Since the pandemic Several streaming sites have responded with new levels of ambitious programming. One of the most noticeable is the Criterion Channel (I recently wrote about some of their most welcome offerings, including “compensation” and “When tomorrow comes”), But the MUBI site (which is available as an Amazon channel) does a remarkable job a little bit more under the radar. For example, this week brought it out “About some meaningless events, “An almost lost masterpiece of Moroccan political cinema that has not been available for decades. MUBI’s selections include some of the best in recently released films, as well as hard-to-find American and international classics, including some overly obscure masterpieces that have been enthralling anyone within earshot for decades. Here are ten of them.
“The tree, the mayor and the media library”
Éric Rohmer is perhaps the most misunderstood of the great filmmakers: Far from being a mere charming chronicler of intellectuals in love, he reveals culture and reason to be opaque surfaces that invisibly keep violent passion in check. That said, he’s a film philosopher – and while his films are very psychological, they also have a surprising social and even political dimension, which is most clearly and daringly set out in this 1993 film (which never had a regular US theatrical release) . I consider it one of his two greatest films (just behind “The Green Ray”, aka “Summer”); it falls on January 26th on MUBI. It is set in a small provincial town where a local school teacher (played by the dialectical magician Fabrice Luchini, something of Rohmer’s alter ego) challenges the local mayor, a socialist who hopes to transform the town by building a mediathèque or multimedia Improve and modernize library. on a plot of bare land, adorned with an old tree that the teacher loves. The national government is involved as well as a journalist for a left-wing magazine, a Parisian writer, the daughters of the mayor and his opponent and an elderly philosopher (played by the real right-wing philosopher Jean Parvulesco – whose name viewers can recognize by “Breathless”. How Most of Rohmer’s films revolve around accidents that are transformed into some kind of fate – and here this fate is not just personal. Rohmer offers a paradox of an aesthetic radicalism, a fanaticism about beauty and nature, which the authentic ideal of Culture and social progress revealed. A wondrous final musical sequence reveals a surprising vision – one that was futuristic then and is commonplace today – of working remotely, urban jobs amidst rural delights. (Rohmer’s rare first feature: “The sign of the lion“Another vision of life hanging by random threads is currently on the website.)
As one of the great modern literary adaptations, Werner Schroeter’s drama from 1992 is also one of the great films about a writer. It is based on the quasi-autobiographical novel of the same name by the Austrian meteorist Ingeborg Bachmann and was “adapted” by the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek (a Nobel Prize winner best known for adapting another filmmaker – Michael Haneke’s version of her novel.The piano teacher”). It plays Isabelle Huppert as a writer who lives in a state of chaotic creative anger and romantic tension. She has a longtime lover, a bureaucrat who is unofficially managing her career, and another lover, a young father family, all while dispersing her literary brilliance in sent and unsent letters, interviews to uncomprehending journalists, and an impulsive frenzy of daily life amazing and self consuming work of art. The literary art of the script and the story are combined by Huppert’s performance, which is wildly fervent and coolly clear at the same time, and by Schroeter’s style representation: screeching curved angles, bright stripes of color and a fire scene that transforms hallucinatory symbolism into a terribly realistic threat.
Mati Diop’s first feature film, set in Dakar, Senegal, in 2019, is another major example of astute political cinema that also shows a wide range of imaginative inspirations. It’s a romance in which a young woman, in love with a construction worker, is forced into an arranged marriage with a wealthy businessman of dubious principles. The drama, in which the efforts of construction workers to get to Europe and the woman’s resistance to her marriage play a role, highlights a number of social ills including government corruption, economic destruction, oppressive inequality, religious dogmatism, endemic Misogyny and Europe’s cruel policy of exclusion towards migrants. In addition, Diop brings these ideas to light with a balanced and attentive art of observation, finely structured and apparently tactile images and a leap of metaphysical astonishment that combines the social realism of the film with melancholy fantasy. It’s one of the most impressive directorial debuts in recent years.
“Far away voices, still alive”
Terence Davies’ first feature film from 1988 is an exciting amalgamation of genres: an autobiographical reverie that brings to life the moods and tones of post-war Liverpool, a terrifyingly harsh vision of life under the threat of the violent rage of an abusive father and also a virtual musical that captures the haunting memories of Davies’ own basic aesthetic training without production numbers. It’s a family story in which a brother and two sisters, their devoted and terrorized mother, as well as their broad network of relationships and neighbors, listen to records and the radio, watch film musicals, and most importantly, sing – and Davies, whose manner is both gently exquisite and exquisite Breathlessly sublime, films the spontaneous vocal rounds at large parties and casual gatherings with an enthusiastic admiration for the creative energy that gave hopeful beauty to daily struggles. The father is played by Pete Postlethwaite with screen power.
