In this endlessly diverting compendium of four short films, Pierre Etaix regards the 1960s from his askew but astute perspective. Each part is as technically impressive as it is riotous: a man attempts to read a novel about vampires beside his sleeping wife but cannot seem to separate reality from fiction; a simple afternoon at the movies becomes a consumer-culture assault; a jarringly noisy urban landscape keeps a city’s population on edge; and a day in the country means something different to a picnicking city couple, a hunter, and a farmer.
With his lush and sensual visuals, pitch-perfect soundtracks, and soulful romanticism, Wong Kar Wai has established himself as one of the defining auteurs of contemporary cinema.
“No one sees anything. Ever. They watch, but they don’t understand.” So observes Connie Nielsen in Olivier Assayas’s hallucinatory, globe-spanning Demonlover, a postmodern neonoir thriller and media critique in which nothing—not even the film itself—is what it appears to be.
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An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s gorgeous period reverie traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around a late 19th century Shanghai brothel, where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor yet forced to work to buy back their freedom.