Even the title, in referring to a future project of the filmmaker rather than the screening that dominates its central plot, invites a broader consideration of its many digressions and the manner in which the political questions it raises are situated sociopolitically, culturally, and in terms of history and identity.
The Brattle, the Castro, and NYC’s great repertory screens, including its crown jewels, Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade and the Sumner Redstone Theater at Museum of the Moving Image. Right now, they’re just empty rooms, but they are also the settings for some of my life’s most profound, moving, and transformative artistic experiences.
As the film draws to its conclusion, a fair-haired woman named Carol looks towards the camera in a medium close up and musters the strength and self-possession to say the words, “I love you.” Remarkably, this accurately describes the two finest films by Todd Haynes.
The movie calls on her to disrupt its stillness and austerity, to whirl in with frantic phrases and abrupt movements. She is that frazzle of golden hair, the rush of light bursting in that also brings chaos to order. The balloon floats, but she crashes in.
Assayas seems to have conceived this film as several genre pieces in one (a pseudo horror, a psychological thriller, a melancholy drama about grief), but each of these strands, incomplete in its way, serves a grander and fully realized purpose in the larger ontological excavation of Maureen.
In real classrooms and on real film shoots, there remains an inevitable tension between the roles that certain figures who exercise authority must play and the principles and aspirations that guide some of our most progressive teachers and moviemakers.
For Mungiu, there are political and dramatic implications to the way that people and bodies occupy and interact within a frame, the way that the camera moves to depict action and reveal setting, and the way onscreen and off-screen space are established.
American Sniper’s defenders have basically staked out ground as formalists, while its detractors have made both weak and strong claims about the “responsibility” filmmakers have to a certain amount of ethical rigor and political engagement when making a film about an actual military conflict.
The Age of Innocence is as brutal a film as anything in Scorsese’s filmography—and it is also just as kinetic. His camera is constantly in motion, insinuating itself between characters, panning, tilting, and tracking from faces to walls to plates of food to silverware to fine china.
Both a companion piece to This Is Not a Film and a cinematic break from it, Closed Curtain at first seems to mark a return to “fiction” filmmaking for Panahi—to whatever extent categories like “fiction” and “nonfiction” even apply to his cinematic practice—and so it also invites a certain recalibration.