Monday, October 06, 2014

TIFF 2014, part 1: Dardennes, Hausner


Some thoughts on a couple of films I caught in Toronto ...

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium). In the first few minutes, I was reminded of a joke. A CEO, a Tea Party member and a union worker are sitting at a table. A plate of twelve cookies appears. The CEO grabs eleven of them, looks at the Tea Partier and exclaims, pointing to the worker, “Watch out—he wants your cookie!”

I encountered this joke as part of a Facebook meme in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. The situation in the joke resonates with the film’s story—even though the Dardennes said in their Q&A that they first had the idea for the project ten years ago. The plot is simple, even schematic. The sixteen employees of a firm that makes solar panels (a nice irony) are given a choice between receiving a 1000-Euro bonus or preventing the layoff of a fellow worker (Sandra, the protagonist, played by Marion Cotillard). They vote for the former option, and Sandra spends a weekend tracking down several co-workers one by one, pleading with them to change their vote so she can keep her job.

This film hit me especially hard because of a personal reason: in the last year, I have been trying to use the phenomenon of neoliberal capitalism—and its wide-ranging, calamitous impacts on society and the environment—as a master paradigm to structure some of my courses. The situations, contradictions and ironies put in place and developed by the movie speak powerfully to our present moment: this is ‘contemporary’ cinema at its most urgent and jolting.

If the film was merely illustrative of neoliberalism and its effects, it wouldn’t be very interesting in aesthetic terms. But the Dardennes have designed a work crammed with detail—a lot of it open and suggestive but not conclusive. For example, Sandra has been marked for layoff because she has recently returned from sick leave due to struggles with depression. Can her depression itself be traced to alienated labor or did it pre-exist her work? Why exactly is she being fired? Is it because she might be, due to her recent illness, a less than perfect ‘working machine’? Questions such as these are quietly signalled by the film and left suspended.

The Dardennes have spoken in interviews about the influence of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas on their work. I’ve not read Levinas but accounts of his philosophy repeatedly stress the ethical and affective importance of the encounter—specifically face-to-face—between one human being and another. It is important (and moving) that Sandra travels and seeks out her co-workers one by one and has a personal meeting with each one. (In a quietly humorous instance that comments upon her quest, she arrives at a co-worker’s house to find that he’s not home, speaks to him through his wife’s cell phone, and then accidentally runs into him in person later—the encounter now ‘complete’.) Each meeting and each worker are subtly, imaginatively individuated, and the film succeeds in great part because of this sustained inventiveness.

Early in the film, Sandra’s husband Manu, a fast-food worker employed by a chain named Lunch Garden (a perfectly generic and globalized name for this real-life Belgian corporation) urges her to use a particular line when she sets out to implore each co-worker for her job: “I’d rather be together with you than alone on the dole.” An audience member asked the Dardennes if Sandra was simply an updated version of Rosetta, fifteen years later. They said no. Rosetta, for them, was “a good capitalist soldier” who would do anything—including betraying a friend—to survive. But Sandra was different in that a sense of solidarity was important to her. It’s ironic: conditions around the globe have deteriorated in many ways in the interval between the two films, and yet the new film ultimately feels more hopeful than the older one …

Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner, Austria). The most ‘perfect’ film I saw in Toronto. There were others that were more complex and challenging (Goodbye to Language, Horse Money) but this one struck a certain droll balance between aesthetics and politics: between a carefully detailed form and a quiet but insistent political analysis.

The film is a satirical comedy set in the early 1800s in which real-life German writer Heinrich von Kleist attempts to convince a housewife to join him in a double suicide. This narrative pretext permits Hausner to evoke a world—that of the Prussian bourgeoisie in Berlin—and sketch, beneath the narrative, a diagrammatic view of a society, its structure, and its invisible lines of hierarchy. The formal design of the film is distilled and exact: every image contains an idea—or gestures toward one.

Amour Fou’s strategy is to tightly connect film form to social formality, thus expressing something about—commenting upon—the world it depicts. The film opens with a close-up image of a bright shock of yellow flowers: Henriette the housewife is arranging them meticulously, but because of the camera angle, she is almost totally obscured by them. The film is full of formal rituals that also simultaneously stage the playing out of social roles and distinctions: dinner parties (with solemn musical performances following), decorous parlor conversations, a ceremonial dance.

A hierarchy is outlined not just through the visual dimension of this film’s social mise en scène, but also in speech: specifically, when certain people get to speak for others. Heinrich, in trying to convince Henriette to die with him, declares to this woman he barely knows, “You love nothing; nobody loves you.” (She is silent in reply; her circumscribed and regimented life as a housewife also means that there is a grain of truth to this presumptuous assertion.) When she falls ill, and is treated by a doctor and a hypnotist, she does not speak; she is merely an object, a surface, upon which ‘science’ is imposed and practiced. At a dinner party, a wealthy Prussian bemoans the harmful after-effects of the French Revolution, and announces that peasants will not know “what to do with their freedom”. The finale (I won’t reveal it here) literalizes the erasure of a woman’s speech by a man, by way of a sly allusion to Bresson’s Le Diable Probablement.

This is also a great film on the theme of ‘the artist as narcissist’. Heinrich wants Henriette as a partner in suicide not because of some spiritually or erotically exalted reason but because of pure selfishness: his ego craves the satisfaction of having a woman give him her most precious possession, her life, for no other reason than that he asked her for it. Here is a good interview with Hausner in which she points out what interested her about the real-life story on which the film is based: "Kleist had apparently asked several people whether they wanted to die with him–his best friend, a cousin and then ultimately Henriette Vogel. I found that a little grotesque. He gave this romantic, exaggerated idea of double suicide for love a banal, slightly ridiculous side."


* * *

Recent reading:

-- The latest (and third) issue of the journal [in]Transition is edited by Catherine Grant, and features curatorial pieces by her, Cristina Álvarez López, Adrian Martin, Ian Garwood and Miklos Kiss. Also check out the great comment threads with Cristina, Adrian, Pam Cook and Christian Keathley (among others).

-- Another wonderful gift of reading, watching and listening from editor Catherine Grant: the new website The Audiovisual Essay, featuring Cristina, Adrian, Catherine, Christian, Vinzenz Hediger, Carlos Losilla and others.

-- The new issue of Senses of Cinema includes a large and terrific tribute to the Australian scholar/critic/cinephile John Flaus.

-- RIP Peter von Bagh, cinephile par excellence. "Masters of Cinema Under the Midnight Sun," a big book of interviews conducted by Peter von Bagh over the years, will be released soon.

-- From the Film Comment archive: Kent Jones on Hou Hsiao-hsien, "Cinema with a Roof Over its Head". Also, J. Hoberman on Hou at the New York Review of Books.

-- Tony Zhou's latest video essay, "David Fincher: And the Other Way is Wrong".

-- "The Pedagogies of Reading and Not Reading" by Jesse Stommel at Hybrid Pedagogy, via Katie Bird on Twitter.

-- The Cinéastes de notre temps episode on Robert Bresson is on Youtube, with English subtitles. Thanks to Catherine Grant for the tip.

-- Matt Zoller Seitz: "Why my Video Essay about All That Jazz is not on the Criterion Blu-ray". Also: some reports on degradation of Criterion Blu-rays, via Brad Stevens.

-- Darren Hughes and Michael Leary have a conversation about the films of Claire Denis at the site To Be Cont'd. Here's part one; part two; part three; and part four, which is an interview with Denis herself.

-- Ricky D'Ambrose on "immersive theater" at The Nation (via David Hudson).

-- An interview with Rosi Braidotti about speculative realism, at Frieze Magazine.

-- "Liberalism and Gentrification" by Gavin Mueller at Jacobin.

-- Finally: I want to send my best wishes to a friend, Lina Rodriguez, whose first feature film, Señoritas, has just been released. It was set and shot in Colombia; here is an interview with her at Film International.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TIFF 2014: The Round-Up



I returned from Toronto last night, and will put up a couple of posts later in the week on some of the films I was able to catch there. Meanwhile, here's an overall round-up.

Best-of-the-Fest:

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa, Portugal)
Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner, Austria)

Excellent:

Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia)

Strong:

The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)
Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)
National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA)
Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang, France/Taiwan)
Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Norway)
Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)
Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie, USA/France)
Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine)

Good, But I Had Some Reservations:

Phoenix (Christian Petzold, Germany)
Voila L'Enchainement (Claire Denis, France)
Timbuktu (Abderrehmane Sissako, Mali)
Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, France/Italy)
Natural Resistance (Jonathan Nossiter, Italy/France)

Interesting, But Didn't Work For Me:

Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, France)
Tales (Rakshan Banietemad, Iran)

Spellbinding But Category-Resistant:

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, France)

Disappointment of the Fest:

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Sweden)

Surprise of the Fest:

Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)

Cried Out for Immediate Rewatching:

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa, Portugal)
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)

Shamelessly Wowed by a Star Performance:

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
Viggo Mortensen in Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)

Best Non-Star Performance:

Arielle Holmes in Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie, USA/France)
Lola Dueñas in Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)

Film That Really Messed With My View of a Director I Thought I Knew:

Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)

Best Scene:

Opening: The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)
Closing: Phoenix (Christian Petzold, Germany)

Best Q&A:

Matías Piñeiro
Lisandro Alonso and Viggo Mortensen
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Films I Most Regret Missing:

The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, UK)
Two Shots Fired (Martin Rejtman, Argentina)
La Sapienza (Eugène Green, France/Italy)
Letters to Max (Eric Baudelaire, France)


* * *

Recent Reading:

-- There's a brand new issue of the video essay journal [in]Transition, edited by Catherine Grant.

-- "Inside, Around and About Notorious," a chapter from Adrian Martin's 2006 PhD thesis, now available at 16:9. Also: two recent video essays by Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian: "Paratheatre Without Stages" (on Jacques Rivette's Out 1); and "Felicity Conditions: Seek and Hide" (on Fritz Lang's Secret Beyond the Door ...).

-- Tributes to Harun Farocki gathered by David Hudson.

-- Sight & Sound's "The Greatest Documentaries of All Time" poll.

-- An interview with Jean-Claude Carrière at Public Books.

-- A 60-page excerpt available on PDF from a recent book that collects global film manifestos, at Film Quarterly, via Neepa Majumdar.

-- "Phil Karlson Confidential" by Bill Krohn, at Kinoslang.

-- Erika Balsom on "cinema as a performing art," at Artforum.

-- Tony Zhou's 5-minute video, "A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film".

-- I re-read Alexis Tioseco's moving letter to Nika Bohinc after listening to Lisandro Alonso talk about how news of their death inspired him to begin working on his new film Jauja.

-- Recent blog discovery: The Mongrel Muse, run by Tanner Tafelski.

pic: Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2014).

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Looking Forward to TIFF 2014


This blog is now 10 years old. I started it on the eve of a trip to TIFF, and here I am, headed to TIFF again—for the 16th straight year.

Here is the list of films I’m planning to see in Toronto. If you have any suggestions to make, I’ll be happy to receive them. Thank you! I want to note that Cinema Scope has begun its customary, vast coverage of the festival, and I'll be checking the site daily to help me fine tune my schedule in real time ...

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa, Portugal)
National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold, Germany)
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia)
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)
Voila L'Enchainement (Claire Denis, France)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)
Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
The Old Man of Belem (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal)
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg, Canada)
While We're Young (Noah Baumbach, USA)
Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang, France/Taiwan)
Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Norway)
Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
Trick or Treaty? (Alanis Obomsawin, Canada)
Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, France/Italy)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, France)
Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie, USA/France)
La Sapienza (Eugène Green, France/Italy)
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine)
Letters to Max (Eric Baudelaire, France)
Natural Resistance (Jonathan Nossiter, Italy/France)
Two Shots Fired (Martin Rejtman, Argentina)
Tales (Rakshan Banietemad, Iran)
Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner, Austria)
Girlhood (Céline Sciamma, France)
Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)
Taprobana (Gabriel Abrantes, Portugal/Sri Lanka)
The Figures Carved into the Knife by the Sap of the Banana Trees (Joana Pimenta, USA/Portugal)

pic: Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)

Monday, July 07, 2014

On Video Essays, Cinephilia and Affect



Even though I don’t teach in the cinema studies discipline, I have made a habit, in the last few years, of traveling to the SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) conference each year. It allows me both to socialize with cinephile scholars (which I have come to enjoy deeply) and to get a sense of the directions in which scholarship appears to be headed in the discipline—akin to what traveling to TIFF each fall does in acquainting me with new directions in “world cinema”.

