Film Comment November-December 2018 Vol. 54 No.6

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United States
Film Society of Lincoln Center
US$ 5,95

en este número

3 min.
editor’s letter

TODAY IS KIND OF A SUCKY DAY.” It is with those ignoble words that Peter Barbey reportedly informed his staff, one fine day this August, that The Village Voice was ceasing publication for good. Almost exactly one year earlier, the Voice stopped publishing in print, switching to an ambitious, exclusively online edition and leaving behind its beloved red plastic vendor boxes on street corners across Manhattan to collect debris. A couple of months later, I attended a kind of memorial for the Voice: a panel of some of its extant critics at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, including such formative giants as Amy Taubin, Molly Haskell, J. Hoberman, and Jonas Mekas, with Mekas kicking things off by setting up a video camera on a pillow on his knees…

3 min.
the spoken word

READING JAMES BALDWIN WITH A MIND TOWARD ADAPTING him was a daunting prospect. I’d always worshipped James Baldwin. For me, as it pertains to exploring humanity through writing, he was the monolith at the conclusion of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: oblique, unassailable. This adaptation was different and distinct from the previous film. With Moonlight, the visual inspirations were largely rooted in cinema, the work of Wong Kar Wai and Hou Hsiao-hsien. Claire Denis. With If Beale Street Could Talk, we took a course dictated by Baldwin’s words—the lyrical poetry of his syntax. Baldwin had a way of making sentence structure expressive, a mastery of craft in which the tools used to deliver the message, the very words themselves, became art. In a film so driven by the interior voice of the author…

3 min.
the things they carried

THE TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE CURRENTLY displaced globally have found their way on screen in numerous well-intentioned dramas and documentaries over the past several years, but with Los Silencios, Brazilian writer/director Beatriz Seigner lends the phenomenon a metaphysical dimension. The setting is the island borderlands between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, where Colombian emigrants live in a liminal state; joining their numbers are new arrivals Amparo (Marleyda Soto, one exception to the predominantly nonprofessional cast) and her two young children Nuria and Fabio, rebuilding their lives from the ground up. That includes sewing together school uniforms when new ones are out of reach, which lends Los Silencios one part of its rhythm: that of day-to-day survival, drawing on the aid of Amparo’s aunt. But what deepens that story of persistence and…

3 min.
last testaments

WHILE MAKING HIS EPIC 1985 DOCUmentary Shoah, Claude Lanzmann recorded four extensive interviews with women who witnessed and survived the Holocaust, but their narratives weren’t included in that film. Over 30 years later, Lanzmann created a suite of four films from this material, collectively entitled Shoah: Four Sisters. I spoke with him when they screened at the 2017 New York Film Festival—less than a year before he passed away at the age of 92. I once mentioned the word “documentary” to you, and you said you hated that word so much that you wanted to punch me in the face. Are you uninterested in calling these four new films documentaries as well? Honestly, I don’t care. They are films. And they are good, beautiful films, whether they are documentary or not. It…

1 min.
you got served

Aside from the very specific peculiarity of eating chicken in the dark, it’s become fairly unremarkable to watch the latest blockbuster or art-house crossover while being served a full-course meal. This reportedly quite profitable trend is not going anywhere for the time being, as it’s helping smaller foodie-movie theaters like New York’s Nitehawk and national chains like Alamo Drafthouse cut down on the potential devastations felt throughout the industry. But with their gains come our losses, and we’re not just talking about the dubious quality of buffalo cauliflower “wings” or the risk of a gloppy queso dribble ending up on your pants. It’s hard to name the least movie-conducive thing about watching a film while conscientious waiters scurry around in front of you like whack-a-moles, but it might be when…

3 min.
hopelessly enchanted

The Mad Fox aka Love, Thy Name Be Sorrow Tomu Uchida, 1962, Toei Company FOR A CERTAIN GENERATION OF POSTWAR JAPANESE FILMMAKERS, theatrical forms of earlier centuries—Bunraku, Kabuki, and Noh—became crucial sources of energy and inspiration. Directors as varied as Nagisa Oshima, Kon Ichikawa, and Keisuke Kinoshita were drawn to pre-modern stage traditions for their tantalizing alternatives to realism. Invisible stage managers could weave in and out of the action, as in Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide (1969); colors could be over-ripened and painted sets foregrounded. Tomu Uchida knew the theater well. As a young man, he spent time on the road in a traveling acting troupe. He based The Mad Fox—the colorful, delirious film he made late in a career that lasted until 1971—on an 18th-century puppet play by Izumo Takeda. But he…