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The Auteurs Daily: Issues

The Auteurs Daily

Modern Times

"Like most issues of Bright Lights, this one doesn't have a particular theme, though we wish you readers would start referring to our approach as 'serendipity' (perhaps 'charming serendipity'?) rather than the usual cries of 'chaos!' 'bite me!' and 'WTF?!?'" Editor Gary Morris introduces the charmingly serendipitous Issue 66, so full of charm and serendipity, in fact, that each of us will likely be drawn first to different pages - though, the way the front one's laid out, it'll be hard not to start with Karin Luisa Badt's ruminations on the Polanski case. While she argues that "Polanski himself is a minor issue in the thicket," she does ultimately offer her own opinion as to whether or not the extradition should proceed.

Further in, what can I say? Myself, I'm drawn to books, and so, I've headed straight for Jon Lanthier's take on what is surely any cinephile's book of the year: "What makes [Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber] required reading is not only the value of having these ubiquitous essays, and dozens of equally trenchant ones, on the shelf waiting impatiently to challenge us yet again, but the convenience of having each one contextualized, standing in a snaky, chronological line with its brothers, all of them adding up to something more piquant and bewildering than even the most representative individuals would suggest on their own."

Regular readers of Spectacular Attractions will want to watch Deborah Allison raise a thumb for Dan North's Performing Illusions: Cinema, Special Effects and the Virtual Actor; Joseph McBride, himself the author of three books on Orson Welles, reviews In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles, "a beautifully written, disturbing, and painfully sad memoir by Welles's eldest daughter, Chris Welles Feder."

"America's Film Vault: A Reference Guide to the Motion Pictures Held by the US National Archives, compiled and edited by Phillip W Stewart and published by the woefully named PMS Press of Crestview, Florida, is the essential guide to miles and miles of film stock compiled, preserved, and housed by the US government," Matthew Kennedy informs us. Doesn't sound like a joy, to be perfectly honest, and it "certainly isn't something to read cover to cover, unless you're the nerd's nerd." But! "It's a quintessential reference tool, and as such part of the fun is cracking it open to any page to see what's inside."

Then, probably prompted by Girish's reminder of Jean-Marie Straub's admiration for Charlie Chaplin, I've turned to Alan Vanneman's latest entry in his ongoing series on the life and work, this one on Modern Times, which, he argues, "isn't much more than a string of gags. Luckily for Chaplin, he was still funny.... Most of all, he's still Charlie, the man with the extra-human dexterity and grace, his every gesture a miracle of meaning and economy."

Once you've fully explored BL 66 (or sampled a bit in order to savor more later), you might turn to a few other newish issues: Sight & Sound, for example, featuring Ginette Vincendeau's interview with Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), Jay Weissberg on Anthony Asquith, Tim Lucas on Andrzej Zulawski's L'important c'est d'aimer (The Important Thing Is to Love), with its "shattering performance by Romy Schneider, which she considered to be (and many critics agree) her career zenith," Kate Stables on An Education, Catherine Wheatley on Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (more Romy Schneider!) and Trevor Johnston's rave for Sono Sion's Love Exposure.

The new Artforum features Amy Taubin on Richard Kelly's The Box (opening Friday, so more on that one soon) and, in the new frieze, Ed Ruscha writes about the films that've had the greatest impact on him (and about why he may be falling back in love with Los Angeles). Speaking of whom. Co-editor Jennifer Higgie "went to Rome for a flying visit last week, for the opening of Doug Aitken's new film installation and performance Frontier... The film follows (if that's the word for such a meandering, enigmatic journey) a Hollywood-handsome Ed Rusha wandering through urban wastelands and modern-day ruins, sitting in a cinema, looking up at buildings, gazing out on a prairie or being absorbed in the shadows formed by a tree. He appears both wholly absorbed in his own thoughts, and aware of everything going on around him which he observes with the inscrutable gaze of a modern day, west coast Buddha; it's hard to imagine he was directed."

Finally for now, though they are not magazines, they are quarterly events: the latest movie specials from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times preview this year's holiday offerings.

Image: Modern Times.

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