Tabu (2012), Miguel Gomes

Evasive, suggestive and yet visually stunning, Miguel Gomes’ 2012 Tabu, this haunting dream of a movie dealing with memory and loss, inserts itself deep into the human soul, forcing us to ask: When is a person really seen for who they are and not for who they are perceived to be?

tabuThe weird beauty of young Aurora’s pet crocodile on the movie’s poster sets a hypnotic and yet appropriate mood for Tabu, Miguel Gomes’ beautiful film. For the story points to our pasts – perhaps, even beyond ourselves – and reaches the essence of what it means to remember. Where is the core of Aurora to be found? In the slightly paranoid old woman or the young and adventurous beauty? Time – inexorable and ruthless – transforms certainties. Traits that once seemed charming in youth acquire a sinister nature later in life. What in the past seemed cowardice, now might seem reasonable prudence. Continue reading

Battleship Potemkin (1925), Sergei Eisenstein

Communist propaganda disguised as art, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 Battleship Potemkin – a truly iconic film in the entire history of cinema – must be seen and understood as a piece of film-making in itself, and not only as the product of a specific era, aimed to awe and persuade. 

battleship-potemkin-2Looking back to the past with the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing… Being far removed from the actions and the emotions of a certain period in time – especially if it is a controversial one – allows great insight into what once might have been taken for granted. With communism long gone, and the cold war consigned to the history books, the narrative within Battleship Potemkin [Bronenosets Potyomkin] can be finally understood allegorically – seen past through its propaganda veneer. Continue reading

Metropolis (1927), Fritz Lang

An iconic silent sci-fi masterwork and a landmark in the history of cinema, Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis, this dystopian vision of man, his toys and his imagination, is paradoxically too prescient and visionary to be a real threat to the modern economic and political status quo.

metropolis-2Fritz Lang’s Metropolis outlines all that’s wrong with humanity. In its apparently naïve message and melodramatic plot structure, the film condemns technological advance as a means of exploiting age-old class divisions in society. Publicly, members of the elite, helped by useful idiots and not-so-useful cretins, scoff at the notion that so much power is concentrated in so few hands, but privately, they laugh unrestrained and yet not out loud as not to disturb the servants downstairs. Continue reading

Nanook of the North (1922), Robert J. Flaherty

An iconic milestone in documentary filmmaking, Robert J. Flaherty’s 1922 Nanook of the North – nearly a hundred years old now – presents viewers with an almost lost paradigm of the human existence in a place, like the surface of the moon, so alien and yet so familiar.

nanook-of-the-north-2Man’s ability to endure and adapt to the harshest of regions on the planet is a mixed blessing. It is, ultimately, human ingenuity that allows whole populations to create roots and stay put in places, no matter how inhospitable they may be. Through time, this adaptability – which, in evolutionary terms, has always been beneficial for human survival – has become a liability for certain populations. People who are born in regions with extreme weather conditions must make the most of it or migrate. And yet so few of them leave their homes… Continue reading