News to Me: Martin Scorsese, Pedro Costa, and Luis Ospina
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
1) The 57th New York Film Festival kicked off on Friday night with the world premiere of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. “To watch this movie,” writes A. O. Scott, “especially in its long, graceful final movement, is to feel a circle closing.” As much as The Irishman offers a point of reflection for Scorsese completists, so too does the 1970 documentary Street Scenes—an early-days Scorsese film that was for a long time impossible to watch. Now, as The Film Stage notes, due to mysterious circumstances, it is available on YouTube, for your viewing pleasure. Bonus content: listen to Scorsese and crew discuss his new film here, thanks to FilmLinc Daily, and read a long and fascinating conversation between Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, two good union men, on the Directors Guild of America website.
2) Another NYFF time capsule: Manfred Kirchheimer’s Free Time premiered over the weekend. The film, comprised of documentary footage shot by Kirchheimer and friend Walter Hess in New York between 1958 and 1960, took around 6-months to edit together (“I’m a one-man band . . . I’m an old man,” Kirchheimer told Filmmaker Magazine), after laying in storage for nearly 60 years. “Please don’t say this is a restored film like all the other reviews, because it’s not. I took such good care of the material.” And if you have a moment more, check out Bedatri D. Choudhury’s review for Hyperallergic, who writes: “Kirchheimer has a keen sense for finding moments that are not the beginning, climax, or end of anything, but are endearing, dramatic, and beautiful in spite of it.”
3) Back to the Main Slate, where Pedro Costa’s Vitalina Varela will be screening on October 6 & 9 (with the director present for Q&As on both nights). The film picks up from Costa’s previous effort, Horse Money (2014), continuing the story of Vitalina (introduced last film) and Ventura (a Costa constant). We discussed the film earlier this year at its Locarno premiere on the FC Podcast, but for a more in-depth discussion of how these characters weave together, check out Mark Peranson’s interview for Cinema Scope: “Vitalina’s house became a little studio. But it’s very small: it’s me, her, camera, and that’s it . . . When she’s looking, she’s looking at her mirror, her wall, her window. But we turned it into a studio, more or less.” (Something special from the FC archive: Pedro Costa writing on Howard Hawks’ Land of the Pharaohs.)
4) “Like Salvador drifting off into H-fueled reveries of the past, I found myself pleasantly comparing and contrasting Banderas in his earliest movies with Almodóvar—full of frisky, puppyish beauty and anything-goes libidinousness—with the depressive, though dashing, lion in winter here.” Yet another NYFF fête (we’ll move on soon, I promise), Pedro Almodóvar’s vaguely autobiographical, thoroughly reflexive Pain and Glory screened this weekend. With the above from Melissa Anderson at 4Columns, find more Almodóvar right here at FC, with Michael Koresky’s Sep-Oct feature, our podcast discussion, and a recently re-published 1988 piece from the archive.
5) Julie Andrews, film programmer, makes her debut for Metrograph next month, beginning a Blake Edwards retrospective on October 19. Edwards’ wife and longtime collaborator, Andrews will be present for a Q&A after the screening of Victor/Victoria (for members only!). The series also includes Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 10, and Experiment in Terror. Not featured, but still worthy reading: Nick Pinkerton on The Carey Treatment (looking also at S.O.B and several other films from the series) and our print-only profile of Edwards from way, way back in 1979.
6) Two more markers for your film calendar: MoMA reopens on October 21 with an exhibition titled Private Lives Public Spaces. Relating the 16- and 8-millimeter easy-to-use filmmaking equipment of old to our modern camera phones, the exhibition features a “100-screen presentation of virtually unseen, homemade works dating from 1907 to 1991.” Then, one Q-train ride away, BAM celebrates the spooky season with NYC Horror—a self-explanatory series featuring Brian De Palma’s Sisters, Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess, and Larry Cohen’s Q.
7) Another upcoming BAM event, Garrett Bradley’s America: A Journey Through Race and Time, offers Americana from a different angle (Bradley’s Sundance-winning short, Alone, is available here). As a special event, Bradley will be joined by RaMell Ross on Oct 13—with a new short, America, playing alongside Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Ross’s latest, Easter Snap, is available to stream via Field of Vision). In the spirit of the retrospective: Ashley Clarke, who programmed the event, recently re-posted his listicle from last year: “a significant—if under-seen and underrated—body of work exists that’s dedicated to exploring black British life in all its complexity, diversity, sadness and joy.”
8) In the most recent of Ssense’s occasional forays into screen style, the fashion-focused website commissioned a series of mini-essays on “the most iconic suits in film.” The aforementioned Ashley Clarke is included, writing on Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas, alongside A.S. Hamrah on The Long Goodbye and Cristina Newland on American Gigolo—“Never has spiritual sickness looked so stylish.” (Staying with the sartorial: though In the Mood for Love’s Mr. Chow gets a mention, Maggie Cheung’s cheongsams miss out. Check out this dedicated resource for a breakdown of all 20 worn in the film.)
9) In the regular Art and Craft column of our current issue, Daniel Witkin breaks down the moral consequences of CGI de-aging and after-death immortalizing. (A De Niro prophesy: “they’ll do a likeness that you have to fight for the right to own.”) Andy Serkis recently spoke out against that very practice, vying for “performance capture artists” world over: “When your performance becomes data it can be manipulated, reworked or sampled . . . If we can do that, where does the intellectual property lie?”
10) And lastly, some sad news: Legendary Colombian filmmaker Luis Ospina passed away last week. His work, much of which is available via Vimeo, received a major retrospective at last year’s Doclisboa Festival (read Ela Bittencourt’s roundup here). In a recent interview with Ángela Bonadies, asked to reflect on his docu-critical short, The Vampires of Poverty (1978), Ospina notes: “Vampirism in filmmaking is inevitable. The photographic lens as well as the cinematographic camera ‘feed’ on the subject; they ‘mummify’ it and ‘steal’ its soul whether we want it or not.”
We leave you this week with Chapter 66, Ospina’s “gothic soap opera” made in collaboration with Raúl Ruiz: