Saturday, December 5, 2020

Favorite (four), seventy-one

Just like in my other seventy posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only a very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Kelly Reichardt's First Cow
I was nervous to see it.  I was a huge fan of her previous film, Certain Women, but I had not cared for any of her other work.  Her latest however does not disappoint.  It finds Reichardt back in the western genre and it is haunted in the best of ways by undercurrents of McCabe & Mrs. Miller as well as a number of films that I would characterize more as noir (Mikey and Nicky and Mean Streets) or gangtser (Bonnie and Clyde).  Reichardt has found a rich story and slowly lets it unfold in her very rigorous, restrained style.  To me she has become one of our great filmmakers.  She has a understanding of where cinema has been and updates it with a very modern and humanistic approach.

Asif Kapadia's Diego Maradona
If there was a moment in film this year that stirred me more than Maradona walking up to kick a penaly kick in extra time of the World Cup in Naples against Italy I certainly don't recall it.  Like Kapadia successfully did in his previous documentaries, Senna and Amy, he successfully creates empathy with his title subject while making your heart hurt as they end up having extraordinarily difficult lives. 

Hong Sang-soo's The Day He Arrives
More than ever I feel that Hong is the closest filmmaker yet to the Choose Your Own Adventure stories I read as a kid.  He shows you the same situations going in different directions and highlights the magical, delicate qualities of our momentary existence.

Douglas Tirola's Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon
Not incredible filmmaking but an extremely educational watch for anyone unaware of the cultural impact the satirical magazine had.  It is amazing to learn about all of the ripples that extended out from those involved with the publication.