Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

The Look of Silence
Sorry, I’ve totally been having one of those weeks. Maybe I should start calling this series Cinemalinks – Weekly(ish) Reads! Anyways, here are some good reads on docs, female film critics—both tributes to and works of—plus the obligatory posts on Wild, the Oscars, and more!

By Sam Adams, Indiewire

This great interview with Joshua Opphenheimer (The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence) draws out one the best aspects of his films: the element of awareness, which ultimately precipitates an admission of guilt. A must read for doc fans:

People who would have us believe that the masterpieces of direct cinema — and to be sure, there are masterpieces of direct cinema — would ask us to believe that if the camera is there long enough, the mother and the child will forget that the camera crew will behave as though it's not there. That's absurd. That's just idiocy. No one forgets the presence of the camera, no matter how long it's there. All documentaries are performance.

By Christopher Campbell, Nonfics

Oppenheimer’s films suggest that truth sometimes necessitates fiction, and Nonfics wonders which films could potentially see another life as dramas after being docs. I’m especially intrigued for Oliver Stone’s Snowden, particularly to see if it takes its analysis beyond its subject and interrogates the larger crisis beyond Snowden’s story, which Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winner Citizenfour glaringly refuses to do. (At least Stone will probably do more than huck a camera on the bedstand and transfer the file to the big screen.) Also, don't forget about the remake of The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne with Halle Berry!

Hollywood loves to remake documentaries because “directors of docs are allowing so much drama to be put into their stories that you experience them like a narrative.” That’s a ridiculously redundant reasoning from Focus Features acquisitions president Lia Buman in a new Hollywood Reporter article on the subject. It got me thinking that this old list is due for an update and reposting. There are actually a few such projects coming out this year, more than usual, and that could be good for some of the other long-promised (or threatened) titles highlighted down below.

By various, Sight & Sound

It’s impossible to find paid work as a film critic, but it’s even harder for female critics to score gigs. Various writers marked International Women’s Day by highlight influential female film critics whose work takes criticism the extra step. I’ll add Katherine Monk to the list. I miss reading her reviews in The Citizen! Not only is she a great supporter of Canadian films (yet never CanCon for its own sake), but she actually enjoys the movies and her writing reflects this pleasure, which makes for a good read even if we disagree.

Cinema would be a very different place without seminal figures like Iris Barry, Pauline Kael, Laura Mulvey and Susan Sontag. This collection is a reminder of their importance but it also looks beyond them too. Asking 25 writers and curators to each nominate a female critic and choose a piece of their writing has amassed a surprising array of different voices: from 1920s teenage gossip columnist Nerina Shute to the first regular broadsheet female film reviewer C.A. Lejeune, Sight & Sound’s august editor of 34 years Penelope Houston, zombie-loving trade reviewer Marjorie Bilbow and the feminist activist and author bell hooks, as well as unlikely cinema analysts like novelist Hilary Mantel.

By Laura Goode, Bright Ideas

A great example of contemporary film criticism from a female voice is this take on Wild and the layers of feminism and antiheroism layered in Strayed’s book and Jean-Marc Vallée’s adaptation. This article says “palimpsest” unreasonably often, but Strayed probably approves!

Wild—without question the book, and even if only derivatively of that, the film—is an epic of female genius. Why don’t we call it that? Of course this speaks to our culture’s myriad other problems of how to name women. Why do we call Mozart a prodigy and Beyoncé a pop star? Will we ever stop calling Hillary a bitch? And when the fuck will we get to call her President?

By Leora Heilbronn, Scene Creek

Ah, it’s fun to read all this House of Cards stuff now that I’m done watching Season 3. (Which is great, FYI.) Screen Creek chats with one of this year’s House standouts Mahershala Ali on his work as Remy Denton, and he had some kind words about Canada’s Molly Parker when asked about his favourite work on the show:

I enjoyed most working with Molly Parker. I think I could really choose any number of scenes that we’ve had an opportunity to work on together, but we have a couple of really nice moments this season. I probably most enjoyed working with her on one of the scenes where there’s something that happens to Remy, and he goes to, kind of to vent and talk to Jackie about what just happened. I just enjoyed working on that team; Robin (Wright) was directing. Molly is just so supportive and just wonderful as an actor. So anything that we get to do together, but probably especially acting.

 Also exciting: Parker notes in her interview with the Creek that Jackie Sharp will be back for Season 4!

By Casey Cipriani, Indiewire

Aren’t you sad that Mad Men is ending? Say it ain’t so! The great show has one last season, and fans will want to catch up on how much the world of Don Draper is indebted to cinephilia. Matthew Weiner lists ten films that influence the show, and his pick of Blue Velvet is surprising, but also appropriate:

[On Blue Velvet]: with stylistic richness and psychological complexity, it celebrates the horror of the mundane and is filled with reference to a kitschy and ironic ''50s' milieu. This incredible observation informed much of the 1980s and became an inspiration for the series and its attempt to equally revise our mythical perception of the period.

Various members, Online Film Critics Society

A number of us agree that Best First Feature is the next step towards improving the Oscars. What new category would you add?

By Stephen Galloway, The Hollywood Reporter

One thing the Oscars might need to add is a new set of producers now that Craig Zadan and Neil MEron probably aren’t returning. I like this suggestion of Julie Taymor! (Although the Oscars might look a lot like this year’s Superbowl Half Time Show!)

Taymor doesn’t hold Burton’s appeal to A-list talent, but she knows how to work with a proscenium arch. With a slow-burning movie career (Frida, Across the Universe), she’s nonetheless a visionary who reimagined Disney’s The Lion King and could reinvent the Oscars. Who cares if she created a kerfuffle with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? That was Broadway, and Hollywood needs more of her risk-taking.

Crowdfunding shout-out:

Rhymes for Young Ghouls star Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs is seeking funds for a short film. Lend hera hand!

Video of the week:

“Tribute to Emmanuel Lubezki”
By Jorge Luengo Ruiz

Let there be light!
But where’s Like Water for Chocolate? (Which screens at The ByTowne on Monday, FYI.)

Read anything good this week(ish)?