São Paulo S/A (1965), Luiz Sérgio Person

A masterpiece of existentialist cinema, Luiz Sérgio Person’s 1965 São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima tells the tale of one man and his quest to desingage from modern society, the trappings of material success and the people around him, whom he seems unable to connect with.

sao-paulo-sociedade-anonima-2To be surrounded by millions of people and to feel alone. To have several sexual encounters and be disconnected from anyone around you… To live in modern times and paradoxically feel like a slave to the god of technology – to be entrapped within the mega-machine… Carlos, the protagonist of São Paulo S/A, aka ‘São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima,’ is the modern man par excellence. Continue reading

The King of Comedy (1983), Martin Scorsese

An odd and uncharacteristic entry in his filmography, Martin Scorsese’s 1983 The King of Comedy, a cautionary tale of mediated reality and borderline psychosis, tells the scathing story of one man’s insecurity and his obsessive, unscrupulous and relentless pursuit of fame.

the-king-of-comedy3Rupert Pupkin is a deluded and malicious man, who resides at the edge of morality. But the line that separates him from other, more ‘normal’ individuals is thin indeed. In different circumstances, Pupkin could arguably be a highly successful man – streetwise, determined and flexibly adaptable. In a parallel universe he would not be loathed, but greatly admired. Continue reading

American Beauty (1999), Sam Mendes

For all its acid commentary on suburban life and the dynamics of family apathy, Sam Mendes’ 1999 American Beauty is less about social norms and wasted relationships and far more about an inherent contradiction within the American dream and the ideals of the nation.

american-beauty-2Lester, American Beauty‘s narrator and protagonist, feels he’s stuck in a rut. He’s got a normal, ordinary and quasi-insignificant life. His family is pulling apart; his wife despises him; his daughter hates him full-time. His office job pays the bills and has helped his family build a comfortable suburban life, but he hates it with all his guts. No wonder Lester is a miserable guy. Perhaps, many men identify with Lester’s predicament. Should we all feel pathetic? Should we all buy a 1970 Pontiac Firebird? Continue reading