News to Me: Akerman, Carax, and the Cannes Can-Can
News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1977)
1. Chantal Akerman’s memoir, My Mother Laughs, is now available in English thanks to a translation by Corina Copp. (A second translation by Another Gaze editor Daniella Shreir will be available in September.) According to publisher The Song Cave, the book questions “what it means to love and care for oneself and for another, and in the end, what the personal cost of those decisions can be.” The relationship between Akerman and her mother, Natalia, is the subject of No Home Movie—Akerman’s final film. Violet Lucca wrote on the “painfully intimate” documentary in 2016; as did J. Hoberman for Tablet a year later, stating that it “provides a prism through which to view the Brussels-born filmmaker’s brilliant, erratic, essential oeuvre.”
2. Quad Cinema has begun its latest retrospective, Fighting Mad: German Genre Films from the Margins, running through May 23. Film Comment regular Nick Pinkerton unpacks the multifarious films on display in a piece for Artforum, which also bids farewell to former programmers C. Mason Wells and Micah Gottlieb: “It is to be hoped that ‘Fighting Mad’ will not double as a wake for repertory programming at the Quad . . . but if it does, you couldn’t ask for a much livelier eulogy.”
3. Le Cinéma Club, a free streaming platform focusing on art-house films, is set to relaunch in June thanks to the help of newfound sponsor, Chanel. The revamped service begins anew with a recently rediscovered work of Claire Denis’s—Keep It for Yourself, a 40-minute film from 1991 starring Vincent Gallo. (More on the Gallo-Denis connection: the BFI recently posted this video essay on Trouble Every Day, a film “made entirely on and about the skin.”) With Chanel’s influence, the platform will expand to include editorial content, as well as theatrical screenings and collaborations, beginning with a month-long takeover by the Cinémathèque Française film archive.
4. Announced all the way back in 2016 but failing to get off the ground, Leos Carax’s no-longer-dormant English-language musical, Annette, will begin filming later this year thanks to CG Cinema. The French production company, known for Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper (as well as his forthcoming film, Wasp Network, now in postproduction), will co-produce the film alongside a handful of other internationals, with Amazon distributing in the U.S.
5. Raúl Ruiz’s The Wandering Soap Opera, which made its North American debut at Film at Lincoln Center’s Ruiz retrospective early last year, has begun its wide release at last (currently screening in New York at the Anthology Film Archives). To mark the occasion, John Soltes sat down with distributor Cinema Guild to discuss the initial making-of, as well as the later re-making by Ruiz’s widow, Valeria Sarmiento.
6. Sheila O’Malley, who recently debuted her Film Comment column Present Tense, has written this wonderful essay on mirrors in movies for Oscilloscope Laboratories. Covering Peter Lorre in M, De Niro as Brando in Raging Bull, Richard Gere’s American Gigolo, and myriad other men in the mirror, O’Malley misses only one favorite: Alain Delon in Purple Noon, written on at length by our own Michael Koresky in his column, Queer & Now & Then.
7. With Cannes now midway through, reportage is coming in thick and fast from the French Riviera. This includes Jonathan Romney’s regularly scheduled Film of the Week: the freshly screened Bacurau, a Brazilian genre-medley made up of parts “war movie, Western, surveillance sci-fi,” and “the cangaço (bandit) drama that’s specific to Brazilian cinema.” For Grasshopper Film, co-director Kleber Mendonça Filho describes the horror story of seeing John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness all alone one night—“What a strange and powerful filmgoing memory.” (Bacarau was discussed on Days 3 & 4 of our Cannes podcast.)
8. Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire made its debut yesterday. Following in Sciamma’s tradition of female portraiture, the film sees young artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) tasked with painting a woman who refuses to stay still (Adèle Haenel as Héloïse). Back in 2015, Sciamma sat down with BOMB to discuss her then-latest film, Girlhood: “For youth today, there’s no utopia, there’s no strong political idea that you can hang on to. There’s a crisis, and you feel like you define yourself by what you say ‘no’ to. There’s nothing you can actually embrace, and so your strength and your opinion rely on that which you can deny.” Keep your eyes on the Film Comment website for more coverage of Sciamma’s latest.
9. Much has been made of Mati Diop as the first black woman to screen a film in competition at Cannes. But with initial reactions to Atlantique being mixed, Rebecca Liu over at Another Gaze writes on the unfortunate reality that “Atlantique’s reception is telling because it has demonstrated that . . . the ‘bigger’ story can overwhelm the ‘smaller’ one to the point of perversion or erasure.” We’ll be posting more on Diop’s feature debut, so stay tuned.
10. While there’s plenty to be excited about—be it potential Palme winners, booing crowds, or flowing gowns—it’s often easy to forget that Cannes is, ultimately, a massive movie marketplace. (Amy Taubin describes it as both “the world’s most powerful film festival” and “the world’s largest film market” in her “Tribeca après Cannes” comparison.) In this piece for Variety, John Hopewell and Brent Lang break down the business side of things, noting that, after so much disruption from new distribution models, the Cannes market is finally starting to stabilize.