Nick Hasted opens the Italian Cinema Special in the May issue of Sight & Sound: "When Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo and Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah caused a double sensation at Cannes in 2008, Sorrentino dryly noted, 'Two films is rather few to launch a renaissance.' But in the last year Gianni Di Gregorio's Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di ferragosto), Marco Bellocchio's Vincere and, most of all, Luca Guadagnino's current festival barnstormer I Am Love have taken the count to at least five. Beneath these international successes, too, there has been a noticeable stiffening in the quality of Italian films."
Also, Kate Stables on Frederick Wiseman's on La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet: "This superb, utterly engrossing piece manages to dissect both an institution and an artform with extraordinary skill and beauty." And Michael Brooke on František Vlácil, whose films are being released on Second Run in the run up to "a long-overdue retrospective" in London this fall. The film at hand is The Valley of the Bees: "Vlácil claimed that he sought inspiration from the 'three Bs': Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson and Luis Buñuel. Even without this explicit acknowledgement, it's easy to see what he meant."
The new April 2010 issue of KinoKultura, a journal of New Russian Cinema, opens with Mariya Y Boston, who aims to "present a close reading, or even a 'close viewing,' of several key episodes from Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar-winning film Burnt by the Sun and discuss the role of language in the film viewed through a formalist perspective." Andrey Shcherbenok: "[I]t is difficult to think of two more different cinematic traditions pertaining to the same conflict than Soviet and American Cold War cinemas." Plus, reviews of new films and a television series and Birgit Beumers's report from February's Gosfilmofond Festival of Archival Films.
IN OTHER NEWS
Just as most of us were heading into the weekend, Michael Tully posted a "TAKE-BACK Manifesto" co-signed by Vadim Rizov, who takes a few of the screed's arguments further at GreenCine Daily, and Tom Russell, who responds to a bit of the initial reaction at his Turtleneck Films blog. All three have evidently attended a panel too far. Michael Tully: "All of this talking about 'finances' and 'connecting' and 'publicity' is the insidious language of a corporate, numbers-before-content mindset. Truly personal, independent cinema has never been preoccupied with these details, and making us feel guilty for not caring about them is not the answer. You're only driving the most talented souls away." Vadim Rizov: "Honestly, I just want to spit bile at these events, which at best combine sporadic specific advice with generalities and networking. Nothing wrong with the latter; it's how many things get done, for better or worse. What's unnerving here is all the talk of an 'audience' and 'new strategies' that — despite years of the internet colonizing society — have yet to yield a breakthrough."
Michael wants to "get back to talking about movies, please," which is fine as long as we keep in mind that filmmakers turn their productions' back-stories into the first line of PR attack most likely because that's what journalists ask them about first in interviews and, in fact, what audiences ask them about first at festival Q&As. This complicity doesn't go unmentioned in the manifesto; I'd just emphasize that if we want to shift a prevailing mindset, we've all got lifting to do. Meantime, Reid Gershbein's gathered relevant tweets as the debate's rippled across Twitter over the past couple of days.
What else: Two longish interviews that make for great reads: morlockjeff (TCM) with Buck Henry and David Cairns (Britmovie) with Mike Hodges.
"It must be galling for an actor who has a reasonable track record of films, stage and television, stretching over decades, to be remembered mainly for a role he played right at the beginning of his career," writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. "It hints, often unfairly, that everything was downhill thereafter. A case in point was James Aubrey, who was 14 when he played Ralph, one of the principal characters in Peter Brook's film of Lord of the Flies (1963)." Aubrey died on Tuesday; he was 62.
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