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Mike Wallace, 1918 - 2012

8 April 2012 8:14 AM, PDT

"CBS newsman Mike Wallace, the dogged, merciless reporter and interviewer who took on politicians, celebrities and other public figures in a 60-year career highlighted by the on-air confrontations that helped make 60 Minutes the most successful primetime television news program ever, has died," reports the AP. He was 93. "His late colleague Harry Reasoner once said, 'There is one thing that Mike can do better than anybody else: With an angelic smile, he can ask a question that would get anyone else smashed in the face.' … Wallace himself became a dramatic character in several projects, from the stage version of Frost/Nixon, when he was played by Stephen Rowe, to the 1999 film The Insider, based in part on a 1995 60 Minutes story about tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, who accused Brown & Williamson of intentionally adding nicotine to cigarettes. Christopher Plummer starred as Wallace and Russell Crowe as Wigand. Wallace was unhappy with the film, »

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Daily Briefing. Pasolini's "Gospel"

8 April 2012 7:25 AM, PDT

"In 1962 Pier Paolo Pasolini received a suspended sentence for his allegedly blasphemous contribution to the portmanteau film Rogopag, a brilliant sketch satirizing biblical movies," writes Philip French in his brief review of the new Masters of Cinema release of The Gospel According to St Matthew in today's Observer. "Two years later the gay, Marxist atheist showed the world how a life of Christ should be made, and it is a magnificent achievement, far superior to Scorsese's or Gibson's films."

David Jenkins in Little White Lies: "Essentially a 'straight' retelling of the life of Christ (who is played with fervent intensity by Enrique Irazoqui), which, on its surface, seldom editorializes or strays towards controversy, the film was fully embraced by the religious community to the extent that a colorized version was made to capitalize on the Bible belt buck. General familiarity of with the text makes this one of Pasolini's most easily approachable films, »

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Daily Briefing. Godard and Design

7 April 2012 5:56 AM, PDT

In a piece for Design Observer on "The Enduring Influence of Richard Hollis," Rick Poynor suggests that the graphic and book designer, writer and lecturer "is probably best known for his books Graphic Design: A Concise History (1994) and Swiss Graphic Design (2006)," but I'd imagine that most of us first encountered Hollis's work the day we first picked up a copy of John Berger's Ways of Seeing (see, too, of course, the recent roundup on the television series). The impact of that layout, with the opening lines of text beginning right there on the cover, incorporated as a visual component, and the way that, in turn, as Hollis himself notes, "images behave almost as text" is unforgettable: "This is an attempt to replicate the experience of the television viewer, who looks and listens at the same moment."

Back to Poynor:

In 1981, working at a book production company called Reproduction Drawings, »

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Whit Stillman in New York

7 April 2012 3:02 AM, PDT

Here's Whit Stillman's schedule for the next few days: This evening, following a screening of Barcelona (1994), he and Chris Eigeman will be chatting at the Museum of the Moving Image. Tomorrow, he'll be at the Museum again to introduce his new film, Damsels in Distress, before heading over to BAMcinématek for a Q&A with Eigeman and Lena Dunham following a screening of The Last Days of Disco (1998). And then on Friday, following its premiere in Venice (see the roundup) and screening in Toronto (see Dan Sallitt's take), Damsels, Stillman's first feature in 14 years, finally opens in theaters.

Let's take this more or less chronologically, beginning with Colin Beckett, writing for Moving Image Source:

The three films that Whit Stillman made in the 1990s are neither the paradigmatic indie comedies they would appear in summary nor the traditionalist allegories his conservative fans have claimed. Though Stillman released these formally unambitious, »

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Daily Briefing. Bergman's Videos, Antonioni's Docs and More

6 April 2012 10:11 AM, PDT

Both the Directors' Fortnight (May 17 through 27) and Critics' Week (May 17 through 25) have presented the posters for their 2012 editions — here and here, respectively. Neither is quite as classy as the poster for the Cannes Film Festival itself (May 16 through 27), but each captures the spirit of its strand pretty well.

In the works. Ingmar Bergman left behind a VHS collection of more than 1500 titles, including works by the likes of Tarkovsky, Buñuel and Truffaut but also more popular fare such as The Blues Brothers, Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters. As Jorn Rossing Jensen reports at Cineuropa, film critics Hynek Pallas and Jane Magnusson and journalist Fatima Varhos "are currently finishing Bergman's Video, a 90-minute documentary (for theatrical) and a 6x60-minute television series which will offer 'a new insight into the genius of Bergman and portraits of great filmmakers of today.' With focus on six themes: fear, silence, comedy, death, adventure and »

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Daily Briefing. Godard's "Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television"

5 April 2012 2:31 PM, PDT

The Montreal-based independent publisher caboose has been working for five years on a volume that'll finally be out in September, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television by Jean-Luc Godard. "In 1978, just before returning to the international stage for the second phase of his career," Godard "improvised a series of 14 one-hour talks at Concordia University in Montreal as part of a projected video history of cinema. These talks, published in French in 1980 and long out of print, have never before been translated into English. For this edition, the faulty and incomplete French transcription has been entirely revised and corrected, working from the sole videotape copies of the lectures, housed in the Concordia University archives. For this project, Godard screened for a dozen or so students his own famous films of the 1960s — watching them himself for the first time since their production — alongside single reels of some of »

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Claude Miller, 1942 - 2012

5 April 2012 11:48 AM, PDT

"French film director, producer and screenwriter Claude Miller, whose works include The Best Way to Walk [Le meilleur facon de marcher, 1976] and Class Trip [La classe de neige, 1998], has died aged 70," reports the Afp. "'A sad day, Claude Miller is dead,' tweeted the Cannes Film Festival, at which Miller was awarded the special jury prize in 1998 for Class Trip. Among other renowed works by the filmmaker are La Petite Voleuse (The Little Thief [1988]) which starred Charlotte Gainsbourg; Garde a Vue (Custody) in 1981; and Mortelle Randonnee (Mortal Circuit) in 1983."

Just a couple of weeks ago, Jonathan Rosenbaum posted his 1994 review of The Accompanist (1992): "Miller started out promisingly as an assistant to some key French filmmakers during the 60s, including Robert Bresson (Au hasard Balthazar), Jacques Demy (Les demoiselles de Rochefort), and Jean-Luc Godard (Weekend). He then served as production manager or production supervisor on Godard's Two or Three Things I Know About Her and La chinoise and no »

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Cannes 2012. Cineuropa's Contenders

5 April 2012 11:23 AM, PDT

Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant

on the set of Amour

It's been a couple of weeks since the French magazine Premiere posted "Cannes 2012: Le buzzomètre," a list of over 30 films, each of which were assigned a numerical probability of its making the lineup at Cannes this year. Speculation has only grown hotter, of course, with an official announcement slated for April 19; Critics' Week and the Directors' Fortnight will follow on April 23 and 24, respectively. "Paris is rife with rumors about who will make it," reports Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa. "Several films by 'big fish' have not been seen yet, and many who have already shown their film are eagerly awaiting news."

A few days ago, a French blog pulled an April Fools' Day prank that thoroughly ticked off Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux. The blog claimed to have seen the full lineup, "briefly published on the official Cannes Film Festival »

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The Forgotten: Mean Streets

5 April 2012 8:38 AM, PDT

Concluding our short series celebrating the films of the Pathé-Natan company, 1926-1934. 

Above: Maurice Tourneur invents the film noir style while nobody's looking in Justin de Marseille. 

Bernard Natan, CEO of Pathé, was as conservative in his tastes as any studio boss, but he can be considered a brilliant talent scout on the basis of a few risks he took: casting Jean Gabin in his first feature (Chacun sa chance, 1931, an operetta-film), giving Jacques Tourneur his first directing job (Tout ça ne vaut pas l'amour, 1932, a comedy), and allowing Pierre and Jacques Prevert to make their first film (L'affaire est dans le Sac, 1932) on leftover sets, although admittedly he was so baffled by the resulting film he refused to release it.

But Natan often preferred to work with tried and true filmmakers with the added insurance of long track records. Leonce Perret, who made his directing debut in 1909, was »

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Tarkovsky @ 80

5 April 2012 7:19 AM, PDT

Andrei Tarkovsky, who would have been 80 today — he died too young, 54, at the end of 1986 — has been brought back to many minds lately. One prompt would be the passing just last month of screenwriter Tonino Guerra, with whom Tarkovsky wrote Nostalghia (1983). The two documented the long gestation of Tarkovsky's first film made outside of the Soviet Union in Voyage in Time (shot in 1979 but only officially released in 1983). In this entry, you'll find not only a clip from Voyage but also an excerpt from Pj Letofsky's forthcoming documentary Tarkovsky: His God, His Devil in which Guerra, filmed in 2009, looks back on his collaboration with Tarkovsky.

For a few months now, Geoff Dyer has been sparking conversations about Tarkovsky with Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, which, as Ethan Nosowsky puts it in the Believer, "Dyer dons a metaphorical head-lamp to mine the ore" of »

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Watch Tobe Hooper's "The Heisters"

5 April 2012 5:32 AM, PDT

In late 2010, a panel of judges that included John Carpenter, Wes Craven, John Landis, George Romero, Guillermo del Toro and Eli Roth put The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) at the top of Total Film's list of the "Greatest Horror Movies Ever Made." But five years before Tobe Hooper would carve his signature on the genre, leaving a proud and permanent scar, he made a feature for $100K called Eggshells — which, for decades, was believed to have been lost. But in 2009, a print was discovered and presented at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Hooper's hometown, and it's since seen the occasional festival screening — but never a full-blown release. Until now.

Mubi's proud to be teaming up with Watchmaker Films to present a proper worldwide release later this month of what Hooper himself describes as "a real movie about 1969, kind of verite but with a little push, improvisation mixed with magic. »

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Daily Viewing. David Cairns's "Pensive Crackle"

4 April 2012 9:46 AM, PDT

"Here's a recently discovered experimental film from 1929, A Theatrical Hotel on 46th St, New York also known as Pensive Crackle," wrote David Cairns at his Shadowplay the other day. "It uses the particular quality of the early soundtrack, that 'warm bath of audio hiss' Guy Maddin has spoken of, with its accompanying soft crackle and bump, as an atmospheric effect, and lets it gradually seep into the onscreen characters, poisoning them as surely as a diet of gunpowder and wasp venom. It starts quite funny, and slowly turns bleaker and bleaker."

The date of that post: April 1. Today at the Chiseler, David notes that "a lot of people said nice things about the film, and I couldn't tell if they knew it was me and were playing along, or were genuinely taken in. There was no way to ask without seeming like the gullible one — I was hoisted by my own April Fool's petard. »

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Daily Briefing. Nicole Brenez and "Film Criticism Today"

4 April 2012 9:03 AM, PDT

Nice cover for the new issue of Cahiers du Cinéma, which features a collection of articles (all of them offline) on Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt. There's a new Brooklyn Rail out as well, and we've already noted Monica Westin's interview with Geoff Dyer in today's roundup on Andrei Tarkovsky and Paul Felten's review of Damsels in Distress in another roundup on Whit Stillman. In terms of strictly film-related pieces (and let's hope you don't confine yourself to those!), that leaves Troy Swain's graphic celebration of the upcoming series at Anthology Film Archives, The Films of Carmelo Bene, running April 26 through 29, and Donal Foreman's interview with Nicole Brenez.

The occasion for the interview was the series Brenez curated for Anthology last month, Internationalist Cinema for Today (there was a roundup at the time) and Foreman writes a terrific introduction:

In an essay on Adorno's relationship with cinema, Nicole Brenez »

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Leo McCarey's "Ruggles of Red Gap"

3 April 2012 8:41 PM, PDT

Leo McCarey's 1935 Ruggles of Red Gap gets my vote for the most patriotic American movie ever made. It is purely, beautifully what it appears to be: a comedy about a man forced to take a crash course in American manners and principles who, in the way of many immigrants, gradually comes to love and appreciate the place more deeply than some natives. Ironically, this valentine to the U.S. has been available chiefly in a Region 2 import DVD with permanent French subtitles. But now a 35-millimeter print is getting a run at the Film Forum from April 4-10, ahead of its dual-format release by the U.K.'s Masters of Cinema.

The fish-out-of-water tale concerns valet Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton), whose employer, Lord Burnstead (Roland Young) loses him in a poker game to Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles, in a cute coincidence). Floud is a brayingly rustic American millionaire whose »

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John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" @ 40

3 April 2012 11:40 AM, PDT

"First shown in 1972, John Berger's BBC television series Ways of Seeing radicalized the way an entire generation looked at art," writes Jackie Wullschlager in the Financial Times:

Before Berger, painterly detail, the development of a style, attributions and authentications, were the tools of an art historian's trade, and those practicing it most successfully in the 20th century — Bernard Berenson in the splendor of his Florentine villa, Kenneth Clark, who bought himself Saltwood Castle in Kent and was knighted for his stately TV series Civilisation — had always been unashamedly elitist in both their work and their lives. Then came Berger, born in Hackney, east London, in 1926, educated not at Harvard or Oxford but at London art schools, hanging out not with collectors and dealers but with the revolutionary Black Panther Party, to which he donated half the money from his 1972 Booker Prize-winning experimental novel G., about a rich Italian's journey to class consciousness. »

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Daily Briefing. La Furia Umana 12

3 April 2012 7:59 AM, PDT

The centerpiece of the new issue of the multi-lingual film journal La Furia Umana is a walloping dossier on Jerry Lewis. Of the 24 pieces on Lewis, ten are in English: B Kite on the Little Clown in The Errand Boy (1961), Zach Campbell on Lewis's relation to his own image on screen, Murray Pomerance on that face, Peter Nellhaus on the extension of Lewis's auteurship into the films he didn't direct, David Phelps on Lewis's "Janus-faced comedy," R Emmet Sweeney on the September 18, 1955 broadcast of the Colgate Comedy Hour, Sudarshan Ramani on Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1982), John J Kern on The Day the Clown Cried (1972), Steven Shaviro on Smorgasbord (aka Cracking Up, 1983) — and Gina Telaroli's remarkable, extra-textual piece on Hardly Working (1979).

Also in this issue: Luc Moullet's "Le Spleen de Rockefeller" in the original French; Ted Fendt's translation into English was presented here yesterday; Lilly Papagianni on Sara Driver »

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Vincente Minnelli @ BFI

3 April 2012 4:47 AM, PDT

A Vincente Minnelli season opens at BFI Southbank in London today and it is no small thing. When The Complete Vincente Minnelli ran at the BAMcinématek in New York last September, I opened a roundup and spent a month updating it (and followed up in December with another roundup on 1944's Meet Me in St Louis). With the BFI's season on through May 31, this one may be another marathon runner.

For now, the spotlight's on The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), which, as Michael Wood notes in his piece for the London Review of Books, will soon be playing in theaters throughout the UK:

The plot itself is too nifty by half, a sort of lesson in how to overdo the flashback. We see and hear three phone calls in the narrative present. A man called Jonathan Shields [Kirk Douglas] is trying to reach three Hollywood figures, a director (Barry Sullivan), an actress »

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Daily Viewing. Trailer for "7 Days in Havana"

2 April 2012 3:37 PM, PDT

Again, it's quite a day for trailers and videos in general. This one's for 7 Days in Havana, an omnibus film with directorial contributions from Laurent Cantet, Benicio Del Toro, Julio Medem, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Juan Carlos Tabío and Pablo Trapero and featuring, in the cast, Emir Kusturica and Daniel Brühl, among others.

Via the Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth, who's also got a poster and a batch of stills.

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed. »

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Daily Viewing. Trailers for New Films by Im Sang-soo and Lu Chuan

2 April 2012 3:04 PM, PDT

Wikipedia tells us that The Taste of Money "is the spiritual sequel of [Im Sang-soo's] previous film The Housemaid..." With Kim Hyo-jin as Yoon Na-mi, Kim Kang-woo, Yoon Yeo-jeong, Baek Yoon-sik and On Joo-wan.

Via Todd Brown at Twitch, where he's got the full synopsis — and another trailer today, this one for The Last Supper, Lu Chuan's followup to City of Life and Death:

The synopsis:

The early history of a nation unfolds through the actions of three heroes — Liu Bang, Xiang Yu and Han Xin — who chased their dreams of uniting a warring nation and fought through major milestones of the Chu-Han Contention years in the third century. From the Julu War to the Hongmen Banquet, the Gaixia War to the death of HanXin, the narration of Liu Bang — who would be the founding emperor of the new Han Dynasty — sets the stage for a tale of betrayal and brothers at war, »

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Daily Viewing. Sorkin + Iannucci on HBO

2 April 2012 2:46 PM, PDT

What's with all the new trailers today? Of course, any day of the week will see a good handful of new trailers jostling for attention, but few are the days that I see a good handful actually worth taking a look at. We can't possibly know yet how The Taste of Money or The Last Supper will turn out, but simply by virtue of the fact that they're directed by Im Sang-soo and Lu Chuan, respectively, I've figured that you, like me, might want to give them each a minute-and-a-half of your Monday. Simply out of curiosity, no matter where you stand on either director.

Here's another one that's been making the rounds today. In Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, premiering on HBO on June 24, Jeff Daniels plays an anchor who, as you'll see right there, snaps in the very first episode: Network meets Bulworth. You'll also see that Sorkin »

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