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Film Comment

Film Comment November - December 2014

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
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in this issue

12 min.
opening shots

MUST-SEE MOVIES: THE BABADOOK | FOXCATCHER | THE HOMESMAN | INTERSTELLAR | NATIONAL GALLERY HOT PROPERTY | The Wonders Farm-Raised THE ELDEST CHILD IN THE shaggily maintained household of The Wonders is named Gelsomina. The reference to Fellini’s La Strada might be confirmed by the photo of Giulietta Masina’s character pasted into a production sketch on the Italian film’s website. There you can also learn that this story’s cluttered farmhouse previously belonged not to beekeepers but to five wild horses, who slept in the barn and ate in the garden. Something about that last detail evokes the natural sense of mystery that graces Alice Rohrwacher’s ineffably lovely second feature, a coming-of-age story that conjures an effortless naturalism. The teenage Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu) helps take care of the bees with her overbearing father, Wolfgang…

3 min.
game of tag graffiti rides the rails in stations of the elevated

It begins in the terminal yards of the Bronx, where the 4 and 5 trains are housed. These are the northernmost reaches of the New York City subway system, and it’s here that the out-of-service cars are spray-painted, or “bombed”—a term uttered by one of a crew of trainspotting kids kicking back to admire their own handiwork and that of fellow spray-can renegades, and being heard for perhaps the first time in an American movie. Stations of the Elevated began shooting in 1977, the year of “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” And while the film does show its share of desolate, burned-out tenement buildings, director Manfred Kirchheimer turns his camera principally on the borough’s bright, varicolored messengers to the city at large, sent to wend their way toward an…

1 min.
graphic detail

by ADRIAN CURRY Jan Lenica 1. Repulsion Roman Polanski, U.K., 1965. Poster 1965 2. L’Avventura Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1960. Poster 1962 3. Knife in the Water Roman Polanski, Poland, 1962. Poster 1962 ANOTED FILMMAKER AS WELL AS A graphic designer, Jan Lenica (1928-2001) is a crucial figure in the Polish School of Posters, a term he himself is said to have coined. With their strikingly surreal images that were somewhat ahead of the curve in Polish poster art—before surrealism became the norm—Lenica’s posters are distinguishable by their chunky black lines, sinuous waves of color, and bizarre, amorphous creatures like the fish that swim through his poster for Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water. Lenica was drawing satirical cartoons in his late teens before he took up architecture at the Warsaw Polytechnic. He started designing posters…

1 min.
“it’s the pictures that got small”

“Reading Brackett’s diary entries is like stepping into a time machine. It provides a vivid and valuable account of day-to-day life in the heyday of Hollywood’s studio system—and a bittersweet chronicle of his volatile relationship with Billy Wilder. I couldn’t put the book down.” —Leonard Maltin Maya Deren Incomplete Control SARAH KELLER “A thorough review of Deren’s total oeuvre, offering a study of one of our most important filmmakers who has been more overlooked than one might expect.” —Bill Nichols, film critic, editor of Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde CUP.COLUMBIA.EDU…

1 min.
on set with john carpenter: the photographs of kim gottlieb-walker

In the mid-Seventies, Kim Gottlieb-Walker was a UCLA film grad turned photojournalist looking for a way into Hollywood. She took a job shooting stills for the swiftly forgotten Wolfman Jack comedy Hanging on a Star (78), but the script supervisor was Debra Hill, who was about to co-write and produce Halloween. Hill hired Gottlieb-Walker to take production stills on the horror classic, and she continued on in that role for the next four Hill-Carpenter productions: The Fog, Escape from New York, Halloween II, and Christine. On Set with John Carpenter: The Photographs of Kim Gottlieb-Walker is a playful photography book that documents the slow professionalization of the whole ragtag Hill-Carpenter cast and crew. Gottlieb-Walker’s pictures exhibit an all-for-one vibe; the biggest star on the Halloween set was seemingly the Panaglide steadicam…

6 min.
the hardest-working man in movies remembering finland’s cinematic polymath peter von bagh (1943-2014)

LAST JUNE AT THE 29TH MIDNIGHT SUN FILM FESTIVAL, PETER von Bagh introduced the world premiere of his most recent film, Socialism, in the inimitable manner Finns have come to love over the last 50 years: “It’s always good for the guests of a film festival when its director is the one responsible for the worst work around.” Von Bagh’s expression was stern but his eyes were sparkling mischievously. He had done it again, the audience was in stitches, and the mood was now relaxed and joyful and the show could begin. Business as usual—with one exception: the surroundings. Normally, von Bagh screened his own works in the Midnight Sun Film Festival’s smaller venues. This time, it was playing in the biggest: 700 seats, all taken, with people outside trying…