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contents Issue Seven.

March/April 2010
thebigpicture presents Features

Back inCinemas
0 4 | Spotlight
Mamma Mia!:
Cinema's most maniacal
movie matriarchs

1 4 | Art & Film


vote on the Small Screen to see films on the Big Screen Jersey Boy:
Painter, artist and poet
Michael Medina

24 | Widescreen
Absent Presence:
The synagogue as
cinema by photographer
Wojciech Wilczyk

3 0 | 1000 Words
Lionel Stander:
One actor's bold stand
against the horror of the
Hollywood Blacklist

34 Regulars
0 4 | Reel World
Manchurian candidate
Cast your vote now for one of the following classic films: 1 8 | One Sheet
‘It's a terrible thing to
Don't Look Back
Calamity Jane
hate your mother. But I
didn't always hate her. 3 4 | On Location
Desperately Seeking Susan When I was a child, I
only kind of disliked her.'
Washington D.C.

Electric Dreams Raymond Shaw 3 8 | Screengem


Anton's bolt gun
Sexy Beast

cover image the manchurian candidate (courtesy park circus ltd.)


4 2 | Parting Shot

Theatre of Blood 21 JumpSuits

Zelig 4 4 | Competition
Picture This

Voting closes March 31st


Results and screening details posted 1st April
24 4 6 | Listings
Back on the big screen

The Big Picture ISSN 1759-0922 © 2010 intellect Ltd. Published by Intellect Ltd. The Mill, Parnall Road. Bristol BS16 3JG / www.intellectbooks.com
vote Editorial office Tel. 0117 9589910 / E: info@thebigpicturemagazine.com Publisher Masoud Yazdani Senior Editor & Design Gabriel Solomons Editor Scott Jordan Harris
now! Contributors Jez Conolly, Nicholas Page, Emma Simmonds, Daniel Steadman, Scott Jordan Harris, Tony Nourmand, Alison Elangasinghe, Gabriel Solomons
Special thanks to John Letham, Sara Carlsson and all at Park Circus, Jelena Stanovnik, Michael Pierce at Curzon Cinemas and Gabriel Swartland at City Screen
Please send all email enquiries to: info@thebigpicturemagazine.com / www.thebigpicturemagazine.com l The Big Picture magazine is published six times a year

www.thebigpicturemagazine.com Published by intellect | Produced in partnership with www.parkcircus.com

march/april 2010 3
reel world Google 'a Manchurian Candidate'.
Disconcertingly, the second
result (beneath the film) is
that such insane accusations
are evenly spread across the
political spectrum, Google’s
Similarly, almost every assassin
since the 1960s (Sirhan
Sirhan, slayer of Robert F.
the US and murder in order
to advance the communist
cause, but who never stands
f i l m b e yo n d t h e b o r d e r s o f t h e s c r e e n
an article by hard-line lunatic second suggested search – after Kennedy, most famously) for office, or to Senator Iselin,
David Kupelian characterizing ‘Barack Obama Manchurian has also, at some point, been the vice-presidential candidate
the 2008 US presidential candidate’ – is ‘John McCain described as ‘a Manchurian who benefits from Shaw’s
election as ‘a choice between Manchurian candidate’. As Eric candidate’. But what does unconscious killings but never
a genuine war hero and D. Snider of Film.com writes the term mean? Does the visits Manchuria and is never
a genuine Manchurian (in an article which Google title of John Frankenheimer’s brainwashed? ‘A Manchurian
candidate’. (‘Obama was ranks higher than Kupelian’s film (and, of course, Richard candidate’ is one of the most
programmed for years by his entry) ‘just about everyone Condon’s source novel) refer fascinating phrases ever to leak
atheist, Muslim father [sic], who has run for president has to the character of Raymond from film into international
by the communist sex pervert at some point been called a Shaw, who is programmed English: use it and everyone
Frank Marshall Davis, by con “Manchurian candidate”’. in Manchuria to return to will know what you mean, but
man Tony Rezko, by domestic very few could write a decent
terrorist Bill Ayers… by black definition. [tbp]
is liberation theology screamer

manchurian
barack Jeremiah Wright.’) As evidence
obama
a

c a n d i d at e ? m a n c h u r i a n
wa s
si rh an
si rh an
a

No film title has become a more evocative


phrase, or a more emotive insult, than the term
‘Manchurian candidate’. scot t jordan harris
can d i d a t e ?
examines its continued usage.

4 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 5


spotlight left
angela lansbury and Laurence Harvey
below
frank sinatra and Laurence Harvey
c i n e m a ' s m a n i a c a l m at r i a r c h s

The Manchurian
Candidate (1962)
Dir. John Frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer’s
superlative thriller is a riveting
medley of dastardly political
machinations, romance, betrayal
and brainwashing. Sergeant
Raymond Shaw (Laurence
Harvey) returns from battle in
Korea with a Medal of Honour.
With demonic conviction,
Angela Lansbury plays
Shaw’s mother, Mrs Iselin, a
woman with ‘a tendency to
refer to anyone who disagrees
with anything she says as a
communist’. The power behind
her senator husband, Mrs Iselin
is an arch manipulator and
shrewd political mover and
shaker. When Raymond’s war
comrades – including Major Ben
Marco (Frank Sinatra) – are
plagued by identical nightmares
it transpires that Raymond’s
heroics are but a planted
memory, which conceals a far
more disturbing truth. In one of
the great cinematic reveals, it is
dear mother who steps out from
behind the curtain to announce
herself as the most formidable
force in the film: a mother
willing to use her son to dispatch
the opponents to her ideology.

The Manchurian Candidate is


back in UK cinemas from 16 April.
cover
feature

Mamma
Y

a superlative

Mia!
Whether control freaks, political players,
thriller that's a
riveting medley of
dastardly political
machinations,
nymphomaniacs or even the ungrateful dead, romance, betrayal ➜
these memorable movie mothers exert unholy & brainwashing.
influence over their offspring. emma simmonds

surveys cinema’s most maniacal matriarchs.
Images courtesy of Park Circus Limited

6 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 7


Kobal (2) spotlight mamma mia!

Ma Mere (2005) Tommy (1975)


Dir. Christophe Honoré Dir. Ken Russell
Helene is an
icy, extreme Pierre (Louis Garrel) is a
sullen, awkward teenager
The result of an extraordinary
collaboration between incendi-
libertarian: a who has been raised by his ary filmmaker Ken Russell
damaged and grandmother. As the film
opens, he is visiting his parents
and rock group The Who, the
hallucinogenic ‘rock opera’
deeply troubled at their Canary Islands villa, Tommy tells the story of a boy

husk of a human where a tense and possibly


even violent marital situation
rendered deaf, dumb and blind
after witnessing his fighter-pilot
being.➜
is apparent. The almost
immediate death of his father
father being murdered by his
mother’s new lover (Oliver
conspicuously attracts little Reed). As played by Roger
fanfare or emotional reaction. Daltrey, Tommy grows into an
Instead, it leads his mother – unlikely pinball champion (in
who refers to him ominously a world where such a skill is
as her ‘young lover’ – to take highly lucrative). Blazing at the
him out to the local nightspot, centre of this dizzying spectacle
where she begins to unfurl is Hollywood siren Ann-Mar-
her true, reckless and sexually gret, who gives a superbly
uninhibited nature. Hélène is unhinged and impressively un-
an icy, extreme libertarian: a self-conscious performance as
damaged and deeply troubled Tommy’s tragedienne mother,
husk of a human being, partial belting out her lines and at-
to gnomic pronouncements tacking her role with demented
and hedonistic excess. Once relish. We see her grief-stricken,
left her chilling character has guilt-ridden, recklessly incom-
LOUIS GARREL & ISABELLE HUPPERT
been revealed, we watch scene petent, deranged and cavort-
top right after unsettling scene. She ing in baked beans, before
ANN-MARGRET, ROGER DALTREY & OLIver REED
manipulates her son, and her ultimate reinvention as an
her young female friends, entrepreneurial Virgin Mary

spotlight into taboo sexual situations


featuring prostitution,
sadomasochism and, eventually,
figure. Like the rest of this
barking mad musical, Margret’s
performance exists primarily in
c i n e m a ' s m a n i a c a l m at r i a r c h s
an unsurprisingly destructive the higher register.
act of incest.

8 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 9


spotlight
c i n e m a ' s m a n i a c a l m at r i a r c h s
During the
incomparably
gruesome finale,
Vera morphs
spectacularly
into a mutant
Braindead (1992) monolith
Dir. Peter Jackson matriarch.

Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy
Balme) is a young man
drowning in an abundance of
maternal attention. Despite
a veneer of respectability,
his mum, Vera (Elizabeth
Moody), is a tyrant in a twinset
and keeps her only child in
virtual servitude. This being
early Peter Jackson, Lionel’s
circuitous route to freedom
comes when a poisonous
rat-monkey takes a chunk out
of his mother’s arm whilst
she’s spying on his tentative
courtship with the charming
Paquita (Diana Perñalver).
This adaptation Mommie Although the infection
Dearest (1981)
doesn’t so much Dir. Frank Perry
ultimately proves fatal, Vera
is unsurprisingly made of
tarnish Joan steelier stuff than the average
Crawford’s According to her adopted mortal: for her, death is paltry
opposition. As the infection
reputation as take daughter, Christina, having Joan
Crawford as a mother made spreads throughout the town,
a sledgehammer for a joyless, chaotic ordeal of a Lionel and Paquita are soon
battling hoards of the undead.
and smash it. childhood. This picture, based
on Christina’s book of the same During the incomparably
➜ name, paints Crawford as a gruesome finale, Vera morphs
compulsive cleaner, demented spectacularly into a mutant
perfectionist, alcoholic, man- monolith matriarch; as Lionel
eater and, most damningly, a slides inexorably toward her
cruel, brittle and occasionally giant swollen belly (back from
violent mother. Faye Dunaway whence he came!) she informs
wears those famous eyebrows him, with twisted satisfaction,
with aplomb, impressively ‘No one will ever love you like
capturing Crawford’s trademark your mother’.
zeal wrapped in a straitjacket
of composure. The sequence
in which Joan finds a lone wire above left
hanger in Christina’s rack of MARA HOBEL & FAYE DUNAWAY
dresses and, ranting and hissing, opposite
DIANA PErÑALVER as paquita
beats her savagely with it is
one of the most infamously
awful scenes in cinema.
The book and film’s legacy
are such that the expression
‘mommie dearest’ has become
an ironic synonym for a callous
mother. This adaptation
doesn’t so much tarnish Joan
Crawford’s reputation as take a
Kobal (2)

sledgehammer and smash it.

10 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 11


spotlight
c i n e m a ' s m a n i a c a l m at r i a r c h s

Psycho (1960)

Kobal
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Norman Bates (Anthony


Perkins) lives by the motto ‘a
boy’s best friend is his mother’.
The mother in question is first
heard as she barks at her son
with an almost supernatural
gusto, ostensibly from the
family home which overlooks
the Bates Motel. Yet it is almost
as if it were a voice from the
ether, a voice of damnation, not
so much heard as felt. She is the
domineering moral custodian
to Norman’s peeping Tom.
It seems that, whilst Norman
merely looks, Mrs Bates strikes
out, both punishing and
figuratively enacting Norman’s
sexual desires. Of course, it
It seems that, is subsequently revealed that
whilst Norman Norman’s mother has been
merely looks, Mrs dead for years, murdered by her
jealous son as she lay alongside
Bates strikes out, her lover. Unable to stay parted
both punishing from her, Norman plunders
and figuratively the grave, reinstating her
corpse in the family home and
enacting Norman’s resurrecting her character in
sexual desires. his mind. The psychiatrist who
➜ examines Norman concludes
sadly, ‘He tried to be his mother
and now he is.’ [tbp]

left
the unknown threat

also see... Harold & Maude (1971)

