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Sundays at Videotheque

Videotheque in South Pasadena, CA was my film school post-college. Even though I live far away now, I still make it out almost every Sunday to check out movies that I have no luck finding online, for money or otherwise. In this ongoing series, I will give my brief impressions about my rentals from the past week.

Innocence (2004) dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic, starring Marion Cotillard, Helene de Fougerolles, Zoe Auclair, Berangere Haubruge

A film that pre-dates Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth by five years, yet has the same mystery and sense of constant disorientation that Lanthimos would make his trademark. Hadihalilovic’s movie is so tightly composed and written that, as absurd as this world is, it feels intensely real, making the movie act as an allegory of the “education” of girlhood and young womanhood in modern society without ever being didactic or overtly political. I will definitely need to rewatch this, since I think this movie has a good chance of making my personal canon.

Lonesome (1928) dir. Paul Fejos, starring Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon

This simple romantic comedy is better made than it had any right to be, with its colorful (metaphorically speaking) use of superimposition and great visual style that honestly makes most of the sound bits of this movie seem tinny and unconvincing in comparison, even though many people probably would have seen this movie precisely for the novelty of hearing the actors speak.

Working Girls (1986) dir. Lizzie Borden, starring Louise Smith, Ellen McElduff, Amanda Goodwin

When testimonials from workers in the sex industry were not as common as they were today, Working Girls must have seemed like a daring, shocking revelation back in the mid-80’s, especially since this was during the Reagan era when capitalism was at its rampant prime combined with a rigid White moralism that would never admit to American society ever being diverse and that capitalism had a dark side that we would be wrestling with even today. Treating prostitution like another job was a better indictment of this time than anything openly critical of this time and era. I still think this is in the shadow of the best movie about the mundane life of a prostitute, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, but this is still an interesting, insightful document of the time.

Yes (2004) dir. Sally Potter, starring Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian

For a movie that didn’t start out as a play, I think I would have rather seen a staged version of this work. Iambic pentameter is best suited for an overtly theatrical medium, since theater is so naturally inclined to the performative rather than the naturalistic anyways and the verse itself is so good that it could have easily sustained a theatrical performance. Still, major props for the key scene between Joan Allen and Simon Abkarian in which Abkarian declaims upon the unfairness of having to conform to Western ideals because he is some “Other.”

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