We are pleased to announce our first open call for papers - the deadline for proposals is July 1, 2013. Read editor Tom Paulus's status quaestionis after the jump.
We look forward to receiving your contributions!
Celebrating the recent release of no less than two Alexander Sokurov box sets, Vanity Celis dives into one of the Russian master's earliest features, Save and Protect, to take a closer look at some of Sokurov's cinematic strategies.
Tom Paulus thinks the debate surrounding The Master needs to change focus. He takes a closer look at the cinematography and finds there's more than meets the eye. See for yourself, after the jump.
Anke Brouwers on the subsequent rediscoveries of Mary Pickford and her admirers' eternal struggle with ... curls (and what they represent).
Anticipating Richard Dyer's visit to the University of Antwerp, Alexander Dhoest fondly remembers his own student days and the important role dr. Dyer played in his evolution as a cinephile and an academic.
On the occasion of the release of Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, our man Vito Adriaensens delves into the Master of Suspense’s culinary predilections. Food for thought, after the jump.
French filmmaker Olivier Assayas was in Brussels last week to mark the release of his latest film, Après Mai/Something in the Air.
As I mentioned in my roundup of the Cinephilia Rediscovered Series at Il Cinema Ritrovato last summer in Bologna, most of the debates about transformed cinephilia that film festivals set up today produce two polar categories of cinephiles. While nostalgic nitrate-lovers muse about a past age of filmmaking and film reception, a new generation of young Turks recognises that there is no better method for arousing cinephilia than the introduction of new mechanisms and technologies into the film experience. Girish Shambu is without a doubt one of the most representative of these new cinephiles, so his answer to the question I tend to propose the cinephiles I meet, did not come as a surprise.
Every year, a small town in Northern Italy is responsible for rewriting film history. As the world’s most esteemed silent film festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone contributes to the expansion, revision and evaluation of the silent film canon on a yearly basis. Since its establishment in 1982 -four years after the illustrious 1978 Brighton Conference shed new light on an immensely underrated period in film history – the Pordenone Silent Film Festival has catered to scholars, archivists, distributors, students and cinephiles alike, offering them rediscoveries, restorations, retrospectives and special events screened under the best possible circumstances. But amid the weeklong flurry of films that spectators are bombarded with every day from morn to midnight, averaging about twenty a day, where does one even begin to weed out the essentials, let alone produce a silent film canon?
Nuovo cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)
Given the current ubiquitous attention for the notion of cinephilia, it did not come as a surprise that Il Cinema Ritrovato, the Bologna Film Festival that is unequivocally acclaimed among film buffs and professionals as one of the most cinephile events on the calendar, explicitly included the love for cinema in this year’s programme. By dedicating a series of panel discussions to cinephilia, its manifestations, transformations and contemporary relevance, Il Cinema Ritrovato echoed similar projects at other film festivals. With Project New Cinephilia, the 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival probably developed the most elaborate programme so far, including a day-long symposium, the (online) publication of a series of essays and debates, and forum discussions hosted by MUBI. However, many of today’s film festivals incorporate at least a debate on the status of cinephilia, often analysing the concept in relation to the precarious state of film criticism. On its website Project New Cinephilia has listed some of the most noteworthy discussions at other festivals.
The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991)
There’s the “Oh Captain, my captain” scene in Dead Poets Society, there’s Willem Dafoe dying in slow motion in Platoon and there’s E.T. going home, yet the scene that remains on top of my list of 80's movie moments that’ll make a grown man cry is the one where Goose buys it in Top Gun.
Much of the brouhaha on blogs and elsewhere following the announcement of the results has focused on the dethroning of Citizen Kane, the movie that has led the poll since its inception in 1952. As Todd McCarthy points out in his response, the demotion of Welles’ film was a fait accompli after the campaign in S&S with an eye to both freshen up the poll and free Kane of its reputation as a dusty museum piece, the perennial ‘best movie ever.’ Losing to Vertigo by thirty votes (Ian Christie makes a lot of this, but what are thirty votes out of 864 critics, programmers, academics and distributors voting?), it’s not as if Kane has suddenly fallen completely out of favour: it has merely had Vertigo leap-frog over it, a movie that has been steadily climbing the polls and has not been out of the top ten since 1982.
