"The question of prose is the central question of my life, my writing, and my work."
What is the "work" of film criticism? That question takes center stage in a lively new episode of the podcast, in which Peter travels to Toronto, Canada to talk movies with critic and writer Calum Marsh. Calum traces his cinephilia to his VHS and DVD days in suburban England, eventually developing via the influence of rigorous Jonathan Rosenbaum, and then swinging to an attempt to understand how film criticism can work more similarly to the great literary critics. They talk the beauty of Blackhat and the Kim's Video generation, but most of all they discuss prose and its function in describing a visual medium. They then top it off with a look at Whit Stillman's wondrous nostalgia critique, The Last Days of Disco, using Stillman's own novelization of his work as an examination of the different worlds of cinema and literature.
2:37-9:38 Establishing Shots - Gems from UCLA's Festival of Preservation
"Our philosophy here is to try to re-create the original look of the film."
Film, both the art and the physical medium, will only survive as long as there are those willing to protect and restore it. This is the job of Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak, a film scholar and head of the archive at the University of California, Los Angeles, which hosts its 16th Festival of Preservation this month. Dr. Horak discusses his route into the archive, from his graduate work uncovering the genre of German exile filmmakers, to his other historical work on the early American avant-garde and recently on Saul Bass. The discussion then goes into the heart of the archive—its history as an institution, its practices (both film and digital), and most importantly, its exhibition to audiences. Finally, the two look at Edgar Ulmer's Her Sister's Secret, a family melodrama that might not contain the usual German expressionism of the director, but subtly breaks patterns of morality against the conventions of Hollywood.
4:18-11:16 Establishing Shots - Abel Ferrara's Pasolini
12:00-1:00:07 Deep Focus - Jan-Christopher Horak
1:03:22-1:14:12 Double Exposure - Her Sister's Secret (Edgar G. Ulmer)
"You gotta look at it like a snapshot. There's one judge of true greatness, and that's time."
The Oscars aren't exactly Peter's favorite film event of any given year, but he does find the world they inhabit fascinating: how and why Hollywood presents itself to the rest of the world as it does? And if you are going to follow that universe, the collected journalistic sensibilities of Kristopher Tapley of In Contention is the right place to be. Peter talks to Kris about his start in filmmaking school before transitioning into writing, and uses his time to dispel the common myths many use to dismiss the Oscars. They also talk about his work highlighting the work of the technical support workers and memorable shots, before discussing a film that truly shows the work of below the line people: Oliver Stone's JFK. However, that certainly doesn't stop them from debating the conspiracy itself.
2:54-9:14 Establishing Shots - Mizoguchi's The 47 Ronin
"Editing is about rhythm and about emphasis. You're telling the viewer what's important."
Near the great down under, ex-pat Doug Dillaman has crafted his own cinephile life in New Zealand. Whether it's writing about movies, practicing the craft of editing for national television, or making his own movie, Jake, Doug has continually engaged in movies in a place often not thought about for its cinephile culture. So in this sit down with Peter, Doug talks about his origins of cinephila in Michigan and Texas, the idea of "leaning in" as a way to understand how an editor can tell a story, and how he crafted a supremely dark comedy about a man replaced in his own life. Finally, the two talk about My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki's impressionist vision of childhood magic, which leads Peter to reflect on how we discuss the feeling of delight in cinema.
3:22-8:54 Establishing Shots - On Charles Bronson
9:38-1:18:36 Deep Focus - Doug Dillaman
1:19:19-1:39:06 Double Exposure - My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki)
"It's all these things of when you are trying to dialogue with the reality of the shooting. Everything gets mixed into the shot that it is."
When cinephiles think of international cinema today, there's a good chance they conjur up images of peasants walking through nature for an uninterrupted 10 (or 20!) minutes while trees rustle in the wind. The films of Argentinian director Matías Piñeiro couldn't be further from that image, and are also an absolute delight: beautiful young adults mixed in love triangles through Buenos Aires, reciting history and Shakespeare all while constantly changing their identities (and all under 75 minutes!). His films—The Stolen Man, They All Life, Rosalinda, Viola, and now The Princess of France—represent some of the most exciting and unique contemporary filmmaking today. So Peter sat Matías down to investigate his upbringing in Bueno Aires, his adaptation process when working with great texts of literature, and how he integrates realism into his work to find fantastical elements. Finally, they discuss Jacques Rivette's B-movie homage, Duelle, a masterclass of documentary and the magical, and a film with a surprising connection to Argentina's cinematic history.
4:02-9:34 Establishing Shots - Michael Mann's Blackhat
The Stolen Man is currently on YouTube. Viola is available for streaming on iTunes and YouTube, as well as Blu-Ray via Cinema Guild. They All Lie and Rosalinda are currently unavailable in the United States. The Princess of France will be released by Cinema Guild later this year.
"Those lacking in imagination take refuge in reality." So speaks the first line to one of the ten eleven films that appear on Part 2 of Peter Labuza and Keith Uhlich's countdown of the best films of 2014. And what better describes their choices than fantastical images—prehistoric beasts, dogs (talking and non-talking), magical lands, and even more magical loves—bringing us closer to truth. From the snowy peaks of Zubrowka, the peaceful beaches off the coast of France, and inside a female uterus, Keith and Peter search for films that transform the way they see the world. The truth can be tough to swallow ("Well that's depressing," as one character might say), but these films make seeing it all the better.
0:00-6:51 Opening / Voicemails
6:52-21:54 Picks for #5 21:55-43:16 Picks for #4 43:17-1:01:45 Picks for #3