Monday, October 14, 2013


Adrian Martin and I have now completed the release of the fourth issue of LOLA. The theme of the issue is "Walks," and it includes a Brian De Palma dossier.

Here are links to all the pieces, with a little excerpt from each:

-- Victor Bruno, "Glittering Flares: Breaking the Darkness in Out of the Past": "[A] lens flare is a bridge between the spectator and the film [...] In Out of the Past (1947), there is a moment in which, consciously or not, Jacques Tourneur built this bridge."

-- Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, "To the Passion": "Passion is not (as we are hearing a lot at the moment) a wilfully ‘ridiculous’ film (it is especially depressing to hear this said as praise!) or a self-consciously trashy one [...] De Palma has gotten to a position in his career that is a little reminiscent of Samuel Fuller in his early-to-mid 1960s prime ..."

-- Alain Bergala, "Time Denied: An Apotheosis of the Imaginary": "The major difference between Scottie in Vertigo and Michael in Obsession is that Michael is in a deeper sleep than Scottie. He wants to believe in the reality of his waking dream with a deep and naïve conviction. The whole film is an obstinate refusal to wake up, to leave the bliss of the imaginary. He rushes like a bull towards the first illusion that is offered to him – this woman who is the reincarnation of his dead wife."

-- Adrian Martin, "A Walk Through Carlito's Way": "Every De Palma-loving cinephile’s sense of this scene as a set-piece, detachable from the film as a whole (while relating to it on many formal, expressive and thematic levels), is reinforced by its special place in the narrative – as an introductory incident that perfectly sums up, in microcosm, the trajectory of the hero’s unfortunate destiny (he keeps getting dragged back into crime), while itself being only a weak catalyst for anything much that follows."

-- Helen Grace, "Responsive Eyes and Crossing Lines: Forty Years of Looking and Reading": "At the time of the Dressed to Kill protests, I was living in a squat in Villa Rd, Brixton, and the street had become a centre of anti-De Palma actions, in which all the women squatters were being encouraged to become involved, in order to demonstrate their feminist credentials. Radicalism was measured in these key performance indicators of one’s commitment [...] Before committing ourselves to terroristic activities, a friend and I decided we should go to see Dressed to Kill ..."

-- Amelie Hastie, "Cinema of Compassion": "I love an image that makes me conscious of my own breath, whether it comes in a gasp, a steady rhythm, or a moment in which my breath literally stops. Our own breathing with the image is part of film’s (chimerical) animation of the life before us. Indeed, its quality of movement – and therefore its demonstration of life itself – animates even the inanimate, as we take in the images on the screen."

-- Sam Roggen, "You See It Or You Don’t: CinemaScope, Panoramic Perception and the Cinephiliac Moment": "What worried early Scope directors the most with regard to these radically altered conditions was how to direct spectatorial attention in scenes composed of long shots in the wide frame – and, particularly, how to highlight the details in that frame that were of vital importance for an understanding of the narrative [...] But directors could also audaciously choose not to stress essential parts of the composition. Observant viewers could then discover these crucial, but only subtly incorporated, details autonomously."

-- Veronika Ferdman, "Getting to Know the Big Wide World": "If I had to spend eternity inside a single scene from a movie, it would probably be this one – because, during these few minutes, we get a flood of hope and love, a montage of smiles and embraces exchanged by the newlyweds, enveloped by the blue dusk of the setting summer sun. The light in Eastern Europe is thinner and not as heavy as in the United States– the colours less saturated, but no less lovely."

-- Burke Hilsabeck, "Accidental Specificity: Modernism from Clement Greenberg to Frank Tashlin": "If modernist painting (in Greenberg’s account) works to pare itself toward a flatness made essential by the canvas support, popular film (in the Tashlinian-Lewisian imagination) is the site of a vast plurality; it does not simply refuse flatness as much as serve as the container of an infinite depth. (The scene articulates the sense that, onscreen, objects both flat and round have interiors.) In Tashlin’s hands, this is not the mimicked depth of pre-modern painting, but a constructed depth that takes on the quality of absurdity."

