We have been publishing Reverse Shot for 15 years, and when it comes to maintaining our optimism and enthusiasm for the medium we all ostensibly love, we have had our ups and downs. But things feel hopeful as of late, both in terms of filmmaking and in film criticism.
Made up of a series of mostly short scenes that combine into a slow bubbling up of existential terror, the film does build to an extended, if narratively abstract, climax, which is then summarily followed by a denouement that manages to conclude the story in a most willfully unsatisfying fashion, while being almost subliminal.
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.