News to Me: Campion, Kiarostami, and Doris Day
Wong Kar Wai on the set of Happy Together (1997)
1. Wong Kar Wai recently sat down with Filmmaker magazine to discuss his two upcoming projects: the first, a television series titled Tong Wars, which looks to be something like Boardwalk Empire as told by Chinese immigrants in early-1900s San Francisco; and the second, the recently announced Blossoms, adapted from the novel by Jin Yucheng. Wong states that the book, originally written as a series of daily entries on an online forum, serves as the “missing piece of the Shanghai trilogy.” (Wong speaks on his older films at greater length in this companion interview.)
2. When talking about “genre films” one usually thinks of cowboy hats and shadow-laden detectives. Less likely to spring to mind is the “Christploitation” movie and its eerily commercial tenets. Over at The Baffler, J.W. McCormack dives deep on the religious possibilities of the motion picture, offering up a taxonomy of “porn’s woebegone twin, that most masturbatory of genres, the Christian film.”
3. The Cannes Film Festival begins tomorrow morning, and so too does our extensive coverage of the event. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting extra episodes of the Film Comment podcast (here’s a taster from last year), keeping you up to date with all potential Palme winners. And if you haven’t already, check out our Cannes Cheat Sheet and the first part of our Cannes preview.
4. Thus far the only female filmmaker to win the Palme d’Or, Jane Campion has announced her first feature film since 2009. The Power of the Dog, an adaptation of the novel by Thomas Savage, will see Campion reunite with Top of the Lake star Elisabeth Moss. Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play Phil Burbank, a wealthy Montana landowner, which Campion notes “will be the first time I’ve worked with a male lead, which is exciting.”
5. Turning from one major film festival to another now: Cristina Nord has been named the new director of Berlinale’s Forum section—a non-competitive sidebar with no restrictions on genre or form (Sofia Bohdanowicz’s MS Slavic 7, for example, debuted at this year’s Forum). Nord’s appointment represents just one of many recent changes being made by incoming festival co-chiefs Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek, who also plan to introduce a new competitive section for experimental cinema, to be titled “Encounters.” For a sense of Nord’s tastes, check out her ballot for the 2012 Sight & Sound Critics’ Poll.
6. “None of my films are realistic . . . the subject is never naturalism but a certain kind of relation to reality. With each film, I try to find a new way to confront these complex relations.” Jean-Claude Brisseau passed away this weekend. For an insight into the work of “one of French cinema’s best-kept secrets,” check out this piece by Frédéric Bonnaud, featured in our January-February 2004 issue.
7. In Olivier Assayas’s most recent film, the ex-Cahiers critic weighs in on the print-digital publishing debate. And though Non-Fiction seems poised for a world without paper, Erika Balsom over at Frieze has other thoughts: “Over the last five years, alongside the revival of vinyl LPs, handsomely designed print magazines have popped up like paper mushrooms after a digital rainstorm.” Among those “little” magazines listed is NANG, Little Joe, and Fireflies—which most recently featured essays by our own Michael Koresky and Dennis Lim.
8. Janus Films has put together a traveling retrospective of Abbas Kiarostami’s work, set to arrive in New York on August 2. The films include new restorations from mk2 and The Criterion Collection as well as several lesser-seen shorts. To mark the occasion, Max Nelson breaks down Kiarostami’s uniquely humanist understanding of inaction and inertia over at Harper’s. (Our 2000 interview with the director operates on similarly retrospective terms, centered on The Wind Will Carry Us but covering his entire career.)
9. The MoMA/FLC hybrid festival New Directors/New Films recently came to pass, and among the many talents there on display was Jacqueline Lentzou. In this interview for Kinoscope, the emerging Greek filmmaker sat down with Scout Tafoya to discuss her new film, Hector Malot: The Last Day of the Year. Lentzou’s award-winning Fox is currently available via her Vimeo channel.
10. “Nervous breakdowns are very necessary. The artists that don’t go through nervous breakdowns… I don’t trust them. I don’t think I even like them. They’re no good.” MUBI recently posted this vlog by Jonas Mekas, an excerpt from his 365 Films Project, where the filmmaker rants and raves about Britney Spears’s infamous head-shaving incident.
And finally, a brief tribute to Doris Day, who passed away this morning at the age of 97.