At this year’s SCMS conference in Seattle in the spring, the single best session I attended was devoted to video essays—and their emergence as a new and exciting mode of scholarship. Specifically, I am intrigued by the connection between video essays and cinephilia. It has long been noted that when cinephiles engage in practices such as talking or writing about cinema, they are trying to prolong the experience of cinema—and thus, sustain and extend the special affective states produced in the cinephile’s acts of engagement with cinema.

I am wondering about how video essays fit in here. By which I mean: Is there a special, cinephilic, affective charge that the critic/scholar derives from making video essays? And, correspondingly, that the viewer derives from watching them? What accounts for the allure, the pull, of the video essay both for maker and viewer?

There are some valuable clues to the first question in Catherine Grant’s essay “The Shudder of a Cinephiliac Idea?,” in which she describes the process of making her first video essay, Unsentimental Education (2009). Grant invokes the artist/theorist Barbara Bolt, who advocates for a “practice-based research” in which new knowledge is generated through process, through practice, rather than through “talk”. Bolt draws on philosopher Martin Heidegger’s notion of “handlability,” which refers to a special form of understanding that is achieved “with hands and eyes,” through handling, doing, making.

Grant’s account of making video essays is remarkable for the way it foregrounds the role of affect in generating criticism and knowledge. She signals this with the title of her essay, which quotes Bolt: “the new emerges through process as the shudder of an idea” (my emphasis). Bolt calls this process “material thinking”.

Grant confesses that she had taught Chabrol’s Les Bonnes Femmes (1960) for years, and thought she knew the film well. But once she began working on a video essay on the film, she realized that her motivation to do so was being fed by a very specific desire: to engage closely “with this film’s strangeness—its beguiling yet disturbing affect—a quality to which I have always been (perhaps obsessively) drawn, and one that neither I nor my students had been able to account for effectively in words…”

By using non-linear editing and the ability of technology to reorganize, juxtapose and play with audiovisual material from the film, Grant arrived at a personal critical breakthrough. In particular, reworking a key shot in the film by reframing it caused her to reach a deeper understanding of this moment—and the “implacable logic of the films characters’ captivity in human (and cinema) time.” The conclusion of her essay is touching: she is gratified to have found “knowledge that she once would have disavowed, or denied, as she searched for much more “acceptable” scholarly objects.”

Taking a step back, we can view the affective appeal of video essay production against a wider horizon. In the mid-1990s, an affective turn took hold in the humanities and social sciences. It spread through several disciplines—like history, sociology, women’s studies and cultural studies. In brief, the turn to affect was inspired by a dissatisfaction with earlier theoretical approaches such as post-structuralism which did not allow sufficiently for non-linguistic factors and for individual difference. The move to affect meant a move away from large scale-analysis and social structures, and towards a focus on relationships and encounters with other individuals, technology and the world—and how these relations impact, shape and form us. The multi-disciplinary appeal of affect was also significant: it struck a chord that rippled across the entire field of the humanities—and beyond.

The brilliant, young film studies scholar Eugenie Brinkema has now performed an intervention in this landscape of affect studies with her new book, The Forms of the Affects. In setting the stage for her critique, she recalls the reasons for the ascendancy of affect: its resistance to systematic thought and its recovery of “contingency, possibility and play”. But, she wonders, “have accounts of affects produced more nuanced, delightful interpretations of forms in texts – and have they recovered the dimension of being surprised by representations?”

She notes the powerful attractions and seductive negations involved in taking up affect: “not semiosis, not meaning, not structure, not apparatus, but the felt, visceral, immediate, sensed, embodied, excessive”. But Brinkema also criticizes this turn because it has generally been accompanied by a suspicion of close analysis and of sustained attention to form. For her, a great deal of work under the sign of affect “evades the slow, hard tussle of reading texts closely” and is “incapable of dealing with textual particularities and formal matters”. She admits drolly: “There is a perversity to this [the call she is issuing in her book]: if affect theory is what is utterly fashionable, it is answered here with the corrective of the utterly unfashionable … the sustained interpretation of texts” – something that needs to take place via close reading and deep sensitivity to form.

I think video essays—and videographic film studies in general—might be one modest way to respond to this call. If affects are connected to forces that are released during encounters (as Gregory Seigworth and Melissa Gregg claim in their introductory essay to The Affect Theory Reader), then the extended encounter of working with audiovisual material in a close and sustained manner can be channeled, as Grant’s essay shows, towards the creation of new knowledge through “material thinking”. Laura Mulvey, in her remarkably influential book Death 24x a Second (2006), has proposed the key role that delay plays in engaging with and critically opening up a film or film segment. By prolonging the encounter with moments in a film—through repetition, stopping, resequencing and comparison—the critic/scholar is also able to open up, sustain and extend a special, affectively charged space that leads to thought, all of this occurring in close contact with the formal and stylistic complex of the work being analyzed.

So, I am very curious to hear from you: Is there a special affective charge that is released in the process of making a video essay or of watching/listening to one? How does creating (or watching/listening to) a video essay feel differently to you from writing (or reading) a piece of criticism or scholarship? I'd love to know. Thank you.


* * *

Links:

-- Christian Keathley has edited the latest issue of the journal [in]Transition, a collaboration between Cinema Journal and Media Commons. I have contributed a short piece to the issue, along with Corey Creekmur and Chiara Grizzaffi.

-- In her latest post, Catherine Grant features a half-hour interview she conducted with Adrian Martin in Milan recently. The post also rounds up a lot of great reading.

-- A review-essay, by scholar Ingrid Rowland, of the new book Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School by Emily J. Levine.

-- At Photogénie: the essay "The Use of an Illusion," co-authored by Catherine Grant and Christian Keathley. Also: the Photogénie blog features several reports from Il Ritrovato in Bologna.

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum, who has long been on the DVD jury at Il Ritrovato, posts from Bologna on this year's awards.

-- David Bordwell from Bologna: "Reporting on the magnificent Cinema Ritrovato festival at Bologna has become a tradition with us, but it’s become harder to find time during the event to write an entry. The program has swollen to 600 titles over eight days, and attendance has shot up as well [...] In all, Ritrovato is becoming the Cannes of classic cinema: diverse, turbulent, and overwhelming. How best to give you a sense of the tidal-wave energy of the event?"

