Something of a late-career companion to 8½,Federico Fellini’s penultimate film is a similarly self-reflexive (and self-deprecating) journey through both the director’s dream life and his cinematic world—which are, here as always in Fellini’s work, inextricably entwined. In Rome to make a documentary about the great filmmaker, a Japanese camera crew follows Fellini on a tour through his longtime home studio of Cinecittà as the maestro’s memories and fantasies unfurl in a dizzying, dazzling, time-bending love letter to the art and spectacle of moviemaking. The film’s sprawling vision even makes room for an appearance by Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg who, in an unforgettable bit of movie magic, relive their iconic Trevi Fountain scene from La dolce vita, lent new poignancy by the tacit acknowledgement of time’s passing.
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.