Dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako “There is an organic unity to village life, but it is both fragile and alienating. In this regard Sissako refuses to either promote some pure, untouched pre-modernity or to mourn for some lost social integration. Sissako’s encompasser always has to make room for those transnational nomads who can’t quite pass muster […]
In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the IMDb has invited its editorial staff to submit their Top 15 Lists: 1990-2005. Never one to pass up an opportunity to obsess for a few days over such a challenge, I’ve put together a list of my own — a list joyfully free of editorial imposition, meaning that I can stretch and/or ignore even the most basic criteria/rules.
Like, one of Rohmer’s late comedies, the charm of Late August is found almost entirely in its characters (all of whom are likeable enough and three-dimensional enough) and in the smart things they say to one another. They twist themselves in existential knots, struggling to balance their idealized visions of integrity with the muddy necessity: compromise.
The oft-repeated but still-juicy line from Godard: “The history of cinema is boys photographing girls. The history of history is boys burning girls at the stake.” You can confirm the second sentence by watching TV for three minutes. To confirm the first sentence, watch the Cat Power videos available here at the Matador website.
Journals is at its best, I think, when Rappaport intertwines the lives and loves of Seberg, Jane Fonda, and Vanessa Redgrave. All are of the same age, all made films directed by their husbands (another of the film’s more interesting concerns), and all participated actively in radical political movements.
While the film lacks the explicit political critique of something like Panahi’s The Circle (banned by Iranian officials) or Kiarostami’s Close-Up, it offers a wonderfully told story, and it also performs a service that is terribly important right now: Our hearts should be warmed to the people of the Middle East, the people who are (or who soon will be) hiding out under the devastation of our bombing campaigns.
Insdorf sets out with the right questions in mind: How was Kieslowski’s body of work shaped by personal experience, particularly by his life under Communism? What other directors, artists, and thinkers shaped his aesthetic? What preoccupations, both ideological and stylistic, form the backbone of his work? What precipitated his move from documentary to narrative film, and how did each influence the other? Unfortunately, in attempting to answer all of these questions (and in only 180 pages), she fails to address any of them adequately.