News to Me: Mia Hansen-Løve, Over the Rainbow, and Buck Henry
1. Film Comment Selects returns this week in a new and improved format, with bi-monthly screening events. We kick things off with a “hypervivid” double feature: Screening first is Jeffrey Peixoto’s mesmerizing study of faith and Scientology, Over the Rainbow, making its New York premiere (followed by a Q&A with the director). And then next up is Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, screening in 35mm (also followed by a Q&A with the director). Tickets to the event are available here, and for an exclusive look at Peixoto’s “profound, productively unsettling, and extremely accomplished” documentary, check out the trailer above, a News to Me exclusive.
2. Mia Hansen-Løve’s new film, Bergman Island, is becoming increasingly imminent—Cinetic Media recently offering a first look at the film, which will likely compete for a Cannes debut. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps, and Tim Roth, the film “revolves around an American filmmaking couple who retreat to the island for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films in an act of pilgrimage to the place that inspired Ingmar Bergman.” In an interview with Indiewire last year, Hansen-Løve described her inspiration for the film, and the blurring of filmmaking and reality: “the film tends to replace my memories of what really happened. It’s like creating another memory is the thing that ultimately fills the void, but it also tends to make the real thing disappear . . . That’s really what my next film Bergman Island is about.”
3. Speaking of imminent: After the runaway success of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, an English-language adaptation may be on the way. Having won the bidding war over Netflix for the rights to the film, HBO is currently planning a limited series, pairing Bong with Vice’s Adam McKay as a producer duo. McKay recently signed a five-year, first-look deal to produce content for HBO and their streaming service HBO Max (his other projects include Succession, a series following the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, and something to do with Jeffrey Epstein). Parasite is still screening at Film at Lincoln Center as part of The Bong Show, which closes Tuesday, January 14.
4. But if you’re all Bong’d out and in need of something new to watch, J. Hoberman has a few local suggestions. Making his picks for NYRB, Hoberman points to MoMA’s recently-begun To Save and Project—the seventeenth iteration of their annual festival of film preservation. On the lineup: D.W. Griffith’s Isn’t Life Wonderful, Raoul Walsh’s Loves of Carmen, and two films by “forgotten nouvelle vague precursor” Louis Valray. Another Hoberman selection: Beginning January 17, MoMI will be screening all things 2001-related as part of their upcoming exhibition, Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, which runs until July. In addition to a screening series, the museum will play host to concept sketches, costumes, storyboards, and contact sheets, as well as photographs related to the film’s “Stargate” special effects sequence. (If you’re more interested in a FC-curated film selection, check out our monthly column, See This, or sign up for the Film Comment Newsletter for our weekly streaming picks).
5. Speaking of MoMA, n+1 have just published their “speculative review” of the #NewMoMA, calling it “extraordinary.” With the museum closing over the summer to revamp its collections and take things in a new, more historically-conscious direction, Claire Bishop and Nikki Columbus write: “On every level, the institution has completely rethought what a museum of modern and contemporary art should be, righting the wrongs of its own history as well as much of the 20th- and early 21st-century museology . . . MoMA has realized that true innovation in the gallery lies in rethinking its model of history, and this can only come about once structural change is accomplished.” And, ICYMI, Hal Foster had a somewhat different take on the refresh, available for free at the new London Review of Books site.
6. On the topic of rethinking history, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women has received a number of insightful pieces of late—Michelle Orange of 4Columns writing that the novel “accommodates a multitude of readings” and that Gerwig does well to favor “those elements compatible with the modern grammar of female agency.” But two critics feel otherwise, arguing that the film’s contemporaneity works against it: Georgie Carr for Another Gaze (quoting our interview), argues that “Gerwig’s Little Women is afflicted by a kind of teleological smugness”; and Zoë Hu for The Baffler draws attention to the “oft-erased national legacies of slavery and white supremacy [that] haunt these works,” writing that they “undermine the particular myths of perseverance and bodily freedom that Little Women, the film, promotes with such visual splendor.”
7. Brad Pitt and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood bro-star Leonardo DiCaprio (affectionately dubbed “LDC” during Pitt’s Golden Globe win) recently sat down with Marc Maron for the WTF podcast. Much of the interview is dedicated to Hollywood itself—how the two came up in the industry, when exactly they knew they had “made it,” how it feels to be hounded by paparazzi. But Pitt and DiCaprio also discuss their lesser-known careers as producers (Pitt’s company Plan B apparently “hasn’t made a cent”) as well as their feelings on directing—this from Pitt: “No desire . . . It’s a time suck, man. Jesus Christ. Two years at least, just to start . . . And on the other hand, there’s so many good people doing it right now, I don’t really have anything to add.”
8. Beyond the Golden Globes (and of course, the announcement of the Academy Award nominees), a few major award ceremonies have taken place over the past week. The New York Film Critics Circle voted on its Bests—The Irishman Best Picture, the Safdie brothers sharing Best Director (see also our recent podcast interview with the filmmakers), and Quentin Tarantino winning Best Screenplay. (FC Contributing Editor Amy Taubin received her own special shoutout from presenting filmmaker Claire Denis, who thanked her as an endless source of “hope and energy.”) And going from coast to coast: the Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave full praise to Parasite, with the film winning Best Picture, Best Director for Bong, and Best Supporting Actor for Song Kang-ho. (LAFCA have also posted their best of the decade, for those interested.)
9. Two pieces of note from LARB this week: Noah Gittell writes on the rise of “extreme film criticism”—feats of endurance and borderline self-flagellation wherein a critic attempts to stay in step with a culture industry that never sleeps. “The work of extreme film critics often appears in diary form, but it hardly reflects film culture as a personal vision. It is a frantic reaction to a changing status quo, dictated not by the idiosyncrasies of the critic but the oppressive sameness of our film culture, which bullies us all into submission.” And the second, an ode to shout-fests in film by Phillip Maciak, looks at Catastrophe, Marriage Story, and Moonstruck—“the best movie ever made about yelling.”
10. We end this week with the sad news of Buck Henry’s passing. Henry is famous for all manner of feats—writing The Graduate, What’s Up Doc, and Catch-22; co-creating Get Smart; acting in a number of fan favorites, from The Man Who Fell to Earth to 30 Rock (which gave us this classic line, among others); directing Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty; and of course, hosting SNL 10 times. Henry so often played the foil for other funnymen—at one point needing to be bandaged up mid-show after catching the sharp end of John Belushi’s katana—and we leave you this week with another of his pitch-perfect downers, here in “A Steve Martin Short” from 1977, The Absent-Minded Waiter.