1. “The Miraculous Apu Trilogy.” Richard Brody on the restoration of Satyajit Ray’s iconic trilogy of films.
“The twin pillars of society that Satyajit Ray observes in action are technological efforts, to preserve and improve life, and religious and cultural ones, to cope with death and anguish. As Apu matures, travelling with his family—with its surviving members—from the village to Benares, from Benares to another village, and from that village to Calcutta for his higher education—he is stripped of his bearings, orphaned, widowed, left to confront a mind-bending intensity of grief and a harrowing solitude. In the city, Harihar gets by as an itinerant priest, performing rituals beside the Ganges in quest of alms. Without derision but with a gentle skepticism, the director hints at the regressive burden of tradition and its fantasies while nonetheless, with vast sympathy, showing the spectrum of unbearable realities for which they offer some consolation.”
2. “Orson Welles’ Last, Unfinished Film Heads Toward Completion With $2M Indiegogo Campaign.” Thirty years after the master filmmaker’s death, mega-producer Frank Marshall is assisting the movie he worked on as a gofer.
“Now an editor, Affonso Goncalves (Beasts of the Southern Wild), is at work piecing the film together, based on Welles’ extensive notes, along with input from [Peter] Bogdanovich. We have Orson’s work print that he had smuggled out of France, which is a [roughly] 42-minute cut of the film, says [Filip Jan] Rymsza. ’We’re using that as a blueprint for the remainder, some of which is in an assembly state.’ He and his team have also consulted the many copies of the script with Welles’ notes, which together create a pile five feet high. ’You look at the scripts; you have his annotations and his memos to his editors,’ says Rymsza. ’We have a huge amount of information.’ If the Indiegogo campaign is successful, the producers hope to finish the film by the end of the year. The timing will be perfect: 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Welles’ birth.”
3. “How film restorers brought ’The Apu Trilogy’ back to life.” For The A.V. Club, Ryan Vlastelica chats with Criterion technical director Lee Kline about the process of returning Satyajit Ray’s films to their cinema-level quality.
“Now, I had never worked with film that had been damaged in a fire and I didn’t know anyone who had. We called Kodak for help; we called Fuji; we called every lab and film person we knew or could think of. It turns out, not many people know how to deal with it, since a lot of the people who would have experience with this are either retired or dead, and most fire-damaged film isn’t salvaged in the first place. No one had a very good answer; they would say things like, ’You could try this, but that might not work, so you could also try this.’ That wasn’t helpful because we figured we only had one shot at this given the delicacy of the film. If we messed up, that could destroy the film. So we needed something that not just worked, but a process that could let us remaster it in super-high resolution.”
4. “Cuba on the Cusp in Havana Motor Club.” Cubans are getting ready to navigate a treacherous crossroads—the place where communism and capitalism intersect and collide.
“The recent easing of economic and travel restrictions under Raúl Castro—a sharp break with the rigid anti-American policies of his older brother—has left many Cubans feeling deeply divided. One of the gear heads in the movie notes that he got treated for cancer—for free—even though he has trouble putting food on the table. These men are fiercely proud of the revolution, yet frustrated by the hardships brought on by the U.S. embargo, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the undeniable failings of the revolution itself. They yearn for change but don’t want to abandon life-long beliefs. Havana Motor Club beautifully captures their ambivalence.”
5. “Tikrit: Iraq’s Abandoned City.” For The New York Review of Books, Zaid Al-Ali on the Iraq city that was occupied for nine months by ISIS.
“Some Tikritis lived so close to the killing grounds that they could clearly hear each shot. Zeinab, an Arabic language teacher who lived within a stone’s throw of the massacre, still covers her ears when she speaks of what happened. Others who lived downstream or on higher ground could see some of the bodies that the militants dumped in the Tigris. Tikritis who had contacts in Baghdad and in the Iraqi army called them and begged the Iraqi government to intervene. If a single helicopter had been deployed, several locals told me, it could have created enough space for many of the cadets to escape. But Baghdad did nothing and the shooting continued. Of all the atrocities committed by ISIS, it remains one of the worst.”
Video of the Day: The new Magic Mike XXL trailer reveals the franchise to be going in a more Step Up-ish direction:
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