Weekend links 596

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Jam III (2021) by Kotaro Hoshiyama.

• “Powell and Pressburger are peerless in realizing what Orson Welles would term plotless scenes—extra bits that ostensibly do not advance the story, but are a story unto themselves, and aggregate such that they’re vital to how we understand the characters who are living the story.” Colin Fleming says thanks for the Archers.

• A short promo for The Incal: The Movie. Hmm, okay. A film that adapted all 300 pages of the original story without changing anything or trying to explain away the weirdness would be worth seeing. But I doubt that’s what this will be. Read the book.

• “If a single word distills the New Wave aesthetic, it’s plastic…ironically flaunted artificiality became a leitmotif of the era.” Simon Reynolds reviews Reversing Into the Future: New Wave Graphics 1977–1990 by Andrew Krivine.

• Mixes of the week: a mix by Princess Diana Of Wales (not that one) for The Wire, and At The Outer Marker Part I, a Grateful Dead Twilight Zone mix by David Colohan.

The Bloomingdale Story: read the never-before published Patricia Highsmith draft that would become Carol (aka The Price of Salt).

• At Spoon & Tamago: Multiple panels form collaged portraits painted by Kotaro Hoshiyama.

• New music: Pyroclasts F (excerpt) by Sunn O))), and Loop return with Halo.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: William E. Jones Day.

Plastic Bamboo (1978) by Ryuichi Sakamoto | Barock-Plastik (2000) by Stereolab | Black Plastic (2002) by Ladytron

Weekend links 334

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Pixel Forest (2016) by Pipilotti Rist.

• “Think about it: gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people were almost completely invisible in the movies or on television, or even in newspapers and magazines. It wasn’t until LGBT people started producing their own media that we started to see consistent, positive images. But it would take until very recently for TV and cinema to catch up with what happened in books and magazines decades ago. In other words, nearly all LGBT culture only existed in print or at the bar. So when the queer bookstore disappears, where else can you find 40+ years of LGBT culture? (Hint: it’s not on Netflix.)” Ken White on starting Query Books and republishing classic LGBT literature.

• Related to the above: David Shariatmadari reviews a new edition of Coming Out, Jeffrey Weeks’ history of gay emancipation in the UK; Modern Harmonic is reissuing Love Is A Drag, a collection of “love songs by men, for men”, first released in 1962; Your Daily Male 2017: 52 international artists, 365 pages of full-colour male art; erotic portraits of Yukio Mishima by Eikoh Hosoe.

A Year In The Country revisits The Touchables (1968), a film about four Swinging Sixties girls who live in a huge plastic bubble in the countryside (must be a nightmare in winter); the quartet kidnap a rock star as “a temporary solution to the leisure problem”. Script by Ian La Frenais from a story by David & Donald Cammell. No DVD but it’s on YouTube.

• Mixes of the week are still in the Halloween zone: FACT mix 575 by Fenriz, and Resting Lich Face by SeraphicManta.

• War, love and weirdness: Brian Dillon on Powell & Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, 70 years on.

• Bringing back the magic: a conversation with Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions.

David Toop listens, finally, to the legendary John Latham recordings of Pink Floyd.

The Synth Sounds of John Carpenter: Halloween, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13.

• “Creep or craftsman? Hitchcock was both,” says Tom Shone.

The Dazzling Designs for a New York That Never Existed

Photography by Harry Gruyaert

The Untouchables (1959) by Nelson Riddle | The Touchables (All Of Us) (1968) by Nirvana (UK) | The Touchables (1980) by The Human League

The Making of an Englishman: Emeric Pressburger

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After Powell & Pressburger together, then Powell solo, here’s a biographical portrait of Emeric Pressburger by his grandson, Kevin MacDonald. Pressburger wrote the scripts of the films made under The Archers name, and Powell was the director, of course, but the pair always insisted on a shared credit for writing, production and direction. The Archers films were true “Third Mind” creations which is why (Peeping Tom aside) Powell or Pressburger working alone often seemed diminished.

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The Making of an Englishman (1995) was Kevin MacDonald’s first documentary which he’s since followed with others including the excellent Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance (1998) and Touching the Void (2003), and feature films such as The Last King of Scotland (2006) and The Eagle (2011). His film about Emeric Pressburger was a welcome counterweight to the attention given to Michael Powell in The Archers partnership. Pressburger was Jewish, and emigrated to Britain from Hungary to escape the Nazis. This experience famously informs the script of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and it was Pressburger’s Continental character and an outsider’s eye that helps set the films of The Archers apart from those being made in Britain during the 1940s.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The South Bank Show: Michael Powell
Powell & Pressburger: A Pretty British Affair
The Rite of Spring and The Red Shoes
Michael Powell’s Bluebeard revisited
The Tale of Giulietta

The South Bank Show: Michael Powell

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This is the other great TV documentary about The Archers, the focus being on Michael Powell alone this time. The first volume of Powell’s autobiography, A Life in Movies, was published in 1986 which prompted this episode of The South Bank Show. Powell got to direct this one so there are many playful visual moments while tracing a career from a chance meeting with a Hollywood film crew in the south of France to the heights of the British film industry (and, in Black Narcissus, the painted peaks of the Himalayas). If you like Powell’s films his autobiography is essential reading. For a guide to the films of The Archers I’d recommend Arrows of Desire: The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger by Ian Christie.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Powell & Pressburger: A Pretty British Affair
The Rite of Spring and The Red Shoes
Michael Powell’s Bluebeard revisited
The Tale of Giulietta

Powell & Pressburger: A Pretty British Affair

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“It’s the only thing that fulfils its promise…magic,” says Martin Scorsese, referring to a shot of an arrow thudding into its target at the beginning of a feature film. A pierced target accompanied by the words “A Production of The Archers” heralded the films made by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger from 1943 to 1957, films that included The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), Gone to Earth (1950) and The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). A Very British Affair (1981) is a 50-minute documentary made for the BBC’s Arena strand by Charles Cabot and Gavin Millar that charts the progress of Powell and Pressburger’s partnership. There’s also some discussion of Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960), the film that sank his career in Britain but which is now regarded as a masterpiece of self-reflexive cinema.

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This is the best documentary about The Archers, not only for the interviews with the two men but also for the extraneous business with Michael Powell in Los Angeles and New York. In both cities the director is seen with two younger filmmakers who helped resurrect his reputation in the 1980s: Francis Coppola (seen wandering around the sets used in One from the Heart) and Martin Scorsese. The latter is interviewed during the filming of The King of Comedy, and we get to see a brief between-takes moment with Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro. Powell was a kind of backroom advisor to Scorsese at this time, offering suggestions during the production of Raging Bull and After Hours. On the west coast he was working on projects that would have been films for Coppola’s American Zoetrope but—as we now know—nothing materialised.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Rite of Spring and The Red Shoes
Michael Powell’s Bluebeard revisited
The Tale of Giulietta