Some positive consequences of the pandemic: more stretching, patient braising, revisiting a stack of unopened niche periodicals, and the reinstatement of my movie-a-day lifestyle. But many days this week I’ve had trouble concentrating. Maybe I’ve just watched too many mediocre movies. Don’t worry, I haven’t included them here and I’ll continue to gratefully occupy the upcoming days — with film, with literature, food, and the rigorous testing of my patience with loved ones — because and in spite of the retreating horizon of time. I will probably send this out more frequently, too.
Here are a few streaming suggestions, adhering to no theme, to alleviate any cabin fever, actual fever, or paranoia of such.
Kleber Mendonça Filho
The main conflict faced by the viewer when watching Bacurau, is it boring or is it weird?
Don’t look up what this film is about. In short, something wicked this way comes to a quaint town in the Brazilian backcountry. Those undeterred by subtitles and impressed by Bong Joon-ho’s melding of humor, suspense, and violence into a metaphorical tale of class warfare in Parasite, may also relish Bacurau, which espouses some similar anthem regarding community and class, specific here to Brazil yet simultaneously relatable for the rest of the world. (For what it’s worth, Bong counts himself a fan.)
But make no mistake, this film is rendered in its own style entirely. UFO-shaped drones, wipe cuts, an enfant terrible resembling Rufio in drag are just some of the artistic choices that in total evoke a banal eccentricity. (Wikipedia tells me that what I’m trying to describe is actually a subgenre called the weird west, though really any genre has its fair share of oddities.)
These hallucinatory touches add up over time. Director Filho’s previous feature for three sublime hours observed an older woman refusing a real estate developer's brutally inspired attempts to buy her out of her condo, the only home she’s known. (Aquarius, if you’re interested. But the secret lives of elder woman is its own rewarding filmic subtheme and personal favorite for another email.) Both it and Bacurau champion their characters’ resilience against modernity — but with this new film, only 133 minutes are required before the enigmatic subterfuge cedes to a gratifyingly deranged chaos.
I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to write about this movie, which I saw last fall and was finally released in theaters last week, but Kino Lorber has hurriedly made it AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND, with proceeds going to Film at Lincoln Center where its original run was cut short. Not often when streaming a movie ends up supporting the local theaters.
RIYL: Cerebral genre hijinks, John Carpenter movies, spaghetti westerns, The Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai. (I would add more, BUT I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL IT.)
Jane Fonda wears a mullet so well (as well as one could) in KLUTE that my boyfriend (wrongly) presumes I could too. (Criterion)
Indulge in a double-dose of Jake Gyllenhaal and give your mind a mild boggling with ENEMY. (Netflix)
If you were pleased with the Mr. Rogers documentary, watch 20 FEET FROM STARDOM about the great, and here not forgotten back-up vocalists. (Netflix)
If you’re of a certain age and perplexed by Richard Gere’s supposed sex appeal look no further than AMERICAN GIGOLO, the soundtrack for which comprises about six variations on Blondie’s “Call Me”. (Amazon Prime)
Instead of Contagion, watch LOGAN LUCKY (also directed by Steven Soderberg). A heist movie with Appalachian flair, a bloated Daniel Craig, Adam Driver moonlighting as Tim Blake Nelson, and Channing Tatum as himself, per usual. (Amazon Prime)
If you feel like you’re being robbed of springtime in NYC, or life’s mundane pleasantries in general, watch PERSON TO PERSON — a more-nostalgic-less-fashionable High Maintenance, shot on Super 16. Grainy ochre light abounds! (Hulu)
And finally if you liked this, please send it to a friend.