- Over the weekend we lost two greats: Filmmaker George A. Romero, best known for inventing the modern version of all things zombie, and actor Martin Landau. Patton Oswalt has pointed out that a 19-year-old Romero worked as a pageboy on North by Northwest, Landau's second movie.
- The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has again added more names to its membership, and this latest batch includes even more unexpected additions from the world of international art cinema, including directors Pedro Costa, Lav Diaz, Ann Hui, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Kira Muratova, Johnnie To and Athina Rachel Tsangari.
- Did you see that the lineup of the Locarno Film Festival has been announced? With a huge retrospective devoted to Cat People director Jacques Tourneur and a competition including new films by Wang Bing, F.J. Ossang, Ben Russell, and Raúl Ruiz and his wife Valéria Sarmiento, stay tuned for our coverage of the festival in August.
- You don't need to know Swedish to enjoy the humor, horror and formal mastery in the trailer for Ruben Östlund's winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes, The Square. Read our review from the festival here.
- An equally titillating and even more mysterious trailer, this one for Argentinian Gastón Solnicki's coming-of-age whatsit, Kékszakállú.
- The wonderful American avant-garde filmmaker Jim Jennings has put a great deal of his films online at his website, jimjenningsfilms.com. Where to begin? We highly recommend his 1980 short film Wall Street.
- French impressionist filmmaker Jean Epstein made some of the most beguiling films of first half of the 20th-century. Critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Marin explore his work in a new video essay dedicated to his films that focus on the Brittany coast of France.
- We adore Pedro Costa's second film, 1994's Casa de Lava, the remarkable re-interpretation of Hollywood B-horror film I Walked with a Zombie set on the volcanic, Portuguese-colonized Cape Verde islands. A teaser of a new restoration has us under its spell.
- Some movie trailers don't seem to understand the movie they are pitching, nor the audience they are addressing. Then there are trailers like this one for Jian Liu's deadpan animated thriller Have a Nice Day, one of the biggest discoveries at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. MUBI will be releasing the film in the United Kingdom after it finishes playing on the festival circuit.
- Michel Gondry has collaborated with Apple to make a short film shot on an iPhone. Its lead star is a red tricycle, bien sur!
- Whose job is it to choreograph rape scenes in films? What does it feel like to do that job, or to act that role? A startling, difficult to read article by April Wolfe in the Village Voice goes in-depth behind-the-scenes of the work it takes on a set to film a rape:
Media attention to rape in film is targeted mostly at how audiences perceive the scenes and lamenting the studios' sheer mass of sexual violence on screen. Many articles ask the question: Are these scenes gratuitous? But rarely do we think about the filmmakers, actors and crew who make on-screen rapes happen, like MacNair. How do they feel? Are they tired of rape scenes? Or what if portraying rape could actually be a positive thing?
- Also at the Voice, critic Bilge Ebiri has dug up from the newspaper's archives a 1975 set report from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver!
- It's been some years since Harmony Korine's hit Springbreakers, and with news on him working on a new film (The Beach Bum), the director has given Pitchfork an annotated list of the music of his life. Here he is on the Geto Boys' "We Can't Be Stopped":
I was reading The Anarchist Cookbook and spending the summers in San Francisco skateboarding, living on rooftops, running away from my parents, getting in fights. You know, girls. At that point I was just getting into movies, but the idea of making films happened later in high school. Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” was a game-changer. I was in high school, and I’d never heard rap music that was filled with such menace—but also self-doubt and paranoia. And hearing guys rap with Southern accents wasn’t really that common in the late ’80s. Bushwick Bill was my favorite. That album, We Can’t Be Stopped, is like a mini-movie.
- We've already plugged critic Adrian Martin this week for his video essay on Jean Epstein, but we can't but recommend his stellar look at Robert Bresson's final masterpiece, 1983's L'argent, for the Criterion Collection:
Most of Bresson’s films tell the same basic story: the passage of a character from confinement to freedom. There are many levels to this apparently simple pattern. For decades, the best commentators on Bresson, like the French critic André Bazin, explored the religious, spiritual, and existential aspects of the Bressonian allegory: humans are born in sin, fallen from grace, and they travel with difficulty, tempted at every turn, toward some kind of absolution or transcendence. But in his three final films—Lancelot du lac, The Devil, Probably (1977), and L’argent (1983)—another, darker mood predominates: a bleak vision of society as a hellish prison, without any discernible avenue of escape, let alone hope of redemption. L’argent shares with two earlier Bresson films, A Man Escaped (1956) and Pickpocket, a faint ostensible relation to the conventions of the action-thriller genre. Alongside the excruciatingly elongated tension of a jailbreak in the former and the daredevil thievery in the latter, L’argent boasts a spray of criminal acts—most strikingly the hyperminimalist, elliptical presentation of a bungled bank robbery, as performed by Yvon (Christian Patey) and his partners. Yet the tone of this film, its arrangement of content and form, is unique, even for Bresson.
- Oliver Stone has made a documentary series out of his interviews with Vladimir Putin, and the L.A. Review of Books reviews not only at that new series but the way Western media in general treats the president of the Russian Federation:
...Stone refers to everything that has happened in Russia over the last 17 years, good or bad, as a direct emanation of Putin’s will. Both see him as the sole person responsible for all that is wrong — or, in Stone’s case, all that is sometimes admirable — about contemporary Russia. Neither Stone nor his critics seem to contemplate the possibility that perhaps Putin is the outcome, rather than the cause, of his country’s problems.
- With David Lynch and Twin Peaks: The Return consuming our mind, body and spirit, we revisit the production photos by Sheila Metzner of the director's Wild at Heart with pleasure. (Via Pure Cinema.) And speaking of Twin Peaks, director Gina Telaroli has an amazing article on the experience of watching it so far, connecting the new series to nostalgia, experimental cinema, aging, and the great classical Hollywood director Henry King.
- The inspired strangeness of hand-painted Ghanaian movie posters has been something of a quiet sensation online in the last few years, with every discovery a galling shock and delight. Here is a newly found one for John Carpenter's Vampires.