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.
This feeling for that bygone world of freshwater creeks and tilled fields and as-yet-uncleared woods is one of the chief inducements recommending The Lincoln Cycle, consisting of ten two-reel episodes whose direction is credited to their star Benjamin Chapin.
Claire Simon has been working steadily in the cinema since a mid-1970s internship with Algerian filmmaker Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, and has been directing both narrative and nonfiction films for over 30 years now.
Faced with promoting such a difficult-to-pitch property, Universal decided instead to cut its losses, keeping the movie hidden from press until its unceremonious arrival in theaters was imminent, so that now it becomes a story only on the basis of its spectacular box-office failure, a foregone conclusion.
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.
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.