-- Leo Goldsmith at Artforum on this year's Flaherty Film Seminar; Adam Thirlwell on Pasolini's poetry at Bookforum.

-- Several filmmakers offer short video tributes (subtitled in English) to Henri Langlois. (Via Surbhi Goel on Facebook.)

-- Barbara Hammer on film projection at the caboose website, part of a series that is an oral history of projection: "I never agreed with the makers of the Pathé film camera and projector that defined projection as rectangular [...] I can imagine a camera/projector that takes in images and spills them out in a multiple of graphic configurations that could be manipulated by twisting a dial. Let’s say I’m projecting a moving CT scan of a brain in a circle format and now I’m slicing through space with a sideways triangle much like a head of an arrow. Cézanne would be happy!"

-- Many films by Mani Kaul are available to watch online at the Films Division of India website. (Via Frederick Veith on Twitter.)

-- Jacques Rivette's L'Amour Fou (1969) is now on YouTube with English subs. (Via Brad Stevens on Facebook,)

-- Recent website discoveries: Cine Notebook; and FilmGrab.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Godard and Other Reading



Big news: the long-awaited collection of Jean-Luc Godard's 1978 Montreal lectures and discussions is now available from caboose. Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television collects fourteen one-hour talks given by Godard at Concordia University. The talks were originally published in French in 1980, fell out of print, and have now been corrected, revised and translated for the first time into English by Timothy Barnard, who writes:

In the book, Godard sets out a philosophy of the image—in the process disproving his own thesis that words are prison, for there is nothing more liberating than this book—and outlines a theory and practice of ‘making’ film history through the act of viewing films. The Montreal talks were the forerunner to his video series Histoire(s) du cinéma. While some critics have described the latter as his Finnegans Wake, the True History of Cinema is his Arabian Nights: page-turning true stories of the movies whose idiosyncratic views, leavened with Godard’s famous caustic wit, will delight all readers. Never has Godard been as loquacious, lucid and disarmingly frank as he is here, holding forth, in an experience he describes as a form of ‘public self-psychoanalysis’, on his personal and professional relationships, working methods, aesthetic preferences, political beliefs and, on the cusp of 50, his philosophy of life.

The announcement coincides with strong reviews from Cannes of Godard's latest film, Goodbye to Language.


* * *

Recent reading:

-- Cannes 2014: David Hudson's invaluable collection of reviews for each film; and Blake Williams' fine-grained, rank-ordered ratings, which I find enormously useful when I'm scheduling for TIFF. Also: two critic ratings aggregator pages, at Todas Las Criticas; and at Critic.de.

-- The first half of the book Découpage, by Barnard, is available to read at the caboose website. Also: Catherine Grant has put together a post of links around Barnard's text.

-- Tom Paulus on cinephilia: part one; and part two.

-- Robert Bresson interview with Ronald Hayman first published in Transatlantic Review in 1973. Via Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

-- Cinema Guild has put online all of the essays that accompany its DVDs.

-- I've just sent away for this Jean Epstein box set from France that includes 14 of his films.

-- Alain Bergala's "The 208 Films That You Must Have Seen", via Adrian Martin.

-- Jean Eustache's great Mes petites amoureuses (1974) is now on YouTube with English subtitles. Via Vahid Mortazavi.

-- A fascinating piece on film criticism by Serge Daney from 1991. At Diagonal Thoughts, via Adrian.

-- A translation, by Adrian, of a Raymond Bellour masterclass on Daney and Trafic. Also: an interview at Transit with Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, directors of Leviathan, by Cloe Masotta and Miguel Gil, translated by Adrian into English.

-- A video of Laura Mulvey's lecture, "Becoming History: Spectatorship, Technology and Feminist Film Theory," part of the Kracauer Lectures in Film and Media Theory in Frankfurt.

-- A conversation between Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore on early Kubrick.

-- An interview/conversation between Nicholas Elliott and Stéphane Delorme, editor of Cahiers du Cinéma.

-- At MUBI Notebook: "Discovering Cinema in the Digital Age: A Roundtable with Dudley Andrew".

-- J. Hoberman on the films of artist Sigmar Polke, at Artforum.

-- Pasquale Iannone: "The 10 Greatest Films Set in Glasgow".

-- The next international Deleuze Studies conference will be held in Stockholm, with the theme "Daughters of Chaos," and will be preceded by a "Deleuze Camp".

-- A new book on Hou Hsiao-hsien, edited by Richard I. Suchenski, has been published by the Austrian Film Museum, and is being distributed in the US by Columbia University Press.

-- Joe McElhaney's essay "Terrence Malick: Moving Beyond the Threshold" is now available online.

-- Michael Sicinski has put up a page of his reviews of the films that played at Cannes last year.

-- David Bordwell on Kenji Mizoguchi; and "The Rhapsodes: Afterlives," the final post in his series on American film critics of the 1940s.

-- Rachel Kushner on Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli's Anna (1975) at Artforum.

-- At Jacobin: "The Rise of the Voluntariat".

-- Richard Porton interviews Sergei Loznitsa on his new documentary about the Ukrainian uprising and about Putin's regime.

-- Tim Deschaumes on Miklós Janscó at Photogénie.

-- "Academic citation practices need to be modernized." Via Steven Shaviro.

-- An interview in the Washington Post with documentary filmmaker Astra Taylor on "how digital culture is hurting art". I've been reading Taylor's new book, The People's Platform, a fascinating critique of the techno-utopian fantasies engendered by the Internet. It sets out to show how the Internet extends and exacerbates real-world inequalities rather than reducing or doing away with them. A very timely analysis of the economic and social justice issues (including gender issues) surrounding the Internet.

photograph by Michael Witt.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Lots of Reading



Links:

-- RIP, Alain Resnais: David Hudson and Catherine Grant.

-- RIP, Stuart Hall: Verso Books; The Guardian; Isaac Julien; Dissent; John Akomfrah at Frieze.

-- Catherine Grant has put together a tribute to Eduardo Coutinho at Mediático. At Catherine's, a Richard Linklater post called "The Flâneur on Film". Also: her new essay "Becoming 'Arturo Ripstein'?"

-- A conversation with Nicole Brenez, at Cinética.

-- Kent Jones' piece on auteurism, "Critical Condition".

-- Adrian Martin on Philippe Garrel's Jealousy; Nicholas Ray; Miguel Gomes' Tabu; Mark Rappaport's Mozart in Love; and a new book of film theory by Sergi Sánchez. Also: Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian: "All Tomorrow's Parties".

