Jason Sperb's new book, Disney's Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South, will be out soon from the University of Texas Press.
In other news. "Barbara, a slow-burning drama set in communist East Germany from director Christian Petzold, is the front runner for this year's Lolas, Germany's equivalent of the Oscar, with eight nominations, including best film." Scott Roxborough has more in the Hollywood Reporter; the Süddeutsche Zeitung has the full list. The awards will be presented in Berlin on April 27.
Los Angeles. "Maya Deren's best-known achievement, her remarkable 1943 dream-poem Meshes of the Afternoon, was just the beginning of a too-brief career," writes Tom von Logue Newth in the Weekly. "Her output would extend from experiments in psychodrama, like Meshes and Witch's Cradle, a fascinating, barely edited collaboration with Marcel Duchamp made during Deren's short period in Hollywood; to highly personal dance studies such as Meditation on Violence (1948). All the above screen tonight at LACMA as part of a tribute to Deren, tied to the exhibition In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States."
New York. "With the rise of found footage and you-are-there handheld, contemporary horror movies seem increasingly concentrated on simulating artlessness," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "It is invaluable, then, to have the example of the grandiose artifice of Dario Argento's films on display in a two-month series at the Museum of Arts and Design — projected before a public that has grown accustomed to crude nerve-end assault and hopefully some aspiring filmmakers." Argento: Cinema in the Blood opens tonight and runs through May 25.
San Francisco. Cinefamily, "road-tripping up from LA's Silent Movie House," as Dennis Harvey puts it in the Bay Guardian, and the Alamo Drafthouse, "jewel of Austin, that oasis of civilization in Texas," invade the Roxie this weekend to stage Cinemadness!, "the three-day marathon of rarities, oddities, and unbilled surprises challenges you to look away, or stay away — either way, your sanity will surely be shakier come Monday."
London. The 26th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival opens tonight with Thom Fitzgerald's Cloudburst and runs through April 1.
Book. "BFI Publishing and CR are pleased to announce that Benio Urbanowicz, a third year student from Kingston University, is the winner of our competition to design a cover for a 20th anniversary edition of the BFI Film Classic book on Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now." And Creative Review's also posted the runners-up and other designs commended by the judges. In short, it's a big day for hoodies.
Reading. The latest essay in Reverse Shot's current issue, Steven Spielberg: Nostalgia and the Light, comes from Andrew Tracy:
Far less of a self-styled intellectual than Welles, Kubrick, or Coppola — and certainly far less of a masterful personality — Spielberg is accordingly a more diffuse, though no less unmistakable, presence in his own work. This nowhere-man quality is all the more remarkable in that Spielberg, with Kubrick but unlike Welles or Coppola, has achieved the Benjaminian feat of founding his own genre—a genre of which he is the only true practitioner (see JJ Abrams's failed Spielbergian pastiche Super 8). Unlike such former associates as Joe Dante or Robert Zemeckis, who merrily pillage the rag-and-bone shop of pop culture, Spielberg does not so much refer to the cinematic past as imbibe it. Even though he has worked in almost the full range of available genres, Spielberg's key films are enveloping, holistic, self-sustaining in a manner that belies their generic roots. Jaws' provenance can be traced to the mainstreaming of the horror film begun by Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, and the death-as-spectacle decadence of the disaster film cycle, but it is fundamentally unclassifiable as anything but itself; Close Encounters and E.T. belong to the history of the science-fiction film, but they do not so much work within the genre as use its lineaments to create, as Stanley Kauffmann put it, "event[s] in the history of faith"; the Indiana Jones outings are certainly "adventure films," but their manic intensity transports them to an entirely different plane; Saving Private Ryan is not so much a war film as (in intention at least) the war film…. Spielberg's profundity — and even this perennial skeptic admits that the man has had his moments of it — is of an intuitive, affective variety that at its height is positively oceanic."
DVD/Blu-ray. John Ford's Fort Apache (1948) "is one of the great achievements of classical American cinema, a film of immense complexity that never fails to reveal new shadings with each viewing," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "It has been the subject of reams of critical discourse, most often fastened on its historical and ideological aspects…. [W]atching the magnificent new Blu-ray edition of Fort Apache from Warner Home Video I was struck this time by the film's reflective, inward quality, by its emotional climate of loss and uncertainty. The central conflict is not between military forces but within the community formed by the population of the small, seemingly forgotten outpost."