To begin with, designed as a one-director anthology film, it picks up and disposes of various narrative threads rather than staying with the same plotline or plotlines (or absence of plot) throughout. Secondly, it depends almost not at all on real-time duration to fill itself out.
This might seem to suggest a bit of a creative about-face, for Happy Hour, running a bit over five hours, was not precisely a commercial proposition, but in fact Asako I & II, in the space of two incident-heavy hours, works in every bit as much feeling and active intelligence as its predecessor.
There is nothing metaphorical about the connection between a fractured China and one fractured family unit in A Family Tour. Attuned to the rhythms of often stilted conversations played out against the banal, sunny backdrop of public spaces in contemporary Taiwan, A Family Tour does not have much truck with symbols.
There is some satisfaction that comes in seeing motifs and symbols established within the first part of the film as they re-emerge in the galvanizing high-wire act performance of the second, though I am unconvinced that the seeding of these symmetries can entirely justify the moribund experience of what has preceded.
The basic material of BlacKkKlansman is custom-made to be described as provocative, even though it is hard to pick out a moment in the finished film that would possibly provoke or discomfit someone already inclined to buy a ticket to a Spike Lee movie called BlacKkKlansman.
If Hong is indeed the best that we have got, there is something troubling about this fact. For it should detract nothing from the integrity of his body of work to say that, when taken altogether, it is a quintessential expression of a cinema of disappointment and diminished expectations.
That Denis can produce a work that, without a trace of preciousness, is equal parts indebted to Barthes and Chicago blues, connected as arm is to shoulder to the film-historical legacy of post-New Wave French filmmaking, is only further justification for claim that the 71-year-old is the greatest working director over the last two decades.
As Soderbergh, in his mini-mogul practice, endeavors to hack out new routes leading around the established economic order of filmmaking, his films depict men and women doing their best to negotiate contingency plans for the perilous environment created by a carnivorous economy on the prowl.
Depardon is not out to expose naked cruelty, neglect, and dereliction of duty, as Wiseman and Wang do in their films, but something much more subtly invidious: the revolving-door efficiency of the state apparatus, mechanized service behind a blandly humane smile.
A series full of mistaken identities and roving impostors, Twin Peaks: The Return is a heads-up to look for cinema in places other than where it’s alleged to be found.
One of the unexpected pleasures of this Twin Peaks was just how unexpected it was, how it didn’t seem interested in reheating an old dish in the name of “fan service.”