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Notebook's 15th Writers Poll: Fantasy Double Features of 2022

In our annual poll, we pair our favorite new films of 2022 with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.
Notebook
Each December, we invite Notebook contributors to pair a new release with an older film they watched for the first time that year, creating a “fantasy double feature.” In practice, this offers something like a collective viewing diary, speaking to the breadth of moving-image art and the imagination of our writers. Even a quick scroll through this year’s doubles—dreamed up and defended by over 60 Notebook contributors—reveals an inspired bounty. Where else would you find Ulrike Ottinger on a bill with Adam Curtis or Jackass Forever?
Our annual poll, now in its fifteenth year, is less about anointing the best than it is about bottling the year’s energy. What unexpected resonances arise between the past and present?
CONTRIBUTORS
Arun A.K. | Jennifer Lynde Barker | Juan Barquin | Margaret Barton-Fumo | Rafaela Bassili | Joshua Bogatin | Anna Bogutskaya | Danielle Burgos | Adrian Curry | Frank Falisi | The Ferroni Brigade | Soham Gadre | Lawrence Garcia | Sean Gilman | Leonardo Goi | Emerson Goo | Georgina Guthrie | Jawni Han | Marius Hrdy | Patrick Holzapfel | David Hudson | Jonah Jeng | Daniel Kasman | Olympia Kiriakou | Phuong Le | Dorota Lech | Jason Tan Liwag | Chloe Lizotte | Saffron Maeve | Łukasz Mańkowski | Ruairí McCann | Ryan Meehan | John Menick | Henry Miller | Adam Nayman | Vinh Nguyen | Savina Petkova | Patrick Preziosi | Maximilien Luc Proctor | Caitlin Quinlan | Dana Reinoos | Sophy Romvari | Nora Rosenthal | Robert Rubsam | Kat Sachs | Sophia Satchell-Baeza | Pedro Emilio Segura Bernal | Egor Sheremet | Chris Shields | Christopher Small | Imogen Sara Smith | Nadine Smith | Öykü Sofuoğlu | Vedant Srinivas | Keshav Srinivasan | Laura Staab | Elissa Suh | Elisha Tawe | McNeil Taylor | Fedor Tot | Divy Tripathi | Matt Turner | Madeleine Wall | Conor Williams | Keva York   
NEW: Tortoise Under the Earth (Shishir Jha, India) + OLD: Fireflies in the Abyss (Chandrasekhar Reddy, 2015)
The eastern part of India is replete with natural resources. However, under the garb of development, mining companies have been rampantly excavating the land and destroying the natural habitat for fossil fuels and heavy metals. These rapacious tendencies have also resulted in human exploitation, especially on two fronts. One is the displacement of the indigenous populace from the mining areas, which forms the backdrop of Tortoise Under the Earth. And the other pressing matter relates to the gruesome and life-threatening conditions prevalent in illegal mines where even children are forced to labor. Fireflies in the Abyss poignantly reveals this precarious aspect of commercialization.
NEW: Tortoise Under the Earth (Shishir Jha, India) + OLD: Kaala Patthar (Yash Chopra, 1979)
NEW: Tortoise Under the Earth (Shishir Jha, India) + OLD: Gangs of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap, 2012)
NEW: Hold Me Tight (Mathieu Amalric, France) + OLD: On Body and Soul (Ildikó Enyedi, 2017)
Love nurtures us, sustains us, and gives us a reason for living. It can also be brutal, incomprehensible, elusive, and impossible to forget. Both these films delve into the mysteries, joys, and agonies of love with stunning cinematography and riveting acting by Vicky Krieps and Alexandra Borbély. Directors Amalric and Enyedi offer deep insights into the nature of need and desire and the human ability to survive separation and loss. In the process they create unique and haunting metaphorical landscapes that promise to transform the viewer as well.
NEW: Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg, Canada/Greece/United Kingdom) + OLD: Dressed in Blue / Vestida de azul (Antonio Giménez-Rico, 1983)
There's a certain foolish fixation when it comes to queer cinema about the way history works: classic films exist to only give us coded stories, new films exist to give us "actual" representation (whatever that means). This double feature offers an opposing take: what if the past was where we saw explicitly queer images while the future offered queer coding beyond our wildest imaginations. The work of Cronenberg has always been queer to me and his latest, Crimes of the Future, reads as distinctly trans, while Giménez-Rico's recently restored classic offers audiences a beautifully unfiltered view of Spanish trans women living their lives. 
NEW: Strawberry Mansion (Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney, USA) + OLD: Until the End of the World (Wim Wenders, 1991)
If Wenders's epic is about the dreams we have, the dreams we chase, and the dreams we are desperate to revisit and understand, Audley & Birney's fantastical film is all about the horrors that come with the natural endpoint that would be exploiting dreams. If our dreams are no longer our own, fleeting and fanciful, to what ends could they be used against us? But there's beauty in the breakdown of these digital dreamscapes—it's better to live a free life full of fascinating experiences, whatever the risk, than stay trapped in a dream that you can't escape. 
NEW: Inu-oh (Masaaki Yuasa, Japan) + OLD: Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes, 1998)
Both Yuasa and Haynes understand what it means to seek freedom from oppressive forces better than anyone. Each film is its own masterpiece of historical fiction, a deep dive into how malleable identity is and how crushing the forces that try to keep the voices of those who know how to wield it best can be. No matter the era, the tune stays the same. 
NEW: All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen, UK/India/US) + OLD: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2014)
Shaunak Sen’s ethereal documentary is for the birds, homing in on two Delhi brothers who have devoted their lives to caring for injured Black Kites, a neglected creature in their country’s smog-filled ecosphere. The two lovers in The Duke of Burgundy live in a pristine environment, rife with sexual tension and devoted to the academic study of butterflies. Distinct in both genre and tone, the two films express a similar reverence for creatures tiny and small, challenging us to readjust our perspective, allowing for a bit of compassion in a rough world.
NEW: Both Sides of the Blade (Claire Denis, France) + OLD: Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945)
The best films about marriage are tense and dangerous; they are unafraid of bearing the hazards of love, particularly when power is played with, longed for, taken and abused. In Denis's Both Sides of the Blade, there is a sinister undercurrent that threatens to emerge, a flirtation with the dangerous and criminal that suggests a tendency for exceeding and overflowing boundaries. In Stahl's Leave Her to Heaven, the boundaries are done with, and the limitations of domestic contentment give way to uncontainable, criminal, and overwhelming passion. Our women, here, are standouts: red-lipsticked and fur-coated, their glamor is eerie and beautiful in the way scary, glinting things can be. 
NEW: RRR (S.S. Rajamouli, India) + OLD: Rebels Of The Neon God (Tsai Ming-liang, 1992)
A nice motorbike-themed diptych. Two films about the search for connection in a post-colonial urban world full of pent-up anger and violence. Does it matter that Tsai and Rajamouli might have completely antithetical approaches to cinema? Maybe Tsai’s laconic cool is just the perfect balm to Rajamouli’s fiery howl. Could one imagine a more blissful time at the cinema than this?
NEW: Coma (Bertrand Bonello, France) + OLD: E.T. (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
Two of the most emotionally arresting and surprising pieces of cinema I saw all year are both films that intimately understand and embody the pains of growing up. Bonello realizes as vividly as Spielberg the emotions we develop through the fantasies that connect us with our dolls, games, and screens. There is nothing like the soaring triumphalism of E.T. biking across the moon in Bonello’s modestly melancholic depiction of mid-pandemic entropy, but hope and learning how to heal the unmendable wounds of childhood are just as important to Coma’s nameless teenager as they are to E.T. 's Elliot. 