What Price Glory (Raoul Walsh, 1926)
Tom Paulus on Raoul Walsh's editing: Given that Raoul Walsh is fêted at this year’s Cinema Ritrovato, I would like to plead the case of Regeneration (1915) as a milestone in American cinematic storytelling. As David Bordwell notes, Regeneration’s “brief scenes, rapid cutting, and constant changes of angle probably seemed as frenetic in 1915 as any action movie looks to us today.” Let’s put it to the test and look at a fairly simple and straightforward scene early on in the movie, in which the story’s young hero, Owen, an orphan forced to live on the street takes up the defense of a hunchbacked street urchin harassed by vagrants hanging out at the docks.
As David Bordwell had to cancel his visit to Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival had to recruit one of its other guests to fill the empty seat at the final debate in the Cinephilia Rediscovered series. Fortunately, plenty of cinephile professionals made the trip to Bologna. Film and media scholar Henry Jenkins was found willing to take part in this sitting, which, as the festival brochure promised, would focus on American film criticism. Jenkins, who currently teaches at the University of South California, is perhaps chiefly known for his well-received book on the anarchism of the American film comedies of the 1930s, What Made Pistachio Nuts? Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic (Columbia University Press, 1992). The panel discussion united him with Dave Kehr, one of America’s leading film critics, who currently authors a weekly column on new DVD releases for The New York Times and maintains the highly fascinating blog Reports from the Lost Continent of Cinephilia. Moreover, last year he published a collection of reviews from his days as the Chicago Reader’s film critic, called When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade (published by the University of Chicago Press). These unambiguously titled publications already slightly reveal the position he would take during the debate. I wondered how solidly Kehr, whose lucid analyses I admire, would be able to underpin his cinephiliac pessimism.
The Constant Gardener
The second to last session of the Cinephilia Ritrovato series featured representatives from two honourable French institutions: Serge Toubiana of La Cinémathèque française and Jean Gili of Éditions Larousse’s Dictionnaire Mondial du Cinéma. They talked about the task and the relevance of traditional institutions in these turbulent times for cinephilia and its practitioners.
Doomsday Cinema Package
Aiming to investigate what lives among new generations of cinephile critics, Il Cinema Ritrovato dedicated the fifth of their panel discussions to the ‘New Cinephile Brigade’. With Olaf Möller, Christoph Huber and Gabe Klinger, Roy Menarini, curator of the Cinephilia Rediscovered series, invited three of the enfants terribles of this new wave of critics, so it promised to be an animated discussion. Known for their nonconformist opinions, Möller and Huber are the founding members and self-assigned ‘Other First Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Ferroni Brigade’, named after Giorgio Ferroni, a rather little-known Italian director of adventurous epics. Together with two other associates (Barbara Wurm and The Hidden Member) they regularly hand out their infamous Golden Donkey awards to important films that are in danger of being overlooked by traditional critics. Möller frequently writes for Cinema Scope and Film Comment, while Huber is the main film critic for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse and European editor of Cinema Scope. Despite sharing their views on cinema, Gabe Klinger is no official member of the Ferroni Brigade. Teaching film at the National-Louis University and Columbia College, he has published in Indiewire, Undercurrent and De Filmkrant.
Distant Drums (Raoul Walsh, 1951)
Raoul Walsh, whose career spanned half a century, is perhaps the best illustration of Sam Fuller’s famous description of cinema in Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou: cinema is like “a battleground. It’s love, hate, action, violence, death. In a word: emotion.” All of this is true for most of the 100+ movies Walsh directed during his lifetime: as Tag Gallagher notes, for a director famous for his ultra-efficient action movies, there is a surprising undertone of tenderness and genuine emotion, especially in the way Walsh uses faces in close-up. The man was, after all, Irish. But I want to focus here on that aspect of Walsh’s cinema that so endeared him to both Andrew Sarris and the young cinéphiles at Cahiers du Cinéma: the fact that he was most famous for action.
Lumière d’Eté (Jean Grémillon, 1942)
I just came out of the screening of a movie called “Summer Light,” Lumière d’Eté (1942). It is a gaping hole of darkness, by far the bleakest film of its director, Jean Grémillon, that we have seen at the Cinema Ritrovato retrospective. Introducing the digital restoration of the film, Cinémathèque Française director Serge Toubiana called Grémillon a director labouring under a curse, the curse of having been “misrecognized” and forgotten. The curse haunted him even on the day he died: French star Gérard Philippe, beloved by many, died at a tragically young age the same day. So Grémillon’s death went by unnoticed. Toubiana thanked the Cinema Ritrovato for creating this opportunity for a crowd of international cinephiles to (re)discover this director whom he called one of the most important French filmmakers. Based on what we have seen these past couple of days, how could you not agree?
The fourth discussion in the ‘Cinephilia Rediscovered’ series united three cinephile critics: Jonathan Rosenbaum, who published extensively on cinephilia (must-reads are his Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia and Movie Mutations, co-edited with Adrian Martin), Miguel Marías, former director of the Spanish Film Archive and of the Spanish Film institute ICAA, and Girish Shambu, probably today’s most influential blogger on cinema, and co-editor (also with Martin) of the wonderful online film journal LOLA (of which the second issue was released two weeks ago). Last October, I had already attended one of two captivating masterclasses on cinephilia Rosenbaum gave in Brussels, so it seemed beyond doubt that this session would again provide some valuable insights.
Yesterday’s cinephilia session featured an intriguing debate between Girish Shambu, Miguel Marías and Jonathan Rosenbaum. The packed session, however, left me with some urgent questions, so I looked up Jonathan Rosenbaum for a short talk on his personal experiences as a cinephile. A topic that has recurred in every debate is the distinction that is often made today between two categories of cinephiles. On the one hand there are nitrate-loving nostalgics, who feel sceptic about the future of film criticism, cinephilia, and film in general, while on the other hand a new generation of cinephiles has come to the foreground, embracing new methods of film viewing and criticism.
“Un grande ciclista”, that is how Gian Luca Farinelli announced Thierry Frémaux, artistic director of the Cannes Film Festival, at the beginning of yesterday’s session of the ‘Cinephilia Rediscovered’ series. By jokingly linking cinema and sportsmanship, the director of the Cineteca unintentionally echoed the events of Sunday night, when the cheering of Italian football fans, ecstatically celebrating La Squadra Azzurra’s victory over England, accompanied the screening of Jacques Demy’s Lola at the Piazza Maggiore – what would Serge Daney have thought about this peculiar blend? Frémaux swiftly moulded the debate into a frenetic, but contagious monologue (scheduling him without fellow debaters appeared to be a well-considered decision), crammed with associatively linked anecdotes and convincing reflections on the current state of affairs.
The Film Critic of the Future, Today
It felt appropriate to watch Jean Grémillon’s late impressionist film Gardiens de phare (marvellously shot by George Périnal, whose camerawork is omnipresent at Il Cinema Ritrovato, with screenings of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and David Golder this weekend, and Bonjour Tristesse, Otto Premingers masterpiece in CinemaScope, on Wednesday) before attending the second debate on the state of cinephilia yesterday. I was overwhelmed by Grémillon’s audacious mise-en-scène, and, while walking from the Cinema Jolly to the festival centre, even got more excited. After all, the upcoming debate would feature Jim Hoberman, probably my favourite contemporary film critic. Being a self-proclaimed Hobermanbot, I of course deeply bemoaned that The Village Voice had recently, as part of cost-cutting measures, eliminated his position as a senior critic, but at the same time, this urged my curiosity about his vision on the endangered profession of the film critic.
Gardiens de Phare (Jean Grémillon, 1929)
The Cinema Ritrovato is only a day old, and already we have our first major (re)discovery in the figure of director Jean Grémillon, subject of a retrospective series here in Bologna. Grémillion was never considered a major figure of the French cinema of the thirties on a par with, say, Feyder, Duvivier, Carné, Clair, Renoir and Vigo. If his name rings a bell at all even in cinéphile circles, it is because of the two films he made during the Vichy period, Lumière d’été (1942) and Le ciel est à vous (1943), the first a scathing critique of the ruling classes that was banned for the duration of the occupation (more on this remarkable film in a later report). But Grémillon had been an important director for much longer.
With a promising series of debates on cinephilia, Il Cinema Ritrovato, taking place from 23 until 30 June in and around Bologna’s fabulous Cineteca, not only confirms its status as one of today’s most cinephile film festivals, it also connects with the widespread current discourse on the changing face of film criticism and the urgency of cinephilia within this shift. With Jean Douchet and Michel Ciment, the first debate reunited two of France’s most illustrious critics from the heyday of cinephilia. Moderated by Gian Luca Farinelli, director of the Cineteca, the session aimed to trace the history of cine-love, specifically analysing the prominence of the concept within France’s most renowned film magazines, Cahiers du cinéma (Douchet) and Positif (Ciment).
Yesterday Tom Paulus wrote a long essay about cinephilia and the language of love it inspires. On the same day, we had to say goodbye to one of the champions of cinephilia, Andrew Sarris. Tom's tribute, after the jump.