Today’s Year is 1991.
Today’s Top Tier selection is A Brighter Summer Day (dir: Edward Yang)
In spite of a running time of nearly four hours, Yang’s 1991 film, regularly named the greatest Taiwanese film (which makes it one of the greatest films from anywhere), doesn’t seem to care much for traditional epic forms, being neither a melodramatic sprawl (Intolerance, Gone With the Wind), a serialized, surreal adventure (Judex, Les vampires), nor anything in-between (Out 1). Instead, Yang acquires rote images of ’60s greaser warfare, playing out around the milk crates, schoolyards, and pavilions of developing Taipei, elongating and diffusing the internecine conflicts so that their immediate meanings jumble together, coming to convey instead only an irreducible, lingering malaise, a disaffection in the land and the history. Yang seems to draw from countless pre-existing cinematic forms, from a Tashlinesque opening in the rafters of a closed movie studio, to innumerable “youth runs wild” movies of the ’60s and ’70s, to Warners melodramas of the 1930s, but the result is pure Yang.
Like A Brighter Summer Day? theFilmsaurus recommends:
- Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
- The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983)
- The Wanderers (Philip Kaufman, 1979)
- American Hot Wax (Floyd Mutrux, 1978)
- The Longest Summer (Fruit Chan, 1998)
- Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin, 1955)
- Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)
- La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2001)
- Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
- Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, 1984)
- Elephant (Alan Clarke, 1989)
- The Firm (Alan Clarke, 1988)
Today’s Netflix Instant pick is Naked Lunch (dir: David Cronenberg)
Nobody’s icky screen perversions were presented with greater clinical precision than David Cronenberg’s, but even so, Naked Lunch is like a carnival of the grotesque, based on the work of one of the grandmasters of counterculture, drug culture, queer culture, and 20th-century postmodernism (William S. Boroughs): the result is like a cross between a Joe Dante-esque creature feature and the Coens’ Barton Fink, but far, far stranger.
Like Naked Lunch? theFilmsaurus recommends:
- The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979)
- Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
- Crime Wave (John Paizs, 1985)
- eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999)
- A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
Today’s New York City repertory pick is “Jean Rouch: Early Films from West Africa, 1946-1951,” which screens at the Museum of Modern Art‘s Titus 2 theater at 4:00 PM.
From the program notes at moma.org:
A program of rarely screened ethnographic films that Jean Rouch recorded in the West African countries of Mali and Niger, preserved by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy. Rouch (1917–2004) radically transformed nonfiction cinema and anthropology. His more than 100 films shattered any quaint notions of objectivity or unmediated, singular truth, irrespective of whether his subjects were the cultures, ceremonies, rituals, attitudes, music, and magic-making of the Songhay tribe of the upper Niger or those of his fellow Parisians. Even today, Rouch’s films remain provocative and controversial in their interrogations of racism, colonialism, self-portraiture, the imaginary and the unreal, improvisation, the aura of the camera (what he called the “ciné-trance”), and the condition of observing and being observed.
Like Jean Rouch’s West African films? theFilmsaurus recommends:
- Chronique d’un été (Paris 1960) (Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, 1961)
- Gare du Nord [segment in Paris vu par…] (Jean Rouch, 1965)
- Le noire de… (Ousmane Sembene, 1966)
- Yeelen (Souleymane Cissé)
- Coup de torchon (Bertrand Tavernier, 1981)
Want more film recommendations? @ thefilmsaurus on Twitter with a film you like, get five titles in return. Curated recommendations, at no cost. Take that, “Customers who also bought…” machines.