Dread-inducing formal stylings grafted beautifully onto an understated spy thriller that never subjugates its characterizations for the sake of narrative complexity. Wife of a Spy is another impeccably well-made film by Kurosawa, one that never devalues or divulges from its root intention - irrevocable, historical melodrama, telling a story of abject devotion as viewed through the prism of a wife's love for her husband. Some may find the film to be anti-climatic, but the denouement stings, imbued with a sense of ambiguity but one resolute in its depiction of the tragedy inflicted onto its central protagonist, a woman whose primary intentions throughout this low-key WWII spy film were never truly driven by any force other than love
The explicit text of Shinji Sômai's The Catch is a familial drama, a story that espouses the insidious nature of masculine hubris and the destructive effect it can have on the family unit. The story in itself is compelling - if perhaps a little too long - but what I find far more interesting is to view The Catch through the larger prism of society and its disregard for the working-class. Hard labor is a necessary utility for prosperity yet it is often neglected by society itself. The fisherman patriarch at the center of this story is self-destructive in a sense, but what Sômai also exposes is how this is simply a matter of perspective - the denigration such hard labor places on the body and soul internally calcifies the fisherman into a place of emotional solitude, his tough, cold exterior forged out of a life in which no sense of financial fortitude is sustainable. His rough exterior is actually born out of a place of love for his daughter, wanting something better for her despite his inability to express it. The son-in-law's arch is one infused out of masculine pride, incapable or unwilling to recognize his romanticization with labor that ultimately leads to tragedy as he himself forgets what is most important - his shared love with his wife. The Catch is a somewhat messy film narratively and thematically but there are interesting ideas embedded into its conceptual framework related to gender-normative notions of masculinity and social neglect of the working-class.
Encaptures the freedom and spontaneity intrinsic to being on holiday; Obstacles arise but conflict is largely a force that is easily obfuscated by a temperament rooted in discovery and openness to experience. Exhibits the ephemeral anarchy of day-to-day activity and interaction where sometimes the best-laid plans are untenable and yet through this aforementioned openness, life itself can provide something beautiful. Featuring a strong cast all-around, Brac's film manages to deliver an ethereal experience, one which in many ways channels aspects of Rohmer's vacation films, as it delivers a lovely portrait of youth and experience in which the spatiality of a holiday serves as the perfect setting for encapturing the extemporaneity of life itself.
Wallows too much in a cynical, lugubrious milieu that when the film's story begins to materialize and attempts to construct something meaningful it largely doesn't work due to the viewer not being emotionally invested in these characters Existentialism as cheap theatrics as opposed to intellectual inquiry. Moorhead and Benson remain highly effective stylists, with Synchronic featuring some beautifully conceived and constructed sequences, but the film's absurd premise feels more a means-to-an-end than an investigation into existence and being. Dramatically one is left not being invested in these characters, and the narrative thrust of the story, despite a singular conceit that unquestionably intriguing. A rare miss from Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, a filmmaking duo who've I've always appreciated.
Deserves its place among the better Hong Kong immigrant stories to arise in the late 80s/early 90s in response to the Joint Declaration, Mabel Cheung's An Autumn's Tale is a highly effective romance that operates in a way that allows itself to deliver a holistic portrait of its central characters, immigrants, but more importantly, individuals searching for their sense of being in this world. An Autumn's Tale is a love story in which there is not a single kiss; sensuality as a symbol of affection is largely regulated to the periphery of this story between two individuals whose affection for each other and budding romance is viewed through a prism of diasporic milieu. While Cherie Chung's character's struggle for identity amongst a foreign spatiality is more explicitly stated from the onset, Chow Yung-Fat's rough facade only masks his own underlying internal strife, and through this relationship that is the fulcrum of this story, Mabel Cheung rapturously elucidates how love is a confluence of disparate emotions, vulnerabilities, and identities. The journey towards love is not quantifiable or calculable, and these two character's place of transcendence is a direct result of this exchange/confluence. They each struggle in their own way to find comfort not only in this foreign place but within themselves.