Sophie Letourneur, France’s most mumblecore-esque director, combines the loosely strung riffing of three young Parisian women (who all use their real names, one of whom is played by Letourneur herself) with flashbacks to their conflicting memories of what happened in the past is summer at the Locarno Film Festival (where Letourneurs real short film “The Shady Sailor” was shown). In fact, “Les Coquillettes” from 2012 combines the business-oriented practical aspects of Andrew Bujalski and the memory game of Alain Resnais with a dizzying infusion of documentation that is entirely Letourneurs’ own. (The festival scenes feature a performance by a film critic and cameos of a wide variety of film industry personalities, including actor Louis Garrel, who obsesses the character of Sophie.) The title refers to the macaroni the women eat while they remember and it is just one of many entries in the idiosyncratic vocabulary with which Letourneur gives characters the unrestricted, whimsical attention to the serious matters of love, sex, and ambition. (Letourneurs latest film “Enormously“Starting in 2020 – with two French movie stars interacting with large numbers of doctors, midwives, and other real-life professionals – will also be streamed on the website.)
“Spring night summer night”
American independent filmmaking is plagued by its losses and near-losses. Joseph L. Anderson’s first feature film from 1967 suffered a cruel fate: It was to be shown at the 1968 New York Film Festival removed belatedly To make room for John Cassavetes’ film “Faces”, it was not redistributed and then re-edited and released under a different title as an exploitation film, which was only rediscovered in its original form decades later. The film is a mix of intimate local realism and mythical symbolism. Set in rural Ohio, a city struggling economically due to the decline of the mining business, it focuses on a young woman who becomes pregnant with her half-brother’s child. The story is based on the elders ‘memories of the city’s boom years during World War II, the city dwellers’ gossip, the grave threat posed by the Vietnam War, and the mood of long-standing lifestyles torn apart in the city’s seams. Anderson films in black and white, with cinematography ranging from urgently observant to highly abstract, capturing the overarching historical power of private passions. (His second feature: “America first, ”From 1972, described as a metafiction about the making of a documentary film, as far as I can tell, it was never published.)
One of the most prolific directors of the century, South Korean director Hong Sang-soo has become a modern classic as his method is an exemplary break from the classic styles of modern cinema. His sense of history is also a sense of form, and his many scenes of extended dialogue turn realism on its head with its far-reaching implications. He is also one of the most international modern directors, with a special bond with France and French cinema, which gives him a good position from which to criticize Korean culture and customs. This 2017 drama, featuring Hong’s second collaboration with Isabelle Huppert, is set at and around the Cannes Film Festival and revolves around a Korean woman named Manhee (played by Kim Min-hee, Hong’s partner) who is working with a Korean company there until she suddenly has fired. Manhee wanders through the city and meets a French teacher and amateur photographer (Huppert). Their quick friendship leads to flashbacks of Manhee pondering her release – and her affair with a Korean director who has a movie at the festival. The lively, complicated action encompasses several time levels and different perspectives in long dialogue scenes and on Claire’s Polaroid photos. The power and status of conversations and images are theoretically trained in the poignant course of the bond between the two women and the personal and professional confusion of the protagonist.
“Butter on the bar”
Josephine Decker’s first feature film, which I saw at its premiere at the 2013 Maryland Film Festival, is a cinematic high point I haven’t come down from. It’s an escape from Brooklyn drama in which a young woman on the verge of collapse flees to an art warehouse in the Balkans in rural California and meets a friend there, another woman who becomes her confidante , and then when a man catches her eye, her romantic rival. The story of lust and anger, complicity and conflict is stimulated by the music and dance they study and perform and haunted by the devouring power of nature in which the camp and its rivalry are located. With cameraman Ashley Connor (whose collaboration with Decker has been one of the most fruitful in recent years), Decker bends and shreds the nature of the image with frenzied, painterly movements and manipulations of focus. Angry emotions find angry expression in performance, dialogue, dramatic action and the turbulent visual and acoustic textures of the film. It is among the most haunted sensory, live wire stimulation films.