Film

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, with Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

Apocalypse then.

As an act of recollection, The Master captures the Fifties with perfect pitch, all the more remarkable because the film’s creator wasn’t there. Two stories collide from opposite directions. One is the story of an invisible man, a World War II veteran who never recovers from combat. The other is a charlatan savant skimming the gullible and rising to become a cult leader, the Master of the title. One life has slipped through the cracks, as adrift as Okies in the Dust Bowl but desolately lonely. The other life is a round-the-clock power play to grab the golden ring.

Production Notes: Woody Allen’s Bop Decameron in Rome

Woody Allen is in Rome shooting his latest production, The Bop Decameron. Italian newspapers have been brimming with “Where’s Woody?” stories, and tourists and citizens have been tweeting their sightings. Woody is very popular in Italy and while this is his first Rome-set picture, he has been a frequent visitor in the past with his New Orleans jazz band.

in tow.

The Bop Decameron will be structured into four vignettes, two of which will be in Italian. Yesterday, Woody shot at Piazza Mattei with a predominantly Italian cast and crew. Jim Jarmusch used the same location in the Rome segment of Night on Earth, starring Roberto Benigni, who is also signed on for The Bop. Other cast members include: Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Allen himself.

The Tree of Life, by Terrence Malick

First disobedience. Sticklers are fond of pointing out that Proust was not remembering things past but in search of lost time, as the original French title says. So is Terrence Malick. His most Proustian film to date is The Tree of Life, which is now awing and stumping audiences, trailing a Palme d’Or from Cannes in its processional through movie houses where most of the audience, children of Star Wars and Scooby Doo, stand as amazed as Nebudchadnezzar reading God’s message in fiery letters. The film is autobiographical and philosophical, like Proust’s A la recherche, and just as maannered in its stylized language, although in this case the invented diction is visual.

State of Siege, a New Documentary on Sydney’s Destruction

Having spent the afternoon before this one-off screening at the Nicholson Museum of ancient art, in their new re-presentation of their Egyptian collection through the eyes of Herodotus, I came across this quotation: “Cheops brought the country into all sorts of misery. He closed all the temples, then, not content with excluding his subjects from the practice of their religion, compelled them without exception to labour as slaves for his own advantage. Some were forced to drag blocks of stone from the quarries in the Arabian hills to the Nile, where they were ferried across and taken by others, who hauled them to the Libyan hills. The work went on in three-monthly shifts, a hundred thousand men in a shift. It took ten years of this oppressive slave-labour to build the track along which the blocks were hauled — a work, in my opinion, of hardly less magnitude than the pyramid itself. “The Egyptians can hardly bring themselves to mention the names of Cheops and Chephren [his successor], so great is their hatred of them; They call the pyramids after Philitis, a shepherd who at that time fed his flocks in the neighbourhood.” Will we still despise the New South Wales government in 2000 years? It doesn’t seem so very far fetched. At least Cheops had a sort of vision, the pyramids have a certain stark beauty of their own and they draw many wealthy tourists. The eagerness to destroy and thugishness of the current NSW government is extreme and is it really so much worse to steal people’s labor than their homes? For that’s what we witness in this new documentary. As the environmentalist, bushwalker and businessman Dick Smith points out in his interview, rezoning a person’s land is tantamount to stealing it because they will have no choice but to sell to the developer who puts up two ugly apartment blocks on either side of them. After food and water (and nowadays we are forced to add) clean air, shelter is the most basic human need. Interfering with people’s homes thus pokes even deeper into the human psyche than the layer where Freud put his conception of the libido. The lower levels of government (state, province, local) affect our lives directly in a way the feds cannot. The wonder is that many in NSW aren’t angrier.

Re: Incarnation – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The first Thai winner of the Palme d’Or after its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and so far seen mostly in Europe, Uncle Boonmee is about to get a limited release in New York City, while the Region 2 DVD is released in March. Here in the UK it was first shown at the London Film Festival in October 2010 before going on general release (i.e. in London and perhaps a few other big cities) a month later. I belatedly caught up with it on the day it was excluded from the Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, a decision that I can now say seems quite understandable – for reasons not of quality, but of cinematic style.

A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.