-- Steven Shaviro: "The New Cinematography"; and "Liking vs. Wanting".

-- "Blue Ruin: Totality and Acceleration" by McKenzie Wark. An interview with Wark on accelerationism.

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum has put up a post with links to several of his pieces on Alain Resnais. 

-- The Siren: "Let's Talk About Kim Novak". 

-- Luc Moullet, "The Mask and the Role of God" (translated by Ted Fendt). 

-- David Bordwell: "Agee, Farber, Tyler and us"; "Agee & Co.: A Newer Criticism"; on some recent books including James Naremore's; and more on James Agee.

-- Fantasy Double Features of 2013 Poll at The Notebook.

-- Paul Ramaeker: "Dr. Mabuse, Our Contemporary"; and on supernatural romantic melodrama and surrealism.

-- End-of-year lists and reflections at Lumière by many critics including Matthew Flanagan, Maximilian Le Cain, Andy Rector, Filipe Furtado, Christopher Small, Marcos Uzal, and others.

-- Michael Sicinski on Jodie Mack.

-- Pasquale Iannone's 10-film primer on Italian neorealism.

-- Jill Godmilow offers one of the rare dissenting opinions on The Act of Killing. (I've not seen the film yet.)

-- "On Fredric Jameson" by Alex Carp.

-- This new collection of essays on Nick Ray's films, edited by Steve Rybin and Will Scheibel, looks great.

-- Some interesting fragments of unfinished pieces by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky now up at his blog.

-- Will Self on Patrick Keiller's new book.

-- Matthew Dessem, "Film Preservation 2.0".

-- Peter Monaghan, "China Girls, Leading Ladies, Actual Women". (Via Corey Creekmur.)

-- Regina Bradley on "the dichotomy of urban and suburban in the context of sound (noisy and quiet) versus hip hop". (Via Corey.)

-- Readings to accompany the interesting film series "The Devil, Probably" at Yale Union. (Via Matthew Flanagan.)

-- Stuart Jeffries, "Alain Badiou: A Life in Writing".


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Recent Reading



-- "Best Films of the Year" lists: BFI; IndieWire; Film Comment "Best Undistributed" and "Best Theatrically Released";  Adrian Martin's "Ten Best Confrontations"; Michael Sicinski's "most inexplicably slept-on"; Steve Erickson's "Ten Best Political Documentaries"; Simon Abrams' "One-Week Wonders"; and Max Goldberg's "The year in media scavenging".  

-- I joined many others, including Jonathan Rosenbaum, Adrian Martin, Nicole Brenez, and Joe McElhaney, in contributing to this collection of lists of "12 Favourite Filmmakers" compiled by Rouzbeh Rashidi.

-- New issues of: Photogénie; Jump Cut; Film-Philosophy; Cléo; Senses of Cinema; Alphaville; and The Cine-Files.

-- Gender inequality in film, depicted in infographic form.

-- Two essays on Ritwik Ghatak by Adrian Martin: on A River Called Titas at Criterion; and The Cloud-Capped Star at Projectorhead.

-- "Names and Naming in John Ford" by Charles Barr, at 16:9. Via Adrian.

-- Kent Jones: "Robert Bresson: An Introduction". At Film Comment.

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum: "A Personal Account of an Adventure Called Film.Factory". Also by Jonathan: an introduction to a recent collection of Peanuts comic strips; and his ten-best lists for the year.

-- "A cat is never on the side of power": A great website on cats and cinema.

-- The slides for a presentation by Steven Shaviro on "delirious perception" in Spring Breakers.

-- "Predator, or A-Violence," an essay by Martin Barnier that first appeared in an issue of the French magazine Admiranda devoted to action movies in 1996. Now translated into English by Ted Fendt, at The Vulgar Cinema.

-- David Bordwell on Hitchcock, Lessing and the distinction between suspense and surprise.

-- J. Hoberman on David Cronenberg in The New York Review of Books.

-- Richard Tuschman's photographs inspired by Edward Hopper paintings.

-- Michael Sicinski on Luiz Fernando Carvalho's To the Left of the Father; and on the influence of Robert Gardner.

-- You can watch the documentary Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16 at Cinephilia and Beyond.

-- A lecture on photography titled "The Genius of the System" by Luc Sante.

-- A talk with Philippe Garrel in Interview magazine.

-- Leo Goldsmith on DocLisboa 2013.

-- DJ Taylor on a working-class pioneer of cultural studies, Richard Hoggart, in The Guardian.

-- David Davidson: "Brian de Palma at Cahiers du Cinéma in the 80s".

-- "What Has Happened to Modern Art?" by Ben Hourigan. Via Adrian.

-- "The 10 Best Film-Studies Books of 2013" by Clayton Dillard. At Slant.

pic: Hannah Frank's minute-long video, It's A Wonderful Face.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Savannah Film Festival + Links



Last month, cinema scholar Caryl Flinn and I spent a few days at the Savannah Film Festival as guests of the cinema studies department of the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). Our host was faculty member Tracy Cox-Stanton, who founded and edits the online cinema journal The Cine-Files. The three of us watched and talked films from morning to night, and I was reminded again of the special social value of the film festival experience. As a cinephile whose conversations about film are for the most part conducted online, I especially cherish these kinds of in-person social opportunities that only come along a couple of times each year.

In addition to attending the festival, we had an invigorating session with graduate students—the topic of our discussion was the “multiple modes of writing” about film—and also appeared on a panel during the festival. The panel was broadly devoted to explaining, to a public, largely non-cinephile audience, what “cinema studies” was; what work it did; and how it might be a useful lens through which to view and analyze the films we were seeing at the festival.

The three most interesting and rewarding features I saw at the festival were:

-- James Toback’s Seduced and Abandoned, a documentary about Toback and Alec Baldwin going to the Cannes Film Festival with an experiment: to meet with producers and actors and raise money to make an erotic/political thriller called Last Tango in Tikrit. To what extent they are serious about making this film remains (productively) unclear; they are equally interested in taking the measure of the state of film financing today, and revealing its conservatism and its absurdities.

