INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson *Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By Jordan Cronk FEATURES *A Pierce of the Action: On Claudine and UptightBy Andrew Tracy *I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending ThingsBy Adam Nayman *Open Ticket: The Long, Strange…
“The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a vacant threat, but the sisters were still beaten, and now they are attempting to exorcise their memories by drawing pictures of them. Does it help? We never find out.
There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna, extends this tradition, though its means of execution and conceptual ramifications represent something new for the 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker.
“It’s all planned, but it isn’t thought out,” wrote Pauline Kael in her review of A Woman Under the Influence (1974), a nifty bit of critical jiu-jitsu turning John Cassavetes’ much-theorized—and, during Kael’s reign at The New Yorker, much-derided—technique of spontaneous improvisation within a dramatic framework against him.
One of the most surprising things about Ulrike Ottinger’s new documentary Paris Calligrammes is how accessible it is. Some cinephiles may be familiar with Ottinger based on an 11-year period of mostly fictional productions that were adjacent to the New German Cinema but, for various reasons, were never entirely subsumed within that rubric. Others are quite possibly more aware of her later work in documentary, in particular her commitment to a radical form of experimental ethnographic cinema.
By Andrew Tracy In his Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes identified two elements at work in the act of viewing photographs. On one level was what he labelled the studium, which he defines as a sympathetic interest on the part of the viewer, “a kind of general, enthusiastic commitment, but without special acuity…To recognize the studium…
In a recent article published in advance of the restoration and rerelease of his work, filmmaker and writer Ruchir Joshi detailed the context for creative Indian documentary in the late ’80s, just as he was developing his practice:
Independent documentary makers tended to attempt only two or three kinds of non-fiction films: Films commissioned by NGOs, “activist” films around a social or political issue about which the filmmaker felt passionately, and films to do with culture, usually traditional craft or performance.
Presented as a “new” documentary of which Orson Welles is the credited director, Hopper/Welles is at once less and more than whatever would accurately befit that pithy description.
As this strangest of years plods not-so-merrily along, so as well do we, much lighter in the pocketbook but with all the resilience of an army of Mulans. (I think that metaphor makes sense, as I cannot currently afford to pay $30 to see a Disney film on Disney+ on my Apple computer).
Carmelo Bene always had very little to do with the provincial history of Italian cinema and its self-congratulatory antics. “Culturally I’m not Italian, but Arab,” he told Jean Narboni in an interview for Cahiers du cinéma in 1968, reclaiming his geo-historical lineage while simultaneously denying the existence of a national culture. Born in the “ethnic mayhem” of Otranto—“a most religious bordello, a centre of culture and tolerance to bring together Islamic, Jewish, Turkish, and Catholic confluences”—Bene dedicated his life to the manic deconstruction of any form of identity, including his own.
We already know from his imaginary conversations with his very own “Orson” in The Eyes of Orson Welles (2019) that the presumptions of Mark Cousins respect no natural boundaries apart from those of his own hubris.
As I type this, it’s 2:00pm in northeast Los Angeles, middle of the afternoon: the sky is brown with smoke, air conditioners are walking off the job, and last night I could barely breathe. Yesterday, it was 113 degrees in parts of northeast LA; the mountains and forests around us are on fire. “Just another day in paradise,” as the most seasoned Angelenos have become all too accustomed to gritting their smiles and facetiously confessing.
The role of past insights in (still) present-day struggles is at the heart of The Inheritance, a playful, erudite, and boundary-blurring examination of what performing Black theory, literature, music, and testimony in a contemporary Philadelphia commune might set in motion.
If it’s true that Brandon Cronenberg sought to cheekily poke fun at his father David’s needle-phobia in his first film (Antiviral, 2011), it feels like parts of Possessor might have been engineered specifically to make my skin crawl.