Recommended Reading: Capricci 2012 & Leo Robson on Wes Anderson (significantly updated)

1. Film buffs who read French should be alerted to Capricci 2012, subtitled Actualités Critiques –- the second issue of an annual book-size magazine, a little over 200 pages in length, tied in various ways to some of the recent publishing activities of Capricci, many of which I’ve blogged about in this site in the past (e.g., LES AVENTURES DE HARRY DICKSON: SCÉNARIO DE FRÉDÉRIC DE TOWARNICKI POUR UN FILM [NON RÉALISÉ] PAR ALAIN RESNAIS in 2007, J. Hoberman in French in 2009, two books by or about Luc Moullet along with a DVD of his short films in 2009, and, 2011, LA SAGA: CINÉASTES, DE NOTRE TEMPS: UNE HISTOIRE DU CINÉMA EN 100 FILMS).

Edited by Thierry Lounas, the director of Capricci, Capricci 2012, which can be ordered for 18,81 Euros from French Amazon, includes, among several other items, 20-page dossiers on both James L. Brooks and Wang Bing (mostly drawn from exclusive interviews); a very polemical chapter from Luc Moullet’s autobiography-in progress De l’art and et d’un cochon (most of which is slated to be published only posthumously) devoted to his notorious 1981 TV documentary about teaching himself how to swim, Ma Première Brasse (in which he reveals, among much else, that he actually had no desire to learn how swim, a project he embarked on only so that he could make a film about it); a French translation of the Prologue of Hoberman’s latest book, An Army of Phantoms; a 14-page interview with Otto Preminger conducted in 1971 by Annette Michelson for a still-unseen Cinéastes, de notre temps TV documentary, currently scheduled to premiere at a Preminger retrospective to be held at the Locarno film festival (an interview so contentious and unyielding that Preminger virtually concluded it by calling Michelson an evil woman), and other features dealing with everyone from Charlie Sheen to Albert Serra.

I haven’t yet seen Capricci 2011, which can be ordered from French Amazon for 19,10 Euros, but the advertised contents of that issue include “Slavoj Zizek, Jean Narboni, James Agee, Ingmar Bergman, Judd Apatow, Repérages de The Wire, Entretien avec David Simon, Jean Eustache, Luc Moullet, Albert Serra et Hong Sang-soo, HPG, Joana Preiss…”


2. My subscription to the Times Literary Supplement generally isn’t motivated by much expectation of any enlightenment about filmic matters, but every once in a blue moon I’m pleasantly surprised. For the record, I don’t agree at all with the closing paragraphs of Leo Robson’s review of the delightfully singular Moonrise Kingdom in the June 1 issue. He thinks that “bracing sincerity” and/or “emotional directness” and what he hypothesizes as a resemblance to mundane reality are necessarily kissing cousins, and then faults Moonrise Kingdom for not having as much of the former two qualities as Rushmore, whereas I don’t see much of any obligatory connection between emotions and the conventions of so-called realism — which are incidentally just as remote in some ways from Rushmore as they are from Anderson’s subsequent films. (And for that matter, I wouldn’t fault Moonrise Kingdom for any emotional deficiencies, or dream of linking Anderson’s taste for pastiche and parody with the likes of Almodóvar, Bogdanovich, the brothers Coen, or Tarantino.) But before Robson arrives at these highly dubious conclusions, this is one of the most perceptive outlines of the Wes Anderson System that I’ve read. This review isn’t available online, by the way, so if you decide it’s worth tracking down, I guess you’ll have to find this issue either in one of the few remaining bookshops that handle periodicals or in a library somewhere. [6/5/12]

3 (November 2021). For a better account of Wes Anderson–specifically one about The French Dispatch that does all the hard work and pinpointing that I failed to do in my two paragraphs–go here.

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