Marketa Lazarová (1967, dir. František Vláčil)

Quelques Books: More of My Favorite SF Novels and Films — Moebius

Wake in Fright | Full Film

From Roger Ebert’s 2012 review, which came out after the film’s only surviving print was found by its editor and Wake in Fright got a new release:

Wake in Fright is a film made in Australia in 1971 and almost lost forever. It’s not dated. It is powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing. It comes billed as a “horror film” and contains a great deal of horror, but all of the horror is human and brutally realistic.

Jean-Luc Godard’s film Goodbye to Language

Traffic jam scene, Jean-Luc Godard’s film Weekend

“What Is to Be Done?” — Jean-Luc Godard

“What Is to Be Done?”

by

Jean-Luc Godard

Translation by Mo Tietelbaum

First published in English and French in Afterimage, 1970


  1. We must make political films.

  2. We must make films politically.

  3. 1 and 2 are antagonistic to each other and belong to two opposing conceptions of the world.

  4. 1 belongs to the idealistic and metaphysical conception of the world.

  5. 2 belongs to the Marxist and dialectical conception of the world.

  6. Marxism struggles against idealism and the dialectical against the metaphysical.

  7. This struggle is the struggle between the old and the new, between new ideas and old ones.

  8. The social existence of men determines their thought.

  9. The struggle between the old and the new is the struggle between classes.

  10. To carry out 1 is to remain a being of the bourgeois class.

  11. To carry out 2 is to take up the proletarian class position.

  12. To carry out 1 is to make descriptions of situations.

  13. To carry out 2 is to make concrete analysis of a concrete situation.

  14. To carry out 1 is to make British Sounds.

  15. To carry out 2 is to struggle for the showing of British Sounds on English television.

  16. To carry out 1 is to understand the laws of the objective world in order to explain that world.

  17. To carry out 2 is to understand the laws of the objective worlds in order to actively transform that world.

  18. To carry out 1 is to describe the wretchedness of the world.

  19. To carry out 2 is to show people in struggle.

  20. To carry out 2 is to destroy 1 with the weapons of criticism and self-criticism.

  21. To carry out 1 is to give a complete view of events in the name of truth in itself.

  22. To carry out 2 is not to fabricate over-complete images of the world in the name of relative truth.

  23. To carry out 1 is to say how things are real. (Brecht)

  24. To carry out 2 is to say how things really are. (Brecht)

  25. To carry out 2 is to edit a film before shooting it, to make it during filming and to make it after the filming. (Dziga Vertov)

  26. To carry out 1 is to distribute a film before producing it.

  27. To carry out 2 is to produce a film before distributing it, to learn to produce it following the principle that: it is production which commands distribution, it is politics which commends economy.

  28. To carry out 1 is to film students who write: Unity—Students—Workers.

  29. To carry out 2 is to know that unity is a struggle of opposites (Lenin) to know that the two are one.

  30. To carry out 2 is to study the contradiction between the classes with images and sounds.

  31. To carry out2 is to study the contradiction between the relationships of production and the productive forces.

  32. To carry out 2 is to dare to know where one is, and where one has come from, to know one’s place in the process of production in order then to change it.

  33. To carry out 2 is to know the history of revolutionary struggles and be determined by them.

  34. To carry out 2 is to produce scientific knowledge of revolutionary struggles and of their history.

  35. To carry out 2 is to know that film making is a secondary activity, a small screw in the revolution.

  36. To carry out 2 is to use images and sounds as teeth and lips to bite with.

  37. To carry out 1 is to only open the eyes and the ears.

  38. To carry out 2 is to read the reports of comrade Kiang Tsing.

  39. To carry out 2 is to be militant.

28 still frames from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive

From Mulholland Drive, 2001. Directed by David Lynch with cinematography by Peter Deming. Via FilmGrab.

Twelve-year-old Cormac McCarthy starred in a 1946 agricultural documentary called Dairying in Tennessee

Redditor Jarslow posted the short film Dairying in Tennessee today on the Cormac McCarthy Reddit page. The short film was posted on Vimeo by the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound yesterday,  where the organization notes that “A year earlier, McCarthy was on the shortlist to play Jody in Clarence Brown’s film adaptation of “The Yearling.” Of McCarthy’s audition, an MGM representative told a Knoxville Journal reporter, “This boy has personality plus, and he’s done a good job living down jests tossed at him because of his name.” The role ultimately went to Claude Jarman, Jr.”

 

Philip Baker Hall is Richard Milhous Nixon in Robert Bernard Altman’s Secret Honor

RIP Philip Baker Hall, 1931-2022

RIP Peter Bogdanovich

RIP Peter Bogdanovich, 1939-2022

Peter Bogdanovich died today at the age of 82.

Bogdanovich was an actor, writer, producer, and film critic, but will most likely be remembered as a film director.

The first Bogdanovich film I saw was Mask (1985) starring Eric Stoltz and Cher. I was probably eight or nine, and I did not know it was a “Peter Bogdanovich film.” Mask was one of the many films my grandfather taped from HBO, Disney, or Cinemax, and mailed to my family on VHS cassettes, little bundles of cinema my brother and I consumed repeatedly and indiscriminately in our remote village in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Mask is one of the first films I ever saw that genuinely hurt my feelings.

