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.
A pleasing sense of ambient drift marked a number of the landscape-focused True/False features I saw, a welcome respite from the “story” and character-obsessed rigidity that hobbles the American commercial documentary industry.
A simple prop cup, chosen by someone on the creative team for use in a commercial film production, communicates a highly specific vision of Christ and Christianity entire to its audience: modest and humble, unostentatious and definitely working class.
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?
As we write and rewrite the ongoing history of cinema, missing the great films and often paying far too much attention to the undeserving, and always, always uncovering more and more work worth writing and thinking about, we should remember: question the rubrics and heuristics, the received and accepted wisdom.
Fire Will Come, with its single location and small cast, is a more focused work than Mimosas, but maintains a similar sense of possibility as the earlier film, of things unknowable to the viewer. What’s really important may be happening somewhere outside of the frame.
The chaos of the moment feels aptly reflected and deeply felt in both a Bogdanovich slapstick classic from the seventies and a Hammer horrror gem from the sixties.
In this ongoing column, one writer will send another a new piece of writing about a film they have been watching and pondering over, in the hopes that this will prompt a connection to a different film the other has been watching.
There is no privilege accorded to one state of being over another. All of these figures exist within the same frame of Apichatpong’s cinema. And, importantly, to his characters, all are equals.
A Hidden Life reminds us that a courageous moral act need not be immediately efficacious to produce meaningful impact. His calm certitude, arrived at through faith, personal reflection, and individual experience, poses a challenge to all those around him, especially those who have decided for various reasons to align themselves with the forces of nationalism.
A Few Great Pumpkins
Unfriended: Dark Web, Penda's Fen, The Collector, Someone's Watching Me, The Queen of Spades, Angst, Amazing Stories: "Go to the Head of the Class"