NEW: De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, France/Switzerland/USA) + OLD: Unstoppable (Tony Scott, 2010)
Two films that use the possibilities of the cinematic medium to expand the visible beyond the possibilities of human perception. Two head-spinning aesthetic experiences that will leave you feeling completely unmoored.
NEW: Elvis (Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA) + OLD: Amadeus (Miloš Forman, 1984)
A good biopic is not really about a person's life. The best examples of the genre use a life as a canvas to explore a bigger, richer idea. The kinetic, dizzying fairytale Elvis and the tightly-wound and constrained Amadeus are both ostensibly portraits of generational musical talents whose legend is so much bigger than the men themselves. Both are stories told through the prism of the musical genius's worst enemies, the cartoonish Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis and the seethingly jealous Salieri in Amadeus. The most foolish pretension a film could have was to attempt to capture Elvis's or Mozart's whole life and musical output. Neither Elvis nor Amadeus pretend to or even attempt to do so. 
NEW: Mad God (Phil Tippett, USA) + OLD: Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977) 
A double helping of nihilism and doomed effort with plenty of blood, sweat, and in Mad God’s case, every other fluid the body extrudes. Sorcerer’s four desperates ascend while Mad God’s nameless Assassin drops ever down, puppets of fate and a literal puppet, struggling across respective hells to complete missions that are one facet of the blind repetition of futile action by collapsed systems. 
NEW: Memoria (Apichatpong Weeraseethakul, Colombia) + OLD: Next Of Kin (Tony Williams, 1982)
Two women’s dreams disturbed by a past sensed and inherited, with a wild left-hook ending that doesn’t change the majority of each film following leads coping with grief by rolling up their sleeves and researching.
NEW: Earth II (Anti-Banality Union, USA) + OLD: The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)
Two eco-horrors, both alike in dignity
In fair Hollywood, where we lay our scene.
Where Earth II helps itself to big-budget set pieces to tell its story, Shyamalan, tainted by Lady In The Water’s mega-flop, struggled to get his anthology of offing oneself to screen. There’s plenty of humor, but where Earth II weaves it intentionally by distilling A-listers like Matt Damon and Will Smith to their core onscreen personas, The Happening manages true weirdness through earnest application of standard story beats.
NEW: RRR (S.S. Rajamouli, India) + OLD: One Day Before the Rainy Season (Mani Kaul, 1971)
Maximalism and minimalism. The most action-packed movie I saw this year and the least action-packed movie I saw this year. Both utterly extraordinary. One, the story of the 5th Century Sanskrit poet Kalidas and the woman who loves him; the other, of two early 20th-century Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. In one nothing much happens, in the other everything happens. Mani Kaul was mentored by Ritwik Ghatak and names Robert Bresson as his greatest influence. S.S. Rajamouli names Mel Gibson as his (and, putting his money where his mouth is, had two films by Gibson on his Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All-Time ballot). One Day Before the Rainy Season won the prestigious Filmfare Critics Award for Best Film in India in 1971 (Kaul won it three out of four years in a row in the early ’70s). RRR won Best Director from the New York Film Critics Circle and may well win an Oscar. Watch them back to back and you may get whiplash.
NEW: Armageddon Time (James Gray, USA) + OLD: Meantime (Mike Leigh, 1983)
It was the worst of times. And then: again. Two stories of twin trapped boys, one a ghost-confession transmitted from the barely-imaginable present and the other, a document of collapse-in-process. Both dismiss Francis Fukuyama in favor of a cinema closer to Leyland Kirby's dictum: even everywhere at the end of time has a sound and vision. Lesser films by crasser filmmakers might have pointed to the political figureheads of Reagan and Thatcher as responsible for the suffering acted/remembered-out in Meantime, in Armageddon Time. Instead, James Gray and Mike Leigh sigh the obvious—"what a schumuck..."—and then round on the sighers, swamping their protagonists' (themselves?) innocence until it's mottled, flaying, a rotten water.
Populist idols don't end worlds—they just usher along ends already happening while taking a bite for themselves. And if Leigh's film lulls the viewer into void stupor before revealing—with the ease of a hat brushed off a head—that the insistence of such emptiness is how a state grows a skinhead, Gray's fungalizes itself in pursuit of a grace impossible in assimilation to America or England, not only when those collations of genocide are lead by ugly leaders but in their very utterance. Both filmmakers are bound by the keen sense to avoid moralizing, to bypass cautionary tale-telling especially; our memories aren't instructive, they're more precious than that. We might tell them differently than how history demands, might see and ache them instead of capitulating them to the narrative flow of capital, of content, of architectures and neighborhoods of self-annihilation. These shades are strangely beautiful brutes, humming with the possibility of fugitive joy—what other kind is there?—and wrecked by the forces that gut not just the world we see but how we see it. What else is it to sit in the gleaming dark of the movie house? "A lotta people sittin' down by the light!"
NEW: Mad God (Phil Tippett, USA) + OLD: High Hopes (Mike Leigh, 1988)
NEW: Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, UK/USA) + OLD: Career Girls (Mike Leigh, 1997)
NEW: Football Kommando (Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana, Uganda/Germany) + OLD: Šeki snima, pazi se (Marijan Vajda, 1962)
NEW: Phone Bhūt (Gurmīt Siṅgh, India) + OLD: Purānā Mandir (Tulsī & Śyām Ramsay, 1984)
NEW: Smog en tu corazón & Saturdays Disorders & Weak Rangers (Diego Fernández {Lucía Seles}, Argentina) + OLD: Dumbo 4 (Diego Fernández {Rocío Fernándes}, 2007)
NEW: Namatsuba bijin tsuma: Mōsō de netorarete (Takehora Tetsuya, Japan) + OLD: Why? (Hvorfor Gør De Det?) (Phyllis & Eberhard Kronhausen; 1971)
NEW: A Hollywood Christmas (Alex Ranarivelo, USA) + OLD: A Grandpa for Christmas (Harvey Frost, 2007)
NEW: The Myriad of Faces of the Future Challengers (Segudang Wajah Para Penantang Masa Depan) (Yuki Aditya & I Gde Mika, Indonesia) + OLD: Last Train (Dianna Barrie & Richard Tuohy, 2016)
NEW: Red Jungle (Juan José Lozano & Zoltán Horváth; Switzerland/France) + OLD: du Kích Củ Chi (Đoàn Quốc; 1967)
NEW: Unrest (Cyril Schäublin, Switzerland) + OLD: Genossinnen (Margareta Heinrich & Ullabritt Horn, 1983)
NEW: 1938, el día que el petróleo fue nuestro (Sergio Olhovich; 2023; Mexico) + OLD: Rosa blanca (Roberto Gavaldón; 1961/'72)
NEW: The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg, USA) + OLD: Bye Bye Africa (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 1999)
Theater owner: Haroun, do you think cinema has a future here? 
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun: I do. That’s why I make films.
“Art will give you crowns in heaven and laurels on Earth, but also, it will tear your heart out.”—Uncle Boris
“People distrust the camera. They can’t see drama and reality are different.”—Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Burt Fabelman: Make something real. Not imaginary.
Sammy Fabelman: I want to make movies, though!
NEW: Mad God (Phil Tippett, USA) + OLD: Midori (Hiroshi Harada, 1992)
A protagonist dropped in hell. Vicariously through their journey, we witness a carnival of human suffering and supernatural grotesqueness. Midori and Mad God both were almost never made. They are the creations of artists so intent on a painstakingly personal and particular process that it’s almost a miracle we are able to witness the horror of their final creation at all. A privilege. 
NEW: Walk Up (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: A Simple Event (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1974)
Two films that explore what one might call the conditions of minimalism: repetition and variation used not just to move us across a succession of days, but to give us, eventually, a bit of time in its pure state.
