The great cinematographer Raoul Coutard, legendary for his work shooting Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, and also a collaborator of Philippe Garrel, Nagisa Oshima, Costa-Gavras and François Truffaut, has died at the age of 92.
Two film projects in the works we're very excited about: Claire Denis' High Life, starring Robert Pattinson and Patricia Arquette and co-written by Zadie Smith, and Leos Carax's Annette, a musical to star Adam Driver (everywhere these days!) and Rooney Mara.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the first part of its retrospective devoted to exiled Chilean fabulist Raúl Ruiz, which will include new digital restorations of Bérénice (1983) and The Golden Boat (1990), as well as 35mm prints of such masterpieces as The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1978) and The Territory (1981). Bonus fun: also being shown is Wim Wenders' great The State of Things (1981), whose production is bizarrely intertwined with the shoot of The Territory.
A fabulous and bizarre teaser trailer for Tsui Hark's Journey to the West: Demon Chapter, the sequel to Stephen Chow's amazing mega-hit Journey to the West (2013). At the end we see Tsui himself, somehow looking younger as he gets older. What's his secret?
Our favorite film video essayists Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, who just made a video for the Notebook exploring F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, also have a new one for Sight & Sound that takes a tour through French noir.
The great film programmer and writer James Quandt struck a cord in his well-read (and perhaps misused) 2004 Artforum article devoted to what he called "the New French Extremity," a new trend in cinema from the era seen in such filmmakers as Catherine Breillat, Bruno Dumont and Gaspar Noé. Now, for TIFF's blog, Quandt revisits the extreme a dozen years later:
What, then, was the New French Extremity: a manifestation of cultural and political impasse, an anxious reaction to fin de siècle and the late capitalist condition the French call précaire; a short-lived resurgence of the violational tradition of French culture, also reflected in contemporaneous literature (e.g., Michel Houellebecq, Catherine Millet, Marie Darrieussecq, Jonathan Littell); the wilful imposition of thematic pattern on a disparate and disconnected group of films? In the waning days of the phenomenon, the answer appears no clearer, but many of its films have quickly come to look like desperate artifacts.
Deadly China Doll (1973). Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.
Like many films of the period, not only German but also French and Italian ones, Der Gang in die Nacht exploits the resources of the tableau—the graceful, expressive coordination of actors who perform with their whole bodies—while saving the blunt force of the isolated face for a climactic accent. No wonder that film theorists of the late ‘teens and early 1920s were fascinated by close-ups; they were seeing a great many vivid ones.
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