Věra Chytilová uses every technique under the sun–and several I’d never dreamed of–in her surreal story of two chaos agents whose frivolous irreverence menaces a male-dominated society. With insatiable appetites and a disconcerting fascination with scissors, they leave an increasingly spectacular path of destruction in their wake.
As much of the world grappled with the implications of the Vietnam War, Sarah Maldoror made a film to bring attention to the ongoing Angolan War of Independence to liberate the nation from the repressive Portugese colonial government. When the secret police arrest a mild-mannered worker for connections to the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, his wife travels all over the region from bureaucrat to bureaucrat and jail to jail in search of him. While Maldoror is unwavering in showing why the people need deliverance from this corrupt government, she also never loses sight of exactly who is on the front lines of the years of turmoil that come with revolution.
THE STORY OF THE LAST CHRYSANTHEMUM (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 1939, Japan, Spine #832).
I didn’t know they were talking about “nepotism babies” in 1930s Japan, but here’s the story of Kiku, a sweet but terrible young kabuki actor with a famous father. Surrounded by sycophants who mock him behind his back but flatter him to his face, he never receives any criticism (or opportunities to improve). His family disowns him when he falls in love with a woman they feel is beneath his station, sending the couple on the road to starve as he struggles to hone his craft without any leg up. Mizoguchi urges artists not to be complacent or bitter at the fortunate, but instead to recognize that greatness comes from some combination of talent, hard work, sacrifice, and opportunity.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.