NEW: One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve, France) + OLD: Song of the Exile (Ann Hui, 1990)
"We may speak of the body as an ever advancing boundary between the future and the past, as a pointed end, which our past is continually driving forward into our future." —Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory
NEW: Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (Richard Linklater, USA) + OLD: Matinée (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, 1977)
"Play cannot be denied. You can deny, if you like, nearly all abstractions: justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God. You can deny seriousness, but not play." —Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens
NEW: Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook, South Korea) + OLD: Naked Killer (Clarence Fok, 1992)
Stories of cops destroying themselves in obsession with the women they should be investigating are as old as cinema itself. Park breathes new life into the genre thanks to some slick camerawork and a brilliant performance from Tang Wei as the femme fatale. But Fok and writer/producer Wong Jing's variation features not only a great Simon Yam performance as the dissipated cop, but situates its heroine in the center of a gang of vampiric lesbian assassins. We've lost a lot in the past 30 years.
NEW: Confess, Fletch (Greg Mottola, USA) + OLD: It's a Drink! It's a Bomb! (David Chung, 1985)
Mottola's film reminds us what it was like to have movie stars, when a charismatic performance from a John Hamm or, as in Chung's comedy, a Maggie Cheung, could carry us through 100 perfectly pleasant minutes.
NEW: Thirteen Lives (Ron Howard, USA) + OLD: The Seventh Curse (Lam Nai-choi, 1986)
Ron Howard's brilliantly understated process film reminds us of that old Hong Kong horror trope: beware of Thailand.
NEW: The Munsters (Rob Zombie, USA) + OLD: House (Obayashi Nobuhiko, 1977)
Colors! Production design! Surprising emotional depth!
NEW: Pacifiction (Albert Serra, France/Spain/Germany/Portugal) + OLD: Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)
Nothing I saw this year stunned me quite like Albert Serra’s Pacifiction, and no scene felt as breathtaking as the sight of Benoît Magimel jet skiing into those 20-foot waves rearing up around Tahiti. I remember leaving the film’s Cannes premiere feeling dizzy, my senses agog, my limbs numb, as if what I’d watched was not a movie but an uncharted territory. It’s the same sensation I experience anytime I revisit Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. Here are two directors and two films committed to flood you with images so unique and surreal they might as well hail from a different universe. This isn’t just fearless and fearlessly uncompromising cinema; it’s an invitation to see the world anew.
NEW: Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, UK/USA) + OLD: The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)
NEW: Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, UK/USA) + OLD: A Song I Remember (Kyoshi Sugita, 2011)
Films which unspool in the wake of unseen deaths, that elevate photographic gestures, especially amateur ones, over their end products. The child at the photography workshop in A Song I Remember only takes pictures with a toy camera, and Sophie’s interview with her father in Aftersun takes place off the record, after she puts her camcorder down. Yet in both cases, an adult and a child expose something, each gives the other something to remember. Death is a process, it eludes our attempts to impose a “decisive moment” onto it, like a Polaroid with a development time stretching to infinity—a photography without images.
Day after day I lied still on the cold plaster bed. All I could see was the ceiling with a hole in the center. That was my boring existence. Then I started to develop a strange relationship with a round mirror of about 20 centimeters in diameter. I called it “he.”
In the mornings he cast sunlight on me and made shadows. He was my loyal servant who kept his eye on every object in the room. He sometimes jumped across the garden to get children and other things from the street. With senses keener than mine he brought back his prey. But his prey was unsubstantial and ethereal.
—Shigeo Gocho, Self and Others (Makoto Sato, 2001)
NEW: The Northman (Robert Eggers, USA) + OLD: Lancelot du Lac (Robert Bresson, 1974)
Robert Eggers points the camera directly into the muck and mire in his visceral tale of Viking revenge. When it comes to being in the thick of the action, it doesn’t get much more intimate than this: it's glory in death for the bloodied warrior who’s raised to Valhalla for all eternity. Robert Bresson takes a wildly different approach to mythical heroics in Lancelot du Lac. Defying narrative convention, the action takes place after the battle dust has settled. King Arthur’s mighty knights have failed to find the holy grail, the legendary Round Table is disbanding, and chivalry is proven to be nothing more than a flawed system of lofty ideals. The first film is blood-hot and personal; the second, still and cold. It’s almost as if Bresson had picked up the camera from where The Northman ends, and, with cool pragmatism, filmed the spent warrior once the visions of God had faded from his dying mind. The legendary Viking funeral pyre sputters and sinks. Ripples spread across the lake into nothingness.
NEW: Smile (Parker Finn, USA) + OLD: Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)
While it may seem every horror film released since The Babadook is about Trauma-with-a-capital-T, the shadowy unknowability of the human mind has inspired artists for centuries. The Gothic genre in particular made much of the socially isolated individual with a tragic past; not to armchair diagnose, but I'm sure a therapist would have a thing or two to say about Heathcliff and co. In the grand tradition of post-2014 horrors, Smile makes trauma front and center, with director Parker Finn giving us a rattlingly good ride through the genre’s best-loved tropes before belting it to us with an admirably pessimistic ending. Something similar happens in George A. Romero’s minor-key masterpiece Martin, which is about a second-generation immigrant whose father tells him he’s a vampire. A self-fulfilling prophecy, the mortal Martin sups on vital fluids before throwing in the fangs and taking his first tentative steps into wider society. Intergenerational alienation is the curse he attempts to break, only to be frustrated by an overbearing parent, themselves a victim of trauma. Smile takes us on roughly the same journey, but makes clear any subtext, removing the need for diagnosis—professional or otherwise. As a serving suggestion, I recommend Romero first, with a Finn chaser.  
NEW: Ferny & Luca (Andrew Infante, United States) + OLD: Take Care of My Cat (Jeong Jae-eun, 2001)
Ferny & Luca is a movie about small things and fleeting moments. What would usually be trivial details in most movies are at the forefront of Infante’s vision of “uneventful” New York. The act of introducing oneself and commenting on unique details about people’s names, among sundry other minor moments, are treated as singular events that demand the viewer’s utmost attention and care. All of the trivialities are reinvented to radiate such intense warmth that the whole film ends up resembling Martin Margiela’s (in)famous repurposed duvet coat from his fall/winter ’99 collection. Among the few films I know that also do this is Jeong Jae-eun’s feature debut Take Care of My Cat. Like Infante, Jeong observes the budding and disintegrating friendships among five young women with no judgment. She allows grace and banal miracles to naturally arise from something as trivial as forcefully eating a grandma’s pork bun. None of them have to fight to prove their existence here. Both Ferny & Luca and Take Care of My Cat are sanctuaries where everything can feel safe knowing they are allowed to be “small” and “boring.” 
NEW: The Novelist's Film (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
NEW: Cette Maison (Miryam Charles, Canada) + OLD: Barn Rushes (Larry Gottheim, 1971)
Two works revolving around a structure, one figuratively, the other literally approaching it. And the wonders that lie behind them: light and memories, place and perspective, overlapping and changing at the same time, depending on the ways you look at them.
NEW: Drowned (Ertrunken) (Friedl vom Gröller, Austria) + OLD: People of the Neretva River (Ljudi sa Neretve) (Obrad Gluščević, 1966)
I always felt it’s better not to dive or to enter submarines or even boats that look like they could capsize. From an early age on I preferred to stay at shore. As a child I reread the first chapters of Stevenson’s Treasure Island again and again but as soon as they set sail I put the book on the night table only to start reading from the beginning whenever I returned to it. I just couldn’t stand the idea of waves and drowning pirates, seasick passengers and killer whales. My feelings toward wetness, rivers, and the sea haven’t changed. Whenever I see snorkelers or mermaids, I shake my head in utter disgust. However, this year, to my greatest surprise, I encountered two films confronting me with the destructive beauty of floating streams of water. Both changed my perception of living on or even in rivers. It may appear a bit superficial to state this but sometimes the best films convey the most obvious truths, it’s just that we have forgotten about them: It’s better to drown in a river than to die because there is no more water.
