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Film Comment March - April 2015

For over 50 years, an award-winning mix of international news, interviews, and critical reviews has kept Film Comment’s readers in touch with the state of movie art. Find out why Clint Eastwood, Steven Soderbergh, and Quentin Tarantino subscribe.

United States
Film Society of Lincoln Center
$7.90(Incl. tax)

in this issue

2 min
editor’s letter

WHEN PEOPLE THINK OF FILM COMMENT, IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT THEY THINK OF IT, correctly, as a magazine that approaches cinema primarily through the discussion of directors and their films. This puts us solidly in the mainstream of publications about movies. That said, over the past 50-plus years, FILM COMMENT has traditionally put films on its cover, not the people who directed them. And when you put a film on the cover, what that really means is you’re going with an image of an actor, usually the star of said film—even though the cover story is almost never about said actor. So there we have it: images of actors embody the films we’re interested in. This is a very long-winded way of saying that despite being a magazine about filmmakers, when…

2 min
hot property

Outer Limits MYSTERIOUS AND SOULFUL, Virgil Vernier’s debut fiction feature has its eyes on the night skies and its feet firmly planted on concrete. Somewhere in a Paris banlieue backcountry of brutalist housing projects, two young women, Lisa and Joane, strike up a friendship and wonder about their futures; we also get periodic glimpses of a young guy first seen learning the ropes in a building’s control room. Vernier maps out the women’s psychological landscape with close attention to the shared space of hanging out and the momentary pressure points when their ideas about the world bump up against reality. Mercuriales materialized at l’ACID during last year’s Cannes festival, where Vernier’s short Thermidor showed in the Directors’ Fortnight in 2009. The filmmaker has unconventional documentary work under his belt, notably the hybrid…

3 min
alex cox’ s 10,000 ways to die

Fast Lane DINO RISI’S 1962 FILM CAN be watched and enjoyed as a comedy… or as something else. It is the story of Roberto and Bruno, an odd couple thrown together entirely at the behest of Bruno. Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a shy law student who plans to spend the holiday studying. Bruno (Vittorio Gassman) is an aggressive, talkative extrovert with a sports car. On one pretext after another, Bruno drags Roberto further and further from Rome, away from his law books, borrowing money from him, with the promise of a shopping trip, or lunch, or dinner, always receding. When the film opened in a high-class theater in Rome, it was a disaster—people didn’t laugh. Only as it rippled out to the cheaper cinemas did Il Sorpasso find its audience, who appreciated…

3 min
site specifics

Who Runs the World WHEN WRITER, DIRECTOR, AND VISUAL ARTIST Elisabeth Subrin told people about her upcoming feature, A Woman, A Part—about a middle-aged actress struggling to find herself independently of her career—even actresses responded by asking her why she would tackle such a subject. Her new website, Who Cares About Actresses, is partly animated by her belief, as she explains in a simple but powerful manifesto, that “our culture does not recognize the utterly critical role actresses have as ambassadors for female identity.” Launched last November, the site (which is dedicated to Maria Schneider) showcases interviews, short films, artwork for galleries, and even Internet art in the form of animated GIFs. Fully embracing the potential of multimedia, these selections play on issues of identity and reflect the widespread demand by many…

3 min
restoration row

THE COW | Dariush Mehrjui | 1969 | National Film Archive of Iran HALFWAY THROUGH DARIUSH MEHRJUI’S debut feature, the story is transformed by a quietly violent rupture. Hassan (Ezatollah Entezami), a middle-aged farmer in an Iranian village, sits on the roof of his house as his friends attempt to inform him, unsuccessfully, that his beloved cow has run away. He’s watching his barn—where, he insists, the cow is still resting—and waiting for the moon to rise. “The moon comes out,” he tells them, “every time my cow is thirsty.” The Cow, which Mehrjui adapted with Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi from the latter’s own play after earning a philosophy degree from UCLA, has often been called the film that launched the Iranian New Wave. But from this pivotal moment onwards, it becomes hard to…

2 min
the last word

THE BALLOTS CAME THUNDERING IN FOR Boyhood over Birdman (among other 2014 films), with Godard’s Goodbye to Language—the runner-up in our Critics’ Poll—shunted to lucky #13. Readers also went their own way in plumping for the dastardly doings of Gone Girl (#9), Nightcrawler (#10), and Foxcatcher (#17), as well as the nobler impulses of Selma (#14) and Interstellar (#19). Note: numbers in parentheses refer to the film’s ranking in the Critics’ Poll (Jan/Feb 2015). For each ballot, a first-place choice was allotted 20 points, 19 for second, and so on. Congratulations to the winners selected randomly from this year’s poll participants to receive Criterion Collection DVDs of their choice: Stacy Davies of Pomona, CA (First Prize); Kathleen DeGuzman of Nashville, TN (Second Prize); and Mike Feine of Rushford, MN, and…