"He's best known for his westerns, which traditionally are sagas about how civilization begins, how ruthless and cynical men rip it out of the throat of the wilderness," writes Peter Keough in the Boston Phoenix. "But the end of civilization is what really fascinated Sergio Leone, and the poison within that undoes every would-be paradise. Death and doom and dark hilarity overshadow his films, not just the westerns, but all of them, which are on view this month in a two-week retrospective at the Harvard Film Archive. From his first directorial effort, The Colossus of Rhodes (1961; screens November 13 at 4:30 pm), to the script about the 900-day siege of Leningrad that he left behind when he died in 1989 at the age of 60, Sergio Leone showed us how the world ends — be it by the slow brutal murder of a modern city, or the catastrophic destruction of an ancient one."
More events. "Fortissimo spoils us," writes Howard Feinstein, and he counts the ways at indieWIRE: "From its inception in 1991, Fortissimo specialized in films from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, most notably those of Wong Kar-wai, who remains both a friend and a cash cow, but soon expanded to other countries in Asia such as Thailand and the Philippines. The company expanded into American independents (Night on Earth, Winter's Bone) and docs (Capturing the Friedmans, The Bridge, Super-Size Me); New Queer Cinema (Poison, Mysterious Skin); movies from Latin America (Daniel and Ana, The House of Sand); Australia (Somersault); Holland (The Dress); Russia (My Joy); Hungary (Taxidermia, The Man From London), and the rest of Europe. More and more, they have supplemented the First World fare with films from underrepresented regions like Arab countries (Laila's Birthday, Cairo 678) and, for an international audience anyway, Quebec (the astonishing Wetlands)." In Focus: Fortissimo Films opens today at MoMA and runs through November 21.
At the Evening Class, Kurtiss Hare has an overview of the San Francisco International Animation Festival, running today through Sunday. More and more.
Joe Dante was in Madison last weekend and David Bordwell watched the films he brought along, including The Movie Orgy, "a zestful celebration of the world our generation saw when we flopped on our bellies, propped our chins in our hands, and stared at the tumultuous world inside a black-and-white (not color) TV (not video) set (not monitor)."
Book. "Jeffrey Meyers has very little new to say about the 40 films John Huston made, but he does have quite a bit to add to the record about the many women who swam through the late director's life," writes Todd McCarthy, reviewing John Huston: Courage and Art for the Hollywood Reporter. "Huston was a rake of an elevated order; so wide a swath did the charismatic, charming, difficult, passionate, intellectual and sadistic swashbuckler cut that a more fitting title for this particular biography might have been The Sultan of St Clerans, a reference to the Irish manor house that was the defining Hustonian domain…. The best account of Huston's eventful life is contained in Lawrence Grobel's 1989 volume The Hustons. Meyers basically rehashes existing information… So what's new here? Lots of gossip about Huston's extensive amorous activities from the many horses' mouths…. Meyers reports that most of Huston's paramours 'gave his sexual performance rave reviews.'"
Barely mid-November, and it's already time for an awards mini-rubric. Oliver Platt and Edie Falco will co-host this year's Gotham Independent Film Awards on November 28, reports Jason Guerrasio for Filmmaker, where he's also got the Audience Award nominations.
Morgan Freeman will receive the Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 15. (Hollywood Reporter)
Eddie Murphy, originally slated to host the Oscars ceremony in February, has followed Brett Ratner out the Academy's front door; Brian Glazer will now be producing. (New York Times)
In the works. Glenn Close and Elizabeth Olsen have signed on to Charlie Stratton's adaptation of Zola's Thérèse Raquin. (Entertainment Weekly)