Did You See This?


Michelle Yeoh in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

The Berlinale wraps this weekend, and if you’re looking to catch up or keep up, turn to the podcasts from Film Comment and Nicolas Rapold. In the meantime, awards watchers, who seemed to have dozed off after the Oscar nominations were announced last month, roused themselves again last weekend when Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front won seven top BAFTAs and the Directors Guild of America presented its top feature award to Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All at Once—which leads us straight to the first of this week’s highlights:

  • Michelle Yeoh, the star of Everything, is back in theaters with the release of a 4K restoration of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), a blend of romance and martial arts set in nineteenth-century China. Yeoh plays Yu Shu Lien, a warrior and close ally of swordsman Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat). “Every time he enters her orbit,” writes Time’s Stephanie Zacharek, “her expression shifts subtly, betraying not just three or four mixed emotions but shades of a thousand.” The Los Angeles Times’s Justin Chang notes that American audiences were first “lured by reports that Lee had made the most kick-ass action picture in years” and then found themselves “drawn in by the classical refinement of the filmmaking, the understated gravity of the performances, the realistic sense of grounding in an utterly fantastical world. Operating by his own laws of cinematic physics, Lee must first establish gravity before he can defy it.” Yeoh is “a totemic, practically divine figure in the history of martial arts cinema, blessed with singular elegance and explosiveness,” writes Cian Tsang at the Quietus. For Tsang, David Chung’s Royal Warriors (1986) “will forever represent a sublime moment in time, in which one of cinema’s greatest ever performers was at her peerless peak.”

  • Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid (1960), a virulent melodrama in which an increasingly deranged young woman wreaks havoc in the lives of an entire family, screens today, Wednesday, and Sunday at New York’s Metrograph. To this day, writes Nick Pinkerton, The Housemaid maintains “an outsized influence: a remake, directed by Im [Sang-soo], played Cannes in 2010, while Bong [Joon Ho] has cited Kim’s film as a key inspiration for his 2019 Parasite. Though there’s no denying that the acclaimed New Korean Cinema of the twenty-first century represents a level of technical polish found nowhere in Kim’s work, he remains unmatched in his ability to extract a maximum of emotional effect with a minimum of means.”

  • Characters are never seen speaking in Marguerite Duras’s India Song (1975). What’s heard instead is narration