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.
The film proceeds in an unhurried fashion, from one static shot to the next, with edits more often than not bringing about changes in time and space, rather than additional vantage points on events. Solnicki resists the urge to coalesce his vignettes into a more structured narrative experience.
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.
What happens when audiences have come to expect long-simmering, historically engaged Gesamtkunstwerks from a filmmaker and then are treated rapid-fire to a series of increasingly ungraspable present-day love stories? What is Malick doing in To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and Song to Song, and why now?
A one-woman filmmaking army, Stratman exhibits a knack for choosing historically significant locations and then, through careful framing, the addition of the right sounds, the introduction of primary source texts and other unexpected choices, slowly unpacks the history of the place we are looking at.
Instead of immersing us solely into the experience of the immigrants arrived at Lampedusa, Rosi winds us around the small island again and again, meeting its lifelong denizens and newly arrived, feeling its culture and traditions and how they have or have not been affected by the influx of refugees from abroad.
In Aquarius, a woman in her sixties faces threats (some real, some perhaps imagined) to her continued existence in the titular three-story beachfront apartment building she has lived in for decades and which developers hope to raze and replace with a lucrative high rise project.