News to Me: Barbara Hammer, Nelly Kaplan, and Archives Aplenty
News to Me is Film Comment‘s weekly, curated roundup of news, reviews, interviews, and ephemera from the world of cinema and beyond.
1. Word came in over the weekend that the pioneering queer experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer passed away at the age of 79. In the September-October 2018 issue of Film Comment, Max Nelson wrote that Hammer possessed a “lush, romantic sensibility, and it meant filming bodies with friendly erotic admiration. She interspersed footage of her friends and lovers over images of flowers in bloom (Women I Love, 1976), laid ecstatic close-ups of her face and vagina over footage of rock formations with which they seemed to merge (Multiple Orgasm, 1976), and intercut images of a beckoning woman with short strips of 16mm film painted in red strokes that resemble layers of cellular tissue (Dream Age, 1979).” She will be missed.
2.The Quad has announced their upcoming retrospective, Wild Things: The Ferocious Films of Nelly Kaplan. Beginning with a brand new 2K restoration of A Very Curious Girl, catch our own Amy Taubin in attendance on opening night for a post-screening discussion. Like Taubin, Kaplan has done some writing for Film Comment: read her 1963 Cannes report, newly digitized from our archives.
3. The venerable San Francisco institution Adobe Books recently posted a selection of Gems from the National Film Board of Canada. The list includes a 1965 Leonard Cohen documentary (focusing on his rise to fame); Mon Oncle Antoine, billed as “the greatest Canadian film of all time”; and plenty of other hidden treasures.
4. “But working with the Weinsteins was probably the moment where I said to myself, ‘How the fuck did I get here? What am I doing?’” Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris recently sat down with The A.V. Club to talk about her time in Hollywood (and what it took to wave goodbye). Back in 2015, Nick Pinkerton spoke with Spheeris and her daughter on the topics of archival restoration and The Decline of Western Civilization.
5. With the likes of Lee Chang-dong and Burning (as well as Hong Sang-soo, Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho… the list goes on), Korean cinema has come to dominate the world stage. You may, however, be less familiar with such classics as Seoul’s Rainbow (1989), My Sister is a Hussy (1961), or Forever with You (1958), all of which are currently available to stream thanks to The Korean Film Archive.
6. Tickets are now on sale for Columbia University’s Kit Noir Film Festival. This year, the line-up is entirely comprised of Cornell Woolrich adaptations (a favorite of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut). Noir aficionado James Naremore will give the keynote address, with other scholars speaking throughout the festival.
7. The Library of Congress recently unveiled its National Screening Room, including a section dedicated to the National Film Registry. “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture,” they write, prefacing a list that includes Civil Defense film Duck and Cover, caper-classic The Great Train Robbery, and, perhaps the most culturally important of all, Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor.
8. Spring, and Jean Cocteau, are in the air. UbuWeb has made available several poems (“Nuit Blanche ou Pigeon Terreur,” “Le buste,” “No man’s land”) read by poet and filmmaker. See also this MTV Cribs-style tour of Villa Santo-Sospir, a home he and several other artists “tattooed” with graffiti, filmed in 1952.
9. Christophe Honoré has officially wrapped shooting on his latest film, Musique de chambre. Reuniting with Sorry Angel actor Vincent Lacoste and DP Rémy Chevrin, the film follows a young couple torn apart by an affair, living separately in apartments on opposite sides of the same street.
10. “Had I not become a composer, I would have wanted to be a chess player, but a high-level one, someone competing for the world title.” The Paris Review has made a brief excerpt from Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words available, with the Italian master talking about his first love: chess. Julien Allen reviewed the book in our latest issue (and keep an eye out for a Film Comment playlist dedicated to the composer).
11. If the cover of our March-April issue has you in the mood for more space-faring Claire Denis, check out her 2014 short film, Contact. Born from discussions with artist Olafur Eliasson, the film bears a striking resemblance to certain scenes in High Life: a black-and-yellow event horizon, light bending back on itself, while the camera is drawn deeper and deeper into the void.