I discovered "Film Comment" magazine the other day.
Much to my surprise, I found that the magazine published by the Film at Lincoln Center series has been coming out since 1962. Since I am a lifetime magazine junkie, I thought I would have discovered "Film Comment" long ago.
The magazine gives hip/academic analysis of films ranging from American blockbusters to obscure foreign productions. Writers such as The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis and staffers J. Hoberman, Dave Kerhr, Michael Sragow and Amy Taubin give an auteur's perspective, while remaining grounded.
Also impressive is the magazine's historical outlook. I appreciated a retrospective on the late Doris Day and a feature on United Artists' 100th anniversary.
Another strong piece is Taubin's interview with director Jim Jarmusch about his recent zombie black comedy "The Dead Don't Die." The film received negative reviews, but Jarmusch's thoughts about his scriptwriting made me want to see it.
The film's cast exudes acting brilliance: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton. There's even an appearance by Iggy Pop.
I noticed Film Comment because it had a cover story on Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time....in Hollywood."
Although I've never liked Tarantino's films all that much, "Once Upon a Time....in Hollywood" has stirred my interest. I suppose it's because I loved the violent TV and movie Westerns the film references, and have long been fascinated by the 1960s conflict between the old and new Hollywood that the film registers. I've also always loved book, movies and TV shows about the glitzy, noirish Los Angeles, whether in the 1930s or 1960s.
Film Comment Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Rapold gives a good wrap-up of Tarantino's look back at Los Angeles in 1969, but I particularly liked Howard Hampton's sidebar on TV's influence on the production.
As Hampton points out, a group of marginal actors in 1960s Hollywood, including Bruce Dern, Jack Nicholson, James Coburn and Warren Oates, eventually gained fame in the edgy, revolutionary New Hollywood films. Hampton finds an obscure model for Leonardo DiCaprio's Rick Dalton: Ty Hardin, who starred in a TV series called Bronco.
An imaginative magazine produced for a selective audience like Film Comment offer sthe best hope for print's future. While refined general interest magazines like Harper's, the New Yorker, the Atlantic and National Geographic battle on, general interest magazines sink.
Film Comment has a strong Internet presence, but its crisp writing and editing, inviting layouts and vivid photography make a statement for print.