A senses-ravishing odyssey through the halls of time and memory, Andrei Tarkovsky’s sublime reflection on 20th century Russian history is as much a film as it is a poem composed in images, as much a work of cinema as it is a hypnagogic hallucination. In a richly textured collage of varying film stocks and newsreel footage, the recollections of a dying poet flash before our eyes, dreams mingling with scenes of childhood, wartime, and marriage, all imbued with the mystic power of a trance. Largely dismissed by Soviet critics upon its release due to its elusive narrative structure, Mirror has since taken its place as one of the titan director’s most renowned and influential works, a stunning personal statement from an artist transmitting his innermost thoughts and feelings directly from psyche to screen.
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.