-- The Spectacular Now, a teen drama by James Ponsoldt with two gifted, charismatic lead actors (Miles Tellier and Aimee Finicky, the latter from Alexander Payne’s The Descendants). It belongs in a lineage of contemporary teen films like The Myth of the American Sleepover that are influenced by art cinema—perhaps not quite as powerfully as Gus Van Sant’s Elephant or Paranoid Park—but nevertheless using graceful, long takes that patiently observe the nuances of performer interactions.

-- Payne’s Nebraska, impeccably shot and cut, with a great performance by Bruce Dern, but flawed because of the stark difference in the way it treats its aging male and female lead characters, who are played by Dern and June Squibb. Both characters are abrasive and bitter, but the man’s personality and predicament acquire a tragic, moving quality over the course of the film while the woman character accrues no such dignity, remaining mostly shrill and grating …

Two short films made by SCAD students stood out—but in contrasting fashion. Dirt (Justin Andrews & Jae Matthews) is an unsettling and affecting mood piece set in a working-class milieu, with Dardenne-like attention to social detail; and Valiant (Rachel Horstmann) is a war film about several generations of an American military family, as unreflectively jingoistic and triumphalist as it is affluent in its production values.

After making a habit of attending only large film festivals like Toronto, I enjoyed the unexpected intimacy and relaxed feel of a smaller festival such as Savannah’s.


* * *

Links:

-- "Screen and Surface, Soft and Hard: The Cinema of Leos Carax" by Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López; and Cristina, translated by Adrian, on Leos Carax's Les amants du Pont-Neuf (1991). At Transit. Also: Adrian has a piece on Marlon Brando at Fandor.

-- Ricky D'Ambrose has made a video in which he speaks to Chantal Akerman about her 1970s films. At MUBI. Earlier: his terrific video interview with Dan Sallitt. Related: Christopher Small interviews Sallitt about The Unspeakable Act, which is now out on DVD.

-- J. Hoberman, "The Cineaste's Guide to Watching Movies While Stoned". At The Nation. In other news, Hoberman will be taking over the New York Times DVD column from Dave Kehr.

-- There is a new issue of Screening the Past, with a special section on "Aesthetic Issues in World Cinema".

-- Catherine Grant's post "Magnifying Mirror: On Barbara Stanwyck and Film Performance Studies". At Film Studies for Free.

-- Darren Hughes and Blake Williams have a conversation about Ramon Zürcher's The Strange Little Cat.

-- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky on "black-and-white" movies.

-- Steven Shaviro: "More on Accelerationism".

-- The new issue of NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies features the theme of "waste".

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum is a champion of the filmmaker Peter Thompson, whose work has just come out on DVD. Also at Jonathan's site: his essay "Gertrud as Nonnarrative: The Desire for the Image"; and an introduction to a just-released collection of Charles Schulz's Sunday color strips of Peanuts, in which he draws a comparison between Schulz and Ozu.

-- Lots of good links in this post from Matthew Flanagan.

-- Personal accounts by projectionists around the world. At caboose.

-- Chad Newsom, "Cahiers du Cinéma and Evaluative Criticism". At The Cine-Files.

-- Fredrik Gustafsson on "the deep focus conundrum".

-- Serge Daney on John Ford's 7 Women. Freshly translated by Laurent Kretzchmar and Ted Fendt.

-- An interview with scholar Gregory Ulmer. At Full Stop. Part of their series "Teaching in the Margins". Via Adrian.

-- Matthias Stork, "Chaos Cinema: Assaultive Action Aesthetics". At Media Fields Journal.

-- A 1996 interview with Jean-Luc Godard in Film Comment.

-- This looks very interesting: a series of films by Norwegian filmmaker Anja Breien, who made a film called Wives (1975), an 'answer' to John Cassavetes' Husbands (1970). At Museum of the Moving Image.

-- Brad Nguyen on televisual narrative vs. film narrative. At Screen Machine.

-- Albert Maysles interviewed by Jonathan Marlow. At Fandor.

-- An entertaining interview with Greta Gerwig. At The Dissolve.

-- Mark Fisher, "Anti-Humanism and the Humanities in the Era of Capitalist Realism". Via Steven Shaviro.

-- Letters between Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, who is in prison, and Slavoj Žižek.

Monday, October 14, 2013

LOLA 4


Adrian Martin and I have now completed the release of the fourth issue of LOLA. The theme of the issue is "Walks," and it includes a Brian De Palma dossier.

Here are links to all the pieces, with a little excerpt from each:

-- Victor Bruno, "Glittering Flares: Breaking the Darkness in Out of the Past": "[A] lens flare is a bridge between the spectator and the film [...] In Out of the Past (1947), there is a moment in which, consciously or not, Jacques Tourneur built this bridge."

-- Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, "To the Passion": "Passion is not (as we are hearing a lot at the moment) a wilfully ‘ridiculous’ film (it is especially depressing to hear this said as praise!) or a self-consciously trashy one [...] De Palma has gotten to a position in his career that is a little reminiscent of Samuel Fuller in his early-to-mid 1960s prime ..."

-- Alain Bergala, "Time Denied: An Apotheosis of the Imaginary": "The major difference between Scottie in Vertigo and Michael in Obsession is that Michael is in a deeper sleep than Scottie. He wants to believe in the reality of his waking dream with a deep and naïve conviction. The whole film is an obstinate refusal to wake up, to leave the bliss of the imaginary. He rushes like a bull towards the first illusion that is offered to him – this woman who is the reincarnation of his dead wife."

-- Adrian Martin, "A Walk Through Carlito's Way": "Every De Palma-loving cinephile’s sense of this scene as a set-piece, detachable from the film as a whole (while relating to it on many formal, expressive and thematic levels), is reinforced by its special place in the narrative – as an introductory incident that perfectly sums up, in microcosm, the trajectory of the hero’s unfortunate destiny (he keeps getting dragged back into crime), while itself being only a weak catalyst for anything much that follows."

-- Helen Grace, "Responsive Eyes and Crossing Lines: Forty Years of Looking and Reading": "At the time of the Dressed to Kill protests, I was living in a squat in Villa Rd, Brixton, and the street had become a centre of anti-De Palma actions, in which all the women squatters were being encouraged to become involved, in order to demonstrate their feminist credentials. Radicalism was measured in these key performance indicators of one’s commitment [...] Before committing ourselves to terroristic activities, a friend and I decided we should go to see Dressed to Kill ..."

