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Daily Briefing. Peter Cook @BFI, Hoberman on "Zona"

Also: The forgotten work of Spanish director Manuel Mur Oti and another Letter from an Unknown Woman.
The DailyBedazzled

Peter Cook: Genius at Work opens tomorrow at BFI Southbank in London and runs through March 21. "Although Cook has had his tributes before on the South Bank — there was a special Pete and Dud night in 2004, celebrating his legendary double-act with Dudley Moore — none has been as extensive as this, timed to coincide with what would have been Cook's 75th birthday year," writes Dominic Cavendish in the Telegraph. "Curator Dick Fiddy has lined up a rare old bag of treats. There's a BBC recording of the final performance of Beyond the Fringe, the groundbreaking sketch show that made his name and that of Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller — filmed in the West End in 1964 and never screened in the UK in its extended form…. And there will be screenings of his two major films: Bedazzled (1967), in which Cook plays the debonair Devil to Moore's bumbling Faust as relocated to Swinging Sixties London, and The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970), which casts him as a sort of proto-Peter Mandelson in a satire on advertising."

Reading. While newspapers and magazines, both online and off, cut back on books coverage, "shuttering standalone book review sections and lowering the budget and editorial energy devoted to books," Slate has launched a new monthly Book Review. The first edition features Dana Stevens on Geoff Dyer's Zona, a "maddening but irresistible companion to Stalker."

More from J Hoberman in the New York Times Book Review: "Tarkovsky characterized cinema as 'sculpting in time,' and the characteristic camera movement in Stalker is a high-angle tortoise crawl over some waterlogged stretch of detritus. His hyper-real images seem etched into the screen; his drip-drip sound design is even sharper. With its emphasis on landscape, texture and atmosphere, this brooding, dystopian science fiction — freely adapted from the novel Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris — is as much environment as movie…. Dyer casts himself as Stalker's stalker; getting there, as cruise lines used to advertise, is half the fun." And Hoberman talks a bit more about the book on the Book Review Podcast.

The new issue of Open Letters Monthly, a literary journal, is devoted to criticism.

Orgullo

Mar Diestro-Dópido in Sight & Sound: "'Lost and Found' is generally a column about great but overlooked films, but in the peculiar case of Spanish director Manuel Mur Oti [1908-2003] we're actually talking about the obliteration of a whole magnificent career." And how did this happen? "[H]is films simply did not fit with the post-Franco zeitgeist. The new mood stigmatized anything made under the Franco banner, particularly in the cultural realm. Even Carlos Saura and Luis García Berlanga were sniffed at by the younger generation for dealing with elements of Spanish life that Franco had fetishized, such as flamenco and folklore. But in the case of Manuel Mur Oti — arguably as great as either of those directors — the baby was most definitely thrown out with the bathwater."

In the works. Stefan Zweig's novella Letter from an Unknown Woman (1922) has been adapted at least four times, most famously by Max Ophüls in 1948. Now, as Fabien Lemercier reports at Cineuropa, Christian Carion will direct a new version this summer featuring Mélanie Laurent.

Chow Yun-fat and Sammo Hung will star in Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, "based on the true life crime boss Du Yuesheng who built his crime empire through the 1920s and 30s in Shanghai and had close ties to Chiang Kai-shek," reports Twitch's Todd Brown. Wong Jing will direct and Andrew Lau will produce.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal's Kill Bin Laden has been retitled. Now it's Zero Dark Thirty that features Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Fares Fares and will open in December. The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth also reports that the Indian organization Vishva Hindu Parishad is disrupting the set in Chandigarh, furious that the filmmakers have dressed it up as Lahore, Pakistan.

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