See It Big
Articles written on films showing in the Museum of the Moving Image's SEE IT BIG series, co-programmed by Reverse Shot editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert
A big influence on me was Edward Hopper, because I look at his paintings and you have two or three objects in a room, but they combine to create a mood and a whole story. Suddenly a lamp become important, or a poster or a piano, and you choose more carefully.
What if we could see what is actually on the other side of the world from where we sit? . . . Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky approaches these questions with a mixture of the digging child’s ingenuousness and the dogged explorer’s rigor and sense of purpose.
Directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (who translated his original stage choreography to the screen) fill their 70mm frame with ecstatic movement, operatic emotion, and brilliant color: it’s a dazzling Hollywood spectacle yet it still retains a remarkable delicacy and texture.
In honor of See It Big: Gordon Willis, the Museum of the Moving Image screening series co-curated by Reverse Shot, Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert here pay homage to the great cinematographer by focusing specifically on his work in Woody Allen’s 1978 drama Interiors.
How, these movies ask, might we come off in the eyes of the animals, objects, and fictional creatures in our lives? And how far can we go reconstructing our own lives—political, romantic, social, religious—by analogy with those of animals and toys?
In My Neighbor Totoro’s almost complete abjuration of kiddie movie standbys we have a small tale, simply told, but resplendent with details in its “pictures of ordinary days.” There is always a sense of ongoing life at the periphery of the events depicted.
Later adaptations such as the musical version with Claude Rains and of course, the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage behemoth, tried to harness this sympathetic dimension overtly, but ended up playing down the horror. This is not something Chaney’s Phantom will ever be accused of.