Our authors-select series Print Screen is back! The Film Society’s newest recurring series is geared toward bridging the worlds of cinema and literature and invites notable authors to present films that complement and have inspired their work. On the occasion of the paperback release of his debut novel, Wolf in White Van (September 1 from Picador), Mountain Goats frontman and indie-rock icon John Darnielle joins us to introduce a screening of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Medea, followed by a discussion and book signing on August 31.
Upcoming Print Screen events include authors James Hannaham (October 29), Susan Howe (November 24), and Garth Risk Hallberg (December 10). Full details on these events and film pairings will be announced at a later date. The Print Screen series is organized by Rachael Rakes and Dennis Lim.
Tickets to the John Darnielle event will go on sale Thursday, August 13.
Discussion with John Darnielle & screening of Medea
“Wolf in White Van is a novel that unspools rather than reads. Told in a tricky, deftly structured reverse chronology, the narrator, Sean Phillips, backtracks to a traumatic teenaged event . . . Darnielle has a masterful way of putting the reader in the position of reverse engineer. . . [His] is an art that spins pain into gold.”—Emily M. Keeler, The Hairpin
“It’s a gripping and strange read that defies all genre expectations and captures a world that very few of us know about but that feels very real.”—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, in Rolling Stone
John Darnielle is a writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats and is widely considered one of the best lyricists of his generation, crafting “songs that read like stories” (NPR) about society’s marginalized and underdogs—undercard boxers, meth addicts, teens who form death-metal bands. He took the name Mountain Goats from a line in “Yellow Coat,” a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song. While working toward an English degree at Pitzer College in 1991, a local label released Taboo VI: The Homecoming—10 initial songs, sung by Darnielle including a cover of “This Magic Moment.” Eventually pairing with others to form the indie-rock band the Mountain Goats, their 2002 first studio concept album Tallahassee was released to critical acclaim by British label 4AD (Pixies, Throwing Muses, Modern English) and centers on an embittered husband and wife who move from Southern California to Florida. The band has released multiple albums and over 500 songs, many written by Darnielle. After writing for his own blog, Last Plane to Jakarta, and publishing a book on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality as part of the 33 1/3 series about classic albums, he penned Wolf in White Van. The novel takes place in a “tortured-adolescent head-space” (Rolling Stone) and centers on a man who is disfigured during his days as a heavy-metal loving teen. The book was nominated for the 2014 National Book Award. Darnielle lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his family.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy/France/West Germany, 1969, 35mm, 110m
Italian with English subtitles
Starring the legendary Maria Callas, Pasolini’s interpretation of Euripides’s play shifts the tragedy away from Medea’s betrayal by Jason and her bloody revenge to the loss of her mystical homeland of Colchis. Through poetic, desirous explorations of landscape and ritual, traditional North African music, and sparse dialogue, Pasolini shapes a biting Marxist allegory for Western nations’ menacing influence on the Third World. Glorious to witness for Callas’s performance and the superb costuming, Medea deserves repeated viewings on the big screen. Restored 35mm print from Instituto Luce Cinecittà. Restoration by S.N.C. Presentation of the film in its original 35mm format made possible by Gucci.
Monday, August 31, 7:00pm (Q&A with John Darnielle) at Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65th Street)
“The Greek and Roman tragedians had a profound and lasting effect on me when I immersed myself in them back in college—everything I write articulates at some point with strategies and visions found in those ancient poems. One interesting thing about ancient tragedy is that its threads lead in so many directions—from Renaissance reimaginings to crypto-tragic texts like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to the syncretic masterpiece The Gospel at Colonus. Pasolini tried his hand at Greek tragedy twice: first Sophocles (Oedipus Rex ), then Euripides (Medea, ). It’s not surprising that a lifelong maverick like Pasolini would be drawn to Euripides, whose plays speak so directly to the modern heart. Medea, which contains Maria Callas’s only dramatic role on film, hauls Euripides from the corridors of the academy into the stark, violent world of celluloid. There are few film treatments of ancient tragedy as hell-bent on getting the tone right as this one: the light, the scene, the horror. The film’s final frames, once viewed, linger in the mind for a long, long time. It’s my pleasure to host a screening of this sometimes-imperfect but genuinely remarkable film.”—John Darnielle