Tag Archives: Michelangelo Antonioni


Whether one was auditing Peter Wollen’s classes at UCLA, reading his essays, or watching the films he wrote and/or directed, one was always persuaded by what Tilda Swinton calls his “dazzling prophetic genius.”

Wollen—director of Friendship’s Death and co-director with Laura Mulvey of Riddles of the Sphinx and Crystal Gazing—was born in London in 1938 and died earlier this month in England. He is survived by his wife, the writer and artist Leslie Dick.

He co-wrote Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger, authored several books—including Signs and Meaning in the Cinema and Paris Manhattan: Writings on Art—and was professor emeritus of film, television and digital media in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

From top: Peter Wollen, photograph by Karen Knorr; Wollen, Paris Manhattan: Writings on Art; Wollen, Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film; Michelangelo Antonioni, The Passenger (1975); Laura Mulvey and Wollen, Riddles of the Sphinx (1977); Wollen, Friendship’s Death (1987), with Tilda Swinton and Bill Paterson; Wollen, photograph by Leslie Dick. Images courtesy and © the filmmakers, the author, the photographers, and Verso books.


In THE 10TH VICTIM, the great Italian director Elio Petri sets his characteristic socio-political critique amid sci-fi thrills and an explosion of mid-sixties glamour—courtesy of production designer Piero Poletto and iconic stars Ursula Andress and Marcello Mastroianni.

The populace of Rome, ensconced in an Op-art wonderland, compete for televised fame and fortune in a legal game of hunter and hunted—themes borrowed by The Hunger Games nearly half a century later.

Gianni Di Venanzo—who, like Poletto, worked with Antonioni—was the film’s cinematographer. Tonino Guerra, Giorgio Salvioni, and Ennio Flaiano wrote the screenplay with Petri, and Piero Piccioni composed the propulsive score.

This weekend, the American Cinematheque, the Art Directors Guild Film Society, and The Hollywood Reporter present a rare local screening of THE 10TH VICTIM, followed by a panel discussion with Frances Anderton—host of KCRW‘s DnA: Design and ArchitectureUSC professor Nicholas J. Cull, and production designers Guy Hendrix Dyas and John Muto.


Sunday, May 19, at 5:30 pm.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Ursula Andress and Marcello Mastroianni in The 10th Victim (1965), directed by Elio Petri, production design by Piero Poletto. Elsa Martinelli on phone (fourth from top).


Lee Chang-dong was in town last month for celebratory, sold-out screenings of BURNING, his trenchant epic of dislocation and revenge—and the writer-director’s first film in eight years.

Greatly expanding on his original source material—Haruki Murakami’s ambiguous short story “Barn Burning”—Lee told an enthusiastic American Cinematheque crowd that “no matter what your age, race, class, or gender, a sense of rage is permeating the world today.” To frame this phenomenon, Lee has drawn from another tale of rage, William Faulkner’s story that shares a title with Murakami’s.

The exponent of the filmmaker’s concerns is Jong-su—an aimless, unpublished writer played with soulful veracity by Ah-in Yoo—who quickly attempts to establish a relationship with Haemi (Jong-seo Jun), a childhood acquaintance he runs into during one of his dead-end delivery jobs.

Added to the mix is a Delonesque character Ben (Steven Yeun)—rich and idle but for his habit of burning greenhouses—who insinuates himself into Jong-su and Haemi’s lives to deleterious effect.

(Indeed, a creeping shadow of Antonioni hangs over Lee’s film, and the performative mysteries of ethnic appropriation in La Notte and L’Eclisse are slyly referenced in BURNING’s masterful mise en scène.)


Through January 17.

Laemmle Glendale

207 North Maryland Avenue, Glendale.


With Lee Chang-dong and Justin Chang in conversation

Sunday, January 13, at 7:30.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Through December 13:

Monica Film Center

1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica.

NoHo 7

5240 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.

Steven Yeun post-screening conversation at the recent New York Film Festival.

From top: Jong-seo Jun in BurningAh-in Yoo (left) and Steven Yeun (2); Lee Chang-dong (right) and Hirokazu Kore-eda, the writer-director of Shoplifters; Yoo. Image credit: Well Go USA Entertainment.


Part Barefoot Contessa, part Nashville, part psychedelic head trip—a sixties hangover shot in the seventies, abandoned in the eighties, and finally edited down from over 100 hours of footage to a two-hour cut—Orson Welles’ final film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, is a fascinatingly crass long day’s journey into night: the last fevered hours of Jake Hannaford, a past-his-prime Hollywood director played by John Huston with his signature leer and sense of exhausted disdain.

Surrounded by an entourage of enablers and trailed by a scrum of paparazzi and video documentarians, Hannaford makes his merry way out to Palm Springs to watch the rushes from his latest attempt at a cinematic comeback, which—as many early viewers have noted—plays like a Welles parody of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point.

(The hyper-erotic film-within-a-film stars Welles’ partner Oja Kodar, and Robert Random—both frequently nude and both the objects of Hannaford’s obsession.)

