Now that the weekend is almost upon us, before heading down to the cinema to enjoy the myriad screenings of both essential classics and fantastic premieres infiltrating theaters, check out our roundup of this week’s most interesting and vital writing on film.
How would Lubitsch do it?: Crtierion’s Tributes to Ernst Lubitsch
In 2002, for the release of Trouble in Paradise, the Criterion Collection asked a handful of directors and writers to pay tribute to Ernst Lubitsch with handwritten testimonials. The varied responses—from Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Cameron Crowe, Roger Ebert, James Harvey, Leonard Maltin, and Jonathan Rosenbaum—are featured here, along with behind-the-scenes images of the Hollywood comedy legend.
This is a list of 20 filmmakers to watch. Other than their relative youth — one turned 40 a few months ago, and several more will join him soon — they share little besides passion and promise. But bringing them together, and shining a light on their accomplishments and their potential, seems especially urgent as another new season of serious moviegoing gets under way. Here’s why: We are living in a time of cinematic bounty. In multiplexes and beyond, movie lovers have a greater, more dizzying variety of choices — and of screens, large and small — than at any time in history.
It’s astounding that in 2013, we still have not stopped mourning the supposedly golden age of media that is now long gone. Yes, once upon a time, every local newspaper in the country could afford to have its own film critic. There was no easy way to take the collective cultural temperature about a movie before its release, so we had to rely on what the paid reviewers told us. And if we disagreed, our primary option for voicing that dissent was to sit down, write a letter, shove it in an envelope, and then wait for the post office and an overworked newspaper mailroom staff to eventually set it on a paid critic’s desk, where he or she (but most likely he) would proceed to ignore it. Man, those were just the damn days, weren’t they?
The Welles-Jaglom book is more cinema-centric and provides far more of Welles’s reflections on his art. It also presents Welles under the influence of irritants, of unwanted meetings and movie deals going sour, around which he elaborates verbal pearls darkened with his bile. The discussions in Tarbox’s book are altogether sweeter, though no less shadowed by Welles’s latter-day struggles to work and to earn money. (Here, too, Welles describes his desire to shore up his finances with rankly mercenary network-television shows and commercials.) The subjects tend toward personal recollections and nostalgic delights, and Welles is aware of the nostalgia.
The film’s two stars, who deliver two of the best performances of the year, sat down with Marlow Stern at the Telluride Film Festival to discuss the hellish-sounding making of the film, including why they’re embarrassed by the film’s talked-about 10-minute sex scene, and how they were terrorized on set by Kechiche.
Independent filmmaking: hobby or career? It is a question that has been on more than a few lips for years now. Though digital platforms have greatly democratized the distribution process, filmmakers are still reaping minimal financial returns on their work. Should the aspiring independent filmmaker pursue her passion wholeheartedly, or should she be pragmatic from the get go, making films as a hobby alongside a more lucrative career?
Contempt, possibly Godard’s most melancholy film and probably his most beautiful, is now 50 years old. The picture has weathered several waves of feminism and thousands of pages of analysis at the hands of film critics, most of them male. But Contempt—which Godard adapted from Alberto Moravia’s Il Disprezzo—needs no special pleading from any camp. And if Film Forum has turned revival and restoration of the picture into a kind of cottage industry—it brought Contempt back into our collective field of vision in 1997 and 2008, and is now back with a new, 50th anniversary restoration—no one’s complaining.
As our summer days begin to melt behind us, it’s time to cast our eyes to fall and get excited for all the cinematic events in store for us. The air will start to chill and the leaves will begin to wither from their branches, but what’s really important are the myriad retrospectives, premieres, and events happening around the city to enjoy. And if you’re currently experiencing the woeful jealousy that comes with knowing you’re missing out on the Venice and Toronto film festivals, never fear, the New York Film Festival is just around the corner.