Notable film and media links--February 18, 2009
---This has been a pleasant week for Godard enthusiasts. First, Alexander Coleman reviewed A Woman is a Woman. And then, Allan Fish followed that with his discussion of A Bout de Souffle in Wonders in the Dark. As Allan writes,
"the real star of the show is Godard, who makes this exercise in Parisian chic spellbinding from the opening hotwire to the final killing in the streets. His later films such as Pierrot le Fou, Deux ou Trois Choses que je sais d’elle and Weekend may have made bigger statements and be more appreciated by the intelligentsia, but for sheer enjoyment, there’s nothing to match his debut in his resume."
---Writing for Vanity Fair, Mark Seal explains the tangled genesis of The Godfather:
"Peter Bart pushed to hire Francis Ford Coppola, a 31-year-old Italian-American who had directed a handful of films, including the musical Finian’s Rainbow, but had never had a hit. He felt that Coppola would not be expensive and would work with a small budget. Coppola passed on the project, confessing that he had tried to read Puzo’s book but, repulsed by its graphic sex scenes, had stopped at page 50. He had a problem, however: he was broke. His San Francisco–based independent film company, American Zoetrope, owed $600,000 to Warner Bros., and his partners, especially George Lucas, urged him to accept. “Go ahead, Francis,” Lucas said. “We really need the money. What have you got to lose?” Coppola went to the San Francisco library, checked out books on the Mafia, and found a deeper theme for the material. He decided it should be not a film about organized crime but a family chronicle, a metaphor for capitalism in America."
---For The House Next Door, Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard share their dialectical musings on David Lynch's Mulholland Drive as part of their Conversations monthly feature. When challenged about the inscrutability of the film, Ed responds:
"All I can say is, no matter how confounding and inscrutable Lynch's films can be—and this one is by no means his most inscrutable—I have never been repelled by them, never tempted to "give up." This is because Lynch's filmmaking is very modular: he thinks as much in terms of crafting individual moments as he does of the whole film. There's a reason that he was able to salvage Mulholland Dr. from a rejected television pilot by adding new material and making it seem like the film was always meant to be like this. There's a reason that INLAND EMPIRE is able to incorporate ideas and images from Lynch's digital shorts and experiments (like the absurd Rabbits) and fluidly blend it all into the whole. Individual scenes, like the audition or Club Silencio or the conversation with the cowboy or the creepy Robert Blake phone call sequence in Lost Highway, can stand on their own as self-contained modules, separate from the films that contain them."
---For Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies, Kevin J. Olson examines the genre-bending evolution of noir with films like Blue Velvet and Blade Runner (Hat tip to T. S. of Screen Savour):
"These films were representations of how the genre was moving outside the boundaries of noir only being films about seedy gangsters, femme fatales, and cops and robbers; these classic elements of the genre were now being replaced by greedy water companies, and corrupt politicians or policemen who were representations of the evil America never thought could exist in the people they trusted."
---Looking for signs of our recent economic woes in the film industry? Vadim Risov explains why films have such difficulty reflecting what's going on the real world in his essay "The New Depression Cinema" in GreenCine Daily. I like his concluding sentence: "As always, we'll get the movies and times we've enabled and deserve."
---Have you seen the newly shrunk Rolling Stone magazine? In the same vein, Tom Tomorrow has a sardonic take on Newsweek's recent makeover as part of his Media Meltdown Watch.
---Lastly, the critics at The New Yorker posted three love scenes from films such as The Big Sleep.
---And A. O. Scott shows off his video review skills with this tribute to Woody Allen's Annie Hall.