Criterion Collection: June 2022
The Tales Of Hoffman (1951)
The follow-up to The Red Shoes was going to be a tall order, but The Archers – Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – took a shot at adapting the titular opera by Jacques Offenbach for the screen. It is the story of a poet who envisions three separate stories of love and heartbreak with very different women—a mechanical performing doll, a bejeweled siren, and the consumptive daughter of a famous composer. It’s an exhilarating mix of lavish production design, glorious music, and exquisite choreography.
The 2001 John Singleton remake and the 2019 sequel to it should not have been made. To even duplicate a major genre-making film from a major studio is just blasphemy. The novel and screenplay was written by a white man, Ernest Tidyman, but the story is a major Black Power tale under Gordon Parks’ direction. Richard Roundtree plays the titular character detective who investigates a kidnapping and gets caught in a turf war between gangs. Oozing masculinity with his streetwise manner towards suspects, Shaft is a triumph of urban (description) that was added on by Isaac Hayes’ Oscar-winning score that remains a classic.
Pink Flamingos (1972)
The king of trash is back and it’s arguably the most trashiest film John Waters has ever done. The infamous satire on (description) brings in his clan of misfits, led by Divine, as two families square off to be the, “Filthiest Person Alive.” If you know the climax of it, you know where the ultimate shock lies, and this “exercise in poor taste” solidified Waters as among the great underground filmmakers in his era. Everything – and I mean everything – was depicted with no filter and no trickery, completely raw.
As part of Hong Kong’s Second Wave, Stanley Kwan dealt with stories about women and romance, as well as being one of the few notably gay figures in Chinese cinema. In his streak of early acclaimed films, Rouge follows a couple who discover the advertisement of a woman looking for her lost lover 50 years ago and begin to look through their history, only to discover the darker side of the past. It is a journey to a time seemingly glamorous, yet everything always has a spell that can never be broken.
Farewell Amor (2020)
Ekwa Msangi made her debut with this generational story of an Angolan family reuniting in New York years after being separated. While the husband is fully integrated, he must work with his wife and daughter to reconcile differences and relearn their own past in a different world. It is also a deep study of what it’s like to be new immigrants and formally detached from their roots, dealing with the frictions and consequences. It is humanism, even confined to a small apartment, that defines the family and its radical adjustment from continent to continent.
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