As in Steven Soderbergh’s much-loved Ocean’s Eleven, Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 begins at a parole hearing for our protagonist. She’s making nice and saying all the right things, arguing for a rehabilitation we genre fans know hasn’t occurred.
Miniatures are inherently unsettling. Like all copies of the world, they carry a whiff of the uncanny, and a possibility that they will escape the control of their creators; in horror movies, we are particularly trained to expect them, infused with some breath of terrible life, to rise up and wreak havoc.
“Tungsten,” you think, occasionally, watching Gilda. “This film that made Rita Hayworth an international sensation, this film that features the most iconic character-introducing shot in all of cinema. It’s about … tungsten.”
Discussions of Gilda (1946) rarely turn on the out-sized role that tungsten — W on the periodic table; atomic number 74; melting point 3422 °C (6192 °F, 3695 K); boiling point 5930 °C (10706 °F, 6203 K), the highest known; density 19.3 times that of water, comparable to that of uranium and gold, and much higher (about 1.7 times) than that of lead — plays.
Given that seemingly every day brings with it a new and horrifying perspective on America’s descent into Trumpian doublethink, it can be hard to keep track. It’s not just the outrage cycle, either – we really are living through uniquely dismal times; if the moral affronts aren’t necessarily new, the attitudes towards them, ranging from casual disregard to gleeful celebration, sure seem to be.
The events of May 1968 exist in memory, of course, but whose memory, and how? The overlapping texts of Philippe Garrel‘s Regular Lovers, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Dreamers, and Olivier Assayas’ Après mai offer clues.
Amid all the recollections of ’68 in the past few weeks — whether extolling the energy of a revolutionary moment or gleefully trumpeting its failure, or something in between — I’ve been surprised how many people in my generation, in the U.S., are at a loss for context.
In a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, Philippe Garrel once remarked, “Given that nowadays in France, there is a tendency to forget 1968, to erase it from the map of history, I thought it would be useful to raise the question ‘what is cinema for?’ And I thought it was useful for this film to bear witness to some things.” He was speaking of Regular Lovers, his woozy 2005 narcotic dream of the May barricades’ long shadows, but insofar as Garrel’s question touches on cinematic memory itself, he may as well have had 1990’s Dennis Hopper / Kiefer Sutherland comedy Flashback in mind.
May 1968 looms so prominently over the cultural imagination, at least in some circles, that the occasion of its 50th anniversary was bound to produce a universe of responses and treatments. Its ecstatic title notwithstanding, João Moreira Salles‘ essay doc In The Intense Now falls decidedly onto the elegiac side of things.
How do you approach making a bio-pic about a filmmaker like Jean-Luc Godard, whose aesthetic and political concerns are so deeply interwoven into the cinema of a particular time and place that entire strains of film history are unthinkable without him?
There’s something perverse in writing about Lucrecia Martel. The silence of words on a page seem singularly ill-equipped to convey the senses of a director so attuned to aural dreamscapes, to stories told with particular cadences and rhythms as much as a personal vision.