Of these last ten movies I’ve watched, there is one clear masterpiece – Youssef Chahine’s The Land. My first introduction to Chahine was years ago through Typecast Picture’s DVD of Cairo Station (1958), a brilliant film set among the working classes around the Cairo train station. Sordid and sympathetic in its content, the film is hailed as a masterwork of neorealism, although I’ve always felt Cairo Station connects more strongly with French poetic realism. Having recently discovered that many of Chahine’s great works are buried in Netflix’s library (including Cairo Station), I started with the director’s most celebrated film and was completely enraptured. The Land portrays a village of peasants in the 1930s struggling against various layers of governmental authority to keep their land, irrigate their farms, and bring in their crops. Chahine’s characters are broadly drawn but they are cleverly arranged, making for some great social realist melodrama, and the film is beautifully shot with gorgeously arid settings and artful compositions. Screening the rest of Chahine’s library on Netflix has now become an MMC! priority!
- Marius (Alexander Korda, 1931)
- Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2000)
- Killer Clans (Chor Tuen, 1976)
- Killing (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2018)
- Kotoko (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2011)
- The Washing Machine (Ruggero Deodato, 1993)
- The President’s Last Bang (Im Sang-soo, 2005)
- Cash Calls Hell (Hideo Gosha, 1966)
- The Land (Youssef Chahine, 1970)
- Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano, 1999)
The remainder of these screening were uniformly good, but I’d like to pay special attention to Killer Clans which was screened as part of the Spectacle Theater’s regular online Sunday “Mystery Meat” program. Each Sunday afternoon, Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater hosts two themed mystery screenings: “Fist Church,” a Kung Fu Matinee, and “Blood Brunch,” a horror film from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s. One of my favourite first-time watches so far this year is seeing Taylor Wong’s gleefully outlandish Buddha’s Palm (1982) compliments of a “Fist Church” screening. Thank you, Spectacle!