Category Archives: FILM

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

I live in a world now where everything is “delegated” to photography. Nothing is left to memory, your own memory. What I’m interested in, instead, are things that can’t be seen, not those that can be… I have always labored under the illusion—but I also think it was true—that nobody ever photographed me. Because my face is not for sale. The real me is not photographable.Benedetta Barzini, to Beniamino Barrese

Beniamino Barrese is the son of Benedetta Barzini—the first Italian model to appear on the cover of American Vogue—and his mother’s obsessive interlocutor throughout his documentary THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER, one of the year’s best.

Summoned by Diana Vreeland in the mid-1960s to come to New York for a few weeks, Barzini stayed for a few years, a sought-after subject of Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, and Andy Warhol, a confident of Gerard Malanga and Salvador Dalí, and an acquaintance of Marcel Duchamp.

Barzini was a double-rebel. Modeling in Manhattan put a necessary distance between Barzini and her parents—heiress Giannalisa Feltrinelli and writer Luigi Barzini, Jr., author of The Italians. But the trajectory of second-wave feminism in the 1970s opened Barzini’s eyes to the ornamental condition of women, and she returned to Italy and became an activist and left-wing academic.

I asked myself this question: Why do we have prototypes of beauty? Why are models at the bow of the ship and the other women are squashed together into the stern? Why? Because men invent women… Maybe it would be better if female bodies disappeared from men’s imaginations.Benedetta Barzini

Barzani explains to her son that the camera is a dangerous liar because within its capture of arbitrary moments, it “freezes” life “within a limited boundary,” contaminating thought and inscribing conformity. “I don’t like frozen things… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a hundred million photos of sunsets. Frankly, they’re all the same. But they weren’t the same when you saw them.”

Barzini is by turns loving and exasperated with her son and his never-ending investment in images and their documentation. Yet Barzini still models herself—recently appearing in Simone Rocha‘s Fall-Winter 2017 show in London. Nothing if not contradictory, Barzini wants to remove herself from a world she finds deplorable, railing against ambiguity yet unsure which entrance to the void she should walk through. She explains to Barrese that their work together on this film is an act of “separation.” The filmmaker sees it differently, and together they find a sense of an ending.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

Now playing.

Laemmle Monica Film Center

1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica.

Quad Cinema

34 West 13th Street, New York City.

Beniamino Barrese, The Disappearance of My Mother (2019), from top: Benedetta Barzini (3); Barrese and Barzini (2); Richard Avedon spread of Barzini in American Vogue; Barzini on the cover of Vogue Italia, September 1967; Simone Rocha Fall-Winter 2017 show, London; Andy Warhol, Benedetta Barzini Screen Test, 1966; Barzini and Marcel Duchamp, filmed at the artist’s Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery opening by Warhol, 1966 (2); The Disappearance of My Mother U.S. poster; Barzini (5). Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the photographers, Benedetta Barzini, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Condé Nast, and Kino Lorber.

ADAM DRIVER AT THE EGYPTIAN

Adam Driver will be at the Egyptian Theatre this weekend for a between-film conversation. The American Cinematheque presentation on Sunday of Noah Baumbach’s acclaimed MARRIAGE STORY and Jim Jarmusch’s underseen gem PATERSON begins at 7:30 pm, with Driver taking the stage shortly before 10.

MARRIAGE STORY and PATERSON

Sunday, December 15, at 7:30.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top: Adam Driver in Paterson (2016); Scarlett Johansson and Driver in Marriage Story (2019) (2); U.S. poster for Paterson; Driver and Golshifteh Farahani in Paterson; Driver in Marriage Story. Images courtesy and © the filmmakers, the actors, the photographers, Netflix (Marriage Story) and Amazon Studios (Paterson).

MELINA MATSOUKAS AND LENA WAITHE — QUEEN & SLIM

I don’t want this movie to be as relevant as it is. But the scary thing is the movie becomes more and more relevant with every passing day. The script is almost a result of my trauma. I’m a black person in the world watching TV like everybody else. The work that artists are doing right now, this is us trying to put a time stamp on the society in which we live. It is a violent one. It is a cold one, and yet we still are stylish and we still are funny and we still love and we still smoke weed and we still do crab boils. Even in the midst of this trauma, we survive, we live, and that, to me, is what the real meditation of this movie became.Lena Waithe

Written by Waithe—from an idea by James Frey—and directed by Melina Matsoukas, QUEEN & SLIM opened this year’s AFI FEST and has gone on to ignite audiences across the country. Compared by critics to Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma and Louise—and by its writer to Set It Off—the film stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in the title roles, with backup by Bokeem Woodbine, Sturgill Simpson, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, and Indya Moore.

QUEEN & SLIM

Now playing.

Alamo Drafthouse

700 West 7th Street, downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. Live

1000 West Olympic Boulevard, downtown Los Angeles.

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Laemmle Noho

5240 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.

Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim (2019), from top: Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya; Turner-Smith; Kaluuya; Bokeem Woodbine and Indya Moore; Kaluuya and Turner Smith (2); Moore, Woodbine, Turner-Smith, and Kaluuya; Turner-Smith, and Kaluuya; Turner-Smith. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, and Universal Pictures.

VARDA BY AGNÈS AT THE AERO

Three words are important to me: inspiration, creation, and sharing… I don’t care if my films make money. I care that my films are seen and are loved. Agnès Varda

“My mother was very funny—left wing but not politically correct. We traveled a lot together. She was so curious and she loved gossip. Qui baise qui?

“Agnès was 89 when we started VARDA BY AGNÈS. She had lung cancer and we could only work three hours a day. This film was so difficult, going from the editing room to the hospital to the editing room…

“My mother would say, Don’t complain too much. Do it. We work hard, but it should look easy. We should not show the ‘work.’ Rosalie Varda, Agnès’ daughter and a co-producer of VARDA BY AGNÈS, in conversation with Ava DuVernay*

Agnès Varda didn’t like or use the word “master” to refer to herself or her work—what she called her cinéma écriture—but VARDA BY AGNÈS, her final film, is undeniably a master class in cinema, and a “characteristically playful, profound, and personal summation of the director’s own brilliant career.”

Now playing at the Aero Theatre, these American Cinematheque screenings of VARDA BY AGNÈS will be introduced by a variety of guests, including Illeana Douglas, Julie Delpy, Chloe King, Lisa Blok-Linson, Lynne Littman, Jim McBride, and Peter Debruge. See link below for details.

VARDA BY AGNÈS

Through December 11.

Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.

*Rosalie Varda and Ava DuVernay in conversation, Array 360° Film Series, November 2, 2019, Array Campus, Los Angeles.

From top: Agnès Varda on the set of Uncle Yanco (1967); Varda, behind camera, shooting her first feature La Pointe court (1955); Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret in La Pointe court; Alain Resnais and Varda editing the film; Corinne Marchand, Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962); Le Bonheur (1965); Varda, Visages Villages (2017), co-directed by Varda and JR; Varda and Jean “Yanco” Varda, Uncle Yanco; Kathleen Cleaver in Black Panthers (1968); James Rado (left), Viva, and Gerome Ragni in Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969); Varda by Agnès (2019) (2); Jeanne Moreau (left), Hanna Schygulla, and Michel Piccoli (as Simon Cinéma) in One Hundred and One Nights (1995); 72nd Festival de Cannes tribute poster, 2019; Varda by Agnès. Images courtesy and © Ciné Tamaris, MK2, Criterion, and Janus Films.

MARIA LASSNIG — NEW YORK FILMS 1970–1980

MARIA LASSNIG—NEW YORK FILMS 1970–1980—restored by the Maria Lassnig Foundation and the Austrian Film Museum—comprise live-action and documentary footage, and “enrich and complicate our understandings of Lassnig’s approach to figuration and self-portraiture, as well as other key themes that she investigated throughout her career, including the social roles assigned to women, the tension between public engagement and private seclusion, and questions of technological advancement, especially of imaging technologies and shifts in the way images circulate.” (New York Diary)

These films were largely never finished, nor shown in the artist’s lifetime, which perhaps accounts for their frankness, a type of elucidate meditation on the artistic process, life in the studio, and the psychologies, lives, and bodies of Lassnig’s friends and colleagues. As such, the films of this period become essential to understanding the shift within Lassnig’s practice, which occurred around 1970 following the artist’s move to New York from Vienna in 1968, to be “in the country of strong women.”* Shifting her focus from the personal to that of the body and its relations, her reaction to the sensory overload of Manhattan was not so much an abandonment of an earlier practice of “body sensation” drawings and the subsequent “body awareness” paintings, but rather a redefinition of a transposed body within a cultural and civic environment.**Mary L. Coyne

MARIA LASSNIG—NEW YORK FILMS 1970–1980

Friday, December 6, at 12:15 pm.

Arthouse Piccadilly

Mühlebachstrasse 2, Zürich.

*Maria LassnigThe Pen is the Sister of the Brush: Diaries 1943-1997, edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist (Göttingen: Steidl; Zürich: Hauser and Wirth, 2009).

**Wolfgang Dreschler, “About the intimate link between the pained and the painter,” in Maria Lassnig (Vienna: Museum moderner Kunst, Ludwig Foundation, 1999).

Maria Lassnig, from top: Kopf (circa 1976); Stonelifting: A Self Portrait in Progress (1971–1974) (2); Moonlanding / Janus Head (1971–1972). Images courtesy and © the Maria Lassnig Foundation.