1. “Roman Polanski Talks His Life and Career, Venus in Fur and Retirement.” Scott Foundas speaks with the legendary filmmaker.
“The story is a diabolically clever two-hander that Polanski adapted with the playwright David Ives from [David] Ives’ 2010 New York stage hit. ’I just thought it was a terrific text,’ says Polanski. ’First, the humor of it. But then the sort of anti-macho spirit of it, and the richness of the allusions.’ The director first read Ives’ play in his hotel room during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where his Oscar-winning 1979 Thomas Hardy adaptation, Tess, was being screened in a restored print. ’This might be up your alley,’ Polanski remembers his longtime agent, Jeff Berg, telling him. As it turns out, Berg was right.”
2. “Theses on the Dance Moves of Ilana Glazer.” Anne Helen Petersen and Phillip Maciak on Broad City
“Hannah and Ilana both have desires, of course, but Ilana doesn’t care what her desires look like. Girls is obviously after a type of realism that is not high on Broad City’s priority list, so, to some extent, the transgressive behavior Annie rightfully praises is not policed by society in the way it would be within the world of Girls. (Ilana should have been fired from her job multiple times, for instance.) But that’s not a blindness. If Girls is a show about the stinging reality of trying to get what you want, Broad City is about the sometimes painful thrill of wanting on its own. What the show sees is the grace and odd beauty of outlandish, directionless desire.”
3. “Darren Aronofsky’s Bible Studies.” Richard Brody on Noah.
“The story of Noah is, first of all, a near-apocalypse in which God kills off almost everybody, and the terrifying scale of divine wrath, along with the awesome burden of the few remaining people who confront it, must have had a shattering effect on the young Aronofsky. That vision of enormity—of divinity as monstrosity—comes through in the movie. And what about the holy man who is totally devoted to that God, and who actually hears the command of that God? The power of Noah arises from Aronofsky’s shuddering comprehension that the person who thinks he’s in touch with God is capable of anything. The movie stands on its head the Dostoyevskian dictum ’If God does not exist, everything is permitted.’ In Noah, the notion of God’s existence renders the natural order frenetically, jinglingly, miraculously disorderly, and it grants a true believer a free pass for whatever atrocity he believes he’s commanded to enact. Remarkably, in the movie’s crucial drama—Noah’s intention to end the human race by killing the offspring of his son Shem (Douglas Booth) and his daughter-in-law Ila (Emma Watson)—Aronofsky grafts onto the tale of Noah one of the most harrowing and morally troubling bibilical stories, Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. It seems as if that tale in particular had been troubling Aronofsky since childhood, too.”
4. “Radiant at BAM.” Stephanie Zacharek on the BAMcinématek’s ’Blonde Venus: The Films of Dietrich and von Sternberg’ series.
“The pictures Josef von Sternberg made with Marlene Dietrich—seven in all, between 1930 and 1935—are often cited as examples of von Sternberg’s obsessive, controlling nature, evidence of his need to wrest a real live woman into his version of an ideal. But the truth of the Dietrich–von Sternberg relationship is of course far more complicated. If she was his protégé, his canvas, the focus of his unapologetic objectification, she was also his muse, and the degree to which she allowed herself to be molded was tied directly to her own ambition and self-confidence. Even when Dietrich was wearing a gown, she always wore the pants.”
5. ”American Blooger Trailer Goes Viral, Confuses Internet.” Documentary about bloggers makes actual bloggers laugh while scratching their heads.
“Filmmaker Christopher Wiegand promises to ’change the way we see an industry’ in a trailer for his upcoming documentary, American Blogger. But the industry isn’t exactly sure what to make of it. Inspired by his wife’s blogging, the first-time filmmaker set off on a trip across America to interview bloggers and profile their work in the field. But many bloggers have reacted somewhat harshly to the trailer’s unintentionally humorous voiceover, as well as the documentary’s apparent focus on overwhelmingly white female subjects.”
Video of the Day: The video for Lykke Li’s “No Rest for the Wicked”:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to email@example.com and to converse in the comments section.
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay
After walking back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing here.
Eric and I have done a good job this year of only selectively stealing each other’s behind-the-scenes jokes. We have, though, not been polite about stepping on each other’s toes in other ways. Okay, maybe just Eric, who in his impeccable take on the original screenplay free-for-all detailed how the guilds this year have almost willfully gone out of their way to “not tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film.” Case in point: Can You Ever Forgive Me? winning the WGA’s adapted screenplay trophy over presumed Oscar frontrunner BlacKkKlansman. A glitch in the matrix? We think so. Eric and I are still in agreement that the race for best picture this year is pretty wide open, though maybe a little less so in the wake of what seemed like an easy win for the Spike Lee joint. Nevertheless, we all know that there’s no Oscar narrative more powerful than “it’s about goddamn time,” and it was so powerful this year that even the diversity-challenged BAFTAs got the memo, giving their adapted screenplay prize to Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. To bamboozle Lee at this point would, admittedly, be so very 2019, but given that it’s walked back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing.
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay
This season, Hollywood is invested in celebrating the films they love while dodging the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
You know, if it weren’t for the show’s producers effectively and repeatedly saying everything about the Academy Awards is terrible and needs to be changed, and the year’s top-tier contenders inadvertently confirming their claims, this would’ve been a comparatively fun and suspenseful Oscar season. None of us who follow the Academy Awards expect great films to win; we just hope the marathon of precursors don’t turn into a Groundhog Day-style rinse and repeat for the same film, ad nauseam.
On that score, mission accomplished. The guilds have been handing their awards out this season as though they met beforehand and assigned each voting body a different title from Oscar’s best picture list so as not to tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film. SAG? Black Panther. PGA? Green Book. DGA? Roma. ASC? Cold War. ACE? Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Even awards-season kryptonite A Star Is Born got an award for contemporary makeup from the MUAHS. (That’s the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, not the sound Lady Gaga fans have been making ever since A Star Is Born’s teaser trailer dropped last year.)
Not to be outdone, the Writers Guild of America announced their winners last weekend, and not only did presumed adapted screenplay frontrunner BlacKkKlansman wind up stymied by Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but the original screenplay prize went to Eighth Grade, which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. Bo Burnham twisted the knife into AMPAS during his acceptance speech: “To the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!” In both his sarcasm and his surprise, it’s safe to say he speaks on behalf of us all.
As is always the case, WGA’s narrow eligibility rules kept a presumed favorite, The Favourite, out of this crucial trial heat. But as the balloting period comes to a close, the question remains just how much enthusiasm or affection voters have for either of the two films with the most nominations (Roma being the other). As a recent “can’t we all just get along” appeal by Time’s Stephanie Zacharek illustrates, the thing Hollywood is most invested in this season involves bending over backward, Matrix-style, to celebrate the films they love and still dodge the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
Maybe it’s just tunnel vision from the cultural vacuum Oscar voters all-too-understandably would prefer to live in this year, but doesn’t it seem like The Favourite’s tastefully ribald peppering of posh-accented C-words would be no match for the steady litany of neo-Archie Bunkerisms spewing from Viggo Mortensen’s crooked mouth? Especially with First Reformed’s Paul Schrader siphoning votes from among the academy’s presumably more vanguard new recruits? We’ll fold our words in half and eat them whole if we’re wrong, but Oscar’s old guard, unlike John Wayne, is still alive and, well, pissed.
Will Win: Green Book
Could Win: The Favourite
Should Win: First Reformed
Watch: Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, Starring Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton, Gets First Trailer
Joanna Hogg has been flying under the radar for some time, but that’s poised to change in a big way.
British film director and screenwriter Joanna Hogg, whose impeccably crafted 2013 film Exhibition we praised on these pages for its “disarming mixture of the remarkable and the banal,” has been flying under the radar for the better part of her career. But that’s poised to change in a big way with the release of her latest film, The Souvenir, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the film’s world premiere at the festival, A24 and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired its U.S. and U.K. distribution rights, respectively. Below is the official description of the film:
A shy but ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.
And below is the film’s first trailer:
A24 will release The Souvenir on May 17.