Shot in multiple film stocks, this propulsive blend of coercion, abuse, and overwhelming cynicism teeters on and off the rails from its opening scene, but you won’t be able to divert your eyes from the action.

“More acutely than any other work attached to Welles, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is built—in form and content—of thrown voices, feints, false fronts, and tall tales leading to and from Welles’ idea of himself as a public figure, as the performance of a lifetime, drawn at maximum clarity then cracked apart and squirreled within shadows of such depth as to permit only flashes, glimpses, and whispers of that self-image.

“To be a wreck is, it seems, a certain sort of freedom.” — Phil Coldiron in Cinema Scope.

Tonight, THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD—the Morgan Neville documentary on Welles and his struggle to make his last opus—will screen at LACMA. Tomorrow night at the same venue, producer Frank Marshall will present the Welles picture, followed by a Q & A.

(Later this week, Marshall will also present Welles’ film at UCLA.)



Monday, October 29, at 7:30 pm.

Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.



Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30.

Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.



Thursday, November 1, at 7:30 pm.

James Bridges TheaterUCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles.


Through November 8:

Noho 7, 5240 Lankershim, North Hollywood.

From Friday, November 9:

Glendale, 207 North Maryland Avenue, Glendale.

And on Netflix.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND features screen appearances by Mercedes McCambridge, Paul Stewart, Norman Foster, Susan Strasberg, Edmond O’Brien, Lilli Palmer, Claude Chabrol, Dennis Hopper, Stéphane AudranPaul Mazursky, and Welles intimate Peter Bogdanovich, whose efforts in the assembly and release of the film were significant.

From top:

Oja Kodar(left) and Orson Welles (right) in the set of The Other Side of the Wind.

Kodar (2).

Robert Random and Kodar.

Credit for all images: Netflix.


“I feel the need to express reality, but in terms which are not completely realist.” — Michelangelo Antonioni to Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du cinéma, November 1964.

Over the next two weeks at the Egyptian, the American Cinematheque will present Modernist Master—Michelangelo Antonioni, an extensive retrospective of the work of the Italian writer-director showcasing his key dramatic features, as well as a selection of shorts from throughout his career.

“Your work has proceeded, from moment to moment, in a movement of double vigilance, towards the contemporary world and towards yourself… You have lived through and treated the history of the last thirty years with subtlety, not as the matter of an artistic reflection or an ideological mission, but as a substance whose magnetism it was your task to capture from work to work.” — Roland Barthes, “Dear Antonioni,” 1980*

The series will open with BLOW-UP (1966), Antonioni’s celebrated look at Swinging London through the eyes of a fashion photographer—played by David Hemmings and largely based on David Bailey. The film co-stars Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, Jane Birkin, and The Yardbirds.

“For you, content and form are equally historical… Strictly speaking, the artist—unlike the thinker—does not evolve; he scans, like a very sensitive instrument, the successive novelty with which his own history presents him… The artist, for his part, knows that the meaning of a thing is not its truth… Your work is not a fixed reflection, but an iridescent surface.” — Barthes, “Dear Antonioni”

The Monica Vitti tetralogy from the early sixties is here—L’AVVENTURA (1960), LA NOTTE (1961), L’ECLISSE (1962), and RED DESERT (1964)—and the closing-weekend double feature pairs THE PASSENGER—written by Peter Wollen, Mark Peploe, and Antonioni—and ZABRISKIE POINT, shot in Los Angeles and Death Valley.

“Your art consists in always leaving the road of meaning open and as if undecided—out of scrupulousness. In this respect you accomplish very precisely the task of the artist as our time requires it: neither dogmatic, nor empty of signification.” — Barthes, “Dear Antonioni”

The series—co-presented by Luce Cinecittà—also takes a deep dive into Antonioni’s early work—STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR (1950), I VINTI (1952, his three-part look at juvenile delinquency), LE AMICHE (1955), and IL GRIDO (1957), starring Stephen Cochran as Antonioni’s only working-class male protagonist.

A rare screening of the documentary CHUNG KUO—CHINA will close the retrospective.



Thursday, September 13, at 7:30 pm.


L’AVVENTURA, Friday, September 14, at 7:30 pm.



Saturday, September 15, at 7:30 pm.


L’ECLISSE, Sunday, September 16, at 7:30 pm.



Thursday, September 20, at 7:30 pm.



Friday, September 21, at 7:30 pm.



Saturday, September 22, at 7:30 pm.


CHUNG KUO—CHINA, Sunday, September 23, at 7:30.


Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

*“Cher Antonioni” is a commemorative speech given by Roland Barthes in 1980 in Bologna. It was subsequently published in Cahiers du cinéma 311 (May 1980), and translated into English by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith for his book L’Avventura.

From top: Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings in Blow-Up.

Stephen Cochran and Dorian Gray in Il Grido.

Monica Vitti and Michelangelo Antonioni at the Paris premiere of L’Avventura in 1960.

Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider in The Passenger.

Antonioni with Alain Delon (center) and Vitti on the set of L’Eclisse.