STRANGE DAYS (1995). COURTESY OF METROGRAPH.
Carroll Dunham, the artist, and his daughter, writer/actress/director Lena Dunham, took over the Metrograph in New York City last night to promote Carroll’s new book Into Words: The Selected Writings of Carroll Dunham. “A lot of super confused girls are sitting at home after ordering it off my Insta-story being like, ‘Why am I reading art criticism of Jasper Johns?’” Lena joked at one point. In honor of their family’s multihyphenate creativity, which extends far beyond art books, Carroll and Lena decided to screen a favorite film of theirs: Strange Days (1995), directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis, and Angela Bassett. The epic science fiction thriller takes place on New Year’s Eve before the turn of the century in Los Angeles, where a new, illegal form of technology has become rampant. Lena and Carroll offer a few insights on the film and why it has become a bonafide obsession of theirs.
THE YEAR IS 1999
CARROLL: I have been reading sci-fi since I was a kid, and when I was little the year 1999 represented a future far, far away. So this movie’s about New Year’s Eve 1999, which is already, now, a long time ago.
LENA: I remember you had to pick me up New Year’s Eve 1999 because I was having a panic attack. There was a lot of bridge traffic you had to deal with that night.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
LENA: You’re the one who told me Strange Days was so great and then my sister, your daughter, wrote their college thesis on it.
CARROLL: Yeah, which I didn’t even really know until we decided to do this.
LENA: They wrote about this and Kathryn Bigelow’s lesbian vampire film.
RELEVANT TWO DECADES LATER
CARROLL: The degree of relevance and topicality is almost shocking to me when I see it now.
LENA: I think especially considering the dialogue of what’s happening in Hollywood right now, this is such an important film to highlight because it’s about diversity and revenge and female power.
WHEN SCIENCE FICTION BECOMES REALITY
LENA: And it’s weird to apply the word naturalism to a movie like this, but that sort of feels like a drive around L.A.
CARROLL: With less confetti.
LENA: Less confetti and less armed citizens. I think. I hope.
INTO WORDS: THE SELECTED WRITINGS OF CARROLL DUNHAM IS OUT NOW, VIA BADLANDS UNLIMITED.