-- Amelie Hastie, "Cinema of Compassion": "I love an image that makes me conscious of my own breath, whether it comes in a gasp, a steady rhythm, or a moment in which my breath literally stops. Our own breathing with the image is part of film’s (chimerical) animation of the life before us. Indeed, its quality of movement – and therefore its demonstration of life itself – animates even the inanimate, as we take in the images on the screen."

-- Sam Roggen, "You See It Or You Don’t: CinemaScope, Panoramic Perception and the Cinephiliac Moment": "What worried early Scope directors the most with regard to these radically altered conditions was how to direct spectatorial attention in scenes composed of long shots in the wide frame – and, particularly, how to highlight the details in that frame that were of vital importance for an understanding of the narrative [...] But directors could also audaciously choose not to stress essential parts of the composition. Observant viewers could then discover these crucial, but only subtly incorporated, details autonomously."

-- Veronika Ferdman, "Getting to Know the Big Wide World": "If I had to spend eternity inside a single scene from a movie, it would probably be this one – because, during these few minutes, we get a flood of hope and love, a montage of smiles and embraces exchanged by the newlyweds, enveloped by the blue dusk of the setting summer sun. The light in Eastern Europe is thinner and not as heavy as in the United States– the colours less saturated, but no less lovely."

-- Burke Hilsabeck, "Accidental Specificity: Modernism from Clement Greenberg to Frank Tashlin": "If modernist painting (in Greenberg’s account) works to pare itself toward a flatness made essential by the canvas support, popular film (in the Tashlinian-Lewisian imagination) is the site of a vast plurality; it does not simply refuse flatness as much as serve as the container of an infinite depth. (The scene articulates the sense that, onscreen, objects both flat and round have interiors.) In Tashlin’s hands, this is not the mimicked depth of pre-modern painting, but a constructed depth that takes on the quality of absurdity."

-- Yvette Bíró, "The Grandmaster: A Tour de Force": "The inner order of existence is never transparent. It accumulates not one layer of time but countless layers that collide and clash with each other. In Wong’s vision, each moment brings about a new form. The anomalous outcomes of actions are surprising, but never contingent. This density and swinging nature of the chaos-sphere is grounded, as modern physics describes it, in the ‘fragility of initial conditions’; this is what determines its erratic behaviour."

-- Darren Tofts, "Clone This DVD!": "The term post-production has a double inflection that refers, in the first instance, to after-effects, such as compositing, colour-grading and sound-mixing. But of more dramatic relevance here, it also refers to a more substantive, Thomas Kuhn-like paradigm shift that has a name – such as the Copernican Revolution or the Renaissance. Remix is the name we can give to this shift, a term akin to new historicism or postmodernism: cultural paradigms that articulate what comes after the philosophy of originality, presence, will and individualism."

-- Zach Campbell, "How We Got the Mob": "[It] will not do to treat Step Up either as a low-genre, masscult whipping boy, or to elevate – in a ‘poptimist’ polemic – the series’ pleasures above all else. The purpose of my undertaking here is not to disrupt the myriad pleasures Step Up might provide, but to look askance – critically, philosophically, politically – at their conditions."

-- Rowena Santos Aquino, "To Live (with) Cinema: Documenting Cinephilia and the Archival Impulse": "[The] emphasis in discussions of cinephilia still remains on the textual – the written word, whether in print, tweets or emails – to both define and guide discussions on cinephilia. The archival impulse gives us another perspective. The creation of an archive begins with emotional resonance, which is not the opposite of intellectual or educational engagement. The archival impulse is not just about the technical and technological aspect of acquiring, preserving and restoring films. It is also about an affective, physical experience ..."

-- Girish Shambu, "Crisis Cinema: Toronto International Film Festival 2013": "Until now in Breillat’s filmography, there has been an equation between sexuality and the human body. ‘The vulva is like the black hole of the universe’, wrote Breillat thirteen years ago, in the program notes accompanying the Toronto screening of her debut film Une vraie jeune fille (1975), which was banned in France for twenty-five years. Her new film evokes the older one in its obsessive focus on the human body."

-- Carlos Losilla, "Unspeakable Images": "Recently, the image has taken over what we used to call talking or writing about cinema: now images endlessly appear, they are projected, people compose essays with images … The role once played, years ago, by the gaze has now been translated to another fetish – and with this consequent transformation, it sometimes risks becoming a mere formula."


* * *

Links to recent reads:

-- Time to update our bookmarks: Jonathan Rosenbaum has a new website.

-- Good news: Claire Denis' great, ultra-rare U.S. Go Home (1994) is now on YouTube with English subs.

-- Adolph Reed, Jr., "Django Unchained, or, The Help: How “Cultural Politics” Is Worse Than No Politics at All, and Why". Via Corey Creekmur. At Nonsite.org.

-- Adrian Martin, "14 Uneasy Pieces of Teenage Life". At Flaunt.

-- An interview with Laura Mulvey on the making of her and Peter Wollen's avant-garde, feminist film Riddles of the Sphinx (1977). At BFI.

-- Nico Baumbach on Alain Badiou's recent collection Cinema. At the Los Angeles Review of Books.

-- Ted Fendt translates a talk by renowned French cinematographer Caroline Champetier. At MUBI Notebook.

-- Catherine Grant, "Lives on Film: Auto/Biographical Fiction and Documentary Film Studies". At Film Studies for Free.

-- Dan Sallitt, "It Takes an Arrondissement: Jacques Becker's Antoine et Antoinette". At MUBI Notebook.

-- Jean Renoir, "The Grandeur of the Primitives" (1948). At Ted Fendt's blog Howling Wretches.

-- Brad Stevens on Jess Franco at BFI.

-- An interview with Philippe Garrel on his new film Jealousy. At Revista Lumière.

-- The new issue of CineAction has a downloadable essay on Sharon Lockhart and Steve McQueen.

-- Boris Groys, "Becoming Revolutionary: On Kazimir Malevich". At e-flux journal.

-- A selected list of Tom Gunning's writings. A reminder to myself to hunt down the pieces I don't have ...

pic: Carlito's Way (Brian De Palma, 1993).

Friday, September 20, 2013

TIFF 2013: The Round-Up


For me, the star of this year's TIFF wasn't a director or performer but instead the brilliant programmer Andréa Picard. Her Wavelengths program was strong, open-minded and imaginative, combining the best of contemporary narrative and avant-garde cinema. In Picard's hands it has become the crowning glory of this festival.

