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Wonderstruck (with Brian Selznick)
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Wonderstruck (with Brian Selznick) - 11/17


American writer/illustrator Brian Selznick, who recently adapted his 2011 novel Wonderstruck into a film of the same title, will appear on-camera on TCM to introduce three movies that have been influential in his life and work.

Born in New Jersey in 1966, Selznick is the grandson of a cousin of the legendary movie producer David O. Selznick. Brian worked in children's literature for years before breaking into the mainstream with The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), which won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for picture-book illustration. The book was adapted into a film directed by Martin Scorsese, Hugo (2011), which won five Academy Awards and six additional nominations.

The film version of Wonderstruck (2017) was directed by Todd Haynes, widely celebrated for such films as Far From Heaven (2002) and Carol (2015). Wonderstruck switches between two stories set 50 years apart, each concerning the quest of a child. The earlier story is shot in black-and-white and is silent, while the contemporary one is influenced by atmospheric color films of the 1970s. The movie stars Millicent Simmonds and Oaks Fegley as the two children, and Julianne Moore in a dual role.

Selznick's first pick is The Wind (1928), the legendary silent film about a young woman severely unsettled by life in West Texas. The film was directed by Victor Sjöström and stars Lillian Gish, with cinematography by John Arnold. In notes for a screening of the film at the Museum of the Moving Image, Selznick wrote about this film's influence on Wonderstruck: "Gish [is] at the height of her powers, fighting the wind and insanity nonstop for the entire movie... The character of Lillian Mayhew, played by Julianne Moore, is directly inspired by Gish, and the fictional movie-within-a-movie, Daughter of the Wind, is exactly that, an offspring of this very movie."

Next Selznick chooses Being There (1979), Hal Ashby's enigmatic comedy about a gardener (Peter Sellers) whose simple-minded wisdom makes him a celebrity. Selznick described the film as an "enigmatic masterpiece, a comedy, a tragedy, a political satire, and a one-sided love story." He noted that it "directly inspired a scene in Wonderstruck. When Peter Sellers's character, Chauncey Gardiner, first leaves the house where he's lived his life, he's accompanied by the familiar sound of the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but in a disco version by Deodato (the real title of the music is "Also Sprach Zarathustra"), and this walk, and music, are used in a key moment in Wonderstruck."

Selznick's final choice is Mean Streets (1973), Martin Scorsese's study of small-time hoods in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City. Selznick said in an interview that he envisioned the 1970s scenes of Wonderstruck "as if it was a movie from that decade, awash in period-cored color, sound and techniques... In a way, I was kind of imagining I was making Mean Streets for kids." The highly influential cinematography of Scorsese's film, with its shadowy colors and hand-held camera techniques, is by Kent L. Wakeford.

By Roger Fristoe

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