Weekly Roundup: Olivier Assayas’ State of Cinema address, Sundance 2021 announcement, and the mythos of Bruce Lee

Your handy one-stop-shop for cinephile news, articles, and videos from the week that was.

News Roundup

Above: Carl Reiner, Annie Reiner, and Mel Brooks

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will take place live in Utah, as per usual, but will also include at least 20 independent and community cinemas across the U.S. and beyond. 

Actor, screenwriter, and director Carl Reiner passed away earlier this week at the age of 98. Mel Brooks, a longtime collaborator and friend, paid tribute to Reiner over at Rolling Stone

Reading Roundup

Why 'Once Upon a Time's' Bruce Lee cameo is problematic - Los ...
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (Tarantino)

Cinema Scope Magazine released the preview for their 83rd issue, with print copies set to go out to subscribers in the coming days. Some of the highlights: Erika Balsom interrogates the notion of the “female gaze,” as discussed in the recent book The Female Gaze: A Revolution on the Screen; Mallory Andrews reviews Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum (VIFF 2019); and Mark Peranson interviews C.W. Winter and Anders Edström, whose 480-minute The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) won the top prize in the Berlinale’s new Encounters section.

For Sabzian, Olivier Assayas penned this lucid essay about the state of cinema in 2020. “I have some good news, for everyone: cinema is in crisis. Which is hardly news, in a way, for it has continuously been in crisis throughout its existence. It is not a sign of future danger either – the future is an enigma, and it takes a lot of irresponsibility to speculate about it, to pretend to decipher its mysteries – but rather that of a seismographic sensibility to the stakes of the present. I think there is no other symptom more relevant to an art’s vitality than its constant reappraisal, in accordance with the constant reformulation of our world. The real issue would be to know whether the forces that transform the world are the same forces that transform the arts, how both feed on one another, unless they are contradictory.”

Over at The Atlantic, Danny Chau reflects on the mythos of Bruce Lee and analyzes that one particularly controversial scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. “To the world, he preached formlessness, a concept popularized via his famous “Be Water” response in an interview with Canadian journalist Pierre Berton. He’d come to that epiphany young; punching the sea once in frustration, he was inspired by how it coolly neutralized his assertion. “I wanted to be like the nature of water,” Lee once wrote. But that philosophy also presents a particular irony in how people understand him: When they reach for him, do they grasp the man or the symbol he became?”

Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, whose theatrical release was interrupted by the pandemic, will finally be released in virtual cinemas on July 10 (including viff.org). Speaking to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, Reichardt considered how the film might play differently in our new reality. 

Viewing/Listening Roundup

African-American video artist Arthur Jafa directed the music video for Kanye West’s latest single, “Wash Us in the Blood.” Jafa’s tremendous Love is the Message, the Message is Death previously made use of West’s “Ultralight Beam”. (If your interest is piqued, you can watch the short film via this video of a talk Jafa gave at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.) 

The Ross Brothers’ Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, one of the highlights of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, will be released in virtual cinemas later this month. The film’s first trailer is below. 

On the latest episode of the VIFF Podcast, we present a conversation with film composer and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Cliff Martinez, who joined us at VIFF AMP to discuss his work on the iconic film scores for Drive, Traffic, Spring Breakers, and The Knick, as well as his long-standing creative partnerships with Steven Soderbergh and Nicolas Winding Refn.

This morning, John Carpenter released two new songs, “Skeleton” and “Unclean Spirit”. Since 2016, all of Carpenter’s music has taken the form of soundtracks to films that don’t exist.

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