As film critics, we have been unclear what to do with our despondency, other than one clear thing: direct our outrage away from suffocating social media channels and toward writing, reasoning, wrestling with ideas, praising, hoping, questioning.
Films as disparate as Altered States, Nosferatu, 1984, The Night of the Hunter, Repulsion, Tetsuo the Iron Man, M, and Sette note in nero are placed on the same emotional plane, each an evocation of all-purpose, free-floating, indefinable anxiety.
One Sings may ultimately be gentle in its politics, but Varda could probably never make a truly mainstream film: her artistry is too exquisitely singular, too intrigued by moments out of time and the unspoken words between people that can only be expressed through abstraction.
In selecting the subject of our latest director symposium, we alighted upon a figure of constant surprise, of reinvention, of charm and oddity and intellectual freedom. She is one of the most thrillingly alive filmmakers working today, and she is 88.
There is nothing here that comes close to the subliminally effective terror of the original. Instead, Wingard expectedly goes for full-throttle, high-decibel horror, amping up the Blair Witch model for the ADHD generation, providing an endless array of false scares and loud crashes.
It has no intention to disrupt its audiences or get them to question their own notions about death and mourning. Nor does it need to: Moretti’s film is no less personal for being straightforward in its aims, sketching a fleet portrait of the difficulties of balancing personal challenges and professional goals.
A filmmaker, like Loznitsa, may use the camera to frame unscripted events to place them within understandable linear frameworks; another, like Malick, uses it to liberate ostensibly scripted events so that one can get at deeper truths behind the images. Maybe cinema exists somewhere in the middle.
The exteriors were shot on 65mm film, the interiors were captured digitally, and they offer different kinds of rapture, the former taking in the vastness of the land with hushed, God-like awe, the latter almost unbearably human, hunkering down in the burnished shadows of rooms sometimes lit by a single candle.
Why are we suddenly so obsessed with questioning cinematic reality? Why “docs”? And why now? To get at these queries, and try to get a handle on the nonfiction boom, we figured we’d do it the best way we know how: with a new symposium.
As with any good filmmaker, Mascaro uses the camera to help us see the world a little differently, a little more clearly. There’s something casually virtuosic about his new film, a work of strange realism that immerses the viewer in a natural yet defamiliarized environment of everyday ritual.