NEW: A Woman Escapes (Sofia Bohdanowicz, Burak Çevik, Blake Williams; Canada/Turkey) + OLD: Germany in Autumn (Volker Schlöndorff, Alexander Kluge, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, et al.; 1978)
Two collaborative projects borne of loss and grief embrace and even thrive on the differences between the stylistic approaches of each of their contributors. One of the astonishments of A Woman Escapes is the way that contrasting textures—16mm, 4K video, 3D—evoke the shifting feelings of isolation and abandonment as well as the yearning for at least a virtual connection that most of us felt at the height of the pandemic. Germany in Autumn, bookended by funerals, peaks early with Fassbinder’s segment, in which he rants and rails and reaches over and again for the telephone so that he can rant and rail some more. Even at his most repugnant and brutal, his charisma is electric.
        Jonah Jeng       
NEW: Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, USA) + OLD: Revolver (Guy Ritchie, 2005)
Reality unravels through the making-strange of daily routines and surfaces, leading to an exploration of the cosmic weight of psychological affliction.
NEW: Avatar: The Way of Water (James Cameron, USA) + OLD: Cainà: The Island and the Continent (Gennaro Righelli, 1922)
One hundred years apart, we find the two opposite poles of cinematic art, each seen in completely divergent viewing experiences: IMAX laser-projected 3D in high frame rates at a multiplex, and a rare carbon arc projector showing outdoors under the stars. Righelli, shooting on location in Sardinia, anchors his story of a woman fleeing prejudice into exile in the stunning land- and seascapes captured on film in total cinematographic freshness. Cameron, also in love with portraying land and sea and telling a story of flight, prefers to recreate in computerized plastic glory all the wonders of an imagined world. In its primal simplicity, Cainà is almost ecstatic in its natural beauty; The Way of Water, ironically, is so virtuosically re-created, you can forget to be awed in wonder. 
NEW: F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now (Fox Maxy, USA) + OLD: Buck and the Preacher (Sidney Poitier, 1972)
Radical and inspiring reappropriations of the so-called American West, in form (Maxy’s explosively maximalist collage attacking and reshaping land claims) and genre (Poitier’s bracing intervention into portraying Black frontier experience).
NEW: We Met in Virtual Reality (Joe Hunting, UK) + OLD: Little Pioneers (Želimir Žilnik, 1968)
Both documentary empathy and a clear desire to portray lives and livelihoods rarely expressed publicly can be found in Hunting’s survey of youths, many with mental health challenges, connecting and bonding in virtual reality spaces, as well as in Žilnik’s confrontative portrait of troubled Yugoslavian children of the sixties. Both feel like capsules of their eras, getting as close as a filmmaker can to joining in the worlds in which their subjects feel more comfortable being themselves.
NEW: Mascarade (Nicolas Bedos, France) + OLD: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
“The French Riviera is a sunny place for shady people.”—W. Somerset Maugham
Another such place is the decaying grandeur of old Hollywood. Nicolas Bedos’s thriller pays homage to classic-era film noir, evoking the cynical spirit, tonality, and flashback structure of Billy Wilder’s self-referential masterpiece. Isabelle Adjani’s Martha is the Norma Desmond to Pierre Niney’s Adrien, an injured dancer who takes up as the aging diva’s gigolo. In a further nod to Sunset Boulevard, Adrien earns his keep by watching Martha/Adjani’s old movies in her sprawling Côte d’Azur mansion —all that’s missing is a dead chimpanzee and a long-suffering butler à la Erich von Stroheim. Adrien’s cushy set-up is turned on its head when he meets Margot (played by the incandescent Marine Vacth), and together, they cook up a plan to get rich. Much like Wilder’s on-location shots in Sunset Boulevard, Mascarade’s sumptuous cinematography is the ideal visual complement to the dirty, scheming underbelly of this rich person’s playground. Viewed together, these films ensnare us in the tangled web of greed, ennui, and exploitation in the name of obsessive love. 
NEW: Will-o'-the-Wisp (João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal) + OLD: Ludwig (Luchino Visconti, 1973)
Two queer tales of wayward royals succumbing to the shuddering whims of the body… what’s not to love! Clocking at 67 minutes and nearly 4 hours respectively, João Pedro Rodrigues’s musical comedy featuring simulated ejaculations and Luchino Visconti’s historical biopic of a mad Bavarian king are wildly different in terms of length and scope, yet they share a similarly colorful embrace of the artifice. Influences from theatrical staging and the fine art of painting abound, as human figures—the naked along with the sumptuously adorned—are meticulously posed and arranged. These striking compositions are a beautiful reminder of how proper, intentional lighting can accentuate the eroticism that emanates from an actor’s physicality. Seemingly grounded by temporal signposts, the films paradoxically delight in stripping themselves off of rationality, their indulgence in fantasy guiding us instead to forbidden realms of desire. Above all, music emerges as the kinetic force that animates the characters’ drive towards either sexual euphoria or total destruction in a starkly sensual way. The presence of various sartorial provocations, which range from a pair of tomato-red latex gloves at a funeral to the cracking sound of a leather riding crop, further enchants. Against the recent cycle of bloodless “eat the rich” parables, the brazen pleasures offered by Will-o'-the-Wisp and Ludwig are much more satiating. 
        Dorota Lech
NEW: The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache, France, 1973 / 2022 4K restoration) + OLD: Cold War (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018)
While watching the new restoration of Jean Eustache's 1973 The Mother and the Whore, I was struck by Veronika's backstory. In her mid-20s, she at one point references her homeland of Poland, which she'd recently left for France. Sheepishly speaking of her broken family and hardships, not much else is detailed about her post-World War II origins, which, coming from Poland myself, left me with a deep longing.
This feeling motivated me to rewatch Pawlikowski's Cold War, which follows Zula, a woman of a similar age as Veronika, albeit twenty years earlier. Zula, whose firsthand experience of the war is also a mystery and who also later also traveled to Paris, could have been Veronika's mother. This realization left me fantasizing about other such star-crossed connections in cinema, how these characters would interact, and moreover, the contexts left unspoken in the depictions of precarious or so-called difficult female characters. 
NEW: EO (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland) + OLD: The Heiresses (Márta Mészáros, 1980)
A diptych featuring Isabelle Huppert as a countess/heiress? It writes itself.
NEW: Close (Lukas Dhont, Belgium) + OLD: Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
Queer coming-of-age is often marked by one's first encounter with loneliness, longing, and loss. In both Dhont’s Close and Sciamma’s Tomboy, conflict arises from differences in self-perception and public opinion, particularly around gender and identity. Indelibly shot in the countryside, the two paint picturesque worlds whose vibrancy diminishes as their protagonists struggle to assimilate, the intimacy in childhood friendships forcibly lost through adolescence. Understandings of gender can bring people together, but it can also keep them apart.
NEW: A Tale of Filipino Violence (Lav Diaz, Philippines) + OLD: Batang West Side (Lav Diaz, 2001)
How is it possible that the Philippines has ended up in the same place? Authoritarians and their incompetent league of cronies walk around freely, stealing from the middle-class and killing the poorest of the poor. This double feature illustrates how our country is an ouroboros—trapped in a cycle of violence and immorality perpetuated by Philippine politics, one that wrings the Filipino dream to death, eternally returning to self-destruction.
