Dalian Wanda buys Legendary Entertainment: For the oh-so-reasonable price of $3.5 billion, the Chinese company which already owns American cinema chain AMC has bought the Hollywood production company. Some may remember this company because of its announcement to create the lavishly funded Qingdao Film Festival, directed and programmed by several Americans.
Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come.
More titles have been announced for next month's Berlin International Film Festival. Most exciting to us are new films by Lav Diaz, Mia Hansen-Løve, and André Téchiné. (And there's a wonderfully Ralph Fiennes-full new trailer for the Coen brothers' opening night film, Hail Caesar!) Meanwhile, the simultaneous and upstart Berlin Critics' Week, now in its second year, has announced some of its lineup, including new films by Lewis Klahr, Philippe Grandrieux and Sara Fattahi.
The next way station on the road to the Academy Awards has mercifully finished: the Golden Globes took place on Sunday and winners included The Revenant (for the film, Iñárritu, DiCaprio), The Martian (for the film, inexplicably categorized as a comedy, and for Matt Damon), and Ennio Morricone for his score to The Hateful Eight.
Above: David Bowie x Mireille Perrier x Leos Carax x Denis Levant, in 1984's Boy Meets Girl.
An unsubtitled but nevertheless tantalizing trailer for Pedro Almodóvar's new film, Julieta, can be found at The Playlist.
American avant-garde filmmaker Mary Helena Clark has put her 2015 film Palms online, a short many consider one of the best films of last year. Michael Sicinski wrote about it for the Notebook when it premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival:
"What can we say about these elements in relation to one another? There is a movement of rounded forms, an implication that hands are doing the moving (driving, playing tennis, perhaps waving the flag), but all this seems far too literal. What Clark really gives us is a series of open fields (white, black, and green) where our narrow attention to specific actions and objects closes down our experience of the breadth of the space before us. That's to say, the situations depicted, and the manner in which Clark depicts them, serve to narrow our perception of areas that could conceivably engulf us."
The stellar trailer for Ciro Guerra's much-acclaimed Columbian film Embrace the Serpent, due to hit US cinemas on February 17, 2016.
Elaine May, one of cinema's great filmmakers, has not made a feature film since 1987's Ishtar. She returns this year in quieter form with a documentary dedicated to her former partner, director Mike Nichols (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate). Watch an excerpt on PBS.
The eagerly awaited 2015 World Poll from online film magazine Senses of Cinema. Editor Michelle Carey introduces it:
" It’s not intended to be a list of 2015’s best films but a snapshot of the favourite films and film-related events of Senses readers, contributors and friends (mostly international programmers, critics, filmmakers) from all over the world. It is also different in that it accepts, indeed encourages, older titles seen in 2015 to be included. We are interested in the messy, open-minded way people watch films and what they love – how a Hollywood film or Japanese masterpiece from the 1930s can be viewed next to an avant garde work from 2015."
A thrilling and welcome appreciation of George Lucas's Star Wars prequels (!), including their under-considered "backroom dialectic of power-maneuvering," from the New Yorker's Richard Brody:
"The labyrinthine opening shot of “Revenge of the Sith”— of Anakin and Obi-Wan giving chase to Dooku through the space vehicles on the planet of Coruscant—is a mighty and audacious gauntlet-throw, the digital equivalent of the opening shot of Orson Welles’s “Touch of Evil.” It wheels and gyrates and zips and pivots with a vertiginous wonder that declares, from the beginning, that Lucas had big visual ideas and was about to realize them with a heroically inventive virtuosity. And the rest of the movie follows through on that self-dare."
On David Bordwell's blog, the scholar explores some of 2015's end of the year movies—Daddy's Home, Joy, Carol, Spotlight,The Big Short and others—through how they use their protagonists. For example, Carol is an example of a "dual protagonist plot":
"Carol shows how choices about narration can reshape plot structure. Apart from some changes in the original situation (e.g., Therese is now an amateur photographer rather than a set designer for stage productions), screenwriters Phyllis Nagy and Todd Haynes have made a crucial decision. They have expanding our access to Carol’s story line."
With David O. Russell's Joy expanding its theatrical release, we recommend you visit The Vulgar Cinema to see Otie Wheeler's excellent piece on the film:
"For better and for worse, Joy is an auteurist detour par excellence. It compares mop manufacturing to industrial filmmaking, and allegorically defends self-expression as the route to self-actualization by showing Jennifer Lawrence deliver ecstatic monologues about three hundred feet of continuous cotton loop."
The First Look festival at the Museum of the Moving Image is in full swing, and Nick Pinkerton has an overview at Artforum of this program which bravely premieres strong new films at the very beginning of the year:
"I didn’t know the conceptual hook of Margaret Honda’s Color Correction when I sat down for the press screening, but its 101-minute procession of monochromatic color-field frames of various durations and tones, ranging from pale pinks and grays to bright aquamarine, had a hypnotic allure."
Orson Welles on the set of his masterpiece Chimes of Midnight, currently seeing a theatrical re-release of a beautiful new restoration. (Adrian Curry, of course, has explored the film's many posters.)
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