I watched Ghatak’s A RIVER CALLED TITAS back in March, and I love how he underpins his melodramas with a deeply truthful central performance. Supriya Choudhury plays a daughter who gives up her studies in order to provide for her family. As she puts everyone’s needs ahead of her own, the Bengali intellectual class she was raised to join is left to flounder as refugees. One night, when she’s on the brink of losing everything, she asks her brother to teach her a song. Their tear-streaked faces barely lit, it’s one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve watched in ages.
THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES (dir. Sergei Parajanov, 1969, Soviet Union, Armenia).
Anyone who pays heed to the world is wounded
I am weary of the scars
Yesterday was better than today
I am weary of tomorrows
A man doesn’t stay the same forever
And I am weary of empty song.
Armenian director Sergei Parajanov fills the deceptively simple story of ashugh Sayat-Nova with imagery unlike anything I’ve seen, staging everyday activities to feel both sacred and sensuous, familiar and alien. By creating his own unique, self-described “film poem,” Parajanov lets his cultural heritage and identity shine through a period of Soviet homogeny.
As seismic meteorological events in Sydney grow more and more bizarre, a barrister retained to defend four Aboriginal men from murder charges begins to suspect that the case, the inexplicable weather, and his ominous dreams may all be interconnected. Combining mysticism and political urgency with a mounting apocalyptic dread, Peter Weir hints at a planet turning on a society that refuses to reckon with its crimes.
Bong Joon-ho credits his mentor Kim Ki-young for inspiring PARASITE with this story of a young woman who infiltrates a piano teacher’s household and tears it apart from the inside. Both filmmakers lay bare the middle-class temptation to prioritize upward mobility over the humanity of others.
Raise ravens, and they'll gouge your eyes out.
This movie feels like a haunted companion piece to THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, with both starring Ana Torrent as a young girl obsessed with the incomprehensibility of death. After she watches her mother die horribly of cancer, the adults around her stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the ghosts that fill the house, leaving her to navigate her trauma and rage alone.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.