- Above: documentary filmmaker Les Blank—perhaps best known for his two incredible Herzog-centric films Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe and Burden of Dreams—has passed away at the age of 77.
- It feels like the cinema is losing too many of its soldiers lately. In the past week, the sheer volume of impassioned remembrances of Roger Ebert has been overwhelming. David Hudson has done an admirable job of centralizing a great many of them, and rather than try to share them here I recommend heading over to Keyframe Daily and using it as a springboard (if you haven't already). Also of note: Roger Ebert's website has been lovingly redesigned in his memory.
- Now online from Lumière, an array of lists and writings on "Highlights" of 2012 from various contributors including Ken Jacobs, our own Daniel Kasman, David Phelps, Gina Telaroli, Boris Nelepo, and more.
- An amazing series begins next month at the Austrian Film Museum entitled "The Real Eighties American Cinema":
"A transitional decade which witnessed the film industry’s restructuring along the lines of President Reagan’s neoliberal agenda, the eighties did away with the last remnants of New Hollywood while laying the foundations for today’s High Concept wasteland – thus goes an all too familiar tale of decline. The retrospective The Real Eighties questions this commonplace of film history and sides with the mainstream of Hollywood cinema: filmic realisms of the 1980s – in immediate proximity to the dream factories of a Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, yet at odds with the decade’s political and aesthetic imperatives – await rediscovery."
- The inaugural edition of Cinema Comparat/ive Cinema is now online (and available in Spanish and English) with an issue focused on "Programming / Montage" featuring pieces by Fernando Ganzo, Jonathan Rosenbaum and David Phelps.
- The Locarno Film Festival has announced they are now accepting applications for the 4th Summer Academy, which was "founded in 2010 with the aim of assisting the development of emerging talents, is a Festival del film Locarno training program for young filmmakers, professionals, students and film critics." The Academy now has four sections: Filmmakers Academy, Critics Academy, Documentary Summer School and Cinema&Gioventù. Having been fortunate enough to have participated in last year's Critics Academy (spearheaded by Indiewire's Eric Kohn), I can say this is a really incredible opportunity and should be looked into by any aspiring young filmmakers & critics out there.
- Above: Jonathan Rosenbaum briefly shares his thoughts on Ebert along with a touching story about their mutual love for sci-fi as teenagers.
- Above: the trailer for Steven Soderbergh's next (and final?) film, Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon.
- Via Bomb, Michael Snow writes on musician/artist Aki Onda (thanks to David Phelps for the link, which also features an excerpt from a performance by Onda and filmmaker Paul Clipson):
"As in music, one thing leads to another. A long time ago I received an email from someone I didn’t know. New York–based guitarist and writer Alan Licht had become aware of my films and music and wanted to meet to talk about my work. He proposed visiting me in Toronto, where I live. We had a very interesting meeting in which I learned a few things about him, and I guess the same thing happened to him about me. We talked about improvisation. Alan mentioned a Japanese musician based in New York with whom he was performing occasionally. Alan described this musician’s approach and suggested that we all try playing together. This is how Aki Onda first came to my attention."
- Above: sketches by Massimo Carnevale, whose renderings of various movie characters and shots are rather stunning and can be seen here and here.
From the Archives.
- I can't help but share two Ebert-related archival items: firstly, Bilge Ebiri's compilation of "15 Roger Ebert Passages That Epitomize His Writing" and, secondly, "I do not fear death", Ebert's essay from his memoir Life Itself:
"I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris."