1. “It’s Criminal and My Name Is On It.” Abel Ferrara on his Strauss-Kahn-inspired Welcome to New York, his battle with distributors, and Pasolini.
“Women know what’s going on. We’re grown-ups. We’re big boys. That’s why this idea of an R-rating is a joke. I’ve never made an R-rated film. I wouldn’t even accept the term ’R-rating.’ A long time ago when I used to work with these guys [speaking of film studio execs in general] and make the cuts… I was there when the MPAA was invented, I was there when the whole thing came about. It came to a moment in my life where I realized I was thinking in those terms, and then I stopped. Because I cannot do what I do, worrying about that. I wouldn’t even accept the concept of an R-rated film—and I live in and work in Europe, so that doesn’t exist [here]. These people, IFC, put out unrated films. That’s their fucking thing. And Wild Bunch as a European-fucking distributor…c’mon man. Blue is the Warmest Color, Nymphomaniac, all these films, ya dig? And they [IFC and Wild Bunch] know who I am. We’ve made five films together. They [IFC and Wild Bunch] grew up watching my films. They know I don’t make R-rated films. And this subject matter, this story, the way I shot it, you cannot. I wouldn’t have made it, I wouldn’t have done it. They’re tyrants. They act with impunity. It’s not going to fly with me, or people who have any sense of the truth.”
2. “Of Mice and Women.” Rob Walker on the stage unraveling of Cinderella.
“So this girl remained trapped in the attic for days, or was suspiciously locked up without explanation earlier that afternoon, and yet cares so little for her plight that she can’t even bother to open a window and look outside? Oh yes, there’s a window. A window that the mice open themselves—from the INSIDE—while Cinderella twirls around and sings ’Hey dilly lilly!’ like Ophelia bouncing off the walls of the rubber room. I can’t think of a more insidious moral for little girls. Or little boys. Or children of any age. When held against your will by abusive authority figures, don’t bother making yourself aware of your surroundings. Don’t look for a way out. Don’t call for help out an open window. Just retreat into a fantasy world and think of better times. Forget the fact that this takes Cinderella precariously close to finishing her tale like Harry Tuttle in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. It’s okay, kids! They’ll never break your love of dancing!”
3. “The Art of Disillusionment: Alejandro Jodorowsky and the Uses of Fiction.” For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Askold Melnyczuk on Where the Bird Sings Best.
“The momentum holds for the length of the novel as a cavalcade of outsized characters careen across the page in a frenzy that seems for once an adequate and just representation of the living fury that is history. Among the myriad challenges facing all refugees, exiles, and immigrants is how to keep faith with their former selves, their ancestors, and their native realm amid changing circumstances and often (usually) hostile environments. The question is simultaneously universal and specific. It’s the riddle the Sphinx posed to Oedipus and is, at its core, an interrogation of identity. Who am I when the world around me keeps changing—and I along with it? How can a Jew maintain her identity in the face of so much hostility? Why should she? Can we lose, or turn, from our inherited beliefs without becoming traitors to our people and ourselves? These are profound questions, and Jodorowsky’s daring lies in his risking answers.”
4. “The Funniest Joke in the World.” For Cinema Scope, Phil Coldiron on Rick Alverson’s Entertainment
“We’ve grown comfortable enough with the precariousness of our lives that the sudden disappearance of what we’ve known is no longer a catalyst to existential crisis, but a simple fact to be dealt with as calmly as any other inconvenience. (There is, in these post-auratic days, nothing that can’t be replaced.) Though he finds a number of similarly smart, small ways to push back against the film’s exhausted style, Alverson is nonetheless content to stick small bodies at the centre of his expansive ’Scope frames, testing the ability of the space of the screen to express the pat distance between a wounded private life and a monstrous public one. This overly literal linking of character and visual style offers little in the way of dramatic, emotional, or psychological nourishment: the reintroduction of psychological realism seems unlikely to breathe life back into any exhausted modernist form. Alverson’s commitment to these failures allows the film to slowly accrue a seriousness that finally breaks through to a new expressive space as it sprawls into its nervy final third.”
5. “Wim Wenders, Family Therapist.” For The L Magazine, Elise Nakhnikian interviews Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado about The Salt of the Earth.
“Talking heads, yes. It wasn’t good enough. And it wasn’t good enough not just because I was in the shot, but because with the camera in the shot, Sebastião every now and then got self-conscious. He tells a story and he’s looking at the photos and he’s really getting into the memory, and then he looks up and he looks at me and all of a sudden it becomes an act. I thought, ’What can we do to immerse [him] once more in that time? His journeys are so amazing because he does immerse so much. How can we get back to that point?’ And I eventually came up with the idea of the darkroom and the teleprompter and him just alone, facing his photographs, no camera, no Wim Wenders, no sound engineers. He was only looking at his photographs, talking about what he saw in front of him, and while he was doing so he was looking into the camera.”
Video of the Day: A short film, Guerrero: The Monster in the Mountains, about 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School who went missing on September 26, 2014:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.