I cannot imagine seeing something more compositionally thought-through and artfully constructed in the current cinema, or something that more compellingly refuses to divulge its secrets while also maintaining a constant engagement with so many legible ideas.
For most of its running time, Babylon barrels past any possibility of wistful reverie, content to wallow in excess and sin, only to devolve in its final third into meditations on the power and beauty of the image.
Though this is perhaps the ultimate Spielberg film, it does not move or feel like one. He is going for something else: a thoughtfully unshowy aesthetic that heightens one’s awareness of being a viewer. Watching, we’re rarely thinking about what the camera is doing, but rather what it is showing and why.
A Few Great Pumpkins
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, The Funhouse, Ginger Snaps, Frenzy, Maniac, Baby Blood, Possum
Mungiu maintains his penchant for slow-building narrative tension, gradually revealing dramatic stakes, yet rather than focus exclusively on one or two characters clearly wending their way through an economically dramatized moral dilemma, he takes a more panoramic approach.
Sara Driver’s film feels more beholden to the work of Maya Deren and Jean Cocteau than the coming wave of American independent movies that would transform the decade.
Cinematically it is neither here nor there, sandwiched between agreed-upon renaissances. There were marvels, there were duds, there were mediocrities, like any year... Yet we discovered 1981 feels as much like a turning point as it does a middling cinematic interzone.
Even after his string of fictionalized autobiographical films, Davies featured surrogates whose experiences allow him to come to terms (philosophical, aesthetic, moral, sexual, always personal) with a world that has too often betrayed, disappointed, and made shame out of beauty.
Noe uses two cameras to capture all of their travails in intimate close-up, allowing us to see them both at once using split-screen. Such a formally rigorous approach tends to call attention to itself, naturally inviting questions of aesthetics and perception.
Defining (and redefining) contemporary fascism may be a losing game, but identifying the destructive forces of moral conservatism remains as depressingly easy as ever. Another thing that remains vivid: the misogyny at the corrupt core of modern patriarchal life.
It’s never confirmed that the film’s “right” Chinaman is a statue whose head stands still and straight. Yet this remains all a matter of perception, as well as interpretation. The object is thus tactile yet vaguely defined, and leads to a larger question: if the Chinaman doesn’t belong here, then what, or who, does?
What does giving such primacy to the nonhuman and inanimate mean for the other elements onscreen, specifically the human or the animal? What does an object convey? What is its meaning within an art form that is itself so given to fears of impermanence?
A Few Great Pumpkins
Ghost Story of Yotsuya, Lord Shango, Malignant, Dracula, Carnival of Souls, Silent Night Deadly Night 3, When a Stranger Calls
I am left with the feeling that Many Saints is an expression of Chase’s archness run amok, rather than an invitation to immerse myself in a universe like that of The Sopranos, where, like our own, everyone feels put upon, can’t see past their pain, and therefore fail to notice the pain of others.
In this first, five-minute shot of his new film, Days, Tsai Ming-liang reminds us again of why this once youthful but eternally sorrowful man, now in his early fifties, is among the great muses of what we once called cinema.
A new Reverse Shot short film creatively documents the private Critical Interventions symposium hosted at Museum on the Moving Image just before the pandemic closed down the world.
Watching it again today, I realize that Zhang Yimou’s film might have worked particularly well for an adolescent viewer because it functions on traditional fairy tale logic.
Maybe rigorous analysis needs always to be leavened with a certain degree of humility. This seems particularly important when we look at films from unfamiliar places and wish to address ideas of culture and place.
“Will haunt you after it’s over . . . makes us think about the role that food plays in our lives—both as social beings and creatures of the earth.” –Vox
A Few Great Pumpkins
Pulse, Host, Brain Damage, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, The Velvet Vampire, Deathdream, The Devil and Daniel Webster