Kim Gordon Talks About Her Eight Top Film Influences (EXCLUSIVE)

Indie icon Kim Gordon, whose excellent solo album “The Collective” dropped last week, is this month’s  featured film curator for Galerie, the new online film club launched by Indian Paintbrush. Below, Gordon shares a deeply personal curation of eight films that influence and reflect audio, visual art, and personal style. While best known as a musician and cofounding member of Sonic Youth, Gordon’s art has long stretched into multiple other disciplines, with film being just one.

Morvern Callar,” dir. Lynne Ramsay, 2002

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I love the way Lynne Ramsay uses sound dynamics. In this movie the music is like another character. The mixtape that her dead boyfriend made and left for her (saying “Keep the music to yourself”) becomes a thread throughout the film. He is the music — it not only keeps him alive for her but replaces him.

Clouds of Sils Maria,” dir. Olivier Assayas, 2014

The relationship in this movie between the two main characters, Maria and Valentine, is so multifaceted. When Jo-Ann enters the picture she brings another meta aspect to the whole thing. The relationship dynamics keep changing along with the play that Maria is rehearsing and her attitude. There’s also an underlying tension throughout that the landscape brings. I like when Val is driving along the curving mountain road listening to a song by Primal Scream and it suddenly turns into a sort of overlayed collage of images mimicking a music video, portraying her nausea. Is it from the curving road or her relationship to Maria?

My Brother’s Wedding,” dir. Charles Burnett, 1983

This film is seemingly so simple but reveals so much socioeconomically about the Black community based around a family with a matriarchal structure. It tells a story that is universal but with a window into Black life in Los Angeles that is not hyperbolic or riddled with clichés. I felt like I was let into a world that I otherwise had no access to, growing up in the ’70s in a white middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Personal Shopper,” dir. Olivier Assayas, 2016

Kristen Stewart carries this whole film pretty much herself. The texting scene on the train is incredible in the suspense it builds. I also love how Olivier doesn’t use typical music from the horror genre but instead relies on sounds, like how exaggeratedly loud the creaking stairs are in the house where Maureen spends the night while waiting for a sign from her brother’s spirit from the beyond. Also, it’s funny to have someone be a self-proclaimed medium but unsure about anything she’s receiving.

The Last Mistress,” dir. Catherine Breillat, 2007

A period melodrama. When I first saw this movie I laughed so much. The exaggeration of everything, from the saturation of color to the entwinement of the lovers’ bodies, always so entangled, depicting passion and female sensuality and abandon to a ridiculous degree. I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine, and we talked about painting. She said she considered herself a painter more than a filmmaker — she loved the process of color-adjusting — and spoke of her love of Renaissance painters and their use of red. I read an interview where she said she liked to paint the blood herself in this film, doing what she’s always done as an artist.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975,” dir. Göran Hugo Olsson, 2011

This film utilizes 16mm footage of the Black Power movement in America, shot by Swedish journalists between 1967 and 1975. It’s incredible to watch and relate to the present day, a connection that’s emphasized by the use of observations, reactions and voice-over snippets from contemporary musicians and others. It’s wild to realize how little has changed. Particularly alarming is the Swedish tour bus going through Harlem. A great film!

Bastards,” dir. Claire Denis, 2013

When I first saw this film at the New York Film Festival, I thought it was one of the most devastatingly brutal films I’d ever seen. But I also thought it was beautiful. On second viewing I could really enjoy how gorgeously filmed it was. The dark, muted colors match the mystery of it. All Claire Denis’s films have so much that is mysterious and unspoken, but this one really lives in the dark. The way she used sound recorded from actual situations, like the smashed car going by on a truck bed when the camera stays on it and we hear the noise of the metal and wind combined for a good 30 seconds or so. It folds so well into the rest of the soundtrack.

The Housemaid,” dir. Im Sang-soo, 2010

In this South Korean film about the class divide, it was interesting to see the upper-class family be so enthralled with the Western world. It’s what modern-day luxury looks like. The little girl is surrounded by Caucasian-looking dolls — not one is Asian. Champagne is the go-to drink, along with expensive wine. The male protagonist plays classical music on the piano every morning. By the end of the film, they’re speaking in English. The beginning was predictable, but the end was surprising.

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