Yes, as Richard Brody and others have pointed out, JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY—photographer Bert Stern’s indelible documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival—could have been a different kind of film. Sonny Rollins, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, MaxRoach, and Miles Davis—with John Coltrane in his sextet—were also in Newport that year, but their performances didn’t make the final cut.
Yet the film remains one of the greatest jazz documentaries ever made, a picture of the art form at its peak just as rock and roll was about to replace it as the country’s most popular musical genre.
The performances of Dinah Washington and Anita O’Day alone are worth the price of admission, and Stern’s camera also captures the playing of Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Stitt, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Guiffre, and Chuck Berry. The great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson closes the film.
JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY is screening now on Kino Lorber’s Kino Marquee. See link below for details.
It’s great to be a provocateur. That’s what the world needs, this provocation. It stimulates thought and it stimulates ideas. It stimulates all kinds of conversations that don’t really have anything to do with the man himself. And who cares about the man himself? We’re looking at his art. — Charlotte Rampling
He was a little bit pervert, but so am I so it’s okay. — Grace Jones
I do consider myself a feminist, but I do consider the expression of machismo as an expression of a culture. Now, of course, Helmet wasn’t simply macho—it was more complicated than that—but he does look at a woman as a sexual object, and also an attraction and an anger toward her… It was actually extraordinary that Helmut was accepted by the industry because he was much more dangerous—much more ambiguous and frightening—than an Avedon or a Penn… Helmut photographed women the way Leni Riefenstahl photographed men. — Isabella Rossellini
Susan Sontag: As a woman, I find your photos very misogynist. For me it’s very unpleasant.
Bernard Pivot: You find him unpleasant?
Sontag: Yes. Not the man, the work… I never thought the man would look like the work. To the contrary. Even if you live through your work, you can be nice. I don’t expect a person to look like their work. Especially when it’s about fantasies and dreams.
Helmut Newton: I love women. There is nothing I love more.
Sontag: A lot of misogynist men say that. I am not impressed.
Newton: I swear—
Sontag: I’m sorry, I don’t think this is the truth. There’s an objective truth. The master adores his slave. The executioner loves his victim. A lot of misogynist men say they love women, but show them in a humiliating way.
Helmut actually loved strong women. — Nadja Auermann
When you’re 20 years old, 1.80 meters tall with blonde hair, you feel like a hunted deer. And HelmutNewton’s pictures made me stronger. I controlled the situation. I wasn’t the deer. I was equal to the hunter. I could decide what to do. I think a lot of people misunderstood that. — Sylvia Gobbel
I was very shy; I’d just turned 17. There was never a moment where I felt uncomfortable. I was just an amazing experience where I walked away saying, “This man is incredible.” He had a sort of twinkle in his eye—nothing serious, everything understated and very witty… Definitely, when I look at the pictures, it’s not me. It’s his imagination… I love the fact that I can be this different, through his lens.— Claudia Schiffer
I think he was Weimar. That’s how I think of him—connected to Brecht and Weill and George Grosz, that wonderful period of German Expressionism—that was Helmut. — Marianne Faithfull
Berlin for him was the very best of the Weimar Republic. Everything is possible, everything is allowed… What he liked about me was my guttersnipe style. I was not the usual elegant glamorous woman, but rather I had a portion of originality that comes from the lower classes of society. I suppose he also really like the eroticism of maids… It’s related to this Berlin period. — Hanna Schygulla
I loved my parents, they were great—very different influence on me. My mother was a very spoiled woman and quite hysterical in many ways, but pretty wonderful. And she encouraged me very much to become a photographer. My father was horrified by the idea. “You take pictures on the weekend for a hobby, my boy. You’ll end up in the gutter, my boy.” He was right, I did. But I had a good time in the gutter. — Helmut Newton*
The aesthetic of Helmut Newton—whose era is more distant from us now than the inspirational Weimar years were to Newton’s 1970s heyday—still provokes and intrigues, even in our less frivolous times.
In the excellent new documentary feature HELMUT NEWTON—THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL—now streaming on Kino Lorber’s Kino Marquee—filmmaker Gero von Boehm captures the great photographer’s obsession with the female form pushed to the edge of submission or absolute triumph.
