News to Me: Charles Burnett, Agnès Varda, Paul Schrader
News to Me is Film Comment‘s weekly, curated roundup of news, reviews, interviews, and ephemera from the world of cinema and beyond.
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, 1977)
1. Charles Burnett is developing a new film with Amazon Studios. Titled Steal Away, the story follows Robert Smalls and his daring escape from slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. (In other Burnett-related news, Criterion is releasing To Sleep With Anger on DVD and Blu-ray at the end of February.) Read our 2002 interview with the Killer of Sheep director here.
2. An essay by Tim Grierson questions how much we really know about our new living room overlords. Sparked by a Netflix tweet claiming that Bird Box received over 45 million views in its first seven days, Grierson re-contextualizes the meaning of “viewership” for our subscription-model era.
3. Further downstream, so to speak, the just-launched Telescope, founded by festival programmer Justine Barda, is a new service that aims to aggregate foreign releases as they become available online.
4. Following in the footsteps of Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers project, new website Edited by tells the stories of women film and video editors through interviews, texts, photographs, and film posters. The project was spearheaded by filmmaker Su Friedrich and is intended to document and make visible the contributions of “one hundred and thirty-nine women editors who invented, developed, fine-tuned and revolutionized the art of film editing.”
5. “WILL GOD FORGIVE US?” Asks Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (of Ethan Hawke’s Oscar snub). Schrader’s newly announced film sounds like another exercise in the transcendental, described by the filmmaker as being: “Basically, if you took a script from 1956 that Budd Boetticher made with Randolph Scott, and you asked Terry Malick and David Lynch to come in and take a shit on the script, you would have the movie I’m making.”
6. Currently screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1968 War and Peace is “the most ambitious film you’ll ever see,” according to Bilge Ebiri.
7. “What might once have struck viewers as field reports from the outer edges of extreme sexuality now appear sane, safe, and consensual, so that the quaint domestic trappings of Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter (1979) read as more prescient than ironic.” Over at 4Columns, Ed Halter reports on the once-shocking photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, on view at the Guggenheim now.
8. “When Goebbels offered me the leadership of the German film industry…” Fritz Lang demystifies Metropolis and gripes about Godard in this extensive 1972 interview, published by Mubi in its entirety for the first time. (And while you’re there, check out a rare recent interview with the aforementioned JLG for The Image Book).
9. Film Comment contributing editor Amy Taubin writes in the February issue of Artforum that Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird reveals “a subtext that’s all about power and its manipulation at a moment when that power’s infrastructure has come unglued.” Read Tayler Montague’s Film Comment interview with André Holland, the star and producer of the film, which is streaming on Netflix now.
10. Following its success at the 2017 New York Film Festival, Agnès Varda’s 1977 One Sings, the Other Doesn’t is set to see a Criterion release in May. (This also marks its one year anniversary since being named our Film of the Week.) The release will include Varda’s short film, Réponse de femmes, which answers the question, “What is a woman?” as well as an essay from Taubin. And if you can’t wait until May for more on Varda, check out Johnathan Romney on the new Varda par Agnès.