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Film Comment

May-June 2020 Vol. 56 No.3

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

in this issue

3 min
editor’s letter

LET’S GET TOGETHER AGAIN SOON.” In the past two months, the simplest phrases have taken on a special poignancy, as the coronavirus changes our usual way of life. For many, that usual way of life was already subject to debate, though: were we going to movie theaters enough? Spending too much time on our phones? More generally, were we losing a sense of community, especially with people different from ourselves? The pandemic has made concrete many challenges as never before, inflicting a social experiment on all of us: what if phones (or Zoom or Google Hangouts…) were the only option we had for connecting with others? What if all the movie theaters did shut down, and we could only watch things at home? And what if staying together as a…

4 min
personal hell

WE WERE VERY FORTUNATE TO SHOOT ON 16MM. Theater is my background, and moving into film, what I wanted most from this experience was to have the material matter. I didn’t want high gloss, I wanted something more textured with soft edges. The story itself is a time capsule. It was written by a girl who was 19, from Detroit, as a Twitter thread, and I wanted her to walk away from this experience knowing it was important, and [shooting on] film made it feel important. I had a short list of films I pulled from. My DP Ari Wegner and I started with blaxploitation movies, because I wanted to see a wealth of films starring black women who were superheroes—of that series, we landed with Coffy. I also pulled from…

3 min
next door

Something about the cruise ship in Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine reminded me of the Marx Brothers and the crowded stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera, leavening the film with a ready hint of absurdity. THE REAL SUBJECT OF THIS COLUMN AT a moment of zero theatrical releases could be “all of them,” but in the interest of space, I’ll focus on a single movie that definitely was not slated for a run that we know of. Premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and then programmed in New Directors/New Films, Alex Piperno’s debut feature, Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine, is both humble and far-reaching in its casually fantastical conceit. The premise feels liberating in our current world where free movement can be…

3 min
infinite spirit

“New York Eye and Ear Control was edited with no reference to what sound episode might accompany it. It is an attempt to make a simultaneity of ‘eye’ with ‘ear.’ And the music was created to be a movie sound track, not to just be music.” THE LAST 10 FILMS I’VE SEEN JIA ZHANG-KE, DIRECTOR 1. The Woman Who Ran Hong Sangsoo, 2020 2. The Calming Song Fang, 2020 3. White Building Kavich Neang, 2020 4. The Gold Rush Charlie Chaplin, 1925 5. Rain Joris Ivens, 1929 6. Old Well Wu Tianming, 1987 7. Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese, 1976 8. I Was Born, But… Yasujiro Ozu, 1932 9. Seven Samurai Akira Kurosawa, 1954 10. The Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean, 1957 A NEAR-COMPLETE RETROSPECTIVE OF FILMS by Michael Snow at Anthology Film Archives originally scheduled for April has been put on hold. Here is the opening of what was planned…

3 min
no words

Coursing throughout The Last Stage is the fear that the world would not find out what had happened, from the prisoners desperately scanning smuggled newspapers for mention of their plight to the Grand Guignol ending and call to action. The Last Stage Wanda Jakubowska, 1948 Poland’s National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, with Tor Film Production IT REMAINS A SHOCK FOR MOST PEOPLE TO DISCOVER THAT a film about the Auschwitz death camp was released in 1948: Wanda Jacubowska’s The Last Stage, soon followed by Alfréd Radok’s Distant Journey, both presented this past winter at the Berlin International Film Festival. Jakubowska’s landmark feature starts on a city street, where a man and a woman are talking, in the kind of throwaway moment that might run under the bustle of the opening titles. Instead, they’re…

7 min
future shock

“I find the cruelest joke is that we die. You’re alive and you’re conscious and you’re aware—and then it ends. It’s just so absurd! So I found it really important to include a sense of humor [in the movie].” THE END IS NEAR IN SHE DIES TOMORROW, A FILM ABOUT a woman consumed by the unshakable conviction of her imminent doom. Her morbid angst seizes others around her, one by one, like a contagion. Amy Seimetz’s new horror drama is just as much a poised mood piece, streaked with humor and set in bereft Los Angeles home interiors. Kate Lyn Sheil brings a brittle cool to Amy, the story’s initial focus, while stalwart Jane Adams plays her friend Jane, gripped by the same foreboding. (Kentucker Audley and Tunde Adebimpe co-star, with…