The Pedro Costa retrospective currently underway at the Tate Modern (through October 4) occasions two pieces in the new issue of Sight & Sound and an announcement from Criterion: a box set including Costa's Fontainhas Trilogy - Ossos, In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth - as well as the shorts Tarrafal and The Rabbit Hunters will be released in early 2010.
For the October issue of S&S, Kieron Corless interviews the Portuguese director and Miguel Gomes focuses on a turning point in the oeuvre: "What I think differentiates In Vanda's Room from the three films of Costa's that preceded it is the presence of a radically new serenity in his cinema. For me, this serenity is above all the result of the discovery of a community: a place, the people that live there, the network of relationships that exists between them.... This is the film in which the filmmaker is reconciled with the possibility of a society. Not 'Society' - but a society on the margins."
"I now believe that his career arc is one of the most fascinating in modern cinema," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. As for Colossal Youth, "My colleague Cath Clarke wrote about this film last year with great insight."
To really dive in and begin exploring in earnest, turn to Catherine Grant, who's pulled together a wealth of resources at Film Studies for Free; and Daniel Kasman interviewed Costa back in June.
But back to S&S. "[I]f coal is so conclusively over, why, in an age when we have an insatiable appetite for bonnets and bustles and all things historical, has the humble miner disappeared from our field of vision?" asks Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall. "The answer lies in the BFI National Archive's extraordinary collection of film of the mining industry." The series This Working Life: King Coal runs through Wednesday and the BFI has just released the two-disc set Portrait of a Miner.
Jonathan Romney reviews the "Film of the Month": "Like all good showbiz memoirs, The Beaches of Agnès namedrops with gusto, but there's no denying the variety and sheer oddity of the people who have counted in Varda's life. Among the big names, we find the expected likes of Godard, Resnais and Chris Marker (who supposedly interviews Varda in the guise of a cartoon cat), as well as artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Bill Viola and Alexander Calder. Even less probable acquaintances from Varda's Los Angeles days include Harrison Ford, Jim Morrison and - oddest of all - Hollywood soft-porn auteur Zalman King." On a related note, Richard Williams talks with Varda for the Guardian.
"Today, Milanese director Tinto Brass tends to be either reviled as the man who made Caligula and Salon Kitty or appreciated by cultists who see him as Italy's answer to Russ Meyer, albeit with more posterior than anterior interests." Tim Lucas: "However, there is a third Tinto Brass, the young maverick whose early work includes what might be classified as a 'Swinging London' trilogy. The American label Cult Epics is currently in the process of issuing these overlooked gems, all shot at least partly in London, starting with Deadly Sweet (1967), an inventive Pop Art giallo starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin, and recently continuing with The Howl (1968), a delirious underground newspaper of a movie featuring Tina Aumont and Gigi Proietti."
Also, Sophie Mayer on Marco Bechis's "unsentimental and fiercely intelligent feature BirdWatchers" and Philip Kemp on Andrzej Jakimowski's second feature: "Given that the movie's setting is a small, scruffy provincial town in Poland, you might expect a grim, downbeat study in obsession. But Tricks is as slight, sunny and inconsequential as a piece of thistledown blown on a summer breeze - and if that suggests a certain fuzzy sentimentality, the thought wouldn't be out of place."