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Film Comment May - June 2016

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

STARING HEAVENWARD ON OUR COVER is Agyness Deyn, star of Sunset Song from Terence Davies. This heart-wrenching and exactingly shot adaptation of a Scottish novel about a young woman on a farm comes to theaters in May. Davies has already premiered another film, A Quiet Passion, about Emily Dickinson, at Berlin, so readers have a lot to look forward to. Jonathan Romney talked to the filmmaker—whose The House of Mirth graced our Jan/Feb 2001 best-of-decade issue—about both movies. Among the titles featured in that best-of-decade festivalof-lists issue was La Captive, by Chantal Akerman, whose legacy continues to grow since her death. In a new essay, Amy Taubin probes the relationship that fueled and complicated so much of what Akerman made: the maternal bond, which the filmmaker made the overt subject of…

1 min
short ends

Jean-Luc Godard has been shooting—or conjuring or whatever it is he does—his latest film. There weren’t more details, or any, at press time, but that’s news enough ... Wim Wenders will direct Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy in Submergence, the story of a love affair; the film received a boost of German and French funding, as did Michael Haneke’s family drama Happy End, starring Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant ... The next project by Aferim! director Radu Jude was looking for funding at Rotterdam under the title Is This What You Were Born For? ... Philippe Garrel will ride again with L’Amant d’un jour (“One-Day Lover”), thanks to ARTE France Cinéma. He’s currently shooting the story about a father and his 23-year-old daughter, who comes back to live at home.…

10 min
opening shots

LIFE’S WORK Noah Baumbach has been shooting his latest film in New York City (as is his wont). It’s been variously referred to as The Meyerowitz Stories and Yeh Din Ka Kissa, which translates from Hindi as “Story of the Day.” The story returns the director to the realm of domestic dysfunction, with Dustin Hoffman playing a respected artist and “patriarch” for whom a career retrospective brings together his estranged family members. These include two (mostly) adult sons played by Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, and Emma Thompson as the man’s “dreadful, passiveaggressive alcoholic” wife—her words, not ours. LAST DANCE Sebastián Lelio’s follow-up to his awardwinning Gloria wrapped last month in Santiago, Chile. Una mujer fantástica (“An Amazing Woman”) stars Daniela Vega as Marina, a trans woman dealing with the death of her…

7 min
tell me about it

AT THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL THIS PAST JANUARY, ROBERT GREENE’S Kate Plays Christine took home a Grand Jury Prize for Writing— the first time a documentary had ever been recognized at the festival in that category. What does it mean to single out a documentary’s “writing”? Perhaps the Sundance nod was evidence of an advancing appreciation of nonfiction film as a construct; it might also have been a veiled, cheeky statement that Greene’s film is not really a documentary. Yet even though Kate Plays Christine deliberately pushes the boundaries of nonfiction— Greene enlists actress Kate Lyn Sheil to play a character and to play herself playing the character—it doesn’t list a credited writer. Greene’s curious prize aside, the truth is that documentaries have long enlisted writing as an essential element of…

5 min
surface tension

“UR WHOLE MOVIEMAKING SYSTEM IS LIKE OUR AUTO MANUFACTURING,” director, producer, and onetime actor Richard Quine complained to New York Post columnist Archer Winsten in the late summer of 1960. “They ask people what they want. They research public taste and come up with a chrome bouillabaisse, a potpourri—it’s not a Renoir, not a classic…” Quine then strained to recall a name, and Winsten gave it to him: Resnais, whose Hiroshima, mon amour was then making worldwide waves. Quine continued: “He made a picture with no thought of a world market. In Hollywood we’ve got to do a film—I do. And though I may have an artistic vision, we’ve got to make it bookable in as many of 13,000 theaters as possible. We’ve got to think about exhibitors, the churches,…

3 min
danse macabre

At the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, nuclear warheads detonate all across the world, to the peaceful, nostalgic tune of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” Henry Mancini called this kind of juxtaposition “playing against the scene.” How cruelly jarring the irony of that closing sequence must have seemed to audiences in 1964, pairing an optimistic ode to a lover serving abroad with a realization of the world's worst fear, the war no one would be returning home from. IN FOCUS: Dr. Strangelove is available in June on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection. Prior to the ’60s, ironic or dissonant song choices on soundtracks were rare, often only diegetic, like the child murderer of Fritz Lang’s M whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” while abducting kids, or Robert Mitchum’s diabolical,…