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Cinema Scope, Robin Wood, 70s Sci-Fi

Jean Luc-Godard's "late period has repeatedly demonstrated an interest in a critical cinema, an art that interrogates itself by giving form to its history as much as providing a history to its art form, punctuated, of course, by the personal concerns of its maker — ones which presumably need no repeating here as they are resolutely, recognizably Godardian." Andréa Picard: "Chris Marker also evidently comes to mind, but at Cannes it was Oliveira, whose sublime The Strange Case of Angelica echoed most profoundly with Film Socialisme. Sharing their theme of the transition into the digital age (an analogue camera here, a typewriter there) with its attendant philosophical implications, threatened histories, and ancient traditions (not to mention the ecological implications of these and the philosophical implications of ecological change that Godard has raised in recent interviews), and a surprising, almost jubilatory use of experimental cinematic techniques (Oliveira's rudimentary, Mélièsian use of CGI was one of the most enchanting displays of magic until Uncle Boonmee), Angelica and Film Socialisme's tackling of new, hybrid forms put them at the forefront of those continuing to expand cinema's vocabulary and its visual potential."

The piece is one of eight accessible online from the "Spotlight: Festival de Cannes" in Cinema Scope 43. Editor Mark Peranson: "If you'd have asked me on May 22 to sum up Cannes 2010, the predictable response might have been to combine the titles of two of the most memorably awful films from this year's festival: Another Shit Year." But the following day saw the presentation of the Palme d'Or to Apichatpong Weerasethakul for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. "The Apichatpong effect allowed (and still allows) for an alternate reality to exist, one where it was a parallel self that sat through the feeble Competition; that sad, sallow self became expunged, its consciousness left behind to flail in the streams of life alongside other catfish, gallivant through the jungle alongside an ox, or cohabit with a red-eyed monkey spirit. How could [jury president] Tim Burton not like a film — by a fellow acclaimed artist, I should add — featuring dudes in cheap ape suits, ghosts, a big fish... You could even say that with its inspiration drawn from memories of the crude dramatics of his youth, Uncle Boonmee is Apichatpong's Ed Wood (1994)." And then Mark Peranson and Kong Rithdee interview Joe.

Also in the Spotlight: Robert Koehler on Lee Chang-Dong's Poetry, Christoph Huber on Xavier Beauvois's Of Gods and Men, Jason Anderson on Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats and Richard Porton on Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy.





From this issue's Editor's Note: "Go see Aaron Katz's Cold Weather when you have the chance — I doubt there will be a better American film this year (and why wasn't that in the Quinzaine, to ask one of many questions left hanging by my insufficient Cannes whack?)." Adam Nayman revisits Katz's Dance Party, USA and Quiet City before turning to Cold Weather. To call it "a step forward isn't adequate praise. Its excellence synthesizes that which was already strong in Katz's work — his patient way of shooting and cutting in dialogue scenes, his attentiveness to local landscapes, a reluctance to score points at his characters' expense — with entirely new elements, chief among them a crackling plot."

"The cinema of Ben Rivers is one of the most bracing, refreshing new developments to occur in the experimental film world in recent years," writes Michael Sicinski, introducing his interview.

Andrew Tracy: "The centenary celebrations for Kurosawa — including the imposing AK 100 DVD box set from Criterion and a touring retrospective landing at TIFF Cinematheque in June — prompts the question of why his presence among the most active and engaged sectors of present-day cinephilia feels so pallid."

Jonathan Rosenbaum presents another tantalizing roundup of "Global Discoveries on DVD" and there's a Web-only piece from John Semley: "Buoyed by the release of Broken Social Scene's first album in five years, This Movie Is Broken will likely earn at least a modicum of attention from the local crowd, further fortifying [Bruce] McDonald and [Don] McKellar's rock-solid positions atop the second tier of Canadian cineastes. A shame, given that there are a handful of existing and emerging talents — [Reg] Harkema, Mike Dowse, Blaine Thurier (he of that other, and superior, Canadian indie 'collective' the New Pornographers) — whose films will likely end up largely ignored by an often-myopic domestic audience which seems unable to process the names of more than three or four Canadian filmmakers at any given time. In their perplexing attempt to narrativize what would otherwise be a reasonably pleasant concert flick, McDonald and McKellar paint the youth culture they longingly kowtow to in broad strokes, cementing their own irrelevance in the process. To paraphrase a still resonant artifact of Canadian pop ephemera from The Kids in the Hall: they're hip, they're cool, but alas, they're 45."

 

FESTS AND EVENTS


"This tribute is only a modest reflection of the range of Robin's interests," writes TIFF Cinematheque's Piers Handling, introducing Personal Views: A Tribute to Robin Wood, running through June 28. "He grew up as a child of the 1950s in love with the Hollywood movies of the time, ranged through the classic European art cinema of the 60s, wrote with flair and commitment about directors as diverse as Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Max Ophüls, Michael Cimino (he was a great defender of Heaven's Gate), Robert Altman, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Larry Cohen and George Romero.... [A]s a passionate attendee of Cinematheque screenings over the years, he will be remembered by those of us who were marked by his writings and presence."





Be sure to make use of that list of links to more essays on Wood and the Cinematheque, one of them taking you to the Peter Howell's piece in the Toronto Star on Wood's final top ten, "actually more of a Top 12," none ranked except for #1: Howard Hawks's Rio Bravo (1959).

We should also add Tom McCormack's two-parter on Wood at Moving Image Source (1: "He either participated in or bore witness to most of the major intellectual developments in film writing, and in arts criticism more generally" and 2, on the "1978 lecture-cum-essay 'Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic.' As will become clear, I think, Wood's thoughts have a significance that extends well beyond the reaches of both queer culture and film criticism — and even if they didn't, 'Responsibilities' would still be a fascinating document of a particular mind working through complex issues at a particular place and time") and, via Current, "his Criterion Top 10, his warmly personal reminiscence about Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, and his lucid and incisive essay on Ophüls's Le plaisir."

Speaking of TIFF, the site for this year's Toronto International Film Festival (September 9 through 19), is up.

SF-1970 is a series running at the Harvard Film Archive through June 28: "After 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), science fiction cinema entered an extraordinarily creative and fertile period equally distinguished by such brooding masterpieces as Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky's answer to Kubrick, and Nicholas Roeg's haunting elegy for a dying race The Man Who Fell to Earth, as by the outrageous and imaginative satire of Death Race 2000 and Dark Star. Predicting a future ruled by reality television programs, genetic engineering, environmental plagues and insouciant robots, talented auteurs such as Robert Altman, David Cronenberg and Jim McBride brought a new sophistication and dark verve to one of the most popular postwar film genres."

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Dear Harvard Film Archive: WHERE MY ZARDOZ AT?!?!

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