Senses of Cinema editor Rolando Caputo, summing up the gist of Murray Pomerance's essay on Second Life, notes that, for those who live there, "the 'virtual world' has become reality, and 'reality' the virtual world." Ian Alan Paul considers "What Inception tells us about our experience of reality and film" and the title of Celluloid Liberation Front's piece on Fassbinder's 1973 made-for-TV adaptation of Daniel F Galouye's science fiction novel, The Counterfeit World, is "World on a Wire: Reality is Colder than Fiction." These three features "are to be taken as a triptych," advises Caputo, as "all, respectively and in their independent and unique way, address the crisis of the 'real.'"
Also: David Bellos on Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, Stephen Barber on the Skladanowsky Brothers, Matt Losada on Spanish experimental filmmaker Iván Zulueta, Noel Vera on Filipino filmmaker Rico Ilarde, Stephen Gaunson on the Rolling Stones, Robert Frank and Cocksucker Blues and Ehsan Khoshbakht on watching the world cup in a Tehran cinema.
Interviews: Marko Bauer with Arnaud Desplechin, Sally Shafto with filmmaker and Moullet collaborator Marie-Christine Questerbert, Jake Wilson with Melbourne-based filmmaker Leo Berkeley and Mary M Wiles with New Zealand filmmaker Gaylene Preston.
Adrian Danks introduces the Arthur and Corinne Cantrill Dossier; they "started their extraordinary filmmaking careers in 1960, and remain two of the most significant and productive figures in the history of experimental cinema. Their work is an intimate, highly formal, and breathtakingly cinematic exploration of the Australian landscape, their immediate domestic and working environments, the material qualities of the cinema, and key artistic influences on their work and life."
Then there are eight new festival reports, five book reviews, a baker's dozen of annotations on individual films — and John R Hamilton ushers Paul Schrader into the database of Great Directors.
One of those annotation is by John Fidler: "Olivier Assayas's Irma Vep comes across as less an homage to a classic film than an unforgiving examination of what happens when importance triumphs over art and its enjoyment. In Irma Vep, the product is a remake of Louis Feuillade's 7½-hour serial, Les Vampires (1915). Assayas' film — a dissection, really — is both a reverent embrace of Feuillade and a witheringly irreverent 'left hook' at filmmaking itself."
For Michael Atkinson, writing for the L, "Irma Vep (1996) remains a perfect, hilarious, hand-held torrent of rock-n-roll movie-ness, satirizing the chaotic life of 'art film' production even as it embodies it, with Maggie Cheung as herself, wading into a post-post-nouvelle vague landscape where classical cinephilia is openly sixty-nining with The New."
The occasion of his piece is Post-Punk Auteur: Olivier Assayas, a retrospective running at BAM in New York through October 28, and the title, writes Steve Dollar for the Wall Street Journal, "definitely nails one of the most appealing elements in his movies, which have numbered 20 in a directing career that stretches back to 1986.... Assayas's latest film, Carlos, which will be shown in its full 5½ hour version, boasts an explicit punk and post-punk influence. Of course, it's set mostly in the 1970s, when the terrorist Carlos the Jackal made his reputation as a kind of rock star with a rocket launcher. The Sex Pistols and New Order appear on the soundtrack, but the most notable music heard belongs to the Haledon, NJ, quartet The Feelies. The director would have liked to feature more of the band's springy, minimalist guitar raves than he was able to. 'They didn't want to have anything to do with terrorist activity,' the director said during a recent telephone chat. 'I had to completely reinvent the score at the last minute.' Portions of the song 'Loveless Love' (from 1980's Crazy Rhythms) still shimmer here and there." The going entry on Carlos has been updated through today.
For more on the series, check in with Aaron Cutler at the House Next Door.
Tonight, at Anthology Film Archives, James T Hong will be presenting Lessons of the Blood, "a feature length documentary (co-directed with his wife and collaborator Yin Ju Chen), which took six years to make," notes Penny Lane, introducing her interview with Hong for the Brooklyn Rail. "Lessons of the Blood centers on Japan's covert use of biological warfare before and during World War II. Hong and Chen deftly examine the issue through a myriad of lenses: historically changing relations between China, Japan, and the US; Japanese revisionists who deny the Nanking massacre and other war crimes committed during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II; the complexities of ideology, imperialism, nationalism, and economic empire; a visit to the remains of Unit 731, where Japanese scientists committed atrocities; and the devastating lives of elderly Chinese suffering the horrific results of Japan's biological warfare to this day. Lessons of the Blood opens with a quotation: 'History is complicated. Nations are complicated. The political is complicated. Suffering is not.'"
And here's a sampling: "In his later life, Mr Norton was imprisoned for running guns, killed a home invader and was smuggled back into the United States by his daughter and former wife. Until then, however, he had been a successful Hollywood screenwriter, turning out 20 or so feature films, most of them rowdy, uptempo and somewhat tongue-in-cheek adventure tales that served as vehicles for charismatic leading men and women like John Wayne, Burt Lancaster and Angie Dickinson." Bruce Weber has the rest of the story, but not before listing a few of those titles: Brannigan, with Wayne; Sam Whiskey, Gator and White Lightning, all of them Burt Reynolds vehicles; and, for Roger Corman, Big Bad Mama, with Dickenson.
"Marshall Flaum, an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose movies over a 55-year career examined show business, nature and historical subjects, died Oct 1 in Los Angeles. He was 85." Douglas Martin, also for the New York Times: "Two of Mr Flaum's documentaries were nominated for Academy Awards. One of them, Let My People Go: The Story of Israel (1965), told of the struggles of the Jewish people from 1917 until the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.... His other Oscar nomination was for The Yanks Are Coming (1963), which delved into the United States entry into World War I.... Mr Flaum wrote and directed one of the first compilation films about the movie industry, Hollywood: The Great Stars, which was produced by Jack Haley Jr. Other Hollywood documentaries of his focused on David O Selznik, Humphrey Bogart and Bing Crosby."
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