Daily Briefing. Hitchcock, Borzage, Ozu, More

Also: The book on Philip Kaufman, the Whitney Biennial, Godard and Brakhage @ MoMA and more.
David Hudson
The DailyRope

Farley Granger "didn't fear the homoerotic subtext of either of the films he did for Hitchcock," writes Farran Nehme in the run-up to the For the Love of Film III Blogathon. "Mind you, in his autobiography Granger says he spent years disappointing critics and interviewers when asked about discussions with Hitchcock about just what was going on between Rope's two main characters: 'What discussions? It was 1948.' That didn't mean, though, that Granger himself and co-star John Dall were clueless." And as for Strangers on a Train (1951): "Given a role of ambiguous morality, he increases the questions about the character, rather than trying to emphasize the good-Guy qualities."

Charles Lyons for Filmmaker on Annette Insdorf's Philip Kaufman: "The first book-length assessment of Kaufman's oeuvre, which will reach 14 films when Hemingway and Gellhorn premieres on HBO in May [it also screens Out of Competition at Cannes], Philip Kaufman is a shrewd and very readable study. It seeks not only to locate Kaufman's distinct visual style and philosophical bent across his body of work, but also to elevate Kaufman to a unique niche in American and world cinema: as a Euro-style auteur living in the US in the age of commercial cinema, whose work across genres resists easy categorization but nonetheless resonates for its freshness of perception about the human condition and the codes of behavior that both restrict and liberate us."

The latest entry in Reverse Shot's Spielberg issue: Elbert Ventura on The Terminal (2004): "Its failure as an entertainment is perhaps the most surprising thing about the film. Known primarily as a conjurer of spectacle, Spielberg can be underrated as a slapstick maestro. But given a bumbling rube and an entire airport to toy with, Spielberg inexplicably whiffs."

Barbra Streisand turns 70 today and Catherine Grant's rounded up a slew of links in her honor.

Whitney Biennial

New York. First up are two fine pieces on ongoing programs we've covered here earlier. For Film Comment, R Emmet Sweeney offers a survey of the Whitney Biennial's film and video program. Co-curators Thomas Beard and Ed Halter "have made it their mission to break down boundaries between the contemporary art and film scenes."

And for Artforum, Amy Taubin celebrate's MoMA's screenings of Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinéma (1988 - 1998) and several films by Stan Brakhage: "I count it as a major institutional breakthrough to have motion pictures from the Department of Film's collection exhibited as if they were — and indeed they are — integral to the definition of contemporary art, rather than an addendum to be programmed in a world apart in the basement Titus theaters."

Tomorrow evening, Exit Art presents a Pop-up video screening, VIDEOSPAIN: Videos from Spain 1984-1987, as part of its retrospective, Every Exit Is An Entrance: 30 Years of Exit Art.

At indieWIRE, Devin Lee Fuller has the full lineup for the short film program of the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival (May 3 through 5), featuring "films from Bill Morrison and his cat Gene, legendary experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe."

Berlin. Greenland Eyes is on from today through Monday.

DVD/Blu-ray. Steve Erickson for Moving Image Source: "As Jonathan Rosenbaum has written, 60s Eastern European cinema was, despite governmental restrictions, more radical politically than the French New Wave, apart from Jean-Luc Godard. The films included in [Criterion/Eclipse's four-DVD, six-film set] Pearls of the Czech New Wave have few overt similarities — one being an ironic use of pastoral imagery — but they share an antiauthoritarian attitude and a tendency to use humor as a weapon."

"Societal customs and early forms of feminism collide in Late Spring, a masterfully delicate family drama from director Yasujirô Ozu," writes David Anderson for Ioncinema. Jaime N Christley in Slant: "A slight improvement from Criterion's own 2006 DVD, but if your Blu-ray collection has a Greatest Films subdivision, this goes right between Last Year at Marienbad and The Leopard."

Also in Slant, Joseph Jon Lanthier: "Kino's 1080p release of 1968's Girl on a Motorcycle exquisitely, by which I mean bearably, represents [Jack] Cardiff as a meticulous schlock craftsman. Consisting primarily of the inner monologue of a leather-clad, blond biker, Rebecca (Marianne Faithfull), whose mind wanders as she drives from France to Germany to meet her similarly transient lover, Daniel (Alain Delon), the film vertiginously simulates the Summer of Love's emancipatory values and Dayglow décor."


The Warner Archive edition of Frank Borzage's Mannequin (1937) "contributes not only another strong offering in the director's exceedingly rich Depression-era corpus, but also, quite conceivably, the most precise single articulation of the Borzagian worldview," suggests Michael J Anderson. Borzage's Desire (1936), by the way, not available on DVD, screens on May 6 at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

In the works. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård have signed up for Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, reports Jay A Fernandez at indieWIRE. Also: Marjane Satrapi has already wrapped her next film: "Satrapi said that she shot her new film in Spain on the fly, with just a few friends and mostly improvised dialogue over 12 days in January. Its straightforward live-action narrative was a creative reaction to the complications of [Chicken with Plums], a visually stunning storybook about lost love that took years to make before finally having its premiere in Venice last year. Put simply, the new film was done 'out of rage,' she says, only half-jokingly."

"Lionsgate has high hopes that the Patrick Ness young adult novel series Chaos Walking has the potential to become another futuristic Hunger Games-esque franchise," reports Deadline's Mike Fleming. "While the mission on most of those book to movie sensations is to stick close to the books, Lionsgate has done an intriguing thing on Chaos Walking: they've set Charlie Kaufman to adapt the first book in the series."

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