News to Me: Elaine May, Paul Schrader, and Jonathan Glazer
Masculin Féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966)
1) Midway through last year we reported that Jonathan Glazer was in the process of developing a new film about the Holocaust. According to Deadline, Glazer is set to begin filming in Poland next year, with the film to be loosely based on Martin Amis’s novel, The Zone of Interest, set in Auschwitz. The news follows the release of Glazer’s recent short, The Fall, apparently inspired by the Goya sketch The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Though the 7-minute film is currently only available in the UK, there are ample weird Glazer shorts at hand via Academy Films—like Devil, an ad for Flake chocolate, with Denis Lavant as a leather-pantsed high-heeled Lucifer.
2) The Irishman has begun its brief pre-streaming theatrical release—far too brief according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Though the film will expand to further screens on November 8, John Fithian, president of the aforementioned NATO (the other NATO isn’t involved… yet), called Netflix’s rollout “a disgrace.” He continued: “The Irishman is going to play on one-tenth of the screens it should have played on, had Netflix been willing to come to an understanding with our members.” We have a few things to say about the film, but for Scorsese on the release-related woes of Goodfellas, check out this 1990 interview with Amy Taubin from the Village Voice archives.
3) It should be noted, also, that Netflix was the only studio willing to take a risk on Marty’s $140-million movie, which may make the grumblings of the old guard seem more like sour grapes. However, never tired of hearing you can’t do that, Netflix now plans to introduce an option to alter the playback speed of their streaming content—a move that recalls Trump’s method of watching Bloodsport, fastforwarding to “get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes.” Judd Apatow has already offered to lead a filmmaker’s revolt, but it does beg the question of how much the content really belongs to the consumer, and whether they can do with it what they will (making, for example, a 24-hour version of Psycho).
4) The Film Stage reports that Elaine May is set to direct her first narrative feature in 30 years. Gleaned from scant details in this Deadline piece, all we know about the film is its title, Crackpot, and that it stars Dakota Johnson. After a recent Tony win, May seemed poised to begin her post-filmmaking victory lap, with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honoring the 87-year-old with their Career Achievement Award. Hopefully Crackpot proves the award a little premature. (A bonus from ’99: Mike Nichols on Elaine May—“My first impression of her was of a beautiful and dangerous girl that interested me enormously, scared me.”)
5) “One scene I love occurs shortly after Léaud has begun working at the magazine. It takes place in their office, just outside of the bathroom. Cinematically, it’s not the most impressive or most virtuosic scene in Godard’s work—it’s actually extremely simple.” Continuing his streak of gushing over Godard, Nadav Lapid recently stopped by the Criterion offices to talk about one of his favorite scenes in Masculin Féminin, as well as a special friend—“perhaps the best friend I’ve ever had”—who introduced him to the magic of movies. (For more Lapid, check out the full version of our Berlinale interview, expanded from the July-August issue.)
6) Paul Schrader has announced his next film, The Card Counter, starring Oscar Isaac. The film follows a gambler named William Tell (Isaac) forced to choose between redemption and revenge, and will see Schrader reunite with some of his First Reformed team—editor Benjamin Rodriguez Jr. and cinematographer Alexander Dynan. When he’s not making movies, Schrader occasionally takes on the humble role of FC contributor, writing on Yasujiro Ozu, various camera techniques, or the criteria of a film canon.
7) Speaking of canons: The Paris Review recently posted Umberto Eco’s “The Cult of the Imperfect”—an excerpt from On the Shoulders of Giants, a new compilation of previously unpublished essays. In it, Eco ponders the likes of Hamlet and The Count of Monte Cristo, eventually arriving at the cult of Casablanca: “From the standpoint of formal coherence Casablanca is a very modest aesthetic product. It is a hodgepodge of sensational scenes put together in a rather implausible way, the characters are psychologically improbable and the actors’ performance looks slapdash. That notwithstanding, it is a great example of filmic discourse.”
8) Staying on the grad school beat: Commune just published their piece on Theodor W. Adorno’s millennial relevance. 50 years on from Adorno’s death, Mike Watson looks for the “shudders” (Adorno’s word for a “momentary revelation of truth”) in the modern age: “it is possible that culture-industry products might convey some kind of truth under the right circumstances, despite Adorno’s pessimism . . . it may be less a case of asking whether the internet as medium can elicit the shudder in the viewer and more of asking under what conditions it may do so.”
9) In our Joker review, Phoebe Chen traces the a/political evolution of Arthur Fleck as a revolutionary symbol, writing that the film “doesn’t understand its representation of violence because it doesn’t know what to do with its politics.” But in the same strange way that a lovable green frog can become the emblem of the alt-right, Fleck’s woebegone clown is now inspiring protests abroad. According to Slate’s Lili Loofbourow, “Chile’s longtime status as an accelerated, hyper-capitalist laboratory—which has basically survived many attempted reforms—makes Phillips’ Joker land even more intensely in Chile than it does here.”
10) Halloween may now be come and gone, but a few wonderfully horrific pieces popped over the witching weekend: Jeremy Carr writes on The Birds as a horror masterclass for Mubi Notebook; Screen Slate (continuing last week’s Twitter-curating tradition) posted a collection of great horrors available to stream; and we here at FC gathered around the cauldron to conjure up the scariest films that aren’t technically horror (what do Liza Minnelli and Freddy Krueger have in common?).
In the vein of disturbing non-horrors, how about ads? We leave you this week with David Lynch’s mind melting Adidas ad, titled “The Wall.”