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Film Comment March-April 2018 Vol. 54 No.2

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
$7.92(Incl. tax)

in this issue

3 min
editor’s letter

RECENTLY AT THE FILM COMMENT offices we received a letter of displeasure, which is of course not an uncommon occurrence at any magazine. In this case, the reader reported he was “dismayed” that, as he sees it, “fashionable notions about race, gender, sexuality, and (less often) social class are crowding out what used to be much more salient and trenchant evaluations of cinema.” Why must we spend so much time and space on “allegedly ‘marginalized’ groups” while “hashing out political hang-ups and personal anxieties”? It’s precisely this kind of thing, he believes, that “contributes to our toxic political culture and mass resentment.” It is fair to say that our reader may not warm to Devika Girish’s superb cover story on Ryan Coogler’s latest film, Black Panther, although that would be the…

4 min
voyage of time

News, views, conversations, and other things to get worked up about As told by Lucrecia Martel to Manu Yáñez Murillo WHEN I TRIED TO ADAPT HÉCTOR GERMÁN OESTERHELD’S science-fiction comic The Eternaut [the project I attempted before making Zama], I was forced to think about the representation of another time. We might think that this particular category of fiction is preceded by the word “science” because of its predictive nature. It is a fiction that anticipates the future, even as a hypothesis. Yet strangely when we insist on thinking about the past, it would seem that the sciences that address it do not have a predictive capacity. There may be certainty about whether or not a white wig was worn in such a place in the Spanish colonies, but what can we…

2 min
in the key of life

Hale County This Morning, This Evening resists the tendency to slot black lives into familiar storylines of inertia and inevitable suffering, as ready-made vessels for tragedy. IT COULD NOT SOUND SIMPLER AS A DESCRIPTION of a film: moments from the lives of African-American residents of a smallish county in Alabama. But if RaMell Ross’s debut feature is as simple as all that, why have we seen little of these lives on screen elsewhere? Premiering at Sundance in January, Ross’s journal-like experimental nonfiction film cycles through a panoply of scenes that might serve as lyrical cutaways in other hands: a child running back and forth in a living room, a man backing away from a car window, sweat dripping from another man playing basketball, a bonfire’s nimbus of smoke phasing out the…

2 min
dark angel

“The TV scene with Joe and his mother was an improvisation. The only thing is, that ‘e e!-e e!-ee!’ noise [from Psycho] is really expensive—you can’t use that sound without paying 13 grand or something.” LYNNE RAMSAY’S YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE premiered at Cannes last year in an unfinished version. Now fine-tuned, the thriller—based on a novella by Jonathan Ames—is a blood-soaked Descent Into Hell story, with Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, a war-traumatized professional killer trying to save a young girl from a pedophile ring. In Cannes, the film was something more than a work in progress, but it feels much more cogent in the completed version. What exactly have you changed? We’d just shot the war scenes [flashbacks to Joe’s past]. I wanted them to be like shards of glass in…

1 min
getting the kinks out

The aggressively disjointed plotting, somnambulant acting, and stylized sex games of the Fifty Shades cinematic saga have been somewhat enjoyable since starting an eternity ago in february 2015. but the release of the final, grueling chapter this winter threw the whole dumb endeavor into a new, sallow light. One would hope the psychologically abusive, emotionally moronic, filthy rich christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) was going to finally be put in his place by anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), and if not in literal chains then some metaphorical variation of that would do. Instead, christian and anastasia’s “consensual” dom-sub sexual relationship appears to simply have been the warm-up for a larger social retrograde fantasy—that of professional and marital female subjugation. The inaptly named Fifty Shades Freed starts with a wedding ring sliding onto…

2 min
devil’s bargains

Elegant Beast, which appeared the year before Yuzo Kawashima’s death, is among other things an inventory of strategies for shooting an entire widescreen, color film in one cluttered apartment. Elegant Beast Yuzo Kawashima, 1962, Kadokawa Corporation YUZO KAWASHIMA WAS AN EMBLEMATIC FIGURE OF POSTWAR Japanese cinema. The legacy of World War II loomed over his acerbic social satires much as it did over the work of his contemporaries Masaki Kobayashi and Keisuke Kinoshita. Unlike those directors, Kawashima died at an early age (45), just as a younger generation of filmmakers—including his student and protégé, Shohei Imamura—was emerging with an angrier, edgier, and more heterodox style. Kawashima, then, remained a transitional figure, his fierce sense of hypocrisy and exploitation shaped by the beginnings of Japan’s economic resurgence after the war. Elegant Beast, which appeared the…