-- Yvette Bíró, "The Grandmaster: A Tour de Force": "The inner order of existence is never transparent. It accumulates not one layer of time but countless layers that collide and clash with each other. In Wong’s vision, each moment brings about a new form. The anomalous outcomes of actions are surprising, but never contingent. This density and swinging nature of the chaos-sphere is grounded, as modern physics describes it, in the ‘fragility of initial conditions’; this is what determines its erratic behaviour."

-- Darren Tofts, "Clone This DVD!": "The term post-production has a double inflection that refers, in the first instance, to after-effects, such as compositing, colour-grading and sound-mixing. But of more dramatic relevance here, it also refers to a more substantive, Thomas Kuhn-like paradigm shift that has a name – such as the Copernican Revolution or the Renaissance. Remix is the name we can give to this shift, a term akin to new historicism or postmodernism: cultural paradigms that articulate what comes after the philosophy of originality, presence, will and individualism."

-- Zach Campbell, "How We Got the Mob": "[It] will not do to treat Step Up either as a low-genre, masscult whipping boy, or to elevate – in a ‘poptimist’ polemic – the series’ pleasures above all else. The purpose of my undertaking here is not to disrupt the myriad pleasures Step Up might provide, but to look askance – critically, philosophically, politically – at their conditions."

-- Rowena Santos Aquino, "To Live (with) Cinema: Documenting Cinephilia and the Archival Impulse": "[The] emphasis in discussions of cinephilia still remains on the textual – the written word, whether in print, tweets or emails – to both define and guide discussions on cinephilia. The archival impulse gives us another perspective. The creation of an archive begins with emotional resonance, which is not the opposite of intellectual or educational engagement. The archival impulse is not just about the technical and technological aspect of acquiring, preserving and restoring films. It is also about an affective, physical experience ..."

-- Girish Shambu, "Crisis Cinema: Toronto International Film Festival 2013": "Until now in Breillat’s filmography, there has been an equation between sexuality and the human body. ‘The vulva is like the black hole of the universe’, wrote Breillat thirteen years ago, in the program notes accompanying the Toronto screening of her debut film Une vraie jeune fille (1975), which was banned in France for twenty-five years. Her new film evokes the older one in its obsessive focus on the human body."

-- Carlos Losilla, "Unspeakable Images": "Recently, the image has taken over what we used to call talking or writing about cinema: now images endlessly appear, they are projected, people compose essays with images … The role once played, years ago, by the gaze has now been translated to another fetish – and with this consequent transformation, it sometimes risks becoming a mere formula."

* * *

Links to recent reads:

-- Time to update our bookmarks: Jonathan Rosenbaum has a new website.

-- Good news: Claire Denis' great, ultra-rare U.S. Go Home (1994) is now on YouTube with English subs.

-- Adolph Reed, Jr., "Django Unchained, or, The Help: How “Cultural Politics” Is Worse Than No Politics at All, and Why". Via Corey Creekmur. At

-- Adrian Martin, "14 Uneasy Pieces of Teenage Life". At Flaunt.

-- An interview with Laura Mulvey on the making of her and Peter Wollen's avant-garde, feminist film Riddles of the Sphinx (1977). At BFI.

-- Nico Baumbach on Alain Badiou's recent collection Cinema. At the Los Angeles Review of Books.

-- Ted Fendt translates a talk by renowned French cinematographer Caroline Champetier. At MUBI Notebook.

-- Catherine Grant, "Lives on Film: Auto/Biographical Fiction and Documentary Film Studies". At Film Studies for Free.

-- Dan Sallitt, "It Takes an Arrondissement: Jacques Becker's Antoine et Antoinette". At MUBI Notebook.

-- Jean Renoir, "The Grandeur of the Primitives" (1948). At Ted Fendt's blog Howling Wretches.

-- Brad Stevens on Jess Franco at BFI.

-- An interview with Philippe Garrel on his new film Jealousy. At Revista Lumière.

-- The new issue of CineAction has a downloadable essay on Sharon Lockhart and Steve McQueen.

-- Boris Groys, "Becoming Revolutionary: On Kazimir Malevich". At e-flux journal.

-- A selected list of Tom Gunning's writings. A reminder to myself to hunt down the pieces I don't have ...

pic: Carlito's Way (Brian De Palma, 1993).