12 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 13


art&film
(over) After The Last Party’s Over (1999)
(left) untitled 2 (1998)

pa i n t i n g i n s p i r e d b y c i n e m a

ready to collapse. A visit to the


hospital determined that my
trip to see Titanic was the likely
cause of what was found to be
my meningitis. I was 22, and
convinced I was dying.
Heavily medicated, I lay
bedridden in a deep and
kaleidoscopic dream. Colours
rushed and images shuffled in
my mind. I didn’t come out
of that near coma until the
next afternoon – but when I
did visions and verses welled
inside me. My first creation:
an abstract Mother Theresa-
like figure, loosened from her
chains, with a bevy of fallen
daisies at her feet. A lyrical
explanation of the composition
was included. I became an
instant painter/poet that day.
Nevertheless, as a lover of film,
I saw (and still see myself)
as a director of pigment and
wordplay.
One of your most striking
pictures was inspired by
Spike Lee’s famous remark
that racism is as integral to
America as baseball or apple
pie. Talk me through the
creation, and the composition,
of that painting.
After the Last Party’s Over, a
painting I created in 1999,
I met Michael Medina online.
Having learnt The Big Picture 'A visit to the hospital was a response to a comment
director Spike Lee had made in
was searching for artists whose
work responded to cinema, he determined that my Titanic a 1993 political documentary
called The Last Party. He said,
contacted me and modestly
proposed I might want to read trip was the likely cause of ‘When you’re talking about
America, you’re talking about
his poetry. I apologized: as a
visually-focused magazine, what was found to be my baseball, apple pie, and racism’.
The harsh parallels he
there was little we could do
with a poet. ‘No problem,’ said meningitis. I was 22, and was drawing, led me into a
biblical parallel between the
Michael: ‘he was also a painter.’
Here’s an introduction to the convinced I was dying. ' institutionalized racism Lee
described, and the system
evocative, and occasionally
controversial, visions of which existed when Jesus faced
Michael Medina. the paranoid government of
Rome. Fearing a Jewish revolt,

Jersey Boy
Most people reading this will the Romans made Jesus an
be able to recall seeing Titanic ➜
in a crowded cinema in 1997,
but I doubt it had the effect on
many of them that it had on
you. Tell us what happened.
Michael Medina is a painter, poet and teacher – but his My fellow cinemagoers
were coughing and sneezing
Twitter name is @FillmBuffDude. scot t jordan harris throughout the picture. I didn’t
spoke with an artist whose every work is informed by film. enjoy the spread of their germs,
or the film. The following days
Paintings photographed by Jeff Leifer. ➜ saw my body break down.
Breathing was difficult. I was

14 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 15


art&film michael medina
A fellow student, who was enough to discover his genius,
also a film buff, began to Parajanov can only serve as an
discuss what he felt should be inspiration. What impresses
our nation’s response to the me most is his hands-on
attacks. Somehow, Michael approach in presenting a
Moore’s name entered into personal vision on screen. Not
our conversation, and the only did he direct and write his
student mentioned that stunningly potent film Color
Moore had been working of Pomegranates, but he also
on a documentary about served as art director, editor,
Columbine and the fascination and even choreographer.
that Americans have with guns. Parajanov’s love of his
I told him that any attempts art is a phenomenon with
Moore was to make at a which any artist can identify.
cautionary tale about what had Refusing to succumb to the
already happened would just tyranny of Russian socialism,
be pointless. his imprisonment in the 1970s
I was in the process freed his spirit; he continued
of painting, so I added a to create, making wonderful,
hieroglyphic depiction of the spiritually-rich collage works
Columbine shooting with a that are as visually striking as
tribute to Christian martyr, anything he put on celluloid.
Rachel Joy Scott. At that point, As a Christian, I’ve become
I began filling the painting with aware that some of the themes
any images that referred to in my own work have, at times,
time and prophesy. From there, been misunderstood by many,
I added subliminal comments but Parajanov has taught me
on everything from Kenneth a valuable truth: in order to
Anger’s ties to the Ordo Templi create art that is respectable,
Orientis, to the parables of you must stay within the
Christ towards the Pharisees. confines of your familiarities.
The Russian director Sergei To stray from what you know
Parajanov came to mind, as and who you are is to lose your
his work pays tribute to past dignity as an artist.
decades while, simultaneously,
touches of contemporary Aside from painting, you also
filmmaking technique link the write poetry – and that, too,
past and present in a single is heavily influenced by film.
moment. Why is it that your passion for
The Time Travelers speaks movies has pushed you, not to
of the passage of time and make films, but to make other
filmmaking converging: the works influenced by them?
concept of film as a series of I’ll bet my house any film-
still photographs is the central lover has entertained some
focus of the work. Everything daydream of directing their
is painted to seem ‘frozen in
time’, while even the series of
'The Time Travelers speaks favourite picture, or one
based on their own unsung
untitled 1 (1998) example of what could happen
to those opposed to their
labeled anti-Semitic’. glowing green lines running
off the edge of the interior
of the passage of time and screenplay. This has always
been a dream of mine as
You’ve stated that The Time
authority. Hence: the crown
of thorns and the cross in the Travelers is influenced by
and into space offer a literal
‘timeline’ of sorts. They also
filmmaking converging; the well, but, since it’s still a
dream, I have only a growing
Kenneth Anger, Tim Burton,
painting.
This piece proved and Sergei Parajanov, and
remind the viewer that, like
time, film is a moving series of
concept of film as a series appreciation for others who
have given their life to film.
also contains a reference to
prophetic when The Passion
of the Christ became the Michael Moore’s Bowling for
frozen moments.
of still photographs is the They’re truly risk-takers,
since not only are they not
Columbine. Tell us how. What influence has Parajanov
subject of passionate debate
over Mel Gibson’s alleged This piece was created a week had on your work in general? central focus of the work.' guaranteed success, but even
when they achieve it, they can
anti-Semitism. The themes after September 11, 2001. It To any artist who is lucky take what critics label ‘a wrong
in the work came full circle was painted on the top floor ➜ turn’, resulting in irrevocable
when, later that year, Gibson’s of the Art building at Rutgers (above) The Time Travellers (2001) damage to their reputation.
sentiments about the content University in Newark, New Perhaps, if I ever have the
of his movie mirrored Jersey, where wall-to-wall means, I’ll make a turkey or
another infamous Spike Lee windows provided a clear view two. Until then, I’ll remain in
statement, about the depiction of the still-smoking aftermath of awe of those amazing risk-
of Jewish people in film: the attacks. We, as art students, takers. [tbp]
‘There’s an unwritten law naturally tried to internalize
that you cannot have a Jewish what we had witnessed just This interview will continue on
character in a film who isn’t a week beforehand from that The Big Picture website.
100 per cent perfect, or you’re same room. alsosee... [filmmaker ] Sergei Parajanov [film ] Color of Pomegranates

