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Daily Briefing. Guy Maddin’s “SPIRITISMES” + Gene Tierney and More

Also: Ross Douthat, film critic. Woody Allen on Broadway. Whit Stillman at Harvard. And Orson Welles performs Shakespeare on the radio.

"Over eighty percent of silent films are lost. I've always considered a lost film as a narrative with no known final resting place — doomed to wander the landscape of film history, sad, miserable and unable to project itself to the people who might love it." That's Guy Maddin, as quoted by Kim Morgan, introducing Maddin's SPIRITISMES, happening now at the Centre Pompidou in Paris ("During 'séances'... Maddin and his actors will allow themselves to be possessed by the wandering spirits of the dead, to bring their movies back to life") through March 12:

Filmmaking, dead made undead, is happening live at the Centre — lost or unrealized films by directors as diverse as Jean Vigo, Kenji Mizoguchi, Lois Weber, William Wellman, von Stroheim (I will appear in that particular Poto-Poto), Alexandre Dovjenko and more are coming — rising from the dead, in their own unique way. Maddin will be shooting one film a day... from February 22 to March 12. You can watch live streaming, between 11 AM to 9 PM (6 AM to 3 PM ET) all those days. For those of you in the States, get up early or indulge your insomnia.

And then there's the impressive array of actors. Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Mathieu Amalric, Rudy Andriamimarinosy, Jacques Bonnaffé, Amira Casar, Géraldine Chaplin, Miguel Cueva, Mathieu Demy, Jeanne de France, Adèle Haenel, Ariane Labed, Elina Löwensohn, Maria de Medeiros, Jacques Nolot, Christophe Paou, Jean-Baptiste Phou, Jean-François Stévenin, Robinson Stévenin and André Wilms will all take part. Please look at the full list of pictures, or seances, at the Centre Pompidou, here.


"When it comes to Gene Tierney, I think of certain colors, especially the green of her eyes and the fire-engine red of the lipstick on her lips," writes Dan Callahan for Sight & Sound. "I think of the clothes she wore: the shoulder pads and wide-bottomed women's slacks of the 1940s, Laura's Salvador Dalí hats, Ellen's chinoiserie-style dressing gown — and of course those sunglasses she puts on to murder poor Danny. But I also think of music: not just David Raksin's famous theme song for Laura, which later had lyrics attached by Johnny Mercer about how Laura was 'the face in the misty light' … But to many moviegoers, Tierney is the embodiment of a certain kind of 1940s movie experience — someone of whom it can plausibly be said, as Mercer's lyrics have it, that maybe she was only a dream."

Preminger's Laura opens for an extended run at London's BFI Southbank today. Brief reviews in the British papers: Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 5/5) Dave Calhoun (Time Out London, 4/5), Anthony Quinn (Independent, 5/5) and Matthew Thrift (Little White Lies).

Also in London, the BFI's just unveiled the full lineup for this year's Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, running March 23 through April 1.

Cambridge. The Discreet Charm of Whit Stillman opens at the Harvard Film Archive this evening with Stillman on hand for a screening of his screenwriting and directorial debut, Metropolitan (1990). He'll be there tomorrow, too, for the new one, Damsels in Distress. Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1997) screen on Sunday.

Austin. It's Asian Invasion weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.

DVD/Blu-ray. "It was [Manny] Farber who, when organizing the film program at the still-young [University of California in San Diego's] Department of Visual Arts, brought Gorin from Paris to UCSD to lecture on film aesthetics. Gorin is there still; a look at his student-generated gradings on turns up many encomiums, as well as nuggets such as: 'Said we all had our heads up our asses and didn't know **** about film,' or, more commonly, 'Goes off topic.' That last complaint gets at much of the spontaneous 'eureka!' pleasures and sudden reversals of the essay films Gorin made in southern California." Nick Pinkerton for Sight & Sound on the Criterion/Eclipse release of Three Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin.

In the works. Woody Allen is adapting his original screenplay for Bullets Over Broadway (1994), co-written with Douglas McGrath, "into a stage musical that producers are aiming to open on Broadway in 2013," reports Patrick Healy for the New York Times. Meantime, at the Playlist, Kevin Jagernauth notes that Allen's Roman comedy, Nero Fiddled, with Alison Pill, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Judy Davis and Penélope Cruz, will open on June 22 — and Cory Everett has extensive notes on a recent conversation at the 92Y Uptown between Allen and Dick Cavett focussing on Allen's "early days in Brooklyn, the golden age of radio and his 1987 film Radio Days which screened immediately following the discussion."

Reading. "Since becoming The New York Times' youngest regular op-ed columnist in 2009, Ross Douthat has made his ambition clear: to form an intellectual base for the Republican party of the 21st century, the way William F Buckley formed one for the Republican party of the last half of the 20th. It's something of a thankless task, because his party has lately set itself up as hostile to intellectuals, more frequently referred to as liberal elites." For Moving Image Source, Tom McCormack offers a close reading of Douthat's film criticism: "He's got a passion for the pictures." Douthat reviews movies for the National Review and has written on film for Slate, the Atlantic and in his own blog at the Times. McCormack finds more than a little in Douthat's writing on film to admire, but ultimately argues that "he's perpetually mistaken" and that "there are aspects of his writing that can only be explained by assuming he's being intellectually dishonest."

At the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Amy Taubin and Laura Kern look back on Sundance 2012, each posting a top ten, while, at the Evening Class, Michael Guillén wraps Palm Springs.

Listening. The Internet Archive's posted MP3 recordings of Orson Welles performing Shakespeare on the radio between 1936 and 1946. Ambrose Heron indexes the collection.

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