There’s been some discussion over the past several years about the relative value of miserablism in cinema, specifically art-house cinema. And there’s probably something to the notion that some filmmakers use horrifying scenarios lazily, not really considering the implications of unrelenting violence and misery but simply using their presence to suggest depth or importance. Of course, the other side of this is that Donald Trump was elected president days before I saw Malgré la nuit, and sometimes the world does feel as hopeless as that which is depicted here. Sometimes, a deep-dive into the world of snuff pornography through the lens of whispered conversations and desperate cries feels about right. Doubly so when it’s as masterfully, breathtakingly executed as Philippe Grandrieux achieves here.
As everybody knows, we are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. That interest can quickly turn into anxiety, over relationships and mortality and political movements and finances. By its title alone, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come places emphasis on this uncertainty, underlined when it opens on a student protest over a pending resolution that would put off retirement age for French workers and make it harder for young people to find a place in an already-unstable economy. That protest is directly preventing Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) from getting to work as a high school philosophy teacher (oh, the French), where the students are more keen to find real-world applications for the theories she discusses than to develop them on their own.
The Rep-port is a weekly(ish) series highlighting the best and most compelling repertory screenings in the city.
LACMA is showing That Thing You Do! (1996, 35mm)! Extra exclamation point mine!
The Bev is kicking off a sizable Kubrick retrospective, pairing his mid-career work (sans 2001, but we’ll get to that next week) with the mammoth documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001, 35mm). Who’s going to watch a two-and-a-half-hour doc after the three-hour Barry Lyndon (1975, 35mm), I do not know, but Barry Lyndon is a must-see on 35, so it’s worth going just for that. I don’t object as strongly to the Blu-ray that WB put out a few years ago, but there’s no question that digital struggles to replicate the textures Kubrick and cinematography John Alcott crafted. It’s also just a top-to-bottom masterpiece. That plays Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30, then again the following Saturday at 5:00. Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, 35mm) kicks off the series Sunday and Monday at 6:30 and 7:30, respectively. As recently discussed on the show, you really oughta see it in the theater. It’s a blast.
Tyler and David discuss the movies and TV shows they’ve been watching, including:
SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM TAKE ONE
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
THE BIRTH OF A NATION
TWO FOR THE ROAD
INTO THE INFERNO
SWISS ARMY MAN
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN
THE JUNGLE BOOK
HEAVEN IS FOR REAL
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Pablo Larraín’s Jackie towers grandly and unearths intimately in its microscopic examination of the thoughts and actions of one of America’s most loved First Ladies in the days and weeks immediately following her husband’s assassination. It’s an unavoidably emotional story but Larrain is chiefly concerned with more intellectual pursuits. Namely, he asks us to ponder what history chooses to remember about major figures and events and why.
Thank you for reading “Playing Nice” a series of articles that examines group dynamics in film.
**This article will contain spoilers. I strongly recommend you watch the film first and then read the article if you care about spoilers.** Z for Zachariah probably has the smallest cast I would consider writing one of these articles about. There are only 3 actors in Z for Zachariah: Ann played by Margot Robbie, John played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Caleb played by Chris Pine. A nuclear event has taken place, leaving only a small valley in the mountains of the American south safe from radiation. Ann is living alone on her family farm after her father and brother left her to search for survivors. Carving her life out of the land with her bare hands Ann has been alone for a long time until one day she sees man in a big silver suit pulling a wagon. He has a Geiger counter with him and when he realizes the valley is safe he sheds his suit and swims in a local watering hole. Ann gets him out of the irradiated water but he gets very sick with radiation poisoning. When he recovers they become close and start to build a life together even planning on how to restore electricity. One day a second man appears on their land and they let him stay and help them build a waterwheel to get electricity. At the end of the world, when so few people have survived basic human wants and needs mean that tensions and emotion run high as they try to survive.