Film Comment September-October 2019 Vo.l 55 No.5

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United States
Film Society of Lincoln Center
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en este número

3 min.
editor’s letter

WHETHER YOU’RE talking about movies or the world in general, these are bewildering times to live in. Institutions can change rapidly or disappear entirely—and furthermore, without anyone even noticing—as the very notion of history seems to drop out of the picture. In the long jostling history of one phenomenon we watch closely—the movies!—the acquisition of Fox by Disney definitely puts Hollywood at another in a long line of inflection points between art and commerce. Disney’s hyper-focused pursuit of franchises with minimal risk, financial or artistic, seems to indicate a new era in the submission to the bottom line. As past Film Comment contributor Mark Harris has pointed out, there was once at least the pretense that massive profits from blockbusters could eventually support the development of smaller, adventurous films (even Toy…

4 min.
killing for a living

THE STORY FOLLOWS FRANK SHEERAN, A HIT MAN FOR THE mafia. He fought in the Second World War, saw a lot of combat, had to do a lot of killing, and that desensitized him, in a way, to [murder]. He meets Russell Bufalino, the top Mafia person in Philadelphia, and little by little, he starts getting more trust from Bufalino and other Mafia people. So they start asking him to do jobs for them. Bufalino introduces him to Jimmy Hoffa, and that’s the beginning of a very tight relationship. So we follow that relationship of basically these three men as the years go by. There were a few notions that Scorsese mentioned as we were starting to prep the movie. One of them very early on was about wanting to have…

2 min.
heal thyself

Sibyl’s somewhat involuted structure, doubling back on itself in the throes of its heroine’s desires and panic, gives the film a rewardingly heady feel that earns it the moniker of psychodrama. ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT SIBYL—THE title character of Justine Triet’s third feature—is as someone leaning over to peer closer, closer, closer at a whirlpool… and falling right in. A therapist, she cuts her patients loose one by one to devote herself to writing fiction, until, wouldn’t you know it, new patient Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos) becomes an object of obsession. Margot is an actress stressfully involved with her current co-star (caddish Gaspard Ulliel), who in turn is supposed to be partnered with the film’s director (Sandra Hüller of Toni Erdmann, again with quicksilver comic timing). On top of all of…

1 min.
mirror stage

You’re perfectly welcome to move on with your life, but we’re still in a state of consternation over the implications of The Lion King, which pushed Disney’s practice of photo-realistic reboots ever further into the realm of the obsessive. Were there really people who were saying, “The Lion King was nice, except the animals didn’t look real enough”? More seriously, are we entering a kind of crisis of literal-mindedness that insists our animated movies must tend closer and closer to photography, and away from illustration? Not that this burgeoning brand of animation doesn’t involve its own art and craft, but the question remains whether we’re supposed to be more impressed by the fetishized technological achievement than any artistic one (no wonder many have regarded the new Lion King as somewhat…

3 min.
thieves like us

“Modernism fundamentally rejects a linear narrative of life, in total opposition to social realism. Our lives are a mess, shattered into thousands of pieces.” AFTER WINNING THE GOLDEN BEAR AT Berlin for Black Coal, Thin Ice in 2014, Diao Yinan shifts from northeastern to southern China for The Wild Goose Lake, which received its world premiere at Cannes. Its spectacularly realized story of an ostracized gangster and a woman on the run draws on actual events (such as the “congress of the thieves,” a convention of criminals) and will screen in the 57th New York Film Festival. You started in the industry as a scriptwriter, and became a director in 2003 with Uniform. Yes. As a matter of fact, I made Uniform at that time because I had met the group [of…

2 min.
walks of life

As The Cat Has Nine Lives goes on, its bright colors and floral images come to seem stifling and even cruel. They engulf the women at the center of the film, hemming them in and sharpening their sadness. The Cat Has Nine Lives Ula Stöckl, 1968 Deutsche Kinemathek AT THE START OF THE GERMAN FILMMAKER ULA STöCKL’S first feature, a journalist named Katharina (Liane Hielscher) drives through Munich, gets out at the train station, and buys a single yellow rose. Her friend Anne (Kristine de Loup), just off the train from France, accepts it on the platform with a smile. A moment later they’re sitting on a deserted, sun-dappled patio on the river conferring about Katharina’s affair with a married man. Anne looks around at the bright empty space. “You know,” she says, “beauty…