The Late Show

Will we perhaps need something to lift us from the December Doldrums? I propose a Blogathon!

I’ve been meaning to try this for a while, but haven’t for the same reason I never throw parties — supposing nobody comes? But I’m not too bothered — it’d be business as usual at Shadowplay, a week of daily posts, whether anybody else contributes or not. But if anybody does, it’ll be even better. Just send me the addresses of your posts and I’ll link to them from a post of my own.

The theme was suggested earlier this year when I dined with fellow bloggers Glenn Kenny and Farran Nehme Smith, AKA the Self-Styled Siren, in New York, and it was the Siren’s idea: late films. I think we might go so far as to specify LAST films, but I don’t want to be too rigid about that. The idea is that late in many filmmakers’ careers, when they’re no longer in fashion, they often produce work which is underrated at the time: it’s compared negatively to their Golden Age work, and to the hip hits of the moment, and then consigned to the dustpile. But with nearly every great filmmaker, whatever the problems of the late films (often produced on low budgets, sometimes literally shot in the filmmaker’s back garden), they nevertheless encapsulate the mature reflections of great artists, and are worth appraising with an open mind.

The idea isn’t restricted to directors — writers, producers, composers and actors and whatever else are welcome too — I guess the filmmaker in question should be dead or retired though, so that the status of “late” is a definite one, marking the end of a career and not just a pause.

In keeping with the “late” idea, the end of the year seems good timing, so I propose the week of December 14th to 20th 12th to 18th. If you think you’ll be too busy then, write it now! I was going to go for the very end of the year, but I was afraid normal people will be too busy to read it then.

30 Responses to “The Late Show”

  1. Sadly apposite — Luis Garcia Berlanga is dead. You did a wonderful “Forgotten” on EL VERDUGO — for the Late Show, how about his PARIS-TIMBUKTU, possibly coupled with TAMANO NATURAL (which may deserve its own post at some point)? I’ve just ordered his “chaotic memoirs”, BIENVENIDO MISTER CAGADA, written with Jess Franco.

  2. RIP.

    He did have a long and distinguished career across fairly tumultuous times. If I can get subtitled copies or get a translation, I’d be up for that. But I’d also be thrilled to publish anything you want to write about him!

    In general, anybody who doesn’t have a blog of their own but would like to contribute to this, I can play host!

  3. I saw Ingmar Bergman’s SARABAND today, he made it in 2003. Really powerful stuff. Then a month ago I saw Mikio Naruse’s SCATTERED CLOUDS also a masterpiece. Both were their masters’ final films.

    I am not sure if Late films also mean last films since it applies to a career nearing the end rather than a career cut short as in the case of Pasolini and SALO or Fassbinder and QUERELLE.

    I’d like to write on Rohmer’s final three films. It’s fitting since he died this January and the month of December ends with a look at his final works. I haven’t seen Chabrol’s recent films either. So I’d take Rohmer if no one else has taken him by now. If not then I propose Late Altman or John Cassavetes’ LOVE STREAMS.

  4. Marcel Carne’s 1975 film THE MARVELLOUS VISIT is a lovely but often overlooked gem.

    Or what about Manoel de Oliveira? He only really hit his stride in his 70s, so just about everything he’s ever done qualifies as a ‘late’ film.

  5. Exciting – I shall participate. Already making a list of late works I’ve never seen. Don’t suppose there’s much use in writing about a late film by someone whose earlier films I haven’t seen… that narrows it down.

  6. Manoel de Oliveira is ageless like Goethe. And you can even talk about Godard whose FILME SOCIALISME I’m dying to see and seems to be the most exciting thing in film history since Workers Leaving the Factory. But even then while people consider it his last film, Godard is already talking about his next film…
    …which he is pondering to shoot in 3D!!!

    With some film-makers they’ll keep making till their blood keeps circulating. That’s literally true of John Huston who directed The Dead with an oxygen tank.

  7. Arthur, please write about Rohmer by all means!

    I don’t know if Oliveira counts because he’s still going strong and no absolute law of nature exists to stop him making another ten films. But I don’t want to veto anybody of interest.

  8. He’s pretty good! *I* couldn’t do that.

  9. Sounds great! Count me in.

  10. Excellent!

    It doesn’t matter, by the way, if two people write about the same film or filmmaker. It’ll be fun getting different perspectives.

  11. I’m not sure if i’d be brave enough to tackle analyzing Rossellini’s final film or two, but I hope somebody does!

  12. Did Rossellini improve or get worse as the decades went by? At least he was no longer making Fascist propaganda movies.

    A Film Buff’s Riddle:

    “What’s the difference between Roberto Rossellini and Leni Riefenstahl?”

    “Leni Riefenstahl had talent.”

  13. Ever the provocateur! And yet, you have seen some Rossellini that impressed you, right, David?

  14. It’s a great idea. I’m not a blogger but I do plan to write something on Steaming, Joe Losey’s last film and also that of his DoP, Christopher Challis.

  15. david wingrove Says:

    OK, time to own up. I love JOURNEY TO ITALY (one of my favourite films, in fact) and bits of ST. FRANCIS are great too.

    However, STROMBOLI and ROME OPEN CITY both struck me as aesthetic atrocities (never mind the rampant and gratuitous homophobia in ROC). The latest Rossellini film I’ve seen, ANIMA NERA, is the ruination of a fascinating play by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi – a man who, unlike Rossellini, became a genuinely great film-maker with ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE and THE DIVINE NYMPH.

    But what I object to most of all is Rossellini’s pretence to being a socially conscious left-wing film-maker. I find this ethically intolerable – given the fact that he was making flag-waving Fascist propaganda movies at a time when genuine anti-Fascists like Luchino Visconti were in hiding, tortured and imprisoned.

    In my view, the man was never anything but a flagrant opportunist. I don’t object to that in itself (so many film-makers are) but I do object to the air of moral sanctity in his later ‘left-wing’ films. I’m also astonished that so many critics and film historians have bought into his self-created myth. It’s something Leni Riefenstahl never got away with…but Rossellini somehow managed. Odious man!

  16. Judy, yes please! I’ll publish any submissions on a late films theme, but especially something like that which serves as a useful addendum to Joseph Losey Week.

    Challis used to live near Edinburgh and would attend Film Festival screenings of O Rosalinda! and The Tales of Hoffman. Alas he’s moved away and I don’t know what the state of his health is. Although Cardiff was the more important figure and shot the most important P&P movies, Challis’s work is every bit as excellent. He also shot The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, my favourite late Wilder film.

  17. Rossellini, when he was young, made a couple of fascist movies it’s true, but so did Mizoguchi and Kurosawa, and people manage to get past that. And yes Rome Open City and in some ways Germany Year Zero are disturbingly homophobic in places, I think it would be a shame to stop you enjoying the rest of his films.

    His later films do get better, they get much worse technically, the dubbing more sloppy (Rossellini wouldn’t supervise it or put much money into it), virtually everyone is a non actor reading lines off camera or hearing them through an ear piece… But everything gets a lot more focussed, trying to recreate significant historical events – I really recommend checking out The Taking of Power by Louis XIV to see if you’d like the others… it’s a hard film to describe as it does away with traditional narrative… It’s on youtube if you don’t want to get the dvd (which has a great visual essay by Tag Gallagher which analyses the late films better than I ever could!)

  18. […] blogger extraordinaire David Cairns of Shadowplay is inaugurating a “Late Show” blogathon devoted to directors’ late or last films, set for this December 14-20! […]

  19. […] have to think of a late film to blog […]

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