An exquisite story of human desire and the intangible reality of the psychological conception of love. Posits emotion and being as subjugating forces to reason and consciousness, re-contextualizing love through a delightful narrative framework. Elucidates how social norms, while somewhat organically conceived, create entrapments and strictures on the human soul. Throughout Love Affair(s) any attempt to calcify or tether emotion to logic or reason, whether it be via external or internal forces, leads to emotional destabilization, and what I believe Mouret is attempting here is a conception of love that is decoupled from our deeply engrained puritanical impulse and social normativity. It's a rejection of any simplistic or binary notion of individual and/or collective love, attempting to transcend such discourse and question fundamental ideas of love and companionship. How much does any social conception restrain us? In the case of love, one of the most unquantifiable and elusive yet pure conceptions that exist, Mouret suggests that placing any such boundaries can only lead to destabilization of the psyche on an individual and collective level, obfuscating in a sense the pursuit of happiness which we all strive to attain.
Treatment and tone are extremely important, particularly when dealing with societal taboos. Suzanne Lindon's Spring Blossom is a masterful tale of adolescence and first-love that is imbued with a sense of curiosity and wonderment, never divulging into cheap theatrics or storytelling which can allow pre-conceived notions to tarnish the film's underlying theme. Angst and curiosity are divergent, centrifugal forces at the heart of Alienation, and throughout this film, we witness how curiosity is so essential to development. A naturally acute force, curiosity drives us to social and personal discovery, where interaction and exchange fuel growth. Taking on an ethereal sense of innocence, Spring Blossom employs an intimacy to its formal designs, contextualizing a taboo motif with an earnestly that never obfuscates its underlying coming of age story.
A sprawling cinematic experience that is precise in its thematic intent while remaining loose and free when it comes to its overarching narrative framework. Nelson Pereira dos Santos' Rio, 40 Degrees C is a masterful expose of a city and its populace, imbued with social realist intention as it masterfully excavates and exposes the harsh realities of Rio de Janeiro milieu. The social-economic fissures related to class and race, and the entanglements of such complex social constructions, are exposed through a framework that is welcoming in its expansiveness, invoking a sense of spontaneity which never undercuts the film's more biting critique of the inequalities that plague the city and society at large, A powerful and effective drama that manages to obfuscate the narrative strictures sometimes associated with the social realism, Rio 40 Degrees C's expansivity carries a pensive eye rooted in commonality and community, giving the less privileged a voice, while exhibiting the injustices, prejudices, and denigration which subvert and ultimately impede social harmony. The final sequence *chef's kiss*
Excoriates the patriarchal values of Mali society through a simple yet unwieldy narrative in which the mute girl at the fulcrum of its story is an allegorical device for the oppression of women and the injustices and inequities that plague Mali and its people. The social-political malaise is imbued into the fabric of this story and yet at times, it feels unfocused, as if Cisse himself can't seem to quantify the far-reaching and innumerable injustices plaguing society and the various social, political, and economic entanglements in play. The violence against the feminine body, while never explicitly exhibited on screen, is examined in a way that carries arguably even more dramatic effect. In regulating the violence itself to the periphery, Cisse manages to expose just how little substance or weight femininity carries in social relations - their bodies nothing more than objects to be delineated by others, subservient and lacking autonomy to forge or sculpt their own path.
So this is essentially Kim Ki-Young remaking The Housemaid with an aggressive, impressionistic 70s era panache. Overall, it's a little messy but it's such an aesthetic delight. Everything from the general aesthetic to the blocking and framing is visually stimulating. Honestly, I need to read more into Kim Ki-Young's impetus for remaking his most iconic film but this one is well worth one's time for the artistry displayed. One distinction that jumps out is how this remake positions itself in a way that seems to be an implicit commentary related to the urban-rural divide in a rapidly industrializing South Korea, a concept if I recall correctly, feels additive to the first film's gender politics. I don't know, it's gorgeous, I want to live in this movie! Perhaps someday I'll write something more incisive about it when I educate myself further lol.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.