- Farran Nehme, the "Self-Styled Siren", has some lovely words on the recently departed Mickey Rooney:
"Few terms are crueler than has-been. A has-been is Norma Desmond rattling around an empty mansion. Avoiding strong light like a vampire, bitterly dishing old enemies to skeptical interviewers. So focused on looking back that you never move forward.
Mickey Rooney was never a true has-been in his life, not with 90 years of work. Shorts and features, A pictures and B pictures, star turns and character parts. Social dramas, musicals, an impressive run of noirs, comedies, Emmy awards, sitcoms, a hit Broadway show. The Siren spotted him in The Muppets in 2011 and heard a college-age woman whisper to her companion, “Mickey Rooney.” If that’s has-been-dom, sign up the Siren.
Good script or bad, Rooney simply did not know how to approach his work any way other than full-out. You can find him in roles that sank into self-parody, things he probably took because he needed the money (let’s hope that’s how he wound up narrating Hollywood Blue). But phoning it in? Never happened. "
- We're also sad to hear of the passing of Swiss filmmaker Peter Liechti (1950-2014).
- Above: Starting April 17, The Drawing Center in New York will be putting on Len Lye: Motion Sketch, an exhibit showcasing a selection of paintings, drawings, and photograms from the experimental animator. The Drawing Center has generously made its gorgeous illustrated catalog available for free online.
- Above: the trailer for Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur.
- Is it just me or is David Bordwell's incredible ongoing chronicle of mid-century American film criticism practically becoming a book at this point? Anyways, we're very lucky to have another edition, this time on Parker Tyler:
"He’s still an obscure figure compared to his contemporaries. James Agee and Manny Farber are still celebrated as great critics, most visibly by volumes in the Library of America series, and Otis Ferguson occasionally attracts some minor tributes. I’ve been surprised how many people have written me to say they were unaware of Tyler’s work.
That may be partly because he didn’t straightforwardly accept the premises of what I’ve been sketching as the Otis Ferguson tradition. As a reviewer for The New Republic between 1934 and 1942, Ferguson staked out a defense of Hollywood cinema based on its capacity for focused narrative presentation, driven by graceful movement, smooth continuity, and broad realism. I’ve suggested that James Agee and Manny Farber elaborated this premise by looking for moments invested with vivid emotion, poetic transcendence (Agee’s specialty), and expressive details, either narrative or pictorial (Farber’s).
Tyler tries something different. He’s not a realist but a surrealist. What Agee and Farber praised as “accuracy” or “authenticity” scarcely concerns him. And story–at least, the story the film pretends to be telling–doesn’t matter to him so much."
- Les Inrocks has published a list of the 100 best French films (18 voters helped form the results). At the top? Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore (pictured above).
- For Film Comment, R. Emmet Sweeney files a piece in the Rep. Diary on Ernst Lubitsch's Broken Lullaby:
"Broken Lullaby fits alongside Lubitsch’s other tales of con-men who act a part until it comes true, but here the tale is tragic, and conveyed mostly in an unvarnished declamatory style. It is a bold experiment in heightened cinematic naturalism whose only Hollywood contemporary are the proto-neorealist sound films of D.W. Griffith, like The Struggle from one year earlier."
- I'm not 100% sure what's going on over here at Dazed but it involves Apichatpong Weerasethakul and seems pretty darn cool.
- For Artforum, Melissa Anderson writes on "Blonde Venus: The Films of Dietrich and von Sternberg”, a series currently underway at BAMcinématek.