The great Japanese studio rabble rouser Seijun Suzuki, best known for his crazed remixes of pulp genre films in the late 1950s and 1960s (Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill) and also for his late career renaissance (Pistol Opera, Princess Raccoon), has died at the age of 92.
On a more positive note, the second film program for the great Knoxville music festival Big Eats has been announced, and it's a humdinger, ranging from a focus on directors Jonathan Demme and Kevin Jerome Everson to programs of new avant-garde work.
And a third "finally!": We've been waiting eagerly for Zama, the next film by the great Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Headless Woman). An early teaser suggests it may share some qualities with Jauja by her fellow countryman Lisandro Alonso.
Steven Spielberg on the set of Empire of the Sun
Filmmaker, translator and projectionist Ted Fendt has generously rendered into English the chapter on Steven Spielberg in Jean-Pierre Coursodon and Bertrand Tavernier's essential book 50 ans de cinéma américan:
He is a creator contested by a fair number of critics who also seem to be excessively obsessed by his box-office shattering performances. It is not only a matter of money, however. After all, these hundreds of millions of dollars correspond to millions of viewers who are satisfied and even enchanted in the strongest sense of the word. The impact of E.T. on the popular imagination is clearly less superficial than that of James Bond, Star Wars, and the other mega-successes of the last twenty years like Grease, Ghostbusters, and Beverly Hills Cop. The film seems to touch something deep in the universal psyche. From the viewpoint of public support, there are only two precedents, Disney's Snow White and Gone With the Wind, produced by David O. Selznick...
But Coréennes‘ lack of engagement with the ideological aspect of North Korea comes less out of delusion than deliberate omission. “I will not deal with the Big Issues,” Marker says in a letter to his cat at the book’s end. “Were I to speak of them, it would be in the style of Henry V: ‘An orator is only a loud-mouth, a motto is only a slogan, politics change, statistics are faked, fine alliances break, bright flags tarnish, but a human face, good cat, is the sun and the moon…’” A coda, composed at a considerable temporal distance, follows: “Those men and women whom I saw work so hard, with a courage the propaganda-makers didn’t hesitate to exploit, but which it would be stupid to confuse with its imagery – did they really work for nothing? The newspapers one reads in spring 1997 are devastating: ‘famine,’ ‘total failure,’ ‘corruption everywhere’… There’s no reason to beat around the bush: that wager was lost, terribly, and the Koreans have once again illustrated their Greek propensity for hubris. Always excess, in sentiment, in war, in history.”
Godard replaces what Hitchens spells out on a page with brief tense shots of physical movement (tying up Odile’s aunt and putting her in a closet), anxious close-ups (of Karina’s face) and gun-play viewed in medium long-shot, rather than close-up as in most gangster films. That’s because Band of Outsiders is as far as one can get from most gangster films—French as well as American. There’s no tragic anti-hero in the central role—just a young girl who might ordinarily be called a damsel in distress.
Tarr may have vowed to never make a film again, but he has created one more scene. He and Kelemen shot it together in Sarajevo, and it screens at EYE as the exhibition’s finale. The camera focuses on the face of a boy, Muhamed. He was cast after Kelemen noticed him playing accordion every day in the street. “Everybody has an inner world and that is something you bring into a film,” Kelemen says. “Looking for actors of course means looking for faces and eyes, and the expression of their gaze.” The boy plays his instrument, and it seems at first as if the scene would be at home in any of Tarr’s timeless rural landscapes. But as the camera pulls away, Muhamed’s surroundings slowly reveal themselves: a shopping mall. It’s a setting jarringly dissonant with the accordion’s old-world charm, and it changes our impression of the boy in relation to his environment. He may still be a keeper of folk traditions or some sort of timeless sadness, but he is probably also a busker, forced to ply his talent for coins on the margins of a consumerist society.
Lars von Trier in a photo homage to Carl Th. Dreyer's Vampyr in the lead-up to his new feature, The House that Jack Built.
is a daily, international film publication. Our mission is to guide film lovers searching, lost or adrift in an overwhelming sea of content. We offer text, images, sounds and video as critical maps, passways and illuminations to the worlds of contemporary and classic film. Notebook is a MUBI publication.