Mohammad Reza Aslani
Screened publicly just once before it was banned and then lost for decades, this rediscovered jewel of Iranian cinema reemerges to take its place as one of the most singular and astonishing works of the country’s pre-revolution New Wave. A hypnotically stylized murder mystery awash in shivery period atmosphere, Chess of the Wind unfolds in an ornate, candlelit mansion where a web of greed, violence, and betrayal ensnares the heirs to a family fortune as they vie for control of their recently-deceased matriarch’s estate. Melding the influences of European modernism, gothic horror, and classical Persian art, director Mohammad Reza Aslani crafts an exquisitely controlled mood piece that erupts in a stunningly subversive final act in which class conventions, gender roles, and even time itself are upended with shocking ferocity.
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.
DCP, Blu-ray, DVD
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.