Kiarostami takes meta-narrative gamesmanship to masterful new heights in the final installment of his celebrated Koker trilogy. Unfolding “behind the scenes” of the shooting of the previous film in the series, And Life Goes On…, Through the Olive Trees traces the complications that arise when the romantic misfortune of one of the actors—a lovelorn young man who pines for the woman cast as his wife even though, in real life, she will have nothing to do with him—creates turmoil on set and leaves the hapless director caught in the middle. An ineffably lovely, gentle human comedy steeped in the folkways of Iranian village life, this Pirandellian pastoral peels away layer after layer of artifice as it investigates the elusive, alchemical relationship between cinema and reality.
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.