I've been going to TIFF for 15 years, and this was among the best I've ever attended. I caught about 30 films, and I will have a piece on the festival in the current (fourth) issue of LOLA that Adrian Martin and I and our webmaster Bill Mousoulis are in the process of rolling out. Meanwhile, here's a quick personal summary evaluation of the films:

Favorites-of-the-Fest:

At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman, USA)
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, France)
Bastards (Claire Denis, France)
Manakamana (Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, USA)
The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zürcher, Germany)

Excellent:

Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt, USA)
Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan)
Three Landscapes (Peter Hutton, USA)
Song and Spring (Nathaniel Dorsky, USA)
Closed Curtain (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat, France)
Our Sunhi (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)

Strong:

Redemption (Miguel Gomes, Portugal)
A Spell to Ward off the Darkness (Ben Rivers & Ben Russell, Estonia/France)
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke, China)
Un Conte de Michel de Montaigne (Jean-Marie Straub, France)
The King's Body (João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal)
Love is the Perfect Crime (Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu, France)
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
October November (Götz Spielmann, Austria)
We are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden)

Didn't work for me:

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, UK)

Fascinating, but I had reservations:

Story of my Death (Albert Serra, Spain)

Disappointments:

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)
The Summer of Flying Fish (Marcela Said, Chile)


* * *

Links to recent reads:

-- "Melville Variations," a video essay and text by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin at MUBI. Also: Adrian on Ruiz's final film Night Across the Street at Fandor.

-- Andréa Picard interviewed by Blake Williams.

-- Michael Guillen collects Jonathan Rosenbaum's writings on Pier Paolo Pasolini in a post.

-- Farran Smith Nehme reviews Ben Urwand's book The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler.

-- A tribute post to the late Allan Sekula by Matthew Flanagan.

-- "Filming a Land in Flux": an interview with Wang Bing in New Left Review.

-- Bourbon Street Blues (1979), a 25-minute short film by Douglas Sirk starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder, at The Seventh Art.

-- The latest issue of Nonsite.org is devoted to Bertolt Brecht.

pic: "At Berkeley" (Frederick Wiseman, USA)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Getting Ready for TIFF + Recent Reading


For nearly 15 years I've attended TIFF as a member of the general public but this year I applied for, and received, press accreditation. I'm looking forward to socializing with critic friends and making some new ones. Here's what I plan on seeing:

Bastards (Claire Denis, France)
Le Joli Mai (Chris Marker & Pierre Lhomme, France, 1963)
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, France)
Manila in the Claws of Light (Lino Brocka, Philippines, 1975)
At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman, USA)
Closed Curtain (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat, France)
Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt, USA)
Our Sunhi (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
Un Conte de Michel de Montaigne (Jean-Marie Straub, France)
The King's Body (João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal)
Redemption (Miguel Gomes, Portugal)
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, UK)
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke, China)
Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan)
The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zürcher, Germany)
Wavelengths 1 (Avant-garde program with new films by Luther Price, Kenneth Anger, David Rimmer, Andrew Lampert and Scott Stark)
Manakamana (Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, USA)
Story of my Death (Albert Serra, Spain)
The Last of the Unjust (Claude Lanzmann, France)
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, UK)
Three Landscapes (Peter Hutton, USA)
Song and Spring (Nathaniel Dorsky, USA)
Three Interpretation Exercises (Cristi Puiu, Romania)
REAL (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)
October November (Götz Spielmann, Austria)
The Police Officer's Wife (Philipp Gröning, Germany)
R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)
Pays Barbare (Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, Italy)
We are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden)
Ilo Ilo (Anthony Chen, Singapore)
Love is the Perfect Crime (Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu, France)
Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (Alexey Fedorchenko, Russia)
The Major (Yury Bykov, Russia)

Any comments on these films or suggestions/recommendations of others playing at TIFF?

 

* * *

Links to recent reads:

-- Essential: Laurent Kretzschmar's blog Serge Daney in English has posted new translations of a series of essays from his first book La Rampe (1983).

-- A feature on the essay film in Sight & Sound, with an introductory essay by Andrew Tracy followed by a dozen short pieces by critics and scholars, each highlighting a particular film.

-- Steven Shaviro on "Vulgar Appropriationism".

-- A conversation between Peter Hutton and Luke Fowler in which Hutton discusses, among other things, his new film Three Landscapes. Via Matthew Flanagan on Twitter.

-- Many terrific candidates and films on director Travis Wilkerson's list of "100 Greatest Living American Filmmakers" at MUBI. [UPDATE: This list, which went viral on Twitter and Facebook recently, was not in fact created by Travis Wilkerson. Please see his comment below.]

-- Steve Rybin on Hal Hartley at his blog Cinephile Papers.

-- "New York Neorealism" by Mark Asch at Fandor.

-- Darren Hughes at MUBI: "Looking at Women: William A. Wellman’s Style in "Frisco Jenny" and "Midnight Mary"".

-- A great interview with Abel Ferrara at Indiewire.

-- A 1950 article by Jacques Rivette on Hitchcock's Under Capricorn, translated by Ted Fendt and appearing in English for the first time, at Andy Rector's blog Kinoslang.

-- The "Cinema of Resistance" series at Lincoln Center in NYC looks great; Kevin Lee has created a video tribute inspired by it.

-- The new issue of the journal Grey Room is devoted to the cinema of Guy Debord.

-- Christopher Small posts Tag Gallagher's article "Angels Gambol Where They Will: John Ford's Indians," which appeared in Film Comment in 1993.

-- At the AV Club by various writers: "Beyond the Jedi: 10 Underappreciated Movies from 1983".

-- The new entry "Philosophy Through Film" at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (via Catherine Grant).

-- "The Importance of Postcapitalist Imagination": an interview with David Harvey.

-- Chris Cagle has been posting from the Visible Evidence conference in Stockholm.

-- "Left" is the theme of the new issue of World Picture, which includes essays on Paul Thomas Anderson (by Tania Modleski), Vincente Minnelli, Hollis Frampton, Guy Debord, and more. Via Catherine Grant, who has put up a post rounding up a Pasolini event organized by BFI last year, and including talks by John David Rhodes, Rosalind Galt, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, etc., all of which can be downloaded from iTunes.


pic: "The Strange Little Cat" (Ramon Zürcher, Germany)