Between the international triumphs of La strada and Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini made this fascinatingly unique film, which has been long overlooked. Largely eschewing the poetic flourishes of the more famous works that bookend it, Il bidone is a dark neorealist crime drama starring a commanding Broderick Crawford as one of the most complex characters in the director’s canon: an aging con man who, having made a career preying on the desperation of poor peasants, suddenly finds that his crooked ways have begun to catch up with him. Masterfully entwining the story’s human grit with elements of humor and pathos, Fellini crafts a searing portrait of a man reckoning with the consequences of his life’s choices that hits with the force of a profound moral tragedy.
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.