News to Me: Larry Cohen, Wong Kar-wai, and the Criterion Channel
1. Genre giant Larry Cohen passed away this weekend. For those unfamiliar with his work, the documentary King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen is currently streaming on Shudder. For our July/August 2012 issue, Cohen penned this piece: “I Killed Bette Davis.”
2. In another piece of sad news, avant-pop composer Scott Walker has died. Walker forged an uncompromising and challenging body of work over the course of his five decade career, melding his crooning vocals with avant-garde textures and electronics and pushing the limits of pop songwriting well past the breaking point. Read Margaret Barton-Fumo’s run-down of Walker’s highly cinematic songcraft, including his remarkable scores for Leos Carax’s Pola X and Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader.
3. In less somber news, Wong Kar-wai recently announced his long-awaited next film, Blossoms. With the script now several years in the making, Wong states that Blossoms will have some thematic connection to In the Mood for Love and 2046—returning the filmmaker to his favorite cultural moment of late-20th-century Hong Kong. No critic has done more to elucidate this fascinating time than Ackbar Abbas, whose proposed theory of national identity, déjà disparu, is unpacked in great detail here.
4. The Criterion Channel is set to launch on April 8. The new streaming service (born from the ashes of FilmStruck) will feature a rotating list of all that Criterion has to offer, beginning next month with the likes of Bi Gan’s Kaili Blues, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, and a collection of classic noir from Columbia Pictures.
5. Speaking of, Criterion recently released a collection of essays on Barbara Loden’s Wanda, featuring words from Amy Taubin and Molly Haskell. The latter writes: “I met Barbara Loden around the time she made Wanda . . . It was an exciting time on the filmmaking scene as women were questioning traditional roles, straining against the shackles of domesticity without having quite arrived at firm notions of self-determination.”
6. “For me, the first fear, like everyone else, is fear of death.” Wang Bing, director of Dead Souls, is no stranger to some of life’s more morbid curiosities. On this episode of “10 Things That Scare Me,” Wang weighs in on horrors big and small, whether making movies or passing through customs.
7. Over at Hyperallergic, our friend Ela Bittencourt has written on BAM’s latest series, “On Resentment,” which features such films as Zama, Zabriskie Point, and Hunger. Up next for the Brooklyn-based arts center: “Black 90s: A Turning Point in American Cinema,” a program partly inspired by Ed Guerrero’s groundbreaking book Framing Blackness. Charles Burnett will be in attendance on opening night for a post-screening Q&A.
8. In further Rep Report news: Anthology Film Archives is currently underway with their series, “Infrastructure on Film.” Writing on this study of how we organize the world, planning out water pipes and oil wells, Sukhdev Sandhu has put together an insightful breakdown of the films over at 4columns.
9. “Though they have enormous power to shape institutions that serve the public, museum boards are less like governments elected by the people and more like private clubs, self-perpetuating and accountable only to themselves.” Over at The Paris Review, Daniel Penny has put together an extensive accounting of the Decolonize This Place activists, experiencing firsthand their most recent run-in with Whitney Museum of American Art chairman Warren Kanders.
10. Nearing its 40th anniversary, Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking Alien still permeates pop culture today. (One New Jersey high school even adapted it for their spring play.) But it’s not just sci-fi scions who are fascinated with the film: The Guardian reports on the ways in which Alien has made waves in academia, inspiring papers on race, gender, sexuality, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and more.
We wrap up with some excerpts from the 2006 Scott Walker doc 30 Century Man, in which Scott famously coaches a percussionist on the finer points of punching a side of beef: