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My Country: Peter Nestler at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

24 June 2017 12:03 AM, PDT

PachamamaBeginning Saturday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is bringing to American shores the work of one of Germany’s finest filmmakers, Peter Nestler. Arranged in nine-parts, the extensive series is a major effort to make Nestler’s work better-known in the United States, where it has rarely shown. Nestler is a singular filmmaker, one for whom I have great affection, but also one who came to making films in a time and place singular in and of itself. The movies Germany produced for roughly the fifteen years after the formation of the country after World War II is a period often misunderstood by cinephiles and, at least until recently, underrepresented in retrospective programming outside of the country itself. In the 1950s and 1960s, German leftists were outraged by the continuing presence of Nazis in the government of the young Federal Republic, and by the way that polite society did »

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Review. Caged In—Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled"

23 June 2017 2:13 PM, PDT

For anyone who's seen Don Siegel's sensational 1971 adaptation of The Beguiled, drawn from Thomas P. Cullinan’s gothic novel A Painted Devil, it's not hard to see why Sofia Coppola would be attracted to the material. From her debut feature, The Virgin Suicides, Coppola has had a lingering interest in the lives of women trapped by circumstance in one way or another, which the story—set in an all-girls boarding school in Virginia three years into the Civil War—ably extends. But while Coppola's vision is predictably sharp in the way that it tackles the story's sexual politics and laser-like focus on feminine desire, the film also feels flattened, its underlying lurid, psychosexual appeal absorbed into a kind of dreamy gossamer haze.Immediately, the opening—the ornate pink curlicues of the title card; the figure of a small girl walking alone along the forest path framed by dense foliage, »

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Sofia Coppola: The Specific Touch of Femininity

23 June 2017 8:15 AM, PDT

The Virgin SuicidesIn 2015, three significant films were released: Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe and Céline Sciamma Girlhood. All three are female stories devoid of the faux candor associated with many male-directed ‘women’s stories.’ There is an astonishing amount of authenticity in these wildly different films, each playing with explorations of the teenage girl psyche with wildly differing results. In Mustang, we met girls whose spirits could never be broken, no matter the odds or imprisonments they faced, from societal to literal, when they’re confined in their home. In Girlhood, we learned these imprisonments could be as psychological and socially constructed as the physical bars placed on their windows in Ergüven’s feature. And in Laurent’s psycho-drama, we face the realities and interplay of teenage cruelty and intimacy found in female friendships in that developmental stage. These films aren’t playing to strictly a female audience, but they feel refreshingly tailor-made to do so. They’re offering up honest and raw depictions of girlhood and femininity on the creative landscape and it was often beautiful, sometimes tragic and all together worth celebrating. It’s something that filmmaker Sofia Coppola has been doing her entire career, and her latest release, the remake of The Beguiled, drives home this point further.Over the course of her career Coppola has developed a distinctive approach to her filmmaking. Her distinct style utilizes—and nearly favors—visuals as a means of storytelling (I’d argue she could tell the same stories in silence with her visual finesse). Along the way she’s also developed an unabashed feminine perspective that, combined with her eye for stylish filmmaking, has set her apart from her male contemporaries. She isn’t just telling stories about women but imbuing them with a sense of femininity.It starts with color, building a point of view from a vibrant palette and the way in which the cinematography capture each female character. A common complaint in current cinema—particularly in blockbusters and tentpole films—has been the gray color grading. Movies that should pop ultimately end up blending in with their background. Coppola defies this expectation, relishing in the pinks of the hats Marie Antoinette or in Scarlett Johansson’s wig in Lost in Translation. She finds color in the yellows of the kitchen in Somewhere—the sunlight radiating through the shades covering a window—or in the baby blues of the sky whizzing past Antoinette. We see the blues that swallow Elle Fanning whole in Somewhere as she hosts a tea party beneath the surface of a pool. She utilizes stark whites in Antoinette's lavish, daisy-infested fields and the sun-bleached morning-after in The Virgin Suicides. Her color palette is distinctive and gives her films a fantastical atmosphere, adding to their unabashed femininity. Her colors aren’t loud and vibrant or muted and hollow, serving as much of a purpose as her storytelling.Her films’ image subvert the male gaze by never allowing the female characters to be exploited as they view her cinematic universe instead through a female friendly lens. We watch the sisters of The Virgin Suicides from afar, sure, and Johansson is sometimes looked at through the eyes of Bill Murray, but more often than not we’re given looks into the worlds of female characters born into male-dominated spaces. Their inclusion is worthy of curiosity, judgement, disdain or damaging admiration. As Roger Ebert once said in a review for Marie Antoinette:“This is Sofia Coppola’s third film centering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you. [...] Every criticism I have read of this film would alter its fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film. ”When we meet most of Coppola’s delicate, youthful characters in moments of severe isolation—be it on a lonesome carriage ride through a foggy morning, alone in an expansive hotel room meant for two, or in a household where rules are inflicted to keep its inhabitants sheltered and painfully lonely. From The Virgin Suicides to this year's The Beguiled, Coppola has depicted isolation as one of her major themes, approached particularly through the specific point of view.The femininity comes from Coppola’s understanding of these women beyond their psychological or physical cages. So often in films about women, the female characters exist without any sense of female identity; they’re simply judged on their actions, their features or what a wider audience can relate to. Movies about weddings, having children and being mothers and girlfriends play on tropes of what it means “to be a woman” without exploring what it means to be a woman. Coppola, typically working from a place of interested in adolescents mature beyond their years, shows rather than tells us aspects of being a woman through all historical settings and walks of life. Throughout much of cinema’s mainstream history we’ve been told just exactly what it means “to be a man,” definitions that may have changed throughout the decades but have still been firmly covered in a layer of masculine attitude. We have films that dedicate their stories from a male character's birth to their death, detailing the ins and outs of what makes that particular guy tic. For women that sort of nuance through different time periods is much more difficult to come across, and it’s why voices such as Coppola’s are so poignant; they reach and grab hold of those looking for stories they can relate to, that mirror who they are or were in certain periods of their lives. (Until this point, she has had little to no diversity in her films and is mainly showcasing white femininity. Hopefully this is something she’ll change in the future.)All of this makes her directing The Beguiled remake so fascinating. Originally filmed by Don Siegel, adapted from Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel, and starring Clint Eastwood as Corporal John ‘McBee’ McBurney, this is a man’s story: after being wounded during the Civil War, McBurney is taken in by a Southern all-girls boarding school. The female characters are more sinister and less sympathetic. In Coppola’s version there are similar tropes of the mighty headmistress and the school’s young seductress, but yet again, we’re given these depictions through the female point of view; these women have increased agency as we see the story unfold from their worldview. As is the case with The Virgin Suicides, the girls of the boarding house are kept inside and isolated for their own safety, making them curious about and isolated from the outside world. Like with Marie Antoinette, it’s women living amidst the mess men have made, thrown into a society that has displaced them. Coppola’s themes are undoubtedly recurring, flexible and timeless enough to be able to encompass all walks of life that women can identify with, spread wide across history.Coppola’s films are full to the brim with unabashed and gleeful femininity. It’s shown in the way Fanning's role of the daughter in Somewhere is polished and poised, showcasing the wisdom girls possess from a young age as she helps her father (Stephen Dorff) out of his jaded shell. It’s in the naiveté of the sisters of The Virgin Suicides, but also in their world weariness in the face of boyish neighbors who take interest in the reclusive girls. Coppola dismantles the idea of depicting mysterious and shielded women as enigmas rather than humans. We see it in casual shots of modern Converse shoes scattered amongst decadent heels in Marie Antoinette, or in its titular character enjoying the pleasures of sex at her own pace. It is in Johansson’s unyielding gaze and youthful yearning in Lost in Translation and hell, even Emma Watson’s self-absorption in The Bling Ring. To be a female character in Coppola’s film is more than presenting a gender or a trope but instead the director makes the “radical” decision to depict women in all of their grace, kindness, misery and determination in ways that feel very honest. »

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Movie Poster of the Week: New York in the 1970s in Polish Posters

23 June 2017 6:55 AM, PDT

Above: Polish poster for Escape from New York  (John Carpenter, USA, 1981). Designer: Wieslaw Walkuski.For three weeks in July, New York’s Film Forum is running a stellar series of more than 40 1970s New York-set films. As soon as I heard about the program I wanted to do a poster article on it, given that the 1970s was a heyday for American poster design. However, when I started to look at the posters I realized that many of them were so well known that rehashing their posters wasn’t that interesting. But in my search I started to notice how many of the films had Polish counterparts. It is interesting that so many of these American productions were released in Poland and it may have had a lot to do with the counter-cultural, anti-establishment bent of most of the films.While poster design in the U.S. had moved quite decisively from illustration to photography-based in the late 60s, Polish poster art was still mostly drawn and painted in the 1970s. There are a couple of exceptions here but the photos are collaged or posterized in a way that is quite different from the way they would be used in the U.S. Another interesting note is that very few of the posters make use of New York signifiers, with the obvious exception of the Statue of Liberty for Escape from New York, and a silhouetted skyline for Manhattan (notably the two films with the most New York-specific titles). Otherwise the posters seen here are typically idiosyncratic, eccentric, beautiful, alluring, occasionally baffling and, with the possible exception of Serpico, always strikingly unlike their American counterparts. This selection also feels like a tour of great Polish poster art in the 70s, with most of the major artists represented: Jakub Erol, Wiktor Gorka, Eryk Lipinski, Andrzej Klimowski, Jan Mlodozeniec, Andrzej Pagowski, Waldemar Swierzy, Wieslaw Walkuski and more. It seems as if every major designer got a crack at at least one of these challenging, thrilling films.Above: Polish poster for Manhattan (Woody Allen, USA, 1979). Designer: Andrzej Pagowski.Above: Polish poster for Marathon Man (John Schlesinger, USA, 1976). Designer: Wiktor Gorka.Above: Polish poster for All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, USA, 1979). Designer: Leszek Drzewinski.Above: Polish poster for Three Days of the Condor (Sydney Pollack, USA, 1975). Designer: J. Czerniawski.Above: Polish poster for The Hospital (Arthur Hiller, USA, 1971). Designer: Marcin Mroszczak.Above: Polish poster for Diary of a Mad Housewife (Frank Perry, USA, 1970). Designer: Eryk Lipinski.Above: Polish poster for Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, USA, 1976). Designer: Andrzej Klimowski.Above: Polish poster for Klute (Alan J. Pakula, USA, 1971). Designer: Jan Mlodozeniec.Above: Polish poster for Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, USA, 1977). Designer: Andrzej Pagowski.Above: Polish poster for The French Connection (William Friedkin, USA, 1971). Designer: Andrzej Krajewski.Above: Polish poster for Serpico (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1973). Designer: Jakub Erol.Above: Polish poster for The Panic in Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, USA, 1971). Designer: Tomas Ruminski.Above: Polish poster for Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, USA, 1969). Designer: Waldemar Swierzy.Above: Polish poster for The Anderson Tapes (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1971). Designer: Jan Mlodozeniec.See New York in the 70s at Film Forum from July 5 to 27.Posters courtesy of Heritage Auctions. »

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Video Essay. Greta Moves

22 June 2017 5:02 AM, PDT

There are a few actors whose prowess stems in equal measure from their training or innate talent, and from their physiognomy. In the past we had Humphrey Bogart and Anna Karina. Today, Denis Lavant is one of those actors. Adam Driver also comes to mind. Greta Gerwig, with her lanky figure and mesmerizing expression, belongs to a category all her own.There’s a particular quality that comes to life when she moves. The movement might be as slight as bend in the lips, or as large as a star-figured jump in the air. Both are, in equal measure, unmistakably hers. Throughout her career, Gerwig has worked with directors who’ve captured her physicality by letting the film run long enough to capture the uniqueness of her movement. It took Joe Swanberg the entirety of Lol (2006) and 20 minutes of Hannah takes the Stairs (2007) to ask Gerwig to dance in front of the camera. This can only be explained by the director’s inexperience at the time. Noah Baumbach never made the same mistake, filming her twisting, twirling, and swirling, or just slightly bobbing for 17 seconds, to the tune of Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Uncle Albert”. Even for her small role in No Strings Attached (2011), Ivan Reitman had the good sense to shoot two scenes where Greta’s dancing held center stage. In Greta Moves, I endeavored to find patterns in the movements throughout her filmography, interweaving them with an abundance of match cuts. To create a dance tapestry that heightened those connections, the piece of music was fundamental. The inspiration for that choice—as well as the structure of the video essay—came from Wim Wender’s Pina (2011). The work was built almost entirely around the second performance in the movie and the lovely melody of Jun Miyake, “The Here and After”.  »

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Rushes. Robert Pattinson Covers, Apichatpong x Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Girls Gone Wild 1863"

22 June 2017 5:01 AM, PDT

Get in touch to send in cinephile news and discoveries. For daily updates follow us @NotebookMUBI.NEWSBlind DetectiveThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will hosting what we believe—and correct us if we'r wrong—is the first significant retrospective in the United States of the great Hong Kong genre director Johnnie To.Recommended VIEWINGFor one more day only Gabe Klinger's Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater, a 2013 documentary about two directors on different ends of American independent cinema, will be available to watch for free on Vimeo.A lovely collaboration between Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) and Japanese composer (and sometimes actor) Ryuichi Sakamoto on the video for a track on his new album, async. Related: the director and composer are holding a short film competition stemming from the album. Critics Christopher Small and James Corning have lately been contributing excellent video essays to the Notebook on such directors as William Friedkin, John Carpenter, and Ernst Lubitsch. For Fandor, they've made another excellent directorial dive, in this case into the contradictory cinema of Hollywood comedy director Leo McCarey.Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning shoot "Girls Gone Wild 1863" behind the scenes of Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled. Warning: risqué ankle footage!Recommended Reading

The new issues of Cahiers du cinéma (out now) and Cinema Scope (coming soon) both focus on the just-completely Cannes Film Festival and have Robert Pattinson in the Safdie brothers' Good Time on the cover. Cahiers editor Stéphane Delorme has written a scathing, and to our eyes accurate, assessment of the festival, which we're reading in (please excuse us) adapted Google translation:The program of the Official is truly a program, in the programmatic sense: it has encouraged a certain type of hateful, hollow and pretentious cinema which is becoming sadly the cinema of our time.... In this context, two small wonders emerged: Good Time by the Safdies and The Day After by Hong Sang-soo... Dumont, Garrel, Claire Denis, everyone would have deserved the Palme. Authors in an insolent form that are renewed (musical comedy, sex, comedy) and who still know what it means to stage, edit, plan.This week the great American actress Gina Rowlands celebrated her 85th birthday, and Sheila O'Malley has written an excellent article on her and some of her key performances for RogerEbert.com:Rowlands' work has a way of creating anxiety in viewers. The boundary line between character and actress is obliterated; or, it was never there in the first place. Her work is so unlike what we see from most other actresses (even very good ones) that it's unnerving to watch.Alfred Hitchcock on the set of RopeAmerican Cinematographer has republished an essential 1967 interview with "The Cameraman's Director," Alfred Hitchcock:Q: Do you feel that lighting is perhaps the most important single element in the creation of cinematic mood?

A: Motion picture mood is often thought of as almost exclusively a matter of lighting, dark lighting. It isn’t. Mood is apprehension. That’s what you’ve got in that crop-duster scene. In other words, as I said years and years ago, I prefer “murder by the babbling brook.” you’ve got some of that in The Trouble With Harry. Where did I lay the dead body? Among the most beautiful colors I could find. Autumn in Vermont. Went up there and waited for the leaves to turn. We did it in counterpoint. I wanted to take a nasty taste away by making the setting beautiful. I have sometimes been accused of building a film around an effect, but in my sort of film you often have to do that if you want to get something other than the cliche.We think it's safe to say that Twin Peaks: The Return, despite being 7 episodes and nearly as many hours in, remains a mystery. We're hosting on-going and in-depth recaps of the episodes as they premiere, and at Filmmaker magazine Michael Sicinski has proposed five ideas about David Lynch and Mark Frost's new...thing:This transfer of violent energy is connected to the Black Lodge [...] but more significantly it is related to the program before us. Lynch is warning us that Twin Peaks is not background TV, and that in certain respects it is dangerous stuff. Sorry, young lovers. You need to watch that glass box carefully, because you’re strapping in for the long haul.EXTRASSome jaw-dropping analysis by Jean-Luc Godard on the relationship between film and television, courtesy of critic Max Nelson.From the Filmadrid festival, a meeting of two great figures in the film world: scholar Laura Mulvey and filmmaker Jonas Mekas.Confirming the sense of humor of Robert Bresson (he who put Chaplin's The Gold Rush and City Lights as his favorite films) is this photo of the perhaps the greatest of all filmmakers riding the donkey that appeared in his masterpiece Au hazard Balthazar. »

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All These Stories We Simply Can't Understand

20 June 2017 7:28 AM, PDT

Every so often, usually while walking around Toronto on a busy day, I'll be struck by the vividness and accuracy of Agnès Varda's singular portrayal of a day in the life (barely two hours, really, making it even more remarkable) spent in the various layers and spaces of the urban environment. I speak, of course, of Cléo from 5 to 7, Varda's 1962 classic and the first film of hers I fell in love with. In those instances, I'll find myself returning to the moments I've cherry-picked as my favorites over the years, skipping across the linear sequence of events that follow the titular singer (Corinne Marchand) across Paris as she waits for the results from a medical examination within the film's designated timeframe (minus half an hour, as the film famously ends at the ninety minute mark). More than for any other film, engaging in these mental replays feels very much like replaying the events of a day I had once experienced myself long ago—albeit one that I’ve been able to revisit and come to know nearly by heart, complete with all of my favorite moments and details waiting in their proper places, so often have I gone back to that June 21st in Paris, 1961.Varda has even made it relatively easy for anyone who wishes to explore and investigate to their heart's content the events of that fateful first day of summer from so long ago now, not only by making such a crisp cinematic itinerary of the various locations visited in the film itself, but also by helpfully providing a map in her book Varda par Agnès complete with a color-coded legend indicating the locations of key scenes from the film, practically inviting the reader to recreate Cléo’s journey for themselves on the streets of present-day Paris. At once attentive and relaxed in its tour of the city (mainly focused in the Left Bank), Cléo is ably conducted in a number of different registers: as an uncommonly lovely essay-poem on the ebb and flow of urban life, an at-times somber meditation on the precarious balance between life and death, and a revealing and honest study of female identity and the ways it is scrutinized and distorted in the public’s relentless gaze. In a feat of remarkable economy and resourcefulness, the film was shot in chronological order across a five-week period, beginning on the date of the story’s events, synchronized as closely as possible to the times in the day Cléo experiences them, in keeping with narrative fidelity and proper quality of light for each scene. Neatly arranged into thirteen chapters, each with its duration clearly stated so we can easily keep track in real time, Cléo’s lucid odyssey through the various public and private spaces that make up her day is observational cinema at its most fertile, free, and magically attuned to its subjects, partly the result of Varda and her team’s carefully planned and executed shoot, partly that of simply being in the right places at the right times.Together, the films of the French New Wave make up one of the most valuable and immersive audiovisual documents of a specific time and place in history—namely France in the late 1950s and early 1960s—that we have. This is especially true of the Paris-situated films, which create the alluring image of an interconnected network of overlapping stories concentrated in a single city. The sharing of certain actors, cinematographers, writers, composers, and other key artists and technicians across different films by different directors especially helped make the impression of one Paris holding an eclectic anthology of New Wave tales. This perception was further reinforced by the cheeky self-referential winks and nods that so many of the New Wave directors—Jean-Luc Godard in particular—lovingly included in their films as gestures of solidarity and support with their nouvelle vague comrades. This is why the eponymous hero of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le flambeur, noted by many as a crucial New Wave precursor, gets name-checked by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard’s Breathless, why Truffaut muses Marie Dubois and Jeanne Moreau both pop up in A Woman Is a Woman, with Moreau getting asked by Belmondo how Jules and Jim is coming along, and why Anna Karina’s Nana glimpses a giant poster for the same Truffaut film as she is being driven to her fate in the final moments of Vivre sa vie.Varda got in on the fun herself in Cléo from 5 to 7 not only by casting Michel Legrand, who provided the film with its robust score, as Cléo’s musical partner Bob (a part that gives the legendary composer a substantial amount of screen time and amply shows off his incandescent charm), but also by extending the invitation to Godard, Karina, Sami Frey, Eddie Constantine, Jean-Claude Brialy, producer Georges de Beauregard, and Alan Scott, who had appeared in Jacques Demy’s Lola. They all show up in Les fiancés du pont Macdonald, the silent comedy short-within-the-film that serves triple duty as a welcome diversion for our stressed heroine, a loving cinephilic tribute to the legacy of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, and an irresistible, bite-sized New Wave party. And yet I find Cléo to be perhaps the most enchanting of all the New Wave films not for the aesthetic commonalities and cleverly devised linkages that bind it to The 400 Blows, Breathless, Paris Belongs to Us, and its other cinematic brethren, but rather for the tapestry of curious details that root it in its specific time and place and entice on the power of their inherent uniqueness and beauty. “Here,” Varda seems to say as she follows Cléo across the city, “let’s have a look at these interesting people and places on this first day of summer here in Paris, and see what we can see after watching them for a while.” The film’s opening scene continues to extend this invitation as it draws us in closer. It shows us, through the sepia-hued Eastmancolor that deviates from the rest of the film’s silvery monochrome and the “God’s eye” overhead shots (long before Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson adopted the technique as their own), the cryptic spectacle of Tarot cards being shuffled, placed down, and turned over to reveal the story of Cléo’s potential fate before we’ve even gotten a chance to properly meet Cléo herself. The slightly macabre illustrations to which Varda and cinematographer Jean Rabier dedicate their tight close-ups and the elderly card reader’s accompanying explanations of their meanings lend an air of prophecy to the events to come while also fueling Cléo’s anxiety surrounding her fate (when pressed for a clearer forecast of the future through a palm reading, the reader’s evasive response is less than inspiring). This introduction effectively locks us into Cléo’s perspective, preparing us for the next hour and a half that we will spend quietly observing as, following her distraught exit from the reader’s apartment, she grapples with her fears and insecurities, contemplates and revises her appearance and the identity behind it (tellingly, we discover late in the film that Cléo's real name is Florence), and comes to terms with the ultimately fragile nature of her own mortality. In our allotted chunk of time with her, we see the pouty girl-child subtly shift and adjust her attitude, inching a little closer towards a place of earned maturity, grace, and acceptance regarding her fate, wherever it may take her.Along the way, the film seems to expand to take in as much of the people and places around Cléo as it can. Scene by scene, her Paris makes itself felt and known through key peripheral details: a pair of lovers having an argument in a café near where Cléo sits, listening in; the procession of uniformed officers on horseback heard clip-clopping through the street on the soundtrack and seen reflected in the array of mirrors placed throughout a hat shop; a spider web of shattered mirror and a cloth pressed against a bloody wound, indicating some incident that occurred just before Cléo happened along the scene of the confused aftermath. Other stimuli fill a dazzling program of serendipitous entertainments for us to take in one by one: whirlwind rides in two taxis and a bus, an intimate musical rehearsal in Cléo’s chic, kitten-filled apartment (with Legrand, no less, clearly having a great time, his nimble fingers releasing ecstatic bursts of notes and melodies from Cléo’s piano as if they were exotic birds), the aforementioned silent short, a sculpting studio (the space alive with the indescribably pleasant sound of chisels being tapped at different tempos through soft stone), a frog swallower, a burly street performer who wiggles an iron spike through his arm, and the soothing sights and sounds of the Parc de Montsouris, among a hundred other subtle and overt pleasures scattered throughout this gently orchestrated city symphony, a heap of specificities found and sorted into a chorus of universal experience.Very much in her own way, across a body of work informed by a boundless spirit of generosity, Agnès Varda has gone about carefully collecting and preserving a marvelously varied assortment of subjects throughout her busy life, shedding fresh light on some of the most unlikely (and overlooked) people and places in the world. She refers to her self-made approach to filmmaking as ciné-criture (her own version of Alexandre Astruc's caméra-stylo), which, as we’ve come to know it through Varda’s intensely personal works, is a little like cinema, a little like writing, and uses aspects of both media to make a compassionate, genuine, and wholly original film language. Just as Antoine (Antoine Bourseiller), the dreamy young man whom Cléo encounters in the Parc de Montsouris, translates the world around them into a stream of fanciful observations and flowery speech, so too does Varda, in allegiance with poetry, ditch any semblance of objectivity, going instead for presenting the world simply as she sees it, investing it with her own unmistakable blend of charm, warmth, eloquence, and empathy, all somehow executed with nary a shred of ego or preachiness.“All these stories we simply can’t understand!” randomly exclaims a café patron to her young companion at one point late in Cléo’s journey, perhaps suddenly becoming aware, as we gradually have, of the unfathomable multitude of trajectories that trace themselves across every city every day in a dense tangle of narrative strands. In picking up Cléo’s and diligently following it with her camera for an hour and a half, Varda draws our attention to all those other strands that make up the lives of other people, leading off into their own directions, fated to become entangled with others still. Wisely, deftly, one discovered strand at a time, she helps us better appreciate, again and again, the humble miracle of so many lives coursing and thriving alongside each other, each one special and strange, each rooted in its own distinct flavor of being-ness. Cléo from 5 to 7 in turn roots us in another person’s life for its short time span and ends up giving us a whole universe, casually overflowing with meaning, life, lives, and the myriad details that shape and define them. No, we can’t understand all the stories we come across in a day. But then again, sometimes we don’t really need to understand so much as simply see. See, and accept, and appreciate what is...and then move along to whatever’s next. »

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"Twin Peaks," Episode 7 Recap: …And That's Enough Said About That

20 June 2017 7:20 AM, PDT

Twin Peaks Recap is a weekly column by Keith Uhlich covering David Lynch and Mark Frost's limited, 18-episode continuation of the Twin Peaks television series.So that's how David Lynch does an info dump. First, with a cheeky, knowing scene featuring the brothers Horne: "Jerry, what's going on?" asks Ben (Richard Beymer) after his cannabis-infused sibling (David Patrick Kelly) phones him from the woods. "I think I'm high!…I don't know where I am!" Jerry screams, perhaps speaking for a good subsection of the Twin Peaks revival audience, who have, over the six prior installments, been given only glimpses of a larger picture. Narrative momentum comes in asides; the more prevalent longueurs are reserved for atmosphere and mood, for full immersion in apparent stasis.Part 7 shakes things up, following the brotherly freak-out with several story reveals that come in quick succession. But there's a niggling sense throughout all the »

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Rushes. David Lynch Adman, Best Films of the 21st Century, Universal Cinema

20 June 2017 7:13 AM, PDT

Get in touch to send in cinephile news and discoveries. For daily updates follow us @NotebookMUBI.NEWSWe tend not to post much news about films currently in production, but we must admit our desire to share the bare details of Phoenix director Christian Petzold's new feature film, Transit, pictured above.Critic Godfrey Cheshire has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a handsome looking monograph on contemporary Iranian cinema.Recommended VIEWINGWith Twin Peaks: The Return currently unfolding, its profound oddness has sent many of us diving backwards into David Lynch's past work, remembering he is a visual artist first and foremost, one who has worked in serial television, narrative cinema, and, yes, commercial advertisement. This video usefully gathers all ads Lynch has made, from his 1988 add for Calvin Klein to his (brilliant) Dior ad from 2010 starring Marion Cotillard.A '90s cinema throwback! Lars von Trier introducing the Dogme »

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Bergman's Spell

20 June 2017 6:52 AM, PDT

Mubi is showing the retrospective The Inner Demons of Ingmar Bergman from June 8 - August 28, 2017 in the United Kingdom.I've told this brief story of how I fell under the spell of cinema so many times I've become brazen to it. At eighteen years, in February 1993, I found Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers (dubbed) at the video store. As Woody Allen spoke of the Swede in hushed tones, I decided I should try a film. Ninety minutes later I sat stunned and spellbound, not sure what to do or think, but surely sure I must be onto something. Cinematic rapture still has a psychical aspect for me, the torque the sedentary body goes through while coping with the images before it. I can always tell how good a film is if my armpits smell after. The body doesn't lie. Ingmar Bergman is an easy crush—one writer I know »

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The Human Beast: Three Films by Jacques Becker

19 June 2017 11:58 AM, PDT

Mubi's series Jacques Becker's Companies is showing June 16 - July 18, 2017 in the United States.Le trouA striking thing about Jacques Becker, one of the last great classicists in French cinema, is the range of genres with which he was apparently at total ease. Astonishingly, the great critic and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier recently said that Becker was maybe greater than Howard Hawks in this respect—a startling admission given that Hawks is an even more sacrosanct name for cinephiles of Tavernier’s age and predilection than his more obscure French contemporary. Becker, Tavernier said, had “an enormous range, and always [made films] with the same deeply organic quality.” Both Hawks and Becker are fascinated by genre, by the way that they can seemingly countermand inbuilt expectations by cultivating an atmosphere of life-like behavior that at least appears to undercut the revolving gears of plot. Both directors have come to be known as the makers of plotless movies, »

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Filmadrid & Mubi Present: The Video Essay

19 June 2017 6:26 AM, PDT

The Video Essay is a joint project of Mubi and Filmadrid Festival Internacional de Cine. Film analysis and criticism found a completely new and innovative path with the arrival of the video essay, a relatively recent form that already has its own masters and is becoming increasingly popular. The limits of this discipline are constantly expanding; new essayists are finding innovative ways to study the history of cinema working with images. With this non-competitive section of the festival both Mubi and Filmadrid will offer the platform and visibility the video essay deserves. The seven selected works will be shown during the dates of Filmadrid (June 8 - 17, 2017) on Mubi’s cinema publication, the Notebook. Also there will be a free public screening of the selected works during the festival. The selection was made by the programmers of Mubi and Filmadrid.Telefoni Neri by Hannah Leiß永遠の処女 - The Eternal Virgin by Jorge Suárez »

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