Years later I’d see Bogdanovich’s most celebrated film, The Last Picture Show (1971), and it would also hurt my feelings. I was maybe eighteen or nineteen and the film just shattered my stupid heart (Cybill Shepherd as Jacy Farrow did something very particular to me, forever). This was the first time I knew I was watching a “Peter Bogdanovich film”—I’d learned about the New Hollywood guys and even seen some of the film stuff he’d written. (It would be years later until I realized that he was behind Noises Off (1992), which I’d watched as a VHS rental with my grandmother one Saturday night.)

Paper Moon (1973), starring real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal is the sweetest (yet still a little heart-breaking) film I’ve seen by Bogdanovich, and maybe the best starting place for anyone interested in his work. There’s a touch of De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief in it–a kind of gritty neorealism that hums alongside the film’s tender core.

I found some of Bogdanovich’s films less successful. His adaptation of Henry James’s novel Daisy Miller (1974) doesn’t work and the screwball farce What’s Up Doc? (1972) is never as good as the films it pays homage to. (Avoid Texasville (1990), the sequel to The Last Picture Show, at all costs. It’s like The Two Jakes, by which I mean, a bad sequel to a great film, and it should never have happened.) But even his failures are far more interesting than most basic Hollywood fare.

Bogdanovich was also great in bit parts in film and TV. His perhaps most notable performance was playing Dr. Melfi’s therapist Dr. Kupferberg on The Sopranos. He was also the voice of the DJ in Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, perhaps a nod to his voiceover work in The Last Picture Show, where he also played a DJ.

For me though, Bogdanovich’s most significant acting role is that of director Brooks Otterlake in Orson Welles’ film The Other Side of the Wind (2018). I wrote “Orson Welles’ film” in the previous sentence, but that’s not quite true–The Other Side of the Wind is a bizarre beautiful mess of cinema spanning four decades. It’s a film about film (about film about film…), and Bogdanovich was instrumental in getting it finally released a few years ago.

Bogdanovich’s work in finally bringing Welles’ lost classic to screens is emblematic of his filmmaking career—a filmmaker in love with film, an artist enamored of film as art who came to prominence during the New Hollywood movement that rejected film as commerce. While so much of what makes it to theaters (and streaming platforms) today is simply “content,” or established “intellectual property” that execs know will do numbers, Bogdanovich’s spirit (and the New Hollywood DNA) inheres in current filmmakers who bear his influence, like the Safdie brothers, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino. That influence will continue to ripple forward, and I hope that we get more films that will disturb us, hurt our feelings, and break our hearts.

 

Paul Thomas Anderson talks Licorice Pizza, other stuff

Paul Thomas Anderson is interviewed in Variety about his new film, Licorice Pizza.

From the interview, on what inspired Licorice Pizza:

A very long time ago I was walking around my neighborhood, and I passed Portola Middle School. It was picture day, and I saw this very energetic teenager flirting with the girl who was taking pictures. It was an instantly good premise. What happens if you have a kid invite an older woman to dinner, and what if that girl against her better judgment says yes? That seemed ripe for humor. That didn’t go anywhere, but then I had a friend who grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He was a child actor who got involved in the waterbed business. And he told me all these stories, and each one was more wonderful than the last. Like there was this time he’d appeared in the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” with Lucille Ball, and he was on his way to New York for a publicity tour and needed a chaperone. He ended up hiring a burlesque dancer who lived in his neighborhood to take him. And Lucille Ball was on her second marriage to Gary Morton, and she used to scream “Gary!” all the time. That was my friend’s name, so he’d think, ‘Holy shit, she’s yelling at me.” But she was screaming at her husband.

Watch John Carpenter’s student film, Captain Voyeur

Todd Haynes interviewed at Slate about his film The Velvet Underground

Sam Adams has a nice conversation with director Todd Haynes about The Velvet Underground, Haynes’ marvelous documentary about the band.

I saw the film this weekend and it’s one of the best musical documentaries I’ve seen in ages. The film is really about the art scene in New York City in the 1960s, and as such, Haynes employs a number of aesthetic conceits, all of which vibrate on just the right side of pretentiousness. There are lots and lots of clips from Warhol’s films and screen tests combined with archival footage (John Cage on teevee, for example), and old interviews interspersed with new interviews with John Cale, Moe Tucker, and a host of other musicians, artists, actors, and folks who bore witness to that whole scene. The film is its own thing—it transcends being “about” the band—indeed, that’s the best thing about The Velvet Underground: it lets you see and hear the band you discovered when you were thirteen or fifteen or thirty with fresh ears and fresh eyes. To this end, it’s possible that the film might turn off folks completely unfamiliar with the band and its influence. Haynes addresses this in his interview with Adams:

I mean, there are some people for whom this will be frustrating and not what they expect from a documentary. They kind of want that tidier oral history. If you’re interested, there’s all kinds of more stuff to find and discover for yourself. But I wanted it to be mostly that experience where the image and the music were leading you, and then it was a visceral journey through the film.

