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Can’t Turn Away

Rose McGowan and James Duval in Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation (1995)

Does Cannes really want to spend the first day of its seventy-sixth edition relitigating Depp v. Heard? Probably not, but here’s how Julia Jacobs opened her report in the New York Times on the festival’s big announcement on Wednesday: “Johnny Depp’s first major film since winning a lurid and contentious defamation trial last year—a costume drama in which he plays King Louis XV of France—will open the Cannes Film Festival in May.” It’s not until the fourth paragraph that Maïwenn, the director and star of Jeanne du Barry, is even mentioned.

The film will open in French theaters on the same day of its premiere, May 16, and two days later, Cannes will present James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth and final installment in the franchise. Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will screen on May 20, and the full lineup for Cannes 2023, which will run through May 27, will be announced this coming Thursday.

This week’s highlights:

  • In the new Cinema Scope, Adam Nayman talks with director Matt Johnson and producer Matt Miller about BlackBerry, “a tragicomic picaresque about the guys who ended up being nothing more than the opening act for the iPhone.” Darren Hughes gets Christian Petzold (Afire) to admit that he fibs now and then during press junkets. Reviewing Music, Phil Coldiron suggests that “the language of criticism, or even description, remains too crude to account for the rightness of [Angela] Schanelec’s montage.” Deborah Stratman’s Last Things “attempts to communicate a radically non-anthropocentric view of existence,” writes Michael Sicinski. And Our Body, Claire Simon’s documentary shot in a gynecological ward, “honors the body’s possibilities and delicate particularities by expanding [Foucault’s notion of the ‘medical gaze’] to encompass the lives beyond the bodies,” writes Beatrice Loayza.

  • On June 14, 2017, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower, a twenty-four-story residential building in London. Highly combustible cladding spread the flames swiftly, and seventy-two people died. Six months later, Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Small Axe), having consulted the bereaved survivors, took off in a helicopter to shoot a twenty-four-minute, single-shot film that begins just outside the city and then circles what McQueen calls a “burned-out skull.” Grenfell, on view from today through May 10 at Serpentine Gallery, is “painful to watch,” writes Guardian art critic Adrian Searle. “It is difficult to look but impossible to turn away.” Grenfell is “silent, but there is accusation here, too,” writes Mark Godfrey for Artforum. “Anyone making an artwork at a site of mass death is aware of the charge of aestheticizing pain. Here there is no sentiment, no kitsch, no consolation, no redemption.”

  • Lensed by Agnès Godard runs for just a few more days, but the Metrograph series has occasioned three fine conversations with the cinematographer and a brief but excellent appreciation by Jackson Arn.Ursula Meier talks with Godard in Metrograph Journal about their collaborations, A. E. Hunt gets into the nitty gritty of lenses and cameras for Filmmaker, and for AnOther Magazine, Tia Glista asks Godard about her work on Agnès Varda’s Jacquot de Nantes (1991) and Claire Denis’s Nénette and Boni (1996), Beau travail (1999), Trouble Every Day (2001), and The Intruder (2005). “Frame for frame and movie for movie,” writes Arn for Artforum, “Agnès Godard rivals [Emmanuel] Lubezki and [Roger] Deakins and every other cinematographer you could name, but her most distinguishing quality may be her refusal to wave her virtuosity in the audience’s face. Her images don’t need your approval; instead of clinging to beauty, they brush by it on the way to more.”

  • In his latest newsletter, artist and writer John Menick recommends subscribing to Jaime Grijalba’s translations of Raúl Ruiz’s diaries and offers a primer on the filmmaker who fled Chile for France shortly after the military coup in 1973. “By the late 1980s,” writes Menick, “all of the Ruizean narrative elements were on the table: amnesiacs, pirates, detectives, expressionist lighting, Dutch angles, lurching plots, artificial dialogue, self-reflective staging, narrative mise en abymes.” The diaries chronicle “feasts eaten, cooked, enjoyed, regretted,” and Ruiz’s “gastronomic appetites are only rivaled his intellectual pursuits.” Grijalba’s project is “scaled perfectly to its subject: epic and overstuffed with the pleasures of creation.”

  • The version of Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation that premiered at Sundance in 1995 wasn’t seen again until a new 4K master of his uncensored director’s cut was screened at the festival earlier this year. A theatrical run begins in New York and Chicago today. James Duval, Rose McGowan, and Johnathon Schaech star as teens on the run, and when Ray Pride spoke with Araki in 1995, he called this second film in the director’s Teenage Apocalypse trilogy “a gaudily-colored methedrine blur that takes the stuff of outlaw couple movies and jacks it up as a three-way flirtation with sex and danger, pushing road-to-hell nihilism toward a brutal conclusion.” For Filmmaker, Natalia Keogan talks with Araki, who tells her that “we were young and just wanted to make something really subversive, punk, transgressive and rebellious. Nothing was too extreme for us.”

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