How, these movies ask, might we come off in the eyes of the animals, objects, and fictional creatures in our lives? And how far can we go reconstructing our own lives—political, romantic, social, religious—by analogy with those of animals and toys?
Jackson’s at once digressive and bombastic style clearly grates for some. But there’s a singular earnestness and enthusiasm to these movies (as, too, to the Lord of the Rings films) that sets them apart from their many soulless imitators.
In the early nineties, London’s remaining rep cinemas were slashing prices and recycling their stock in the hope of staving off the inevitable. The market followed: an impoverished student with a bus pass, like me, could englut himself.
It’s a production that required the full support of those titans of cultural conformity toward which Pynchon’s novels have long cast a wearily jaundiced eye. Return of the repressed or just further proof of the mainstream culture system’s massively absorptive qualities? Does it matter?
There are very few “cinematic” moves in Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie, but every last one lands like a blow, forces you to re-find your footing. Choices carry more weight when there are less of them, and Ullmann doesn’t make any of these choices lightly.
In My Neighbor Totoro’s almost complete abjuration of kiddie movie standbys we have a small tale, simply told, but resplendent with details in its “pictures of ordinary days.” There is always a sense of ongoing life at the periphery of the events depicted.
The Babadook takes the form of a somewhat conventional bogeyman story, but it has much more on its mind. With this frightening, seemingly simple story of a children’s book monster come to fearsome life, Kent burrows into the mindscape of two people—a mother and son—contending with delayed post-trauma.
“A singular being in a plural world” is how Jean Cocteau described the French director Jean Grémillon. His films are sensitive to the tensions between individuals and communities, between the cyclical patterns of daily life and the private obsessions or conflicts that break these rhythms.
Berlin oder ein Traum mit Sahne (Berlin or a Dream with Cream), The Measures, Seven Signs That Mean Silence, Letters to Max, Babash, Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air, Broken Tongue, Sugarcoated Arsenic, The Dragon Is the Frame
Bennett Miller’s bleakly efficient film is not only about America. It’s also about masculinity, brotherhood, fatherhood, class, competition, the drive for self-definition and expression. (It’s about just about everything except, of course, women, save one looming, destructive mother figure.)