It’s a film that luxuriates in details, in textures, and specificity of places and costumes, and the particulars of Carol and Therese’s sexuality are absolutely crucial, yet also not the endpoint. What is it they say about finding the universal in the specific?
Hou’s latest, The Assassin, his first in the wuxia genre, is perhaps his most senses-heightening work yet, a film of simultaneous action and repose, of specificity and abstraction, giving the viewer just enough information to follow its dense narrative avenues while asking that their eyes take the road less traveled.
As the writer-director of seventeen feature films in nineteen years (a Fassbinderian pace), whose work has been screened on multiple continents in the context of film festivals, Hong surely recognizes the ritual nature/torture of the filmmaker Q&A.
Like Lincoln, Bridge places value on conversation, negotiation, honor, decency, the ineffable power of giving one’s “word” to another. Spielberg aims to please, yes, but in the one-two punch that is Lincoln and Bridge of Spies, he’s also aiming for something grander.
One of the miracles of cinema is that genuine artists can use the medium to convey otherwise inexpressible, even intangible emotions, using image and sound to create emotional landscapes that in writing might be too explicit or in music too oblique.
The plot of The Treasure revolves around people digging for riches in a backyard, lacking the means for more expansive adventures, and much of its humor derives from watching grown men bring their adult self-seriousness and anxiety to what is essentially a childhood pastime.
Son of Saul’s insistence on real-time tension means that it’s deliberately cut off from considerations of the bigger picture; what it theoretically gains in trade is a sense of authenticity, which becomes increasingly presumptuous in light of its heavy-handed storytelling and basic lack of dramatic believability.