dumont "maintains a completely deadpan expression and speaks in clipped sentences, peppered with references to Sophocles and Nietzsche. It's as if he is consciously playing up to his reputation as a lofty, dispassionate French auteur.... 'My films are completely philosophical,' he says. 'It's a metaphysical cinema: good, evil, love, hate.'"

"Truth arrives as grudgingly as reconciliation in the Chadian film Daratt (Dry Season)," writes Manohla Dargis. "Gently and quietly told, steeped in the kind of resigned sorrow that can come after years of hurt and disappointment, it is an unassumingly political work that unfolds with the simplicity of a parable and the gravity of a Bible story."

Also in the New York Times:

Public Cowboy No 1
  • "[Gene] Autry put his signature on 20th-century entertainment," writes Jeanine Basinger in her review of Holly George-Warren's Public Cowboy No 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry. "He mastered synergy before anyone had coined the term. He used his movies to sell his radio show, his radio show to sell his recordings, his records to sell his sheet music and the covers of his sheet music to sell his movies. When television arrived, he was the first real star to accept it. 'Let's look it square in the face,' he said. 'The sooner we all start figuring out how to benefit from it ... the better off we'll be.'"

"When Premiere magazine announced last month that its April issue would be its last, the epitaph for long-form movie journalism may well have been written." For Variety, Anne Thompson traces the recent career trajectories of past movie magazine stalwarts. Paramount online marketing executive Amy Powell tells her that "Alpha Fans" are "becoming part of our movie, engaging, interacting, passing along, voting, organic. They build it themselves." To which Thompson adds, "The movie magazine niche as such is no more." Glenn Kenny comments.

On a related note, Maxim Jakubowski, blogging for the Guardian: "British film magazines like Empire or Total Film would certainly not have been launched had Premiere not paved the way, but if the US market can't sustain a popular film magazine, what are the long-term chances of British ones?"

"I'd like to think that a quietly precious piece of artfully arranged storytelling like The Cats of Mirikitani and a brassy piece of bluster like The Hoax represent respectively the future and present of movies," writes Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader. "The first is addressed to its audience like a personal letter; the second isn't addressed to anyone at all. Watching it is like being sprayed with paint."

"What gives [Aki] Kaurismäki's films their delightful tension is the tug-of-war between this apparent miserabilism and the surges of hope that disrupt the dour surface," writes Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman. "Lights in the Dusk is like the emotional equivalent of an optical illusion: the glass that appears to be half empty is shown, by the end of the picture, to be overflowing with the milk, or rather the vodka, of human kindness."

In the Guardian:

The Monstrous-Feminine

  • "[M]odern horror still can't seem to work out what to do with women." Emine Saner talks with a psychologist, a producer, a gaggle of fans and Barbara Creed, author of The Monstrous-Feminine.

  • "[N]ow there are good opportunities for Chinese actresses in Hollywood. I can be in a film as an artist, not as a decoration," Gong Li tells Jonathan Watts. Related: Will Lawrence talks with Zhang Yimou for the Telegraph. Yes, Curse of the Golden Flower has arrived in the UK.

  • John Patterson describes Shooter as "Rambo retooled with liberal trimmings, while I like to think, with tongue only partly in cheek, of the quasi-fascist 300 as hiding a clarion call for the acceptance of gays in the US military. I swear, you just can't tell left from right in Hollywood any more." Related: Kevin Maher talks with Mark Wahlberg for the London Times.

  • Patterson also hears that Perfect Stranger, starring Bruce Willis and Halle Berry is "Color of Night-bad" and puts forward a modest proposal: "I think they should be allowed to take Oscars back from performers who are too clueless to exploit the alleged prestige the award confers upon them. Three strikes and you're out seems like a good rule of thumb here."

Linda Linda Linda Korean actress Du-Na Bae is developing quite a resume, and with US releases - within a month of each other - of the monster movie The Host (she was the archer) and now the Japanese girl-power rock band movie Linda Linda Linda, she has to be considered a legitimate international cult figure." G Allen Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle on "an extremely well-written, emotionally complex coming-of-age tale that has a John Hughesian respect for teenage angst." Also: Police Beat and The Page Turner.