NEW: TÁR (Todd Field, USA) + OLD: The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke, 2001)
Two acting titans at the height of their power embodying deeply flawed female characters whose sexual desire slowly eats away at their success.
NEW: Elvis (Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA) + OLD: Love and Death on Long Island (Richard Kwietniowski, 1998)
Nothing is more bizarre, more ticklish, than a relationship between two people who know each other only with their eyes ... For people love and honor someone so long as they cannot judge him, and yearning is a product of defective knowledge.
—Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
NEW: The African Desperate (Martine Syms, USA), Funny Pages (Owen Kline, USA) + OLD: After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985), Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff, 2006)
Art is the lowest form of hope.
NEW: Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, UK/USA) + OLD: Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
I had a chance to see these two beautiful titles twice this year, albeit with the latter it was a whole process of revisitation after many years. Not until recently, I realized they somehow capture somewhat similar notions: the snapshots of missed opportunities, the unseen reality captured on the image (videos vs photos), or fragments of a seemingly innocent childhood. There are shattered dreams, and moments of utter cringe, but also moments of rare intimacy; there are stories that are told, rewound, retold, sung out, or shown through images. In both cases—in Yang's last film, in Wells's first film—we experience a unique process of looking: Yang Yang plunges himself into the challenge of seeing the other side of the picture, while Sophie looks back to a bittersweet memory of a summer vacation with her father. Both Sophie and Yang Yang share a moment of testimony. Sophie with a quivering memory-dance filled with pulsating images; and Yang Yang with a monologue of the untold stories that beg to be listened to. There's anger, but then again, a sense of regret. All of that because the words belong to the past and the past is long gone, only seizable now through images. That's why we need a camera. These testimonies are like a cinematic dance of the way-too-old souls hidden in the way-too-young bodies. There's the last dance, and there's the first dance.
NEW: The Cry of Granuaile (Dónal Foreman, Ireland) + OLD: Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire (Lament for Arthur Leary) (Bob Quinn, 1975)
There's no real Ireland. It can only be imagined, over and over. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, or sense. Amen.
NEW: Jackass Forever (Jeff Tremaine, USA) + OLD: Ciao Bella or Fuck Me Dead (Betzy Bromberg, 1978)
Two testaments to friendship, natural theater, pain and pleasure. 
NEW: Funny Pages (Owen Kline, USA) + OLD: Who Is Bozo Texino? (Bill Daniel, 2005)
Writers know (as does everyone, only writers won't stop telling you) that, from time to time, it's necessary to get back to elementary things. A point of contact with first phenomena. Early days. Pen and paper. The obscene mark on a bathroom stall. No more distance between hearts and needs—smear it all out in entrails, from mine to yours in sincerity. And if the intended recipient never existed or (worse) will only be conjured a century from now by the same dead letter? If in the meantime all we're touching is ourselves? Enclosed, two movies that offer their own provisional next steps.
NEW: Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland, UK/US)+ OLD: The Shout (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1978)
I recently watched Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet back-to-back with Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout without realizing how much these two brilliant films have in common (or the effects the pairing would have on my psyche). Both feature electronic composers as protagonists. Both are about sound and the sounds our bodies make. Both might be horror films, but are far too eccentric to fit into any one genre. (Unless excessive flatulence and an earth-shattering yawp can be considered typical horror tropes.) Both also defy easy summarization. Watch them together, in either order, with the sound cranked all the way up.
NEW: Our River... Our Sky (Maysoon Pachachi, Iraq/France/UK/Germany/Kuwait/UAE/Qatar) + OLD: Un Anno di Più (Lorenza Mazzetti, 1960)
The first of these, by Maysoon Pachachi, is a beautifully directed film set in Baghdad, 2006, filmed on location. It won a British Independent Film Award for best ensemble recently, but at the center of it is a mother and daughter faced with a terrible dilemma—whether to stay or to leave amid the sectarian bloodshed. The second, made for Italian television by Lorenza Mazzetti, is a kind of ensemble piece too: it consists of children talking about the year they've had (they're just like film critics, for real). I don't think it's been shown since its original broadcast on Christmas day 1960, but it will be next year.
NEW: Subtraction (Mani Haghighi, Iran) + OLD: Vengeance is Mine (Michael Roemer, 1984)
Halfway through Subtraction, it's confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the heroine isn't hallucinating the doppelgangers of herself and her husband living across town in Tehran; the two couples, and their reactions of bewildered, existential terror, are mirror images of one another. Eschewing the supernatural—but not the allegorical—Mani Haghighi's film draws tension from the idea that its characters are willing to step into the wreckage of each other's lives, knowing full well that they might be trapped there. It's the same predicament faced by the protagonist of Michael Roemer's Vengeance is Mine, who's drawn so deeply into an adjoining story of familial dysfunction that she (and we) briefly forget her own unresolved narrative. In both films, the filmmakers use the tropes and vocabulary of bourgie thrillers to get at something more ineffable and disturbing than jolts—the desperate impulse to remake oneself in another's image, and the psychic damage incurred by usurper and usurped alike.
        Vinh Nguyen       
NEW: Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain) + OLD: Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950) 
Two films that seem to share very little stylistically or thematically, but are worth watching together in our contemporary moment of rising fascism, of cruel histories repeating themselves. Through intimate, family narratives—a marriage plot and a switched-at-birth conflict—these films are also social warnings of what could happen to people if right-wing populism spreads cancerously within the body politic. Parallel Mothers is not Almodóvar’s best, but it is perhaps his most political. When a personal melodrama gives way to a dramatization of the national community’s need to reckon with Franco’s historical violence, Almodóvar’s filmmaking is elevated to another plane. The final scenes of bodies in mass graves and of women holding photos of the missing are brilliantly moving. Rossellini’s Stromboli begins in a refugee camp. The protagonist Karin’s (played by Ingrid Bergman) desire to leave delivers her to a secluded island, where her physical and psychological incarceration is extended. This is what it means to be displaced. Here is a masterful study of an individual life that Nazism warps. The best films teach without being didactic. They help us remember, and to stay vigilant in the present. 
NEW: The Silent Twins (Agnieszka Smoczyńska, UK/Poland/US) + OLD: Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)
The world of twins is idiosyncratic, brutally honest, gendered, and racialized. Where uncoupling is impossible, love has to be reinvented! And so, two tragic love stories are brought together in a double bill in an attempt to make up for the loss suffered in both films. 
NEW: Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg, Canada/Greece/France/UK) + OLD: Terence Fisher's Frankenstein pentalogy (Terence Fisher, 1957-74)
Terence Fisher had a chokehold on me this October: The Man Who Cheated Death, The Devil Rides Out, the Dracula films, The Gorgon, but nothing so utterly beguiled and disconcerted me than his Frankenstein pentalogy, where visible surgical scars and unfettered experimentation proliferated across every installment. These are squeamish movies, but Fisher is also fascinated by the ostensible villain—the perfectly aquiline Peter Cushing—and the emotional ramifications wrought by his sundry, seemingly never-ending, operations. More than merely indulge the requisite shocks of the monster movie, Fisher diagnosed a culture obsessed with death, with public executions an unnerving recurrence across the five films; this is what it looks like to be enthralled with the concept of life as the industry of murder continues to run rampant. 
In David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, the malleability of the body no longer requires death, a development Cushing’s Frankenstein would undoubtedly revel in. Cronenberg’s visual penetration of the human body, with organs new, old and displayed, has its genesis in Fisher’s surgical scars and cumbersome monstrosities. With one filmmaker entrenched in the Victorian past, and another in the temporally indistinguishable future, the two together have managed to define our present. 