16 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 17


one sheet
deconstructing film posters

Don'�
LookBack
Paranoia isn’t pretty – unless it’s represented on
one of these classic movie posters. tony nourmand ,
of the Reel Poster Gallery, examines the images used
to advertise four first-rate paranoia thrillers.

H o l ly w o o d h as a lways to pin down and one that hid educated man of mystery,
liked the classic good-guy- behind layers of conspiracy, Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer
versus-bad-guy tale. The bad secrets and lies. Against such was a truculent, unglamorous
guys invariably embody the a political backdrop, the hero. The use of Harry’s
greatest socio or political fears spy thriller was box-office glasses as a framing device in
of the day, from the drug gold. Alongside the more the film, and on this stunning
lords of the 1920s and the straightforward narratives of rare British poster, serve to
Mafia bosses of the 1930s, the Bond films or Our Man emphasize both this fresh
to the Nazis of the 1940s. In Flint (1966), there were also take on the genre and also
the 1950s and 1960s the bad more complex and intelligent the themes of paranoia, and
guy embodied the threat to films coming out of this genre. of being constantly watched,
democracy posed by the cold The most celebrated of these which pervade the film. ➜
war. This was an altogether remains The Ipcress File (1965).
murkier and harder enemy The Ipcress File was a fresh
examination of espionage. In
place of a debonair, Oxbridge-

The Ipcress File (1965) Original british / Art by Angelo Cesselon ➜

gofurther... www.reelposter.com [artist ] Zdenêk Vlach [artist ] Jerzy Flisak

18 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
onesheet paranoia

The threat to
American society was
no longer coming from
the cold war enemy
to the East, but from
within America’s
own government and
leading institutions.

The Parallax View / Pohled Spolecnosti Parallax (1974)


Original Czechoslovakian / Art by Zdenek Vlach
All the President’s Men (1976)
Original us / Artist Unknown

The Parallax View (1974) and


All the President’s Men (1976)
are parts two and three of Alan Coppola’s The Conversation
Ten years l ater , and back J. Pakula’s ‘paranoia trilogy’ was another paranoid parable,
across the Atlantic, the thriller (which began with Klute in feature of the American poster swimming in conspiracy
genre had taken a darker turn. 1971), and two of the standout for All the President’s Men is theories and uncertainties.
The 1970s saw the birth of a films in the sub-genre. Zdenêk the dense newspaper print The film was a comment on
sub-genre of subversive and Vlach (1942–1999) was one running behind the image of the erosion of privacy within
Orwellian ‘paranoia thrillers’. of the leading Czech poster Dustin Hoffman and Robert American society and this
The threat to American artists of his generation, Redford. It is a fitting touch, as striking Polish poster is an apt
society was no longer coming designing over 200 film posters the story of the two Washington reflection of this. Famous for
from the cold war enemy between 1963 and 1989 and Post journalists who uncovered his satirical cartoons, Jerzy
to the East, but from within winning several awards for his the Watergate scandal remains Flisak (b. 1930) was a perfect
America’s own government work; his startling poster for not only one of the greatest choice: he is a respected
and leading institutions. These The Parallax View depicts the paranoia thrillers, but also one graphic artist who has designed
themes were a reflection of faceless corporation that is the of the greatest journalism films several book and magazine
an American society reeling enemy in the film. ever made. covers and won a number of
from Vietnam, Watergate and Although much more traditional Released in the same year as awards. His work has been
various corporate scandals. in style, one interesting design The Parallax View, Francis Ford exhibited worldwide. [tbp]

20 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 21


AfricAn / nigeriAn
onesheet paranoia The Conversation / Rozmowa (1974) Original Polish / Art by Jerzy Flisak
AmericAn – Hollywood
AmericAn – independent
directory of
ArAb
AustrAlAsiAn world
britisH
cAnAdiAn
cinema
cHinese
eAst europeAn
frencH‘Japanese filmmakers have constantly been at the forefront
of international cinema, delivering distinctive films across a
germAn wide range of genres; the Directory of World Cinema: Japan
is intended to complement their cinematic achievements by
irAniAnproviding an informed insight into a national cinema that is as
culturally representative as it is socially revealing.’ – John Berra
indiAn
itAliAn The Directory of World Cinema: Japan provides an insight into the cinema of
Japan through reviews of significant titles and case studies of leading directors,

JApAnese alongside explorations of the cultural and industrial origins of key genres. The
cinematic lineage of samurai warriors, yakuza enforcers and atomic monsters

russiAn take their place alongside the politically charged works of the Japanese new
wave, making this a truly unique volume. A printed version of the Directory is

swedisH now available, please visit www.intellectbooks.com to find out more.

