1. “Elizabeth Peña R.I.P.” The Prolific Hispanic Actress Has Passed Away at 55.
“Elizabeth Peña has passed away. The actress, with a professional career spanning nearly 40 years, left us on the night of October 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She had recently wrapped work on the first season of the El Rey Network’s action series, Matador, where she played the title character’s mother Maritza. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and raised by her Cuban immigrant parents, Peña was destined for a career in the arts. Her father, Mario, was a playwright, director, actor, and designer in their native Cuba, who opened up the Latin American Theatre Ensemble after establishing a life for he and his family in New York. As a teen, Peña began making a name for herself as a formidable young actress in the New York theatre scene. She attended, and graduated from, the High School of Performing Arts and began her professional film career in 1978 with León Ichaso’s El Super. A few years later, the ambitious Cubana would set off to try her fortunes over on the west coast. That move would prove fruitful, as she would go on to land roles in several major films in the 1980s. By the end of that decade, she had a resumé that included La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, *batteries not included, and Blue Steel. She even did something that was almost unheard of for a Latina actress: She had her own primetime ABC series, I Married Dora. She played the title role of Dora in the series, which became infamous and notable because of its controversial premise- which centered on a “green card marriage” that would eventually evolve into something more genuine.”
2. ”All That Jazz.” For Film Freak Central, Walter Chaw on the Criterion Collection release of the Bob Fosse film.
“So is he boasting? Very well, he’s boasting. As swagger goes, Fellini has nothing on this guy. (Fosse even snagged Fellini’s old cameraman, Giuseppe Rotunno, to shoot All That Jazz, no doubt anticipating the inevitable comparisons to Fellini’s 8½.) Based on the evidence here assembled, Fosse was the biggest swinging dick on Broadway throughout the 1970s. Be fair, though—if he was bragging, he had earned it through development of his extraordinary, hard-won talent. It’s rare enough that a dance choreographer should succeed as a filmmaker, let alone a director who so successfully manipulates time and space on screen. Heim’s fearless, impressionistic editing presents All That Jazz as a mere moment in time, a story told by a man on the brink of the afterlife. The film opens with a fragment of conversation between Gideon and Angelique (Jessica Lange), a mysterious woman clad in white, sitting between twin spotlights on an apparently disused theatre stage cluttered with costumes, debris, neon. The ensuing—and much-celebrated—opening sequence depicting a cattle-call audition for dancers is shot and edited in a documentary style, running for six largely dialogue-free minutes and underscored by George Benson’s jazzy, scat-riddled 1978 cover of ’On Broadway.’ From that tour de force, we return briefly to Joe’s heart-to-heart with Angelique, who comments on his addiction to smoking, speed, and sex, and then back to the audition, where Gideon is hiring a pretty young thing who can neither sing nor dance, annoying the producers watching from the orchestra seats.”
3. “Bob Rafelson Interview.” Matt Zoller Seitz sits down with the filmmaker to discuss his lost classic, Mountains of the Moon.
“First of all, Richard Burton occurred in my life at a very young age. I was one of those kids who’d sneak off with a copy of the Kama Sutra and other books of its ilk, and they always bore the signature of Richard Burton, who himself was known for pornography near the end of his life. So I discovered Burton first as a kind of pornographic star. The Perfumed Garden was one of my favorite books growing up. Then after that, I studied anthropology, and I came across Burton as an anthropologist. He was literally the first anthropologist, because he invented the term ’anthropologist,’ and was the president of the Anthropological Society in London. I was studying his works in that regard. Then I started to learn about his adventures as a discoverer. So by the time I got around to considering this material as the subject, I was already a gigantic student of Richard Burton. In fact I would say he was my personal hero. By the way, I’m not alone in this way. A lot of people in the ’60s had this extraordinary regard, like they would for Mick Jagger, for Richard Burton. I mean, this wasn’t a unique discovery on my part. It might’ve been unique in the sense that I’m American, and I have a personal hero who’s English. So that’s one aspect of why I was attracted to it. “
4. “Pedro Almodóvar Talks About Spanish Cinema He Loves.” Almodovar’s choice, Homage to Spanish Cinema, plays at the Lumière Festival, featuring films often little-known outside Spain.
“With this selection of seven films, which aims to pay homage to the Spanish cinema, I wanted to first propose works that have stood the test of time and proven their aesthetic value. I also wanted to show the Lumière Festival audiences works whose renown have scarcely reached beyond Spain’s borders. Mostly shot during the Franco dictatorship, these works—in addition to being beautiful films—knew how to ingeniously circumvent the censorship laws of the Church and State, which were as absurd as they were unforgiving.”
5. “Lena Dunham has it all.” On some girls, that girl, and Not That Kind Of Girl.
“It is impossible to navigate Lena Dunham’s work without being forced to contend with her complicated, contradictory, difficult-to-reconcile self, and doing so forces readers to contend with themselves. Where does her ego stop and her work begin? Where does my ego stop and my critique begin? It’s hard to see Not That Kind Of Girl for just what it is, because it isn’t just anything—it’s a process of moving through my sense of self and her own, to reach an uneasy understanding. “
Video of the Day: Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea gets a trailer:
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