Cinema of the Season – February

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“Fallen Angels” by Screen Musings is licensed under Section 107 of the Copyright Act

Subterranean horror, neon-lit cities and hidden dreamworlds are all what make up this month’s edition of Cinema of the Season.

This is where I put all my thoughts on November. Thank you very much and good day to ya.

Parasite – Bong Joon-ho

There tend to be very few movies I believe to be worth the acclaim – Parasite directed by Bong Joon-ho lives up to the label. The movie proves to be a masterfully constructed, compelling genre piece (effortlessly transitioning between familial drama, heist movie, satirical farce, and subterranean horror). A symbiotic relationship of increasingly unequal class relationships, and the privilege to be oblivious concerning the severe, violent material/psychic toll of capitalist accumulation. (“They say a ghost in the house brings wealth.”) I ultimately admired this more than I felt it. It’s clever and manufactured in a way that feels shiny and surface-level more than personal, but it shows how those shiny surfaces distract us from the horrifying conditions that exist to sustain them. The seams of the system are ripping and it feels like Bong Joon-ho has channeled those economic degradations and anxieties into his microcosm that asks how anyone could be surprised by a violent destination. But then again, that’s radical realism baby.

 

Fallen Angels – Wong Kar-wai

“Never before has a film so eloquently captured the feeling of driving to McDonald’s at 3am.” A dreamy, romantic portrait of the oddballs and outcasts who populate the Hong Kong underworld and their longing for intimacy in professions or in general. The movie produces a palpable hostile city nightlife that necessitates distance. The extreme wide-angle lens, handheld close-ups of neon-lit motorcycle riding, and bloody gunfights is the sorta shit movies were invented for. There is a handmade feel, as if this may be a film thrown together on a whim. Still, it proves to be a delightful portrayal of finding your way through the slums of life. Hope is still there, though darker, and more brittle. There’s an expectation for hopelessness that is painfully obvious, though in some ways it becomes a welcomed norm. There is reality and comfort in aloneness, even as characters latch for connection, no matter the cost. 

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Michel Gondry

Immediately, this movie is a rush of fluid dreamworlds impregnated by loss, déjà vu, and clustered images flashing by in hallucinatory instants. “If there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything ― what a waste.” As protagonist Joel navigates a heart-wrenching heartbreak, an opportunity presents itself: a device to erase the memory of his past lover, Clementine. A mind-bending sequence of events takes the viewer down a rabbit-hole of consciousness, revealing how influential their relationship truly was. But the truth is: we place too much value on the outcome. We imagine that if a relationship ended in heartbreak, then the whole thing was worthless. We tend to forget to be grateful for the deep, intangible, and sacred moments that we shared with our partners. And as the movie reveals, these moments, good or bad, are beyond priceless.