Visit the website and explore the volume for free


turkisH * Learn more about the project and the rest of the series

spAnisH / portuguese
* Comment on any of the reviews
* Write your own film or director reviews

soutH AmericAn / brAziliAn


* Offer to edit a volume of the directory

Forthcoming volumes include: American Independent | Australia & New Zealand

rest of tHe world (including


isrAel, www
koreA, . worldcinemadirectory.
denmArk, fin org
22 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
lAnd, norwAy And icelAnd,
widescreen
film in a wider context

Following the H olocaust


and the near-annihilation of
Poland’s Jewish population
during World War II, much
of the religious landscape of
the country was transformed
forever.
Synagogues and prayer
houses – the cornerstones of
Jewish religious and cultural
life – were either destroyed
or else ‘converted’ to suit
other purposes, becoming
garages, fire stations,
warehouses or – in the best
circumstances – libraries and
cultural centres. Occasionally
though, and in what could
be seen as an attempt on the
part of the Polish authorities
to raise spirits following
the devastating German
occupation, a few synagogues
were converted into cinemas.
Polish photographer
Wojciech Wilczyk was
intrigued enough by this
example of ‘architectural
reclamation’ to search out and
document the current state of
every remaining synagogue
and prayer house dotted
around his country – the result
of which is the stunning book,
and accompanying exhibition,
There’s No Such Thing as
an Innocent Eye. Aided by
Eleonora Bergman and Jan
Jagielski’s catalogue Preserved
Synagogues and Prayer Houses
of Poland (published by the
Jewish Historical Institute
in 1996), Wilczyk was able
to locate and photograph
each site methodically, often
encountering local people with
surprising and – on occasion
– shocking views about his

Absent
wolsztyn, synagogue poznanska street 17 project. The final collection
of photographs – stark, un-
stylized images that treat the

Presenc�
subject honestly and with
respect – is a timely reminder
of how important it is not just
to remember the past, but
also to act responsibly in the
It’s not often that a movie theatre’s actual physicality present. ➜

comes into question, but, as these images by Polish


photographer Wojciech Wilczyk testify, there are
some places in which cinema never belonged.
(top) obrzycko synagogue krupicka street 5
Introduction and interview by Gabriel Solomons. ➜ (above) pszczyna synagogue bramkowa street

24 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 25


widescreen absent presence
(left) slomniki synagogue krakowska street 23 What was the reasoning
(below) lasczow beit hamidrash
behind the title of the book/
exhibition – There's No Such
Thing as an Innocent Eye?
I took the project’s name from
the title of the review by the
Polish art critic Bogusław
Deptuła, who reviewed the
2006 ‘New Documentary’

'I didn’t shoot the interiors, group exhibition which


included some of my work.
even though I tried on In his text he accused the
artists who took part of a
more than one occasion. ‘lack of social engagement’ – a
comment that I treated as a
All the synagogues, Beyt personal challenge. The title
refers to an understanding
Ha-Midrash and houses of ‘realism’ in painting at the
end of the eighteenth century
of prayer were destroyed that was concerned with
the limitations of objective
after September 1939 (they representations of reality.
Of course, one can read the
were burnt, devastated or title quite literally and in a

stripped) and their interiors way put the blame on the


observer. Frankly, I’ve chosen

suffered the most damage.' a deliberately ambiguous title.

There were some surprising


remarks and comments
made by people that you
encountered and which appear
at the end of your book.
Did any of these remarks –
especially the anti-Semitic
ones – shock you in any way?
Did they reaffirm current
resentments against the Jews
that you knew existed, or did
travelling into some of these
more remote Polish outposts
offer any new insights?
I was shocked indeed that all
these anti-Semitic stereotypes
still persist to this extent,
especially as there are hardly
any Jews still living in Poland.
I would not say that I have
learned anything new – my
experience rather confirmed
what I had already known.

All of the photographs are


exterior shots. Did you
document the interiors in any
way and, if not, was there the
urge to do so?
I didn’t shoot the interiors,
even though I tried on more
than one occasion. All the
synagogues, Beyt Ha-Midrash
and houses of prayer were
destroyed after September
1939 (they were burnt,
devastated or stripped) and
their interiors suffered the ➜

26 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 27


widescreen absent presence
most damage. I eventually scenario – for libraries or
decided that every building cultural institutions. After
would be represented in the World War II, the communists
book with only one photo, nationalized all the former
as including photos of the private synagogues, Beyt Ha-
interiors would have made the Midrash or houses of prayer.
project incoherent. Why Polish people didn’t
object to converting these
Were many of the residents buildings, or to their further
you encountered aware of the destruction, is a very good
buildings’ histories? Did any question. It is also a great
of these encounters affect the disgrace of our nation.
work you were doing?
A lot of the residents were There are recurring themes of
aware of the buildings’ death, decay, transformation,
histories, but unpleasant abandonment, religion and
situations, and sometimes even memory in your photographic
hostility from the locals, only work. What is it that fascinates
spurred me on to continue you about these subjects?
with the project. For a long time I was
interested in contemporary
Do you have any personal
motifs of vanitas
feelings about the way that
(emptiness) that can be
these synagogues have been
seen and experienced in our
transformed? In other words:
surrounding reality – most
do you feel they have been
probably because I’m a bit of a
'desecrated' in any way by
pessimist. At present, though,
the nature of their ongoing
I’m more drawn to socially
modifications?
engaged, ‘interventionist’
I’m aware that in Western
themes. My most recent
Europe many church buildings
project, which I’m currently
are sold or converted for
working on, is of graffiti by
different functions. However,
Polish football fans with all the
the situation with former
accompanying racist symbols
Polish synagogues is quite
and slogans.
different, as the people who
conducted prayers in them Have you received good
were brutally exterminated by feedback to the book and
the Nazis. The Poles – taking exhibition?
into account the memory As far as I know people have
of Polish Jews, our former reacted really positively to
neighbours – should treat the project. It’s been good
these buildings with respect to receive recognition and
and should care for them, understanding, not only from
because they are ‘natural’ professionals specializing in
monuments to the millions the history of Polish Jewry or
murdered. I’m an atheist, but synagogue architecture, but
felt uncomfortable visiting also from contemporary art
Liverpool two years ago curators, critics and artists.
bydgoszcz-fordon synagogue 21 stycznia street 22 (top) lipno old synagogue mickiewicza street 33 (while taking part in the
Are there any plans to bring
'The Poles – taking into (above) nowy targ synagogue jana kazimierza street 17 photographic project Cities
on the Edge curated by John
the exhibition to the UK?
Unfortunately, for now there
account the memory of Polish Davies) because a former
church had been converted
are no exhibition plans for

Jews, our former neighbours into a climbing centre.


the UK. After Chemnitz
(Germany), the exhibition will

– should treat these buildings So why were these synagogues


converted into cinemas?
move to Bucharest, then in the
autumn to Paris and by the end

with respect and should care The majority of synagogues


have a big open space, used
of this year to the USA. [tbp]

for them, because they are as a prayer room, suitable


not only for cinemas, but
There's No Such Thing as an
Innocent Eye is available from
‘natural’ monuments to the also for garages, fire stations,
warehouses, or – in the best
select bookstores. See more at:
www.wilczykphoto.com
millions murdered.'
more photography See more of Wojciech Wilczyk's project work at www.wilczykphoto.com

28 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 29


1000 words (right) lionel stander attends the house
of unamerican commitee hearings (1953)
m o m e n t s t h at c h a n g e d c i n e m a f o r e v e r

The
To a generation of TV viewers put to them by HUAC
he was instantly recognizable members). Propelled by
as Max, craggy chauffeur rampant and hysterical fears
about communism’s increasing

horror
to Jonathan and Jennifer
in the super-cheesy 1980s’ influence in Hollywood, over
series Hart to Hart. When 300 industry personnel were
not grooming the family denied employment because of
their suspected political beliefs

of the
dog, Freeway, Max was to
be heard declaring of his and/or social associations.
employers: ‘When they met Stander was certainly active
– it was moider!’ But over 30 in leftist politics, but never
years earlier Lionel Stander’s officially a member of the

Hollywood
career had taken a sudden communist party. Among his
left turn, and this resulted in many extra-curricular activities,
a fateful appointment before he was an organizer of the
the members of the House Screen Actors Guild (SAG),

Blacklist
of Un-American Activities a member of the Hollywood
Committee (HUAC). Anti-Fascist League and
The HUAC was a a supporter of the activist
congressional committee that Conference of Studio Unions

changed
held hearings on the film and (CSU) in its fight against the
entertainment industries on Mafia-controlled International
numerous occasions between Alliance of Stage Employees.
1938 and 1958. One product Stander had felt the heat

not only
of this McCarthy-era ministry from the HUAC as early as
was the now infamous 1940, when he began to have
Hollywood Blacklist (born difficulty finding work because
on 25 November 1947 when of his outspoken views. Prior to

American
ten writers and directors, this he had enjoyed a successful
soon to become known as ‘the early career, working with
Hollywood Ten’, were cited the likes of Frank Capra and
for contempt of Congress for Preston Sturges.

film,
refusing to answer questions ➜ The HUAC’s struggle to
present concrete examples
of subversion was illustrated
by their citing of Stander
whistling the ‘Internationale’

but also
while waiting for an elevator
in No Time to Marry (Harry
Lachman, 1938). After three
years without work he took At a further hearing in

American
the opportunity to make ten April 1951, actor and known
films between 1943 and 1946, communist sympathizer Marc
when the HUAC was inactive Lawrence named Stander as
because of the war, but its a member of his Hollywood
'Here was a man prepared
society,
resurgence, and establishment communist cell, testifying that
of the blacklist, brought Stander ‘was the guy who
Stander back into radar range to display courage and no introduced me to the party line’.
Upon hearing of this, Stander
of the committee. In a hearing
small measure of theatrical

forever.
dated 21 March 1951, the sued Lawrence for slander, and
actor Larry Parks, one of the
committee’s so-called ‘friendly ability in his disparaging of contacted HUAC chairman
John S. Wood to request an
witnesses’, gave Stander’s name opportunity to appear before the
under questioning. Although no the committee.' committee and swear under oath
further accusation was made that he was not a communist.
Over two years later, on 6
Jez Connolly takes a look at one actor against him during the hearing,
Stander, who had worked May 1953, Stander finally had
who made a stand against it. consistently on television shows his moment in front of the
in the months before Parks’ committee. His appearance
lionel stander ➜ testimony, again fell from marked a turning point in
favour within the industry. the hearings: here was a man ➜

30 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 31


1000 words lionel stander

celebrates 45 years of cinema coverage

Published bi-monthly by the internationally


renowned film society of lincoln center,
prepared to display courage After the hearing, Stander
and no small measure of
theatrical ability to disparage
was mobbed by reporters and
the next day he was on the
film comment provides global coverage
the committee. He began by
pledging his full support in the
front page of every major US
newspaper. He was a hero to in cinema including exclusive interviews,
fight against ‘subversive’ activities many people for his courageous
and went on to tell his inquisitors:
'I know of a group of fanatics
stand, but anti-communists
hated him all the more. He may
in-depth reviews, discussions on new releases
who are desperately trying to
undermine the Constitution of
have made an impact that day,
but to say he ‘got away with it’ and classic films, authoritative profiles on
the United States by depriving
artists and others of life, liberty,
and pursuit of happiness
without process of law … and
these people are engaged in the
is far from the case. His screen-
acting career went into free
fall. For the rest of the decade
he worked as a stockbroker on
Wall Street, a journeyman stage
’’ !
luminaries in the industry, and developments
in the art of filmmaking.
conspiracy, outside all the legal actor, a corporate spokesman,

’’
’’
processes, to undermine our even a New Orleans Mardi
very fundamental American Gras king. He didn't return
concepts upon which our entire to Broadway until 1961 and
I love every aspect of motion pictures, and I’m committed to it for life.
'For the rest of the system of jurisprudence exists.'
Stander was, of course,
to film until 1963, in Larry
Moyer’s low-budget beatnik film comment has that same commitment when it comes to
decade Stander worked referring to the HUAC itself. picture The Moving Finger.

