- The great French essayist Chris Marker remains on our minds nearly four years after his death—the mystery of his life and his work remains haunting. Which is why we're very intrigued by the news that his adopted daughter has penned a new book about their relationship, Chris Marker (le livre impossible).
- Okay, Sofia Coppola's A Very Murray Christmas was pretty wretched (though we can't help but love that it was shot in New York's Bemelmans Bar), but we adore Don Siegel's Southern Gothic, Civil War-set, Clint Eastwood-starring kinky horror film (!), The Beguiled—and so are tremendously curious about the news that Coppola will remake that 1971 film with Nicole Kidman.
- Speaking of films in the works, Terry Gilliam may...finally...start...shooting Don Quixote, produced by Paulo Branco, of all people!
- Wowza, right? That'd be the latest issue (#3, for those counting) of Fireflies magazine, devoted to directors Jia Zhangke and Claire Denis.
- As we wait, and wait, and wait on tenterhooks for the announcement of what will be in the Cannes Film Festival in May, we're pouncing on any news that trickles out of the festival, like the fact that The French Connection and Sorcerer director William Friedkin will lead a masterclass there.
- What...is...this? Bruno Dumont's eagerly anticipated follow-up to P'tit Quinquin looks to take that film's unexpected humor into nearly full-blown wacky mode. Starring Juliette Binoche, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Fabrice and Luchini Fabrice Luchini, Slack Bay is heavily rumored to premiere in Cannes in May.
- We saw Chantal Akerman's moving final film, No Home Movie, at the Locarno Film Festival last August, where we conducted what may be the great Belgian director's final interview. The film is now playing in US cinemas, accompanied by a new English-language trailer.
- A trailer on a bigger, more fantastic note is Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG (also rumored for Cannes!), which looks to be more in the CGI-dense style of the director's somewhat woe-begotten Tintin adaptation.
- Now that Louis C.K.'s extraordinary digital whatsit Horace and Pete is (probably) concluded—and for our money, the best new work in motion pictures so far this year—more comprehensive writing is beginning to come out about this unique cultural object. Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture has just published one of the best pieces:
"Society slowly destroys itself. Horace and Pete’s vision is wrenching despite its raggedy unevenness because it plays like a Cassandra-style warning of an implosion that has already begun and will only accelerate, and that may in the end be necessary for the country’s reformation and renewed vigor and sanity. "
- Our friends at Movie Mezzanine have run a forceful exploration by Tina Hassannia looking at the challenges of releasing films directed by women on home video, using the proportional favoring of male directors on releases by the Criterion Collection as an example:
"Despite the continuing gender bias, more women have been making movies of note in the last 30 to 40 years than in the decades preceding. This is an important factor to consider, as more than half of Criterion’s collection are films that were made in the 1930s-’70s. Much of their library derives from a period when there were generally fewer working female filmmakers."
- ...and the website in turn has also run a response to the article by Peter Becker, the president of the Criterion Collection:
"We’ve seen the studies and statistics from the last decade, putting the percentage of women directors of top Hollywood films at something like 5–10 percent depending on the year. For classic films, the situation is even worse. A programmer focused on classic Hollywood for the past twenty years told me recently that only four women had made films for major studios by 1979. While that figure leaves out independent and international filmmakers, it puts in perspective the astonishing scale of the historical imbalance. It also provides some context for the particular challenges we face, since 80 percent of the films in the Criterion Collection date from before the 1980s.
- This week, We've two great interviews for you. First, director and Chantal Akerman's cinematographer (on Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels, among others) Babette Mangolte at Interview magazine. Here she is speaking of her arrival in New York:
"I was stunned by this place, by the buildings, by the way of the streets. When I first arrived, I stayed with a friend who living in the Upper West Side near Central Park and I was walking to the Museum of Modern Art and I was taking the subway to go to visit Jonas Mekas in SoHo, who was going to open the Anthology Film Archive, in December 1970, designed by Peter Kubelka in the Lafayette building of the Public Theater. That was amazing. A friend I was staying with knew Jonas very well and knew Michael very well. I met Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage the second day after I arrived, you know. I had never seen or heard of Brakhage. For me, it was a revolution, because I was well educated in film, but American-style experimental film was known to me in the abstract, and I had seen practically nothing."
- And secondly, one of our favorite websites, Cinephilia & Beyond, has posted scans of a 1974 conversation between Brian De Palma and Francis Ford Coppola about The Conversation.
- The latest installment of the Library of America's regular column, The Moviegoer, features Michael Sragow on Peter Ustinov's 1962 version Billy Budd:
"In just fifteen minutes, writer-director Ustinov establishes the dense, risky environment of Herman Melville’s posthumous short novel, which was incomplete at his death in 1891 and published in an unreliable edition in 1924. Ustinov said he focused on the dilemma of officers like Vere being “compelled by the letter of the law to carry out sentences which they don’t wish to do.” It’s a tribute to his instincts as a filmmaker that his characters and their worldviews exert an even deeper fascination than this tragic paradox. He plants their elemental conflicts and moral, ethical debates in a dense, vivid tapestry of naval life."
- Few directors know how to dress well, but some, like Taiwanese director Edward Yang, know how to dress really well. Photo via @4xblu.