NEW: Stars At Noon (Claire Denis, USA/France) + OLD: Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery, 1947)
NEW: Armageddon Time (James Gray, USA) + OLD: Matinée (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, 1977) + OLD: Manoel on the Island of Wonders (Raúl Ruiz, 1984)
NEW: Ashes by Name is Man (Ewelina Rosinska, Germany) + OLD: 17 Reasons Why (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1987)
Exhilarating montage at two different metabolisms.
NEW: Lungta (Alexandra Cuesta, Ecuador/Mexico) + OLD: Fishs Eddy (Esther Shatavsky, 1978)
Considerations of absence.
NEW: All the Best (Maximilien Luc Proctor, Germany) + OLD: Hand Held Day (Gary Beydler, 1975)
The visual question of reflection.
NEW: Stars at Noon (Claire Denis, France/USA) + OLD: Bay of Angels (Jacques Demy, 1963)
The killer combination of wild lovers, sticky summer heat, and a penchant for gambling one's life away. 
NEW: Jackass Forever (Jeff Tremaine, USA) + OLD: Laocoon & Sons (Ulrike Ottinger & Tabea Blumenschein, 1975)
The debut film from Ulrike Ottinger and the last (supposedly) from the original Jackass crew stand hand-in-hand as anarchic, anti-narrative odes to collaboration. Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Pontius, and the rest of the guys (plus one new girl) say goodbye to their 20-year romance (a true folie à plusieurs) by literally busting each other's balls for two hours. Ottinger and Blumenschein use "blonde magic" to create the lawless, all-women's country Laura Molloy, where Blumenschein indulges in a Woolf-inspired desire to transform between characters, leaving lovers and narrative threads in her wake. The love absolutely sings from the screen in both films: the love between collaborators testing the boundaries of what they can create.
        Sophy Romvari
NEW: Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt, USA) + OLD: Girlfriends (Claudia Weill, 1978)
Two expertly crafted depictions of brilliant women navigating artistic careers, jealousy, friendship, and every intersection of the three. Made nearly half a century apart, both have a similar spirit of economy yet formal beauty in particular in capturing women creating. Both films depict women that are complicated, brutal, selfish, talented, and interesting, but most of all, hilarious. I love them both with all my heart. 
NEW: Cette Maison (Miryam Charles, Canada) + OLD: Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)
Cette Maison and Mirror offer us spaces that are inviting and discomforting all at once: scenes of surreal and purgatorial domesticity in Haiti and Russia both. These are two poetic films whose treatment of intergenerational trauma is intensely and forthrightly anti-violent. Cette Maison gives an adult body and voice to the young cousin of Charles who was murdered as a teenager in her Connecticut home, letting her star in her own gentle eulogy. Pair this with the Soviet troops trudging grimly through Tarkovosky’s precisely chosen archival footage of war and the elliptical resonance of those violent eras with his own recollections and reenactments of childhood. Both films are so intensely autobiographical that they straddle that impossible-to-discern boundary between fiction and documentary, swearing allegiance to neither. Charles and Tarkovsky treat the spiritual and the corporeal with equal strangeness, but maybe it’s just something about the entrancing greens in these two films, about how a forest clearing can contain an entire unbearable past.
NEW: Benediction (Terence Davies, UK) + OLD: Summertime (David Lean, 1955)
NEW: The African Desperate (Martine Syms, USA) + OLD: Party Girl (Daisy von Scherler Mayer, 1995)
"I would like a nice, powerful, mind-altering substance. Preferably one that will make my unborn children grow gills."
NEW: Jill, Uncredited (Anthony Ing, UK/Canada) + OLD: Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, 1936)
The film that got under my skin the most this year was probably Blonde. And no, I did not like it. What is it about Marilyn Monroe that makes men create such bad, bad art? Cue Norman Mailer, with audible panting: “our angel, our sweet angel of sex, and the sugar of sex came up from her like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin.” (Where’s the Triangle of Sadness vomit bag when you need it?) Blonde did, however, make me think about the spectacle of female stardom and its afterlives, about what happens to performances once they are committed to celluloid. Can they not be left in peace? As Audrey Hepburn was revivified for a Galaxy chocolate ad, so too is Monroe brought back from the vaults in Ana de Armas’s eerily uncanny act. Stars don’t die, they are merely reborn in an endless hologramatic feedback loop. 
How refreshing to watch Anthony Ing’s found-footage short Jill, Uncredited (2022), about a female performer who slips, unnoticed, into the background of hundreds of films. Using clips from film scenes featuring the prolific extra Jill Goldston, Ing fashions a strangely moving study of an often obscured aspect of film-industry labor, finding new and unexpected interactions from the kaleidoscopic collage. I’d pair this with a classic found-footage gem, American artist Joseph Cornell’s blue-tinted ode to a forgotten ‘30s actress, Rose Hobart. A film fanatic, the solitary artist rescued Hobart’s performance from the stranglehold of a tired old genre film, 1929’s East of Borneo. Cutting out all the scenes featuring her from the film, then editing them together and projecting it through a blue filter, he transforms the material into a surrealist dream-fugue on stardom, desire, and obsession. Maybe Blonde isn’t that dissimilar after all. 
NEW: The Kegelstatt Trio (O Trio Em Mi Bemol) (Rita Azevedo Gomes, Portugal/Spain) + OLD: The Moon Has Risen (Kinuyo Tanaka, 1955)
Such tender and melancholic tales of love.
NEW: Happer’s Comet (Tyler Taormina, USA) + OLD: Toute Une Nuit (Chantal Akerman, 1982)
An in-your-face pairing. Just a pretext to highlight Taormina's hypnotic masterpiece, the best film of the year, from an undeserved oblivion. 
NEW: Pacifiction (Albert Serra, France/Spain/Germany/Portugal) + OLD: Black Light (Med Hondo, 1994)
Horror-thrillers about the end of civilization under fascism. Uniquely crafted sensorial works that transform paranoia into aesthetic form. As the Victor Hugo quotation that appears at the end of Hondo's film describes: "C’est ici le combat du jour et de la nuit. Je vois de la lumière noir." 
NEW: Unrest (Cyril Schäublin, Switzerland) + OLD: The Death of Empedocles (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, 1987)
Two sights of political conscience being born. The lush, uncombed greenery invades the films’ rigorously controlled spaces, accompanying anecdotes, reserved speeches and pleas for justice. The characters leave the focus of the frame, but remain woven into the fabric of the film. Unrest’s final delirious pan of the camera splendidly unrests the whole structure of the film, creating a sensation similar to the unexpected (and rare) camera movements in Straub and Huillet films. 
NEW: Russia [1985-1999] Traumazone (Adam Curtis, UK) + OLD: Countdown (Ulrike Ottinger, 1990) 
Two massive cinematic frescoes documenting the fall of one ideology and the rise of another. Political agendas aside, both films find their power in documenting the lives and troubles of ordinary people in a rapidly changing economic landscape—people frightened and relieved, sad and happy, old and young.
NEW: In Front of Your Face (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: The Fan (Edward Bianchi, United States, 1981)
“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” —Lauren Bacall
The parasocial relationship between star and fan is one of the most important yet troubling undercurrents in cinema. No matter how you slice it, it’s a sort of unrequited love for an image. In essence, isn’t this what films are all about? What Bianchi and Hong’s films give us is the other side–the person from which the image springs. At the center of each film is a stunning performance representing a coordinate on the unforgiving spectrum of success/fame—one a devastatingly rendered loser and the other a perfectly rendered winner. In the end, their fates aren’t all that different. Both characters suffer brutality, be it emotional or physical, yet we see them persist in their own ways. These films are complex tributes to the power of actresses and their performances; finely woven webs of eroticism, hope, despair, illusion, reality, form, and flesh.