Even if Joseph Gordon-Levitt's stock is skyrocketing, it's still not overvalued, argues Meghan O'Rourke in Slate.

In the LA CityBeat, Andy Klein celebrates the return of the "one of a kind" Killer of Sheep. So, too, does Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times: "[W]hile blunter, more blustery films have become yesterday's news, almost nothing about this quiet film has dated. That is in part a tribute to [Charles] Burnett's gifts, which blossomed in subsequent African American-themed works like the marvelous Danny Glover-starring To Sleep With Anger and the too-little-seen Nightjohn. But it also speaks to the enduring power of poetic cinema, of films with genuine artistic vision that create mood and capture emotion in ways only motion pictures can."

Also, ST VanAirsdale wonders if Janet Maslin's 1978 review in the New York Times "meant what it would mean to a no-budget indie in 2007: near-instant death."

A double double-pack from indieWIRE: Interviews with Dreaming Lhasa co-directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam; and Live Free or Die co-directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin. More on that one from Craig Phillips at the Guru.

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley still shows Loach's weakness for dialectics," writes Noy Thrupkaew for the American Prospect. "But there is something spellbinding in the way that the cogs of bloody revolution keep churning in [Ken] Loach's film - murderers and martyrs and those who are both, all grist for an unceasing and unforgiving fate."

Friedrich von Blowhard poses a few questions regarding spatial coherence, with particular reference to Buster Keaton.

Lesley O'Toole talks with John Travolta for the Independent.

The Inner Life of Martin Frost Bilge Ebiri talks with Paul Giamatti and Bryan Whitefield asks Paul Auster about The Inner Life of Martin Frost and why an acclaimed novelist would make a film in the first place: "It's the collaborative aspect that is so attractive to me. Because I spend so much of my life, alone, sitting in my room."

Martyn Palmer profiles Aishwarya Rai for the London Times.

Reviewing The Namesake for the WSWS, Joanne Laurier asks, "Why did [Mira] Nair find it necessary to sanitize two deeply socially polarized cities - New York and Calcutta - by placing out of sight all but a tiny, privileged segment of the population?"

"Visit your multiplex, and try, just try, to find a movie where women are as plentiful and powerful as men," writes Time's Richard Corliss. "One reason for the vanishing movie female is that the genres in which women used to be equal or dominant - the romantic melodrama and comedy - fell out of favor when the core audience changed from families to teen boys."

At ScreenGrab, Pazit Cahlon talks with Howard Zinn about Sacco and Vanzetti.

"While I enjoyed a few fests in the 1980s and 1990s, I just don't have the time or patience anymore," writes Kathy Fennessey at the Siffblog. "Glastonbury allows music fans to enjoy the sights and sounds without having to experience the smells and other "fringe benefits" of the festival experience."

"Urban renewal is mocking the working class, Godard observes... Of all the devastatingly timeless truths that [Two or Three Things I Know About Her] reflects, this one probably hurts the most." Tram at Lucid Screening.

Vintage TV John Borland for Wired News: "The TV is Dead. Long Live the TV." Via Chuck Tryon.

Online click-through tip. Miranda July's No one belongs here more than you, via Ray Pride.

Online viewing tip. Owen Hatherley gathers three parts of "Chris Marker's The Train Rolls On, his 1971 film on the cine-train of Alexander Medvedkin," in one handy entry.

Online viewing tips. Michael Guillén rounds up a slew at SF360.

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Posted by dwhudson at April 7, 2007 1:53 PM


I love that t.v. graphic!! Thanks for letting me be the caboose to the Shorts Train. Heh.

Posted by: Michael Guillen at April 7, 2007 3:16 PM

Thank you very much for the Walter Murch interview link. It pretty much made my day on so many levels and is inspiring to push my creative process that much more. That's quite priceless to say the least.

Posted by: Kevin at April 8, 2007 12:56 AM