As she roams the streets of Tehran in her car, a recently divorced woman (Mania Akbari) chauffeurs a rotating cast of passengers, from her combative young son to a heartbroken wife abandoned by her husband to a defiant young sex worker going about her job. Fully embracing the minimalist freedoms of digital filmmaking by shooting entirely on two cameras fixed to the vehicle’s dashboard, Kiarostami crafts a miracle of slice- of-life docufiction that probes the experiences of women in contemporary Iran. Capturing revealing moments of everyday human interaction, Ten uses its simple premise as a vehicle for a remarkably rich, perceptive look at the tension between the strictures of a patriarchal society and the universal need for personal freedom.
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.