NEW: Human Flowers of Flesh (Helena Wittmann, France/Germany) + OLD: Mystery Submarine (Douglas Sirk, 1950)
Walking from one screening in Locarno to another—from a perfect digital projection of the maritime images of Wittman’s film to an astonishingly perfect print at the GranRex of Sirk’s least loved work—was undoubtedly the audiovisual juxtaposition of the year. The extended, documentary-like sequence of the US Navy dropping depth charges and blowing up the surface of the ocean to try to coax an evil submarine from beneath is maybe the most magnetic, appallingly beautiful sequence I saw all year. And thanks to a fluke of circumstance, it’ll forever be intertwined with Wittmann’s gentle, poetic cine-odyssey, one I also experienced on a more emotional than intellectual basis.
NEW: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA) + OLD: Im Lohmgrund (Jürgen Böttcher, 1977) + The Peasant and the Birdnester (Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568)
As for my second pairing, which also needs some justifying: after fleeing Russia when the war broke out, I decamped to Vienna for a week to recover and to escape the unbearable rhythms of daily life in Prague. Split my time between the Brueghel room at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Gartenbaukino (where I saw Licorice Pizza in 35mm), and a friend’s apartment, watching films on TV and drinking heavily. At the time, my friend described Im Lohmgrund as the film he wanted to be played at his funeral. Can’t say I disagree—no more perfect film exists, basically. And Paul Thomas Anderson is good, especially in 35mm, but he’s ultimately no match for Bruegel or Böttcher. 
NEW: The Novelist’s Film (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: The Eternal Breasts (Kinuyo Tanaka, 1955)
And finally, the Hong and the Tanaka is simple: the two most romantic endings of the year.
NEW: Terra Femme (Courtney Stephens, USA) + OLD: Voyage to Lyon (Claudia von Alemann, 1980)
Two films about female travelers, made by women who follow in the footsteps of women, seeking ambiguous traces of history and the ghosts of personal experience. Terra Femme pairs archival, amateur travelogues shot by women with a live commentary that roams through complex questions about tourism, privilege, colonialism, and whether or not a “female gaze” exists. Densely packed with intriguing facts, insights, and provocations, Courtney Stephens’s script concludes that the women who shot these films tacitly insisted on “being seen seeing.” In the mesmerizing Die Reise nach Lyon, a German woman leaves behind her husband and child to travel alone to Lyon, where she conducts a strange and private search for Flora Tristan, the (real) pioneering 19th-century feminist and socialist theorist. Wandering around the faded, forlorn city, the protagonist audio-records the sound of her own footsteps and the ordinary noises of the town, trying to conjure the phantom presence of Tristan by inhabiting the same spaces in a different time. She loiters in a train station’s waiting room (noting that, in French, it is called a  “salle de pas perdu,” or “room of lost steps”), takes pictures of herself in a photo booth, and converses with strangers in cafes and bookstores. This is a film about recording and remembering, but also about escaping; about losing oneself in the desolate freedom of anonymity and solitude, and finding oneself as a carrier of memory, a traveler in time. 
NEW: Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, Jake Hager, Angelo Parker, & Matt Menard vs. Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz (Anarchy in the Arena Match) (All Elite Wrestling, USA) + OLD: Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee vs. Terry Latham & Wayne Farris (Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl) (Continental Wrestling Association, 1979)
“Can you get the camera? They’ve got a hell of a fight down here.” These words, uttered by announcer Lance Russell on Memphis television in 1979 as a vicious tag team brawl spilled out of the ring and into the concession stand, signaled a change in the technical possibilities of wrestling. The first filmed wrestling matches were basic performance capture, but as film technology evolved and wrestling itself mutated, new possibilities emerged, as the camera became a fluid tag team partner to violent action. The so-called “Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl” is considered a milestone in “hardcore” wrestling—the ultraviolent form that allows for no disqualification and the employment of weapons—and it’s one that was enabled in part by the camera, which was freed from a static tripod and followed the action tight on, allowing viewers at home to witness an in-your-face spectacle that you wouldn’t be able to follow from the stadium seats. AEW’s “Anarchy in the Arena” Match proudly follows in the bloody footprints of the Tupelo Concession Stand Braw—even directly recreating an iconic moment where blood and mustard spray on the wall—but it’s also something of a masterclass in live cinema, following the action tight and fluidly cutting between multiple fights, reducing the mammoth space of a massive stadium to a crowded moshpit of bloodshed.
NEW: CM Punk vs. MJF (Dog Collar Match (All Elite Wrestling, USA) + OLD: CM Punk vs. Raven (Dog Collar Match) (Ring of Honor, 2003)
NEW: El Desperado vs. Jun Kasai (Just Tap Out Wrestling, Japan) + OLD: Atsushi Onita vs. Terry Funk (No Rope Exploding Barbed Wire Time Bomb Death Match) (Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling, 1993)
NEW: De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, France/Switzerland/USA) + OLD: Hospital (Frederick Wiseman, 1970) 
It goes without saying that Frederick Wiseman's ethics of impartial gaze is one of the key influences in Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's filmmaking practice. Though they cover different decades, social structures, cultures and technologies, both Hospital and De Humani Corporis Fabrica invite us to observe a common experience of the human condition: Living in a mortal, fragile and ever-decaying body. Wiseman and his 16mm camera from outside and the anthropologist duo from inside—through the endoscopic lenses of the surgeons—contemplate the habitual frailties of our existence. In their exploratory visions, hospital aisles and blood vessels equally become a part of a medico-political architecture where the processes of living, healing and dying depend mainly on the social and economic capital. Today death does know distinctions of class, race or nationality, and even after the umpteenth wave of COVID pandemic, we're still trying to digest this already extant yet unacknowledged reality of ourselves. 
So there you go. A diagnostical double feature. About imaging and imagining the body. Both physically and socially. 
NEW: Pacifiction (Albert Serra, France/Spain/Germany/Portugal) + OLD: India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975)
"Boredom here means a feeling of cosmic desolation. [...] This country generates a mood of its own."—Marguerite Duras, The Vice-Consul
Maybe it is the resemblance between the off-white suits of De Roller and Vice-Consul of Lahore. Maybe it is their obsessed and delusional way of thinking. Perhaps it is the orange tinge of the sun, rising lazily above the horizons of Calcutta and Tahiti. Or, it is the same languid atmosphere contaminated with colonial sickness. Either way, these two feverish universes are meant to be together. 
NEW: Pacifiction (Albert Serra, France/Spain) + OLD: Antigone (Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1992)
That’s why the idea of resistance is at this point essential for the Straubs. It also has a conjuratory value: resistance is the only indication that doesn’t deceive, that attests to some reality or other, to a node of contradictions. It is, in the Freudian sense, a symptom. Where there is resistance, one has to film. But one doesn’t know what one films and the more one can describe it, the less one knows. In the true inscription, there are only traces of inscription of which we are sure of. The rest is metamorphosis, avatar, double identity and double appertaining, error, betrayal.
—Serge Daney, “Une Morale de la Perception (De la nuée à la résistance de Straub-Huillet),” originally published in La Rampe. Cahier critique 1970-1982. Translation from French by Stoffel Debuysere.
Keshav Srinivasan
NEW: Three Thousand Years of Longing (George Miller, Australia/USA) + OLD: The Saragossa Manuscript (Wojciech Has, 1965)
I think Miller's latest has been criminally overlooked and, the more I think about it, the more I think that it's both a terrific work of fantasy and a great treatise on the subject of storytelling. Stories about stories have an inherently meta quality to them, but Three Thousand Years weaponizes this metatextuality to force us, the viewer, to confront our own relationship with storytelling. Why do we enjoy stories? Why do we make them? In many ways, Wojciech Has's The Saragossa Manuscript is a great precursor to this film. Similar to Three Thousand Years, The Saragossa Manuscript incorporates many story-within-story elements. However, Has's film uses this conceit to create a disorienting, heady experience. Because of this, the film questions our relationship with memory, and how closely intertwined narrative and memory can be.
NEW:The Northman (Robert Eggers, USA) + OLD: Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
NEW: The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh, UK/USA) + OLD: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)
NEW: Piaffe (Ann Oren, Germany) + OLD: Romance (Catherine Breillat, 1999)
As the film theorist Eugenie Brinkema has it, the white spaces of Romance perform the death of color. Catherine Breillat summons spots of red as an absurd cliché for feminine eroticism, then casts symbolism aside in favor of the sticky materiality of Marie’s wet, hot body. Piaffe is surely indebted to Romance—one scene of bondage, in particular, recalls the former film—but it revitalizes, re-rouges red, and in so doing affirms sexual and spectatorial pleasure anew. 
NEW: A Human Certainty (Morgan Quaintance, UK)+ OLD: Sex, Lies, Religion (Annette Kennerley, 1994)
NEW: Les Sorcières de l’Orient (Julien Faraut, France) + OLD: Volleyball (Foot Film) (Yvonne Rainer, 1967)
NEW: Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (Halina Reijn, USA) + OLD: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (Eli Craig, 2010)
Accidentally-on-purpose murders give rise to extreme silliness.
NEW: Întregalde (Radu Muntean, Romania) + OLD: Breakdown (Jonathan Mostow, 1997)
Car troubles.
NEW: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Sophie Hyde, USA/UK) + OLD: 8mm (Joel Schumacher, 1999)
Misplaced sympathies.
NEW: Safe (Garrett Bradley, USA/UK) + OLD: The Last Angel of History (John Akomfrah, 1996)
Two surreal and compelling explorations of Blackness which resonate at drastically different frequencies. Bradley’s in a quotidian tonality and Akomfrah’s in a quantum futurist.
NEW: Pacifiction (Albert Serra, France/Spain/Germany/Portugal) + OLD: The Petrified Forest (Archie Mayo, 1936)
Mayo's film, which launched Humphrey Bogart to stardom, is a claustrophobic, studio-bound western set in the Arizona desert. Yet with its central couple, an aspiring painter and poet who dream of traveling to Paris, it blurs mental and physical landscapes with the same surrealist exuberance as Serra's French Polynesian odyssey. Both films saunter, simmer, and vibe their way towards catharsis, riding roughshod over generic conventions in the process. 
NEW: No Bears (Jafar Panahi, Iran) + OLD: The Ambush (Živojin Pavlović, 1969)
Two films, separated by decades, geopolitics, ideologies and worldviews. And yet, both furiously purposeful in their commitment to a cinema of dissent, regardless of the consequences for their filmmakers. In an era in which political cinema feels more toothless and half-hearted than ever, these two serve as reminders that there is purpose to the act of creation.
NEW: Barbarian (Zach Cregger, USA) + OLD: La Bête Humaine (Jean Renoir, 1938)
Even before one is done unraveling the various surprises that lie underneath Barbarian, there is a hint of an underlying rot, a hidden monstrosity waiting to consume the actors in this chaotic feature. The movie ensures that the humans try to remain true to their appearances, ever so ready to wear back their masks of normalcy if they slide down slightly in the disorder that is brought about in the movie. 
Lantier’s “mask of normalcy” is always on the verge in La Bête Humaine. His condition ensures that he’s never able to find peace, whether in love or conflict. However, it is when he finally gives in to his “abnormality” that he is able to achieve peace, even if it has tragic consequences for other characters in the gray and himself.
NEW: Lloyds Bank: Drumbeat (Sam Pilling, UK) + OLD: Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (Thom Andersen, 1975)
NEW: The Water (Elena López Riera, Spain) + OLD: Mermaid Legend (Toshiharu Ikeda, 1984)
There’s something strange with the weather, but there has been for a long time. In Elena López Riera’s first feature The Water, adolescent Ana (played by newcomer Luna Pamiés) spends her long, hot summer with friends and a new love. In the small village where she was born and raised, there’s a legend that certain women have water in them, and once they fall in love they’ll be taken by a flood. As Ana navigates her desires, and the limitations her life offers her, a storm, both internally and externally, begins to brew. These legendary floods were regular, but in a once-every-few-decades kind of way, and are now happening with greater frequency and destruction. These are catastrophes we’re becoming used to, their now-routine nature part of the tragedy. 
Riera’s ending reminded me of Toshiharu Ikeda’s pinku art film hybrid Mermaid Legend. Another woman of the water, Migiwa (Mari Shirato), lived as a fisherman with her husband until his murder by the local yakuza. She gradually seeks revenge for his murder, though more out of self-defense than a singular focus, and it too ends with a storm, destroying those who have wronged her. Both films are driven by a solitary figure, both incredible performances, working through the many ways the world of men and capitalism have damaged them. What feels like melodrama, what feels like magic, is just our way of grappling with the force of nature. I’m reminded of my favorite lines from Moby Dick, about the solitary nature of a sperm whale: “Like venerable moss-bearded Daniel Boone, he will have no one near him but Nature herself; and her he takes to wife in the wilderness of waters, and the best of wives she is, though she keeps so many moody secrets.”
NEW: Marry Me (Kat Coiro, USA) + OLD: The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)
One of the year’s most unusual films, Marry Me is a romantic comedy based on an online graphic novel of the same name. When pop star Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) discovers her husband’s infidelity just before taking the stage at a show, she impulsively decides to marry unassuming concertgoer Charlie Gilbert, (Owen Wilson), a single dad and math teacher, simply because he is holding up a sign that reads Marry Me. The film isn’t necessarily bad—in fact, it’s the kind of average, inoffensive mainstream movie that Hollywood could benefit from encouraging these days over billion-dollar franchise slop. What makes it stand out is just how plainly odd it is. Wilson and Lopez are such an inexplicable couple that their relationship can only make sense—and triumph—through the magic of The Movies. 
Meanwhile, a much more cynical, and much funnier rom-com, Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid, recently had a very rare 35mm screening at BAM. While on his honeymoon, it dawns on Lenny Cantrow (Charles Grodin) that he actually despises his new bride Lila (Jeannie Berlin). At the same time, he falls for a beautiful young woman named Kelly (Cybill Shepherd) and decides to do everything he can to court her and quickly put an end to his new marriage. Grodin and Berlin deliver Neil Simon’s whip-smart screenplay with absolute perfection. And yet, perhaps especially in the moments when Grodin doesn’t even speak, he brings the house down with the slightest change of his facial expression. While Marry Me doesn’t seem to be the film that will rescue the rom-com, The Heartbreak Kid proves that a modern cinema-going audience can be properly electrified by this exceedingly uncommon genre—that is, if they’re provided with something most mainstream actors these days seem to lack: true chemistry.  
NEW: Armageddon Time (James Gray, USA) + OLD: Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)
NEW: Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, USA/UK) + OLD: STOP (Jeff Preiss, 2012)
NEW: Elvis (Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA) + OLD: Star Time (Alexander Cassini, 1992)
Cassini’s noirish oddity is a showbiz parable tuned to a minor key: in particular, the presence of Elvis-lookalike Michael St. Gerard, here playing a disturbed man who gets Svengalied into serial murder in the name of TV stardom, suggests that Star Time be read as a dark mirror of Luhrmann’s rhinestone-crusted monument to the King.

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