1. “Joan Rivers, a Comic Stiletto Quick to Skewer, Is Dead at 81.” The comedy pioneer and TV host died yesterday after spending a week in a medically-induced coma.
“Joan Rivers, the raspy loudmouth who pounced on America’s obsessions with flab, face-lifts, body hair and other blemishes of neurotic life, including her own, in five decades of caustic comedy that propelled her from nightclubs to television to international stardom, died on Thursday in Manhattan. She was 81. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, confirmed her death. A spokeswoman, Judy Katz, said the cause had not yet been determined. Ms. Rivers died at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she had been taken last Thursday from an outpatient surgery clinic after going into cardiac arrest and losing consciousness, the authorities said. The State Health Department is investigating the circumstances that led to her death, a state official said Thursday. Ms. Rivers had been in the clinic for a minor procedure on her vocal cords, according to a spokesman. Her daughter said Tuesday that her mother was on life support and Wednesday that she was out of intensive care.”
2. “How Empire Records Became The Unlikely Film Of A Generation.” For the first time, the people who made the movie talk about how it came together, why it bombed, and how it found its second life.
“Today, most think it was a little movie that slipped through the cracks before several of the leads went on to major careers. Yet the real story of Empire Records is much more complex—and, ironically, mirrors the very struggle that the Empire Records store faced in its battle against corporate takeover. And nearly 20 years after the film’s release, just as a new generation of high school students fall in love with the film for entirely different reasons, here’s that story for the first time.”
3. “The Movie Press’ Oscar Obsession Is Ruining Fall Film Festivals for Everyone.” Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey calls bullshit on the bullshit.
“Today marks the kick-off of the Toronto International Film Festival, a massive ten-day orgy of movies big and small from all over the world. It follows last weekend’s Telluride Film Festival, a cozier but no lower-profile Colorado gathering of film lovers, film critics, and filmmakers. Your film editor, sadly, was/is at neither (Kickstarter for next year forthcoming). But I’ve been reading about them for decades, most often (and earliest) from the pen of Roger Ebert, who called Telluride ’one of the best experiences a film lover can have,’ and dubbed Toronto ’the world’s top festival for—well, for moviegoers.’ He wrote those words in 1999 and 1998, respectively, and I get the feeling the focus of these festivals has changed quite a bit in the years since. Maybe they’re still prized destinations for film lovers, but just about all I’m reading out of them are dispatches on what each new premiere does to next year’s Oscar race. At risk of putting too fine a point on it, who gives a shit?”
4. “TIFF 2014. TF WVLNTS (or TIFF Wavelengths For Those Who Don’t Have the Time).” For Mubi, Michael Sicinski on the Wavelengths sections of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
“When I last checked in with the very talented Basma Alsharif, she has just made the extremely challenging but ultimately rational experimental essay Farther Than The Eye Can See. Now she’s collaborating with that troublemaker Ben Russell, and sure enough, she’s made a full-on head-trip film, complete with flashing colors, endless lens flares, and churning, vibrating noises that lull the ear into a hypnotic trance. It’s also a work that engages with movement and landscape, particularly as pushed to the bounds of cinematic inscription. That is, in articulating multiple spaces (Gaza, Malta, Greece —all undergoing their own unique forms of crisis) with pure light and sound which overwhelm our ability to make sensory distinctions, Alsharif gets at a frequently untapped but parallel part of our nerve centers, where fear and desire, pleasure and pain, get mixed up into the raw experience of being overpowered. With a tip of the hat to Malcolm Le Grice’s classic Berlin Horse, this film combines and collides the inner and outer worlds, demanding that we adjust our concept of the profilmic event on a moment-by-moment basis (first the sun and sky, then the artificial light of chromatic blitz). If you’re really going to sleep, you’d better sleep furiously.”
5. “R.I.P. Donatas Banionis, star of Solaris.” An obituary by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
” The next year, Banionis played what would become his most famous role: Kris Kelvin, the ambiguously rational protagonist of Solaris. Like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, Solaris owes much of its immersive power to the fact that it almost never leaves its main character’s point of view. Kelvin—a widower who has abandoned his family on Earth to travel to a remote space station—is as much a detective as a scientist, trying to parse out what led one of his colleagues to commit suicide while experiencing mysterious phenomena that seem to emanate from the planet the station orbits. Extended scenes of Kelvin watching video recordings replace flashbacks, and shots are composed around tantalizing, half-open doors. Because of his Lithuanian accent, Banionis’ voice was dubbed over by a Russian actor; however, as Kelvin is above all an observer, it’s Banionis’ physical presence––namely his sad, intense stare—that carries the film along.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden:
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