A visceral journey it is.

A highlight for me in the film is a series of late appearances by Jonathan Richman. Adams enjoyed that too:

[Adams]: As someone who’s been listening to him for a long time, the interview with Jonathan Richman is a real highlight of the movie. It makes me hope there’s a Blu-ray someday so you can just release the whole thing as an extra.

[Haynes]: Oh, it’s so fucking great. The whole thing is just, it’s a complete piece. I was crying by the end of it.

Was it your idea for him to have the guitar, or did he just bring it with him?

No, he just brought it. And I mean, come on. It was just so generous and so insightful. And he served the purposes of saying things that I had sort of decided I would not include in this movie: fans, other musicians, critics. It was just going to be about people who were there. That was the criteria. Well, he was there, in spades, and I didn’t realize to what degree.

That picture of him as a teenager with the band, I’d never seen that before.

Fucking crazy. But he could also then speak so informatively as a musician and as a critic and as a fan.

Read the interview here.

Watch the trailer for Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film

 

Licorice Pizza will be in theaters around Thanksgiving.

23 still frames from Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer

From The Killing of a Sacred Deer, 2017. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; cinematography by Thimios Bakatakis. Via FilmGrab.

“Pretty Fly” | Scene from + short riff on The Night of the Hunter

I watched  The Night Of The Hunter (dir. Charles Laughton, 1955) last night for the first time in at least fifteen years. Robert Mitchum’s Bluebeard-preacher figure is the main thing that stuck with me from earlier viewings. He’s the awful, captivating, horrifying and paradoxically ever-moving center of dread in a film that is essentially about despair and hope (qualities simplified to tattoos of “LOVE” and “HATE” on his hands). Watching it last night though, I was surprised at how beautiful, even tranquil the film is at times–a kind of tranquility underpinned by the natural world’s flat indifference to humanity’s suffering coupled with Mitchum’s character’s sinister avarice. The long scene of the children escaping on the river at night, guided in part by their own music is particularly moving, a strange interplay of chiaroscuro expressionism and documentary naturalism. The voyage echoes the film’s direct allusions to Moses’ escape in the ark of bulrushes (as well as hinting at Twain’s Huck Finn). It’s a lovely transition to the film’s final third, wherein Lillian Gish’s stern but loving maternal presence overtakes the narrative. My memory had swallowed her eminence, but I don’t think I’ll forget this time that it’s her character who gets the last hopeful words: “ They abide, and they endure.”

My Oscars: I give meaningless awards to films that I had never seen before 2020

This morning in my Twitter feed I saw that the 93rd Academy Awards will happen tonight. I realized that I could not name a single movie that was likely up for an award. Like many people who love films, I do not give a fuck about the Oscars, but am nevertheless aware of the buzz around certain films. This year though, I have no clue.

So I googled it. It turns out there are 56 films nominated for Oscars in the 93rd Academy Awards. I have seen three of them: OnwardSoul, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. None of the three are particularly memorable (apart from that one scene in the Borat film–you know, that scene with that guy).

The last year has been a weird one, to say the least. I’m pretty sure the last film I saw in a theater was Uncut Gems, way back in January of 2020. (I did see Beetlejuice at a drive-in last October.) Despite (or maybe because of) the glut of streaming options, I ended up watching almost no films that came out in 2020, including films by filmmakers I’m generally interested in, like Spike Lee and Charlie Kaufman.

Early in the pandemic, I rewatched a lot of old favorites. I’ve decided not to add any of them to My Oscars below. Instead, I’ve limited My Meaningless Awards to films that, for whatever reason, I hadn’t seen until 2020 (or early 2021). I followed the hierarchy that the Oscars follows, but led with their end point, best picture (you get the idea). I tossed out some categories that seem meaningless to me (like best foreign-language film), as well as the short film categories, which has always seemed a bit hard to define to me.

Anyway: Here are my stupid Oscars:


Best picture: Melancholia, directed by Lars von Trier (2011)

Best actor: Robert Pattinson, Good Time (2017)

Best actress: Renée Jeanne Falconett, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Best supporting actor: Elliott Gould, California Split (1974)

Best supporting actress: Lisa Eichorn, Cutter’s Way (1981)

Best directing: Jean-Luc Godard, Week-end (1967)

Best original screenplay: Bruce Robinson, Withnail and I (1987)

Best adapted screenplay: Ari Folman’s adaptation of The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem, The Congress (2013)

Best cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro, Melancholia (2011)

Best production design: François de Lamothe, Le Samourai (1967)

Best editing: George Hively, Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Best original score: Daniel Lopatin, Uncut Gems (2019)

Best original song: “The Dead Don’t Die,” Sturgill Simpson, from The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

Best costume design: Antonio Castillo and Marcel Escoffier, Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Best makeup and hairstyling: Hagop Arakelian, Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Best visual effects: René Clément, Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Best animated feature film: Angel’s Egg, directed by Mamoru Oshii (1985)

Best documentary feature: Robby Müller: Living the Light, directed by Claire Pijman (2018)