- We were saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of one of film's great cinematographers, Harris Savides. Our brief note includes an indelible clip from Gerry, one of his collaborations with Gus Van Sant. David Hudson has rounded up commentary at Fandor.
- One of Savides' chief collaborators, director David Fincher, is also in the news with an animated film project that's appealing to Kickstarter to get funded.
- Two big trailer debuts have sprung on us over the last week. One's the second trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained:
- Filmmaker Jon Jost has started a petition calling for Ray Carney to return underground director Mark Rappaport's film materials. As the petition explains:
"In 2005, when Mark Rappaport moved to France, Ray Carney, tenured professor at Boston University, eagerly offered to take materials of Rappaport’s and store them - 16mm prints of films, digital masters, some original film and video materials, and drafts of scripts...In 2012, after having received several offers for streaming his work, Rappaport asked for the return of all of his materials. Carney did not reply and refused to answer emails or phone calls. When Rappaport hired a lawyer, Carney did not show up for two hearings before a judge."
The saga only gets messier from there.
- Over that last week we've also lost not one but two great screenwriters. First, Szeto Kam-yuen, who most recently helped pen the screenplay for Cheang Soi's Motorway—having also worked with the director on Accident and others including Cheang's two masterpieces, Dog Bite Dog and Love Battlefield—and whose his credits count such great films as Johnnie To's Exiled and Wai Ka-Fai's Too Many Ways to Be No. 1.
- Now, David Hudson reports, via Jonathan Rosenbaum, that director and screenwriter Eduardo de Gregorio has died. De Gregorio is most known in English-speaking cinephilia for his writing credits on several Jacques Rivette films, including Celine and Julie Go Boating. Due to a lack of subtitles and lack of domestic releases, our guess is that most readers are unfamiliar with de Gregorio's directorial career. His last film was 2002's Tangos volés, which we would love to know more about. His directorial filmography notably includes 1976's Sérail (Surreal Estate), which our own David Cairns describes:
"Like Celine and Julie Go Boating, the Rivette classic which Gregorio co-scripted (also working on Noroît, Duelle and Merry-Go-Round), Sérail draws from both Henry James's rarely-admired The Other House and the Alice novels of Lewis Carroll, but this movie also seems to use Celine and Julie itself as an urtext, down to casting Bulle Ogier and Marie-France Pisier as occupants of a strange, not-quite-haunted house, sliding in and out of an obscure period backstory."
- Michael Gould sends word that his long out of print book Surrealism and the Cinema: Open-eyed Screening (1976) is now available again after having been extensively revised. You can read the first chapter at his website.
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul has a new short movie: It's called Cactus River and was commissioned by the Walker Arts Center. It is viewable here.
- Zach Campbell finally gets around to Brian De Palma's Redacted and was "completely devastated." In his wind-ranging series of notes on the film, Campbell proposes:
"Images alone are not ever carriers of truth. There is no such thing as a pure film language; there is no such thing as a purely imagistic communication. These are myths; we have language, and images do not cast us back to a prelapsarian/pre-discursive truth, not even temporarily. Language is always there waiting, even if we decide it is not active."
- Self-Styled Siren has written evocatively about two films in the Museum of Modern Art's incredible series To Save & Project. Why must you see Call Her Savage? Here's why:
"What you will see is Bow engaging in scenes so pointedly lurid that even the jaded folks in the MOMA screening room were agog. Bow first appears riding a horse--bareback, what else. A snake causes her horse to throw her, she whips the snake (uh-huh) and her temper fit gets her laughed at by childhood pal Moonglow (Gilbert Roland, so sexily male that silly name doesn't matter). So naturally, she beats him around the head and shoulders with her riding crop."
And why must you see Raoul Walsh's Wild Girl, "starring Joan Bennett in her lissome blonde phase"? Here's why:
"Here we have a Western...And it's also a comedy, with [Eugene] Pallette showing how many ways he can imitate a horse's whinny. It's a pre-Code, with Bennett bathing naked in a pond, only to be surprised by a man in mid-splash. (Where there's a woman bathing naked outdoors, there is always a man; this is an immutable Hollywood law of any era.) It's a romance, as of course Salomy and the stranger will find each other and fall in love. It's a social drama--a lynching scene mid-movie includes a haunting, blurry camera effect and is genuinely harrowing. Pierre Rissient, who knew Walsh, was in attendance, and told some writers gathered afterward that the movie drew on a lynching that Walsh himself witnessed as a boy."
- The Toronto Film Review has found a remarkable item from a 1981 Cahiers du cinéma: a short roundtable discussion of Brian De Palma by Serge Daney, Jean Douchet and Pascal Bonitzer. Here's Douchet:
"De Palma works on the image purely like that of an object of publicity. Today, creating images without acknowledging that publicity exist, would be totally false. His films have a publicity photograph look - they are very clean. But at the same time, they contain this idea that, while acknowledging this, images still do have an explosive quality and which is inevitable – the explosion. The more that they get codified, stereotyped, made to look like publicity; more trouble will brew under the surface until it explodes."
From the archives.
- In honor of the New York Film Festival playing a rare print of Raúl Ruiz's The Blind Owl in its Views from the Avant-Garde, we thought we'd highlight the English translation of Luc Moullet's fabulous piece on the film over at Rouge:
"This film is a tricky object: it slips between your eyes. It’s hard to know how to write about it, what angle to take. One could say the same of certain films by Renoir (The Woman on the Beach), Mizoguchi (The Empress Yang Kwei Fei) or Preminger (Bonjour Tristesse). But with those films it’s a question of an almost ascetic classicism, aiming to render the result as smooth as possible, without any sign of effort – to the extent that some people have taken these masterpieces as works of no interest, cold and academic. Here, it’s the exact opposite: an uninterrupted succession of visionary effects, including many that are bloody and shocking. But these asperities are so numerous and so frequent that they end up creating a new formula, a second-degree smooth surface, for which I can find virtually no equivalent in cinema history."
- Not at all of the same quality as the restoration playing at MoMA and mentioned above, but nevertheless some way to watch Clara Bow's pre-Code masterpiece, Call Her Savage: