We scored an 8/10 on the Guardian‘s remakes quiz â€” if you did better, don’t let us know.
Both J. Hoberman in the Village Voice and Caryn James in the New York Times look back on the complicated four-film span of Elaine May‘s directorial career (which infamously ended with "Ishtar" in 1987) on the occasion of the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s "Focus On Elaine May" retrospective. Hoberman:
Elaine May is…a director whoâ€”film for filmâ€”has to be considered alongside her more prolific peers Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Or maybe, given the brazen auteurism of her movies, alongside somewhat younger representatives of the (old) New Hollywood like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. But really, May is sui generis: the only major Hollywood director of the much mythologized ’70s who happened to be female.
James apparently would disagree:
It would be hard to find four works less like one another than the sparkling comedy "A New Leaf" (1971), the gritty and dark "Mikey and Nicky," the crowd-pleasing "Heartbreak Kid" (1972) and the crowd-dispersing "Ishtar." She does not have, and hasn’t gone for, the instantly recognizable style that a director like Woody Allen has. And while she may not be a natural filmmaker, she is a natural artist who collided with the financial realities of Hollywood, as her rampant perfectionism often led to budget overruns, feuds with the studios and lawsuits that flew both ways.
Ella Taylor has a great essay on families in film and on TV in LA Weekly:
Coming from a family that kept such a tight lid on its emotions, I’ve
always had a soft spot for that maligned and neglected form, the
melodrama. Watching old movies on television when I was a teenager, I
throbbed with schadenfreude as the rich clans in Orson Welles’ "The
Magnificent Ambersons" and "Citizen Kane" went down in flames of jealousy
and bile. With my mother, I guzzled 1940s maternal melodramas on TV,
glancing cagily sideways at her as Claude Rains’ psychiatrist counseled
Bette Davis’ helpless Charlotte in "Now, Voyager" to "Stick to your guns
without firing" when her demanding mater (a virago who made my own
strong-minded mum look like Mrs. Miniver) threatened to overwhelm her.
I thrilled to Charlotte’s liaison with married Paul Henreid and her
stealthy nurturing of his child, and fantasized myself as both mother
and daughter in some similarly boho domestic arrangement. In the 1970s,
when American movies were dominated by paranoid political thrillers, I
was wondrously creeped out by the insidious clans in "The Godfather"
Parts I and II, with their taciturn patriarchs and sidelined
matriarchs, their bursts of futile resentment and rebellion. Melodrama,
a form too lush and intense for our low-key, therapeutic age and yet
peculiarly suited to the emotive mess that is family life today, is
long overdue for a splashy comeback, and I had high hopes for a rebirth
when Todd Haynes’ wonderfully florid Douglas Sirk homage, "Far From
Heaven" (2002), tore down the 1950s suburban family from its pedestal
and recast it as a viper’s nest riddled with mendacity and
self-deception. No one (unless you count Andrew Jarecki‘s "Capturing the
Friedmans," a tale of one family’s sexual malignancy all the more
powerful for being a documentary) followed up, though, and it may be a
sign of our evasive times, and the poverty of genre cinema, that the
nearest thing I’ve seen to a powerful melodrama that addresses the way
the secrets and lies of family life bubble up, unbidden, at the worst
possible moments, even in the most silent and laconic of families, is
last year’s "Junebug" â€” a comedy.
Speaking of, at Film Stew, Brett Buckalew discusses how Amy Adams‘ performance in "Junebug" and Catherine Keener‘s in "Capote" (both are up for Best Supporting Actress) restore depth and dignity to the often-not character of Southern women on film.
Quote to dwell on for the closing ceremonies, from Seth Stevenson last week at Slate:
When I hear about skiing over "moguls," I half expect the competitors to be racing not over artificial snow mounds but rather over the supine torsos of Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein. I picture the well-fed executives compressed farther down into the snow as each racer slides his ski-tips up and across their bespoke-suited midsections. By midway through the event, a small trail of blood runs down the slope from Weinstein’s abdomen. Stray Italian dogs enter the course and lap at the red-tinged ice as the film exec moans in agony.
+ The (original) remakes quiz (Guardian)
+ May Days (Village Voice)
+ The Fireworks of Elaine May (NY Times)
+ Family Viewing (LA Weekly)
+ Southern Womanhood (Film Stew)
+ How To Watch the Winter Olympics (Slate)