"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
I first saw Cristian Mungiu, the writer and director of “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” when he was at the podium in Cannes, taking questions from the press after winning the Palme d’Or. He was incredibly impressive, fielding questions effortlessly in English and French (without translation) and talking modestly about how he and producer-cinematographer Oleg Mutu were family men who worked diligently and without angst at their jobs, which happened to involve making movies. “To be honest, we don’t live like artists,” he said.
A few months later, I met Mungiu during his brief visit to New York, and we discussed the conceptual origins and production process behind one of the most acclaimed European films of recent years. Despite his film’s challenging subject matter and his characters’ grueling odyssey, Mungiu sees “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” as a genre film at least as much as an art film. In fact, Mungiu may be the leading representative in a new generation of European filmmakers who grew up liking both Hollywood entertainment films and the art-house classics of Bergman and Truffaut, and his film brilliantly straddles those universes.
You can hear a podcast of my interview with Cristian Mungiu here.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)