Made right after the dissolution of Bergman’s own second marriage, Thirst is an often dazzling tirade against the institution of matrimony. The principal couple, Bertil (Birger Malmsten) and Ruth (Eva Henning), travel home by train to Sweden from Switzerland, at each other’s throats the whole way. Meanwhile, in Stockholm, Bertil’s former lover, Viola (Birgit Tengroth, who also wrote the stories on which the film is based), tries to evade the predatory advances of her psychiatrist, and then of a ballet dancer who was once a friend of Ruth’s. This dark and multilayered drama, sustained by biting dialogue, reveals Bergman’s profound understanding of the female psyche.
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.