’’
writing about motion pictures.
as a stockbroker on Wall
Street, a journeyman
stage actor, a corporate
In an interview (for Tender
Comrades: A Backstory of the
Hollywood Blacklist, by Patrick
McGilligan and Paul Buhle)
conducted just before his death
Around this time he struck
up a working relationship with
Tony Richardson, for whom
he provided numerous stage
performances. In 1966 Roman
’’
— Clint Eastwood film comment connects me to a time when films and filmmakers
actually mattered and were treated as being worthy of serious discussion.
There’s no other cinema magazine remotely like it.

’’
in 1994, Stander explained why Polanski cast Stander in his
he took the brave decision to only starring role, as the thug
spokesman, even a New come out fighting:
'I decided that when I
Dickie in Cul-de-sac, opposite
Françoise Dorléac and Donald
— stEvEn sodE rbErgh

Orleans Mardi Gras king.' appeared before the Committee


I would expose them as being
Pleasence. Stander stayed in
Europe and eventually settled
film comment regularly publishes some of the best film writers in the
the un-Americans … I defied in Rome, where he appeared in world, and they probe and parse cinema in a way that deepen our experience of it.
the Committee, using every many spaghetti westerns, most
constitutional amendment there notably playing a bartender — utn E indEpE ndEnt pr Ess award b Est arts CovEragE
was to keep them from shutting named Max in Sergio Leone's
me up … I attacked them as Once Upon a Time in the West
being part of a conspiracy to (1968). While in Rome Stander
impose censorship on American befriended Robert Wagner,
theater and film, because as and it was this acquaintance Film CommEnt.Com subsCrib E:
soon as you tell people who that led to the TV role with
they can’t and won’t hire, you which Stander became most 1.888.313.6085 US 1 yr (6 issues) save 10% of our standard rate
also tell them what they can and associated: a role that marked 1.973.627.5162 International us $27 /canada&mexico $36 /international
can’t present. That was my line,
and I got away with it.'
his return to the American
mainstream. [tbp]
Film Comment PO Box 3000, $63 use code 2 bKFr9 when ordering.
Denville NJ 07834 USA

also see... [book] Tender Comrades, A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist [tv show] Heart to Heart

32 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
on location
below
james stewart

t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e s t h e m o v i e s

In the looming shadow of the


White House, dreams are made
and broken. nichol as page steps
tentatively into Washington State,
Hollywood’s most treacherous
arena of political intrigue.
All images: Kobal Collection

Mr. Smith Goes


to Washington (1939)
Dir. Frank Capra
USA, 129 minutes
Starring James Stewart,
Jean Arthur, Claude Rains

Not only his last film for Columbia


Pictures, but also perhaps his most
successful, Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington stars a fresh-faced
James Stewart as Jefferson Smith, an
innocent country kid who becomes
embroiled in the dangerous game
of politics. It is a role that, while not
necessarily written for Stewart, later
became a somewhat archetypal one
in the late actor’s long and sparkling
career. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
also marks a turning point in Capra’s
career as a director, for it is in this film
that Capra sheds the optimism that so
defined his earlier work.

34 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 35


Kobal (2)
opposite

on location ruth roman


right
dustin hoffman, Robert Redford
t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e s t h e m o v i e s and company

washington
below

d.c.
kevin costner

All the President’s


Men (1976)
Dir. Alan J. Pakula
USA, 138 minutes
Starring Dustin Hoffman,
Robert Redford, Jack Warden

Concerning Woodward and


Bernstein (the two Washington
Post journalists whose tireless
investigation of the Watergate
scandal essentially ended the
Nixon presidency), Alan J.
Pakula’s All the President’s
Men is the classic political
thriller. Released almost five
years after the scandal had
gripped America, and a couple
years after the resignation of
President Richard Nixon, All
the President’s Men was very
well-received when released in
1976: riding the star power of
lead duo Dustin Hoffman and
Strangers Robert Redford to commercial
on a Train (1951) and critical success.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
USA, 101 minutes
Starring Robert Walker,
Farley Granger, Ruth Roman JFK (1991)
Dir. Oliver Stone
Less political than some of his USA, 189 minutes
other work, and indeed most Starring Kevin Costner, Gary
of the other films on this list, Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones
Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers
on a Train was released in 1951
Oliver Stone’s account of
and marked the great director’s
the Kennedy assassination
return to form after a string
provoked much criticism
of commercial failures. Co-
when it was released due to
adapted by famed noir-writer
its controversial nature and
Raymond Chandler from a
glaring factual inconsistencies.
novel by Patricia Highsmith,
Despite raising some public
Strangers on a Train follows two
awareness as to what really
young men as they ‘exchange
happened in Dealey Plaza on
murders’. The film explores one
22 November 1963, as well
of Hitchcock’s favourite themes:
as pushing the government to
the evil lurking in even the most
hand over secret files related
ordinary of lives.
to the event, JFK was a mixed
bag for Stone, with Hollywood
both rewarding and scalding
the director for tackling such a
also see... The More the Merrier (1943) / Born Yesterday (1950) / In the Line of Fire (1993) controversial subject.

36 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 37


screengem
e vo c at i v e o b j e c t s o n s c r e e n

Chigurh is
anton fully intended

Bol�
chigurh's to be the devil
Y
himself: a
chilling, one-
man apocalypse.

Pistol
Y

A slaughterhouse gadget put to alarmingly


inappropriate use, the bolt pistol employed by
No Country For Old Men’s emotionless assassin
perfectly complements its owner’s discreet
malice. daniel steadman examines the
ultimate rustic murder weapon.

An assass i n ’s w e a p o n should Chigurh’s customized bolt for its lack of fuss. There’s no
be unobtrusive. It should be pistol. A brutal device intended attempt to make the life of an
plain and easily concealed. to stun farm animals; the assassin seem courageous or
A contraption comprising an body is essentially a highly even trivial: it’s just a gory,
orange, hose-like tube attached pressurized air canister, necessary job. Though Javier
to a 2-foot-tall steel canister operated by a levered trigger Bardem’s career-defining
would appear not to fit this mechanism. Releasing this performance wrings much
description – but reason does concentrated gas (through a of the menace from the
not apply to Anton Chigurh, steel nozzle) perforates the character, he’s only half of a
the monstrous, mop-haired skull whilst leaving a relatively pair of unforgettable killing
madman who stalks the lonely clean wound – intended for machines. Both fascinate us: as
deserts of the Coen brothers’ preventing meat spoilage, but an audience we’re transfixed
No Country for Old Men. equally useful for dispatching by the majesty of this weapon,
Few cinematic murder the unfortunates on a hit watching filled with horror and
weapons are as malevolent, man’s hit list. Chigurh is sickened intrigue. [tbp]
bizarre or effective as fully intended to be the devil
himself: a chilling, one-man
apocalypse. The trail of death
he leaves behind is notable

more screengems? Email us your ideas for a screengem to: info@thebigpicturemagazine.com

38 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 39


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i m i tat i o n i s t h e s i n c e r e s t f o r m o f f l at t e r y
(below) taimak as leroy green the last dragon
'In The Last
Dragon the suit is

21
(bottom) uma thurman as beatrice kiddo kill bill (vol.1)

B r u c e L e e i s f i l m ’s m o st
imitated idol. Aside from worn by a young
his renowned influence on
fans, followers and reputable black kung-

Jump
filmmakers, Lee's brilliant
career and early death inspired fu aficionado,
the infamously atrocious
Bruceploitation picture, nicknamed ‘Bruce
a substandard sub-genre
populated with impersonators Leroy’, who is

Suits
with names like Bruce Le,
Bruce Li, Bruce Lo and Lee forced to face
Bruce. Whilst no one has
ever recreated Lee’s onscreen ‘the Shogun of
skills, his onscreen apparel has
proved easier to imitate. Harlem… Sho’nuff’.
Both Lee and his famed yellow
and black jumpsuit appeared in
1978’s Game of Death for only
minutes: the film’s centrepiece
Worn by fans, film stars and – at the pagoda sequence was filmed in
Kill Bill premiere – by Jonathon Ross, 1972 (Lee died the following
year) and the remainder of
Bruce Lee’s Game of Death jumpsuit is the movie was constructed
perhaps cinema’s most influential outfit. around it, with Lee’s role
played by an absurd series
s c o t t j o rdan harris tries it on. of interchangeable stand-ins.
Nevertheless, the segment
was so outstanding, and the
international hunger for Lee
so insatiable, that the jumpsuit
became instantly iconic. It
reappeared, on the back of the
aforementioned mimic Bruce
Le, in the ridiculous rip-off
Enter the Game of Death (1980)
and again in parodic American
martial arts movie The Last
Dragon (1985), in which it is
worn by a young black kung-fu
aficionado, nicknamed ‘Bruce
Leroy’, who is forced to face
‘the Shogun of Harlem…
Sho’nuff ’.
No movie was ever more aware
of the history of the kung-fu
film than Kill Bill (2003/4).
When, in its first volume, Uma
Thurman’s Beatrice Kiddo
arrives in Tokyo hunting Lucy
Liu’s O-Ren Ishii, and fights
her enemy’s entire private
army, there was, of course, only
one outfit Quentin Tarantino
would allow her to wear. [tbp]

go further Enter the Game of Death (1980) / Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (2000)

42 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2009 43


competition Backpages

Picture Go Further Getting involved with...

thebigpicture
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then
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44 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com visit: www.thebigpicturemagazine.com march/april 2010 45


Backpages

Film Index Back in Cinemas


So you’ve read about the films, now go watch ‘em! Putting the movies back where they belong...

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)


Dir. John Frankenheimer
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
This edition of The Big Picture has been
g see page 6/7 g see page 36 produced in partnership with Park Circus,
Ma Mere (2005) All the President's Men (1976) who are committed to bringing classic
Dir. Christophe Honoré Dir. Alan J. Pakula
g see page 8/9 g see page 37
films back to the big screen.
Tommy (1975) JFK (1991)
Dir.Kurt Russell Dir. Oliver Stone
g see page 9 g see page 37 coming coming coming
Mommie Dearest (1981) No Country for Old Men (2007) soon soon soon
Dir. Frank Perry Dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen
g see page 10 g see page 39

Braindead (1992) Game of Death (1978) Looking for something less sugary
Dir. Peter Jackson Dir. Robert Clouse
g see page 11 g see page 42
after Easter indulgencies? John
Psycho (1960) The Last Dragon (1985) Frankenheimer's Award-winning 1962 cool
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock Dir. Michael Schultz
cult classic The Manchurian Candidate
g see page 12/13 g see page 43

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)


will be back in cinemas this spring.
Dir. Frank Capra Dir. Quentin Tarantino
g see page 34/35 g see page 43
With an all-star cast including Frank
Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and
Angela Lansbury, this political suspense
thriller centres on the mysterious
In the next issue of The Big Picture, read behaviour of a US Army hero.
more about Pandora And The Flying
Dutchman, Albert Lewin's stylish 1950 The Manchurian Candidate is being re-
masterpiece starring James Mason and Ava released from 16 April at BFI Southbank
Gardner. The restored version of the film will and selected cinemas around the country.
be opening from 14 May at BFI Southbank
and selected cinemas. More details of cinema screenings of these
and other classic movies from the Park Circus
catalogue can be accessed via:
www.backincinemas.com
the
big picture thebigpicture disclaimer
issue 8
available The views and opinions of all texts, including
10 may editorial and regular columns, are those of the
2010 authors and do not necessarily represent or
reflect those of the editors or publishers.

The Big Picture magazine is published six times a


year by Intellect Ltd. www.intellectbooks.com
46 www.thebigpicturemagazine.com

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