*Quotations and dialog from Gero von Boehm, Helmut Newton—The Bad and the Beautiful, courtesy of the filmmaker, Kino Lorber, and Nadja Auermann, Marianne Faithfull, Sylvia Gobbel, Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Claudia Schiffer, and Hanna Schygulla. Susan Sontag segment originally from Apostrophes, 1979.
GUEST OF HONOUR—Atom Egoyan’s ingeniously layered take on unreliable narrators and fatal misapprehension—stars David Thewlis as a restaurant health inspector and Laysla De Oliveira as his daughter Veronica, a former high school music teacher imprisoned for an unprofessional incident with a student. Told in flashback as Veronica confers with Father Greg (Luke Wilson) about a funeral eulogy, the film is streaming now on Kino Lorber’s KinoMarquee.
This weekend the American Cinematheque, Canada Now, and the Armenian Film Society present a virtual Q & A with Egoyan and Thewlis.
I had better sex with other guys while thinking of him.
The quote above—a characteristic aside from one of the female leads in Louis Garrel’s AFAITHFUL MAN, the actor’s second turn in the director’s chair—refers to Abel (Garrel), a man of little agency in a romantic game of chance, seemingly happy to shuttle between Marianne (Laetitia Casta) and Ève (Lily-Rose Depp).
Abel and Marianne were lovers, until she announces—in the film’s first few minutes—that she is pregnant, and the father is their close friend Paul. Fast forward a decade and Paul has just died. Abel reconnects with Marianne at his funeral—a reunion witnessed by both Joseph (Marianne and Paul’s son, played by Joseph Engel), and Paul’s younger sister Ève, who has always had an unrequited crush on Abel.
We are deep in Rohmer and Truffaut territory—narrators voicing internal thoughts, chamber music on the soundtrack, a sense of timeless suspension in an everyday, non-touristic Paris—and Garrel (son of Philippe) and co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière (a Buñuel veteran) are indeed faithful to their antecedents, giving audiences a contemporary nouvelle vague experience and keeping the proceedings 100% français. (Even the Hollywood noir that Marianne and Abel go out to see is dubbed in French, which would not be the case in an actual Left Bank revival house.*)
A FAITHFUL MAN is a piece of cinematic driftwood, smooth and lovely, kept afloat by its players’ charms. Selfishness and betrayal are expressed and accepted with hushed discretion. Complete happiness is not exactly on the menu, but fidelity to independence, choice, and the freedom to make mistakes is its own reward.
My name is Jack. Well, my mother called me Jack, everybody that cares about me calls me Jack. But I work under the name Sabrina. And all the queens call me by the name Sabrina, whenever I see them. I go up to this queen and say, “What’s your name?” The queen says, “Monique.” And you say, “That’s marvelous darling, but what was your name before?” And the queen will look at you straight in the eye and say, “There was no before.” — Jack Doroshow, aka Flawless Sabrina, in THE QUEEN
It’s the late 1960s and national representatives of a burgeoning countercultural movement are gathered in Manhattan for their annual conclave. These young men, however, are not protesting the war in Vietnam but—in at least one case—eager to enlist, not burning the flag but waving it in a musical number. Led by Doroshow—and armed with maquillage, Dexedrine, miles of wig tape, costumes by Mme. Berthé, and a devotion to retrograde Hollywood archetypes and the grand gesture—the “girls” have taken over a dive midtown hotel to prepare for the 1967 Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant, the country’s preeminent drag contest.
Interviewed by judges Larry Rivers and Terry Southern (Andy Warhol is also in the house), there is—all things considered—a minimum of shade-throwing, at least during pre-pageant prep. But once he action moves to the main event at Town Hall, the festivities come to a raucous end when runner-up Crystal LaBeija reads everyone within earshot to dirt.
Thanks to director Frank Simon, this was all captured on 16mm film and released as THEQUEEN in 1968. Thanks to a team of film preservationists, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and Kino Lorber, we can now watch this peerless time capsule—previously seen only in glimpses during the opening titles of the first season of Transparent—in its entirety.