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Rushes. David Lynch Adman, Best Films of the 21st Century, Universal Cinema

This week’s essential news, articles, sounds, videos and more from the film world.
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  • With Twin Peaks: The Return currently unfolding, its profound oddness has sent many of us diving backwards into David Lynch's past work, remembering he is a visual artist first and foremost, one who has worked in serial television, narrative cinema, and, yes, commercial advertisement. This video usefully gathers all ads Lynch has made, from his 1988 add for Calvin Klein to his (brilliant) Dior ad from 2010 starring Marion Cotillard.
  • A '90s cinema throwback! Lars von Trier introducing the Dogme 95 rules that he so quickly abandoned.
  • Okay, not a movie but we've been avidly and eagerly following the development of StudioMDHR's video game Cuphead, a platform gorgeously swathed in the style of 1930s cartoon creations by Fleischer Studios like Betty Boop and Popeye.
  • Our own trailer for Bruno Dumont's Slack Bay, which MUBI is releasing in cinemas in the U.K. on June 16, followed by a run on MUBI in that country.
  • A plaintive, beautiful ending for your day of viewing: Jonathan Kiefer's video essay Miyazaki Rain Study.
There Will Be Blood, the number one film of the 21st century according to the New York Times.
  • New York Times critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis have set the film world talking with their publication's list (made between them and contributing directors and actors) of the "Best Films of the 21st Century So Far," including Guillermo Del Toro on Spirited Away, who describes its heroine:
She evolves from her poise, dress, attitude, emotion and spirituality from being a child to being a young woman and coming into her own, and in that position she has to go through the loss of everything. She loses her parents, she loses her name, she’s called nothing, she’s called Sen, she’s called zero. There’s a beautiful, very melancholic meditation – the same melancholy that permeates all Miyazaki’s films.
  • As always with any list, what it leaves out seems as important as what's put in, as well as begs silly questions of rules and methodology (no shorts, only films distributed in the United States?). It has spawned many other corrective or personal lists online, including Richard Brody's at the New Yorker, parodies (all numerical films), and one list we particularly like that is simply Hong Sang-soo's filmography.
There is something about a first feature that sets it apart from later works. Not an innocence but rather a blissful ignorance of external obstacles and pressures, a determination to pursue an initial vision to the end, which will never happen again, after an artist has learned to cope with barriers and to find those barriers interesting. So with They Live by Night: “I like They Live by Night because all the mistakes are mine,” Ray would say.
  • For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's publication Open Space, filmmaker Isaac Goes has written on what he calls "Universal Cinema," made from "filmmakers' newfound freedom to record as much as they would like on the fly":
The accumulation of footage of this sort eventually accrues within iPhoto libraries and folders chock-full of fragmented .mov life-slices. Given that most people are relatively impulsive about what they choose to record, these clusters of videos begin to form a shape that somewhat mirrors the contingent layering of memory in structure. The transitory nature of the images contained within these databanks imposes little to no predetermined cinematic trajectory upon a film’s eventual form, presenting the filmmaker with a mass of motion pictures from which cinema can then be carved out in relief.

Assembling this footage into new forms becomes a necessary function of digital editing systems, the non-linear structure of which greatly widens the horizon of possible interactions between images in montage. The expanded capabilities these editing systems provide for organization and workflow imbue each set of clips with a theoretically infinite number of potential formal articulations. Many of the elements films made by these methods share are a result of the freedom of experimentation this seemingly unlimited scope provides.
  • Another near-manifesto from a young filmmaker: Portuguese director Sílvia das Fadas has written movingly at TIFF about "a community of rebels," a possible utopian community that could be "an attempt to transmute [her] filmmaking practice into a commoning endeavour, to collectively think how can we come together in an hospitable place and exercise critical imagination towards a time beyond possession, a non-capitalist society."
Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving (1959)
  • What das Fadas speaks of one could argue is a filmmaking practice that American experimental (for lack of a better word) filmmaker Stan Brakhage attempted to work in all his life. For the New York Review of Books, Max Nelson provides a beautiful overview:
He had a powerful impulse—one that extended less often to people outside his home—to film his wife Jane and their five children. He more than once filmed Jane giving birth, turned their arguments and lovemaking into cinematic subjects, embellished his footage of their life in rural Colorado with wild superimposed images drawn from Norse mythology, and—in the Eighties—made pained films about their separation and divorce. But the moment he turned his camera on his family they, too, became concentrations of light whose “qualities and varieties” he could study. The films he made of them shine with love and tenderness and at the same time suggest an odd disregard for the recipients of that love.
  • The second issue of NANG magazine, a limited-run publication devoted to Asian cinema, is out, guest edited by critic and programmer Yoo Un-seong and director John Torres. They ask their contributors to "write about scars and death. Die for the piece and swear by it. For the scarred workers, the dedicated, the desperate enough, for those dying to be offered another chance. For the films we have lost, the scenes that are scarred by time, those missing frames, abrupt endings and low resolutions. For the ones who died on- and off-screen, for deaths we haven’t seen. For those who risk life savings for a fictional piece. For all others who toil away, INT/EXT, their bodies taking it, DAY/NIGHT."
  • The closing credits music for Josh and Ben Safdie's new film Good Time, which premiered in Cannes. The terrific soundtrack to the picture is by electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never, who collaborated with Iggy Pop for this track, "The Pure and the Damned".

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