ZINIO logo

Film Comment September - October 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

3 min
editor’s letter

IN MANY WAYS, IT’S BEEN A TOUGH YEAR FOR those of us who love film, whether itwas the litany of dearly departed film-makers or the problem of finding a goodmovie to watch this summer that didn’tfeel like reheated leftovers. It’s especiallyhard to absorb that we won’t see another newmovie by Abbas Kiarostami, Chantal Aker-man, or Jacques Rivette, perhaps because eachof them made films that are blindingly origi-nal and intensely personal in style—challeng-ing and stimulating to return to, even inhabit. The tendency to rally around great auteurscan leave one despairing about who couldreplace these filmmakers—who’s the nextKiarostami, the next Akerman—given thegrand strides they made with their cinema. But despair not! Our cover film, ToniErdmann, should alone instill hope for thefuture of film. It’s not only a masterful workof art, and politically sharp,…

11 min
local color

THE PRE-SHOW News, views, conversations, and other things to get worked up about MAILE MELOY GENEROUSLY LET ME HAVE MY WAY WITH HER stories and let me swap up some of the shorts as I was going. Her stories popped out to me because right away there’s such a sense of place. The characters are really tied into their environment. And I liked the idea of making a film about working women.” “With Night Moves, Charles Burchfield’s paintings carried the day. For Certain Women, I was just getting to know Montana and getting a feel for the pace of how people speak and move around, and what directs people’s thinking, as far as a rancher versus someone living in the city.” “In the beginning in the script, I imagined the whole thing structured…

7 min
dramatic license

IN THE NEW FILM The Lovers and the Despot, WE’RE GIVEN A RARE GLIMPSE INTO THE inner workings of state-sponsored propaganda. As recounted in Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s thriller-like yarn, in 1978 South Korean showbiz veterans (and former power couple) director Shin Sang-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee were abducted and conscripted into making movies for the North by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il. In audiotapes secretly recorded by the duo, they talked openly with Kim about what was expected. “From now on, my film producer is ‘Producer Kim Jong-il,’” Shin says. “There are things I want to make to promote our Dear Leader’s image. That would be good for me too.” Shin laughs, and so does Kim. “Thanks,” the Dear Leader says. “I’ll give you everything I’ve got.” When attempting to…

7 min
the prose and the passion

CHAPTER FIVE OF E.M. FORSTER’S 1910 NOVEL Howards End places the reader right in the middle of a Beethoven concert at London’s Queen’s Hall. A handful of the book’s principal characters are attending, including the art-loving sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel; their younger brother, Tibby; their Aunt Juley, who raised them; and the lower-class Leonard Bast, whom they first meet during this outing. Though it’s a meeting that will hasten major changes in the fates of them all, the chapter stands out in the mind for much less narratively functional reasons. Here, Forster is trying to describe the ineffable: the feelings stirred up by music, specifically the divine Fifth Symphony, and the differing responses all these individuals have to it. The thrilled Aunt Juley taps her feet; the curious Margaret…

7 min
what a feeling

AMID THE EXPERTLY SUSTAINED MAYHEM OF HITCHCOCK’S 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much, the sound of Doris Day warbling “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” intrudes like an unwelcome guest, threatening to throw the tightly wound plot off course. What could such a cloying, preachy, melodically inert trifle have to do with the breathless thriller it so unceremoniously interrupts—not once, but twice? No less an icon than Bernard Herrmann, the film’s composer, pounced on the chance to bemoan pop’s encroachment on the tradition of symphonic scores, which he himself had pushed to auteurist heights of eccentricity. “What do you want a piece of junk like that in the picture for?” he quipped. Yet the longevity of “Que Sera, Sera” suggests how the afterlife of a movie theme song…

6 min
house of pain

CREATING TRUE CRAWL-UNDER-THE-SEAT, PALM-PIERCING, COVER-YOUR-EYES tension is a rare, undervalued cinematic art. There’s certainly no shortage of filmmakers who give it a try, but only a select few would make Hitchcock proud. Just check out the current streaming sites, where you will find an endless barrage of unheard-of, undistributed, and/or unwatchable titles—the kind that frustratingly continue to give horror a bad name. (Critics somehow seem to forget that every genre has a pretty equivalent ratio of stinkers to gems; it’s inevitable that the sometimes hardcore content is off-putting to certain viewers—but, let’s face it, romantic comedies are some people’s horror movies.) Though relatively new to the game, Fede Alvarez is already one of those select few, quickly proving himself a standout master of suspense. The Uruguayan writer-director, who was handpicked by…