I Was at Home, But (Angela Shanelec, 2019)

1) “Out of this man’s loneliness could come some kind of transcendence, and he could understand that this is a certain kind of death, and in confronting his loneliness he would become something more aware: a more aware creature.” James Gray’s Ad Astra hit theaters this weekend, spawning a small nebula of worthwhile reads: the above from Metrograph’s Edition, wherein Gray reflects on creator–critic and father–son relationships. Some star love from Melissa Anderson at 4Columns, describing Brad Pitt’s face as “a beautiful vista of still-boyish handsomeness that bears the signs of senescence . . . with grace rather than terror.” And lastly, cinema from two sides: Filmmaker Magazine speaks with Leo Goldsmith and Gregory Zinman, Ad Astra’s “Experimental Film Consultants,” while Little White Lies breaks down the economies of scale in mid-level movie-making.

2) Angela Schanelec’s Silver Bear–winning I Was at Home, But… screens on Oct 8 & 9 as part of the nearly-here New York Film Festival (with the director present for Q&As on both nights). After so much time on the festival circuit, Schanelec turns now to her next project, Music, which just received a boost in funding from The German Federal Film Board. According to Cineuropa, the film will function as a contemporary telling of the Oedipus myth, with all the usual patricide and matriphilia included. (For a summary of Schanelec’s previous films, consider this excellent essay from Cinema Scope’s Blake Williams.)

3) More on the festival front: beginning October 25 at The Quad is FFFEST, “a weekend-long screening and talk series celebrating the achievements of women filmmakers in cinema.” This year’s lineup includes films by Bette Gordon, Nadia Fares, and Kei Fujiwara, as well as shorts from Laurie Simmons and Sofia Bohdanowicz. Also included: a discussion on women in film programming, both featuring and hosted by our regular Rep Report guests Nellie Killian and Jon Dieringer, respectively. A panel from FFFEST 2018, on “Redefining Representations of Women on Screen,” is available here.

4) Staying on theme: Irene Lusztig, Professor of Film & Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, has made her DIY “Feminist Filmmaking” syllabus available to the public. Originally taught as an undergraduate class in 2017, this revised version is designed as a self-guided syllabus that “anyone can use.” It comes complete with readings, screenings, and general advice—mapping histories and mutations across the medium, and doling out weekly projects (“re-edit a scene from film or TV that you consider sexist to transform, improve, or subvert it in some way”).

5) The Los Angeles Times reports that one half of the Brothers Coen is “giving movies a rest.” The brother in question, Ethan, will be focusing on the theater for the time being, with his latest work for the stage, “A Play Is a Poem,” premiering at Los Angeles’s Mark Taper Forum this month.  The play is a collection of ten stories (shades of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) set all over America and at various points in history, and features a cast of ten, each of whom plays a number of different characters in different scenes. Meanwhile, brother Joel is hard at work on his solo project, an adaptation of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

6) “Writing. Painting. Fighting in our prisons . . . Arrests. Disillusions. All this time wasted to pay off all these crimes.” Capping off its September partnership with La Cinémathèque française, Le Cinéma Club presents the online debut of Pierre Clémenti’s 1988 short Soleil—digitized and mastered in 2K by the Institut audiovisuel de Monaco. Though a worthy filmmaker in his own right, Clémenti is best-known for his work onscreen—twice featured in Nick Pinkerton’s hallowed listicle, “The Hundred Best Ensemble, Secondary, and Tertiary Characters in International Postwar Art-House Cinema,” and the subject of two features in our Sep-Oct 2008 issue.

7) Breaking from his still unconcluded Jeanne d’Arc trilogy, Bruno Dumont recently announced his next project: On a Half Clear Morning. The film stars Léa Seydoux as a famous TV journalist, “caught in the trappings of celebrity and subsequently overcome by a spiral of events which ultimately lead to her downfall.” With the director flip-flopping in recent films between drama and comedy (and at times, combining the two), our 2016 interview is worth revisiting: “If, as you say, it was dark then and there is light now, the light only comes from the darkness. The comedy is only the other side of the drama. Comedy comes from drama. I just realized these are different sides of the same thing.”

8) In 1974, the trio of John Hess, Chuck Kleinhans, and Julia Lesage founded Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media—apparently out of necessity: “It becomes increasingly obvious that film criticism in the U.S. is operating in a void that grows larger and larger and that this most modern of art forms relies on a particularly inadequate aesthetics.” Slagging off contemporary criticism (“plot summary analyses”) and prominent publications (“the new parade of coffee table books”), the inaugural issue sets the tone for half a century of incisive thought. Thanks to a recent digitization effort, all 58 issues are now available in full from the Internet Archive. 

9) “It’s a funny thing to make a science-fiction film that becomes a period piece.” The director’s cut of Wim Wenders’s Until the End of the World is finally seeing a release thanks to Criterion—the 287-minute opus restored in 4K by the Wim Wenders Foundation, overseen by the director himself. Back in 2015, following a screening of the digitally-preserved director’s cut at MoMA, Aaron Stewart-Ahn penned this piece on his 25-year relationship with the film: “Nothing else has ever been made like it, and cinema is now old enough that nothing will ever be made like it again. The whole world is inside it, a broken ladder leading to who we are today.”

10) On Tuesday, September 24—that’s tomorrow!—Light Industry presents a double feature drawn from “the dark heart of the Midwest”: Cecelia Condit’s Possibly in Michigan (1983) and Jim Trainor’s The Fetishist (1997). That former film has found new life of late, circulating Reddit and other internet forums without context, leaving viewers as baffled as they are terrified. “Horror movies make children of their audiences,” FC contributor Courtney Duckworth writes, “and Reddit users seemed convinced the violence of the film would slip from the screen and enter their lives.” Watch another of Condit’s short films, Beneath the Skin (1981), on the artist’s Youtube channel. (The top comment: “im so grateful tiktok introduced me to cecelia’s channel these are so good.”)

We leave you this week with Lucrecia Martel’s just-released (and—trigger warning—deeply creepy) trailer for the 2019 Viennale: