- For the past six years, the Belgian film journal Sabzian has invited a guest to deliver an annual “State of Cinema” address. This year’s speaker will be Alice Diop. She will deliver her text on Thursday, December 7, in Brussels, alongside a screening of Sarah Maldoror’s film Sambizanga (1972). Learn more on Sabzian’s website, recently sleekly redesigned for the publication’s tenth anniversary. You can also watch previous State of Cinema speeches on Sabzian’s Screening Room, including last year’s address by Wang Bing.
- Streaming on e-flux until November 30 is Outwardly from Earth’s Center (2007), a short pseudo-documentary by filmmaker and artist Rosa Barba. The film details the experiences of the inhabitants of a fictitious offshore island (inspired by the real, unmoored Swedish island of Gotska Sandön) as it hurtles toward an inevitable collision with the nearby mainland, bringing a sense of doom to Barba’s surrealist portrait of a beautiful rural community.
- “People watch rom-coms ‘to have their feelings—to experience the full range of emotions we all carry inside of us and the cathartic effect of letting such feelings loose.’” In an expansive essay for Gagosian Quarterly, Carlos Valladares examines the history of the romantic comedy genre, proposing his own expanded canon that includes Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Elaine May, Sofia Coppola, and more.
- “Dressed in a maroon skirt suit, black ankle boots, and a headscarf the colors of the Guyanese flag, 72-year-old Givanni cuts a stylish and spry figure. She is not exactly how I imagine an archivist: shy, studious, confined to a shadowy vault.” For Blackstar’s Seen journal, Simran Hans profiles June Givanni, a film programmer and events producer who has collected a sizable personal archive alongside her decades of public-facing work.
- “Herzog is a skilful raconteur, and the narrative of his life bowls along at a lick, anecdote spawning anecdote.” In the London Review of Books, David Trotter reviews Werner Herzog’s long-awaited memoir Every Man for Himself and God against All.
- “The only thing I consider religious in my movies is my understanding of love. All of that comes from my real life and the people around me." For the New Yorker, Simon Abrams talks to John Woo “about taking a break from Hollywood, his quest to make personal genre movies, and his enduring faith in friendship, onscreen and off.”
- “As the line between experimental, documentary, and narrative cinema has blurred over the last decade, it’s been interesting to watch as filmmakers and festivals alike have adjusted to contemporary notions of what was once called the avant-garde.” Launching Text of Light, a new column for Reverse Shot focused on the experimental filmmaking ecosystem, Jordan Cronk assesses Rome’s Villa Medici Film Festival, an event that is “unique in its approach to film-art considerations, in that it mostly disregards such designations.”
- “Theories, after all, are not facts; they are liable to fall short of their explanatory aims, and landscape theory is no exception.” Writing for the New Left Review’s Sidecar vertical, Erika Balsom analyzes “After the Landscape Theory,” an exhibition of landscape-focused Japanese photography and cinema from 1968 to the present that was recently on display at Tokyo’s Photographic Art Museum.
- London, December 8 through 10: Running as part of the ICA’s Screen Practices, a series of screenings curated by collectives, SINEMA TRANSTOPIA present three programs that look to move “away from a eurocentric gaze towards transnational, (post-)migrant and postcolonial perspectives.” Among the films chosen is Man Sa Yay (I, Your Mother) (1980), a mid-length film about the experiences of West African students in Germany that Safi Faye made for German television while in West Berlin on a scholarship.
- Waxworks Records have released a double LP for David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997) with a fun “splatter colored” vinyl design. As well as compositions by Angelo Badalamenti and Barry Adamson, the soundtrack includes songs by artists including David Bowie, The Smashing Pumpkins, Lou Reed, and Rammstein, as well as two Nine Inch Nails tracks (“The Perfect Drug” and “Driver Down”) that were specifically composed for the film.
- Two podcast recommendations: Albert Brooks joined Marc Maron on this week’s episode of WTF—a must-listen. If The Best Show with Tom Scharpling is more your thing, then you’re likely to be susceptible to the smooth, suave charms of Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie, who joined Scharpling on Tuesday to discuss their new show The Curse.
RECENTLY ON NOTEBOOK
- Tewfik Saleh's newly restored migrant drama The Dupes (1972) follows three representative generations of Palestinians across the desert. In a new essay, Sanoja Bhaumik discusses the film’s blistering contemporary impact as a document of "the waves of expulsion, hardship, and war that shaped mid-century Palestine."
- "Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, by its own admission, is ultimately a failure, but that’s also where the film is at its most provocative," writes Adam Piron of Scorsese's epic dramatization of the Osage murders. Piron’s feature deftly navigates the contradictions at the heart of Scorsese’s film, discussing its depictions of violence, racism, marriage, and spirituality.
- Art tries to imitate (tabloid) life in Todd Haynes's latest film, May December—just don't call it camp. The director tells Nicolas Rapold about fusing a tabloid-friendly story with touchstones like Bergman’s Winter Light, as well as what he’s seen recently on TCM.
- Over two decades of roles in landmark independent films and blockbusters, Michael Cera has moved from awkward sweetheart to sullen millennial. Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer writes the definitive study of Cera’s craft.
- “There is little danger of the Holocaust being forgotten. We now instead face the thorny question of how artists do the remembering.” Dan Schindel writes on the hazards of the Holocaust film, focusing on Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, and more.
- In a new interview, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist sits down with Park Chan-wook for a wide-ranging conversation about the filmmaker’s influences, origins, and creative process. They also dig into the haunting music cues of his latest film, the noir romance Decision to Leave—a MUBI Release, now showing on the platform.
- Fireflies Press have announced the writers for the six remaining editions in their ongoing Decadent Editions series, a ten-book series that covers a film from each year of the 2000s. The next book to be published will see Christine Smallwood write on Chantal Akerman’s La Captive (2000).
- Three other new books of note. MACK Books, who recently published a 488-page tome drawn from Sofia Coppola’s personal archive, have now put out Spell, Time, Practice, American, Body, the first book by the artist, filmmaker, and writer RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening ). Semiotext(e) will soon publish a new translation of influential French film critic Serge Daney’s first book Footlights. And Visual Studies Workshop Press have published New Utopia and Light Fracture, a posthumous work by the avant-garde filmmaker Luther Price “made from the slides and interspersed email messages from Price to VSW Press over a period of two years.”