An eighty-year-old New Year’s Eve horror fable about taking responsibility for your life while you have the chance, and covering your mouth when you cough. I only knew Victor Sjöström from his iconic performance in WILD STRAWBERRIES, but now I recognize his directorial influence not only on Bergman, but on movies from THE SHINING to IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE to SOUL.
THE RED SHOES (dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948, United Kingdom).
Oh so this is why everybody talks about this movie. Everything about the performer’s experience is here. The last-minute scramble before the curtain goes up to fix the door where you have to make your first entrance. The greed and jealousy that corrupts the making of art. The false choice between pursuing perfection and taking care of yourself (and those around you). And the exuberant, transcendent high of operating at your greatest potential.
Maybe more than anything I’ve watched in quarantine, I hope someday I can see Carlos Reygadas’s hypnotic enigma of a movie in a theater. He patiently unfolds his story–a painter retreats to a remote village to end his life, where an aging indigenous woman takes him in–with meditative imagery of landscapes and animals and human fumbling, all observed with a dispassionate honesty that reeled me in.
Two Soviet guerrilla soldiers push through a blizzard on a scavenging mission, until they’re captured by Germans who force them to decide what their lives are worth. Larisa Shepitko allows her actors’ faces, in stunning close-ups, to convey the agony of honor and the brutal cost of survival.
A famous writer and socialite rings in his 65th birthday with a typically extravagant party, but a series of deaths makes him reexamine his hollow existence. Sorrentino has a knack for staging the most grotesquely opulent nightlife, but his obvious love for Rome and for his lead actor (the mesmerizing Toni Servillo) shines through any hints of cynicism.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.