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Daily Briefing. Hong Sang-soo, Claude Lanzmann, Josef von Sternberg, Pierre Étaix…

Fine new issue of the Brooklyn Rail, a sprawling list, news and more.
The DailyOki's Movie

In the new March 2012 issue of the Brooklyn Rail, Colin Beckett previews a "five-film retrospective sampler" of work by Hong Sang-soo running at the Museum of the Moving Image from March 17 through 23: "Wherever his characters go, be it Paris or a Korean resort town, they do the same things: arrange themselves in complicated love triangles, treat others poorly, drink too much, then treat each other even worse. His deliberately artificial camera movements — long pans back and forth, and half-motivated zooms, mostly — treat real space the way a camera usually approaches a photograph or a painting: flattening it, drawing horizontal and diagonal lines to map its elements. He is concerned with atmosphere in the literal sense: the particular qualities of light and air in the types of spaces to which he obsessively returns: beaches, restaurants, apartments."

Hong's Tale of Cinema (2005) is not one of the five (which, by the way, are The Day a Pig Fell into the Well [1996], Woman on the Beach [2006], Night and Day [2008], Like You Know It All [2009] and Oki's Movie [2010]), but it's screening at the Japan Society on Thursday as part of Love Will Tear Us Apart, a series of "22 features from Japan and South Korea communicating in the universal language of emotional abuse," as R Emmet Sweeney puts it in his overview. The series, featuring premieres of new films by Kôji Wakamatsu (Petrel Hotel Blue) and Shinya Tsukamoto (Kotoko), runs through March 18.

"The advent of the Occupy movement in the United States has taken the time-honored discourse surrounding 'the crisis of criticism' to a new level of intensity. One might even say it has brought the discourse surrounding the crisis of criticism into crisis," writes Talib Agape Fuegoverde in a delightfully all-over-the-place piece which serves as the Rail's contribution to the Held Essays on Visual Art, edited by Jonathan TD Neil. One more snippet:

As critics, what do we make of the reappearance of terms such as inspiration, beauty, imagination? Prior to Occupy, these terms would raise our critical suspicion given their various associations with Romantic and liberal-humanist discourses that have historically looked to the aesthetic as a way to escape or mollify the crises and antagonisms of capitalist society. Indeed, is not a certain hostility to the specialized category of "art" encoded in the Situationist DNA of the movement? Does Occupy and its expanded field of cultural activism not mark the end of art itself?

No it does not, and this is the beauty of Occupy.

Eugenie Dalland notes that Wim Wenders's Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) "surveys the ubiquity of the electronic and digital image, and particularly how it has changed how people define themselves. Two decades later, authors Aaron Rose and Mandy Kahn explore the same relationship in their study of the aughts, Collage Culture: Examining the 21st Century's Identity Crisis." Their argument: "[O]ur culture is now a patchwork of the 'already extant,' and therefore our era's identity is at stake since nothing is original. While part of their claim is legitimate, it is hard to accept that such thinking is enough to warrant an 'identity crisis.' What Wenders understands about the concept of identity, Rose and Kahn do not: Identity is always a composite."

Troy Swain draws a preview of Hysterical Excess: Discovering Andrzej Zulawski, a series running at BAMcinématek from Thursday through March 20, Leo Goldsmith and Rachael Rakes look back on this year's Documentary Fortnight at MoMA ("typically cosmopolitan and mercurial") and Eleanor J Bader profiles Faith Pennick, "a feminist and a filmmaker. But that doesn't mean she wants to be called a feminist filmmaker."

More reading. Diagonal Thoughts runs a new English translation of Philippe Grandrieux's November 2000 piece on "the 'insane horizon' of cinema."

The Patagonian Hare

Books. For the Observer, Ed Vulliamy talks at length with Claude Lanzmann about his newish memoir: "'Autobiography' would be the wrong word, as its enigmatic title, The Patagonian Hare, suggests. It has no chronology, and is a meditation upon, rather than a narrative of, this life among lives." Among the subjects discussed: Lanzmann's years as "a teenage guerrilla in the French resistance," his friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, his sister Évelyne and her love for Gilles Deleuze, his admiration for Frantz Fanon, the Algerian War, Berlin and, of course, Shoah (1985).

Luke McKernan has notes on five "recent publications on silent film, though one or two have been around for a few months now, and not all are directly about silent films — but that's what makes them interesting."

DVD. Dave Kehr is glad to see Dishonored (1931) and Shanghai Express (1932) finally out on DVD, but he's not terribly impressed with the job TCM's Vault Collection has done with them. Still, it gives him an opportunity to write about all seven Josef von Sternberg/Marlene Dietrich collaborations, "works of breathtaking formal beauty, profound moral philosophy and devastating wit. In many ways they seem apart from, and perhaps in advance of, their time. The near-abstract quality of the images — throbbing, sinuous, ever-shifting patterns composed in black and white and all the gradations in between — anticipates an American avant-garde movement that would not flower until the late 1940s; the self-consciously preposterous narratives, with their wild melodramatic coincidences and exotic settings, would find their echo in the 1960s, in the camp posturing of 'underground' filmmakers like George Kuchar and Jack Smith."

Cork French Film Festival

Cork. "A long-running legal dispute over distribution rights has meant that, for the past two decades, [Pierre] Étaix's films have been out of circulation, the old spools rotting slowly away," reports Ruadhán MacCormaic for the Irish Times. "Cinemas couldn't show them, shops couldn't stock them. The man once lauded as the French Buster Keaton lived in limbo, earning a living by making television advertisements, while in his spare time working on film projects he thought would never come to fruition. And now he is back. After a resolution of the legal dispute and a campaign that culminated in a petition of 50,000 signatures – among them those of Woody Allen, David Lynch, Charlotte Rampling and Jean-Luc Godard – being presented to the French culture minister, Étaix's films have been painstakingly restored and re-released…. Age means nothing to Étaix. At 83, he is working on his next film and travels so much — his next stop is Cork — that he keeps his suitcase in the hall."

List. Bill Georgaris has updated "Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own," a "selection of 250 mostly obscure, mostly overlooked, and/or mostly unloved films" at They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?

In the works. Gael García Bernal will produce Michael Rowe's follow-up to Leap Year, winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes in 2010, reports Variety's James Young. Napa, "the second entry in what Rowe dubs a Trilogy of Solitude," will focus on a six-year-old girl "living in the aftermath of her parents' divorce." Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz are executive producers.

Obit. "Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who helped George Lucas bring Star Wars to the big screen, has died aged 82," reports the BBC. The Alt Film Guide's Andre Soares has more and Coudal Partners point us to a sampling of his work.

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