1. “Jean-Claude Carrière’s Theater of the Absurd.” For Interview, Colleen Kelsey sits down with the famous screenwriter.
“When you write a book you are alone, and you need solitude, concentration, a sort of silence. But when I’m with a director, I love to go on walks, to sit down at the terrace of the café, to observe, to look at people. Everything comes from life, no doubt about it. When I first met Jacques Tati, I received—I don’t know how to translate exactly—des leçons du regard, ’the teaching how to look.’ A filmmaker doesn’t look around like anybody, or a photographer, or a painter. They look in a different way. For example, I am a close friend of Julian Schnabel. He lives in my place in Paris, I live in his place in New York. When we go together to see an exhibit, for instance, we went to see a Van Gogh exhibit in Paris last summer, he looks the way a painter looks at a painting. He teaches me. I’m learning from him things that I would never, never have thought about. For instance, when you pose in front of a painter, the look from the painter to you is not the same as the look from the photographer. He’s looking for something else. That’s extremely interesting. Being motionless in front of a great painter for two hours is a real experience. He finds things inside yourself that you ignore.”
2. “For Some in Chicago, Spike Lee’s Chiraq Has a Title That Rankles.” The working title of the director’s new film, which has begun shooting in Wicker Park, takes its name from a term coined by local rappers for an area of the city deemed by many in the area as a war zone.
“Mr. Lee, who declined to be interviewed, has not publicly confirmed the title of the movie, but city officials who have met with him said he had told them that he intended to call it Chiraq. The film, Mr. Lee has said, is focused on gun violence on the South Side; some reports, unconfirmed by Mr. Lee, offer the intriguing possibility that the film is a comedic reimagining of Lysistrata, the ancient Greek tale by Aristophanes in which women withhold sex to force the men to end the Peloponnesian War. Gun violence is a way of life for many Chicagoans, especially in pockets of the South and West Sides. Street gangs have splintered and multiplied in recent years, complicating police efforts to tamp down crime. Every year, warm weather brings increased gunfire and gang activity, as well as a drumbeat of headlines announcing each weekend’s alarming tally: Over Memorial Day weekend, at least 56 people were shot in Chicago, 12 fatally.”
3. ”The Merchant of Four Seasons: Downward Mobility in Munich.” Thomas Elsaesser on the Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, one of the latest additions to the Criterion Collection library.
“Fassbinder shows the German economic miracle beginning to transform working-class lives but creating losers as well as winners. His characters and locations offer a scrupulously observed milieu that sacrifices none of its atmospheric realism for being put in the service of a story whose schematic simplicity has the strength of a parable and the stark economy of ancient tragedy. He depicts the stages of his hero’s slow, steady slide into despair and oblivion in a style that builds on the emphatic fluidity that had become his trademark. The Merchant of Four Seasons was Fassbinder’s twelfth feature in less than three years, and the first after his discovery of the tightly scripted middle-class, Middle America ’weepies’ of the Germanémigré Hollywood director Douglas Sirk, about whom he wrote, that same year, what must surely count as the most appreciative essay the director received during his lifetime.”
4. ”Total Recall’s cartoonish comedy still separates it from the action movie pack.” Calum Marsh looks back on the Paul Verhoeven classic on its 25th anniversary.
“It’s hidden. But it’s there. The fact is that Total Recall is still possessed very much of the satirical elan Verhoeven remains known for—only the film directs it back at itself. The effort begins at the level of casting. Arnold Schwarzenegger, by 1990, had spent six years muscling his way into the popular imagination as the star of virtually every action blockbuster around. He had swiftly become synonymous with a certain brand of Hollywood excess: he was the supercharged beefcake of American dreams, emboldening the populace by stepping in as the spokesman for national might. (And it was a real thrill, seeing this 10-tonne megawatt hero blasting and pummelling anyone in his path. He made the vulgarity of it all seem beautiful.) What Verhoeven did was turn Schwarzenegger into a cartoon. Or rather reveal him as one.”
5. “Expectations.” For Reverse Shot, Ela Bittencourt on Nathan Silver’s Uncertain Terms.
“Uncertain Terms is filled with richly colored, soft-focus imagery, conveying the lushness of the forest where the house (which belongs to Silver’s parents in real life) is located. The overall softness of the palette suggests that Silver has sympathy for even his most flawed characters: there are no real villains here, even Jean is partly redeemed by her sheer inaptitude, and Mona’s cheating is offset by her desperation to reconnect with Robbie. There are also no victims, and the pregnancies, including those that result from painful experiences, are less a source of anguish than of guarded hopefulness. Perhaps even more complex is Silver’s vision of marriage. While most girls at the home, like Nina, seem rather sheepish about the idea, feeling less prepared for sustaining relationships with men than they are for motherhood, Robbie’s marriage, at first seemingly beyond rescue, survives. A delicate balance is being restored throughout.”
Video of the Day: Paper Towns gets a new trailer:
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