Defining (and redefining) contemporary fascism may be a losing game, but identifying the destructive forces of moral conservatism remains as depressingly easy as ever. Another thing that remains vivid: the misogyny at the corrupt core of modern patriarchal life.
Despite Mills’s best efforts, his fussed-over films can teeter into preciousness, especially in the concluding reunions and resolutions that cohere a little too neatly. Patness isn’t exactly the problem in C’mon C’mon—its ending is actually one of the more open-ended in Mills’s filmography—as much as its dubious blending of fact and fiction.
The viewer may anticipate a contest between Phil and Rose for the boy’s heart and mind, a kind of moral tug-of-war, and Rose’s physical deterioration as her son’s fortitude develops enhances the misdirection. But in the end, it’s Peter’s conception of masculinity, as encapsulated in the film’s opening voiceover, that prevails.
What Do We See? operates like a kind of benevolent human magic: it splits our attention between two poles, one natural, the other personal, between the coherent order of the natural spectacle and the driving personality behind it.
Part II builds on its predecessor in sophisticated ways. Hogg has said that the sequel can stand alone, and that may be true, but its almost noirish visual callbacks instill ghostly memories that, over time, transcend the ectoplasm of one person or film.
Circularity, stasis, and a certain, refined sense of stagnation as a state of tarnished grace: all are very much a facet of his aesthetic and sensibility, with characters trapped in variably self-insulating and self-destructive loops of passivity, inaction, and age-inappropriate behavior.
The challenge facing any critical exegesis of this or any other adaptation of Dune is that the world-building novel by Frank Herbert (elaborated upon in five sequels) drops you into a fictional universe so fully imagined that the uninitiated cannot help but be daunted.
Hamaguchi leaves room for a viewer to meet his characters in media res during situations augmented by his keen eye for detail, his unidealized world-building, and his understanding that even the most ordinary life is a vessel of passion and pain worthy of cinematic treatment.
What does it mean to create not just in the shadow but in the very kingdom of a towering genius, one who has left a permanent mark on so many who make movies? And what if this mark is less a blessing than a curse, something like a psychic stain that stifles the creative impulse rather than nurtures it?
In an echo to his father's 2015 masterpiece Taxi and in the great Iranian cinematic tradition, notably the films of Abbas Kiarostami, Panah Panahi presents this vibrant, bracing, and tenderly devastating family portrait through the pressurized chamber setup of a road movie.