New York's Anthology Film Archives introduces its series, The Films of Mark Rappaport, running today through Thursday: "Rappaport's career has unfolded in two distinct chapters, the first consisting of the radically stylized, intellectually playful, and absurdly comical fictional features he produced throughout the 1970s and into the 80s; while the 90s found him developing a genre largely of his own invention, with a series of video-essays that delved into various realms of film history and culture, two of them in the form of monologues-from-beyond-the-grave by once-famous movie stars."
Which is my cue to note that Jonathan Rosenbaum refers us to his 1992 review of Rock Hudson's Home Movies and his 1998 piece on From the Journals of Jean Seberg, and he does so from an introduction at his site to his 1983 overview of Rappaport's work up to that time. In 1996, Rosenbaum interviewed Rappaport for Cineaste.
In a preview of Anthology's series for Cinespect, Nathan Rogers-Hancock calls these films "remarkable, perhaps the last true examples of an important strain of the New York avant garde that first flowered with the Kuchar brothers and Jack Smith, and is all but missing from the American Independent sensibility today."
"François Truffaut followed up Jules and Jim (1962), one of his most critically acclaimed and popular films, with another love-triangle story, The Soft Skin (1964)," begins Melissa Anderson for Artforum. "Though it was poorly received upon release (and still often overlooked today), Truffaut's fourth feature, about a married, middle-aged, celebrated literary critic [Jean Desailly] who has an affair with a flight attendant in her 20s, stands as one of his most emotionally sophisticated, thanks largely to the performance of Françoise Dorléac as the object of desire."
The Voice's J Hoberman, too, considers The Soft Skin "one of his best." It "naturalizes New Wave technique; its tonal shifts and disjunctive montage are relatively subtle… As a presence, Desailly is overmatched by both the sultry, impulsive Nelly Benedetti, who plays his wife, and the high-flying, modern Dorléac. Catherine Deneuve's equally stunning older sister (but warmer and saucier), Dorléac died in a car accident three years later; perhaps someone will revive her other notable movies, the amiable thriller That Man From Rio, in which she appears opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo, and particularly Roman Polanski's exercise in dark absurdism, Cul-de-sac."
More from Richard Brody (New Yorker), Glenn Heath Jr (Slant, 3.5/4), Eric Kohn (indieWIRE) and Justin Stewart (L). At New York's Film Forum for one week.
BEYOND NEW YORK CITY
"Like Eric Rohmer, the fellow New Wave founder with whom he collaborated on the Alfred Hitchcock study that helped launch the auteur theory, Claude Chabrol made films about people who like to talk," writes the Boston Phoenix's Peter Keough. "They talk about frustrated desires, bungled liaisons, bourgeois pleasures and vices. But one significant difference between the two filmmakers is that with Chabrol, more often than not, the discussions are resolved by murder. Such is the case especially in his earlier films, the focus of the Harvard Film Archive's abbreviated tribute of a dozen of the 50 or so works by the director, who died last September, at 80."
The LA Weekly's Karina Longworth: "Cinefamily launches a rangy, comprehensive two-week tribute to Cassavetes, encompassing his work as an actor (in Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky and in short-lived NBC detective show Johnny Staccato), as a director for hire (A Child Is Waiting, the Judy Garland–Burt Lancaster vehicle recut by producer Stanley Kramer), and as an auteur on nine features. The 'Evening With Ben Gazzara' on March 13 also will include two non-Cassavetes productions: The Strange One and the excellent Saint Jack, directed by and co-starring Cassavetes's friend Peter Bogdanovich. It's such an embarrassment of riches that it's hard to tell you where to start; any random night of this program qualifies as appointment cinema. Of course, I do have favorites…"
The 14th European Union Film Festival is on in Chicago through March 31. Overviews of the second week: Chicago Reader, CINE-FILE and Newcity Film.
The Stranger picks out the highlights of the spring moviegoing season in Seattle.
The BFI's Nicolas Roeg season opens tomorrow in London and runs through March 30. Ryan Gilbey meets the man for the Guardian: "A conversation with him is a dot-to-dot puzzle in verbal form, with the interviewer left to fathom the far-flung connections between disjointed words and phrases. In the course of our meeting, he ranges over the Rockefellers, Anne Boleyn, the silent-movie era, Wild Strawberries and in-flight entertainment, among other things. But as with the higgledy-piggledy structures of his films — including Walkabout (1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Bad Timing (1980) and Eureka (1983) — there is every likelihood that an internal logic persists, even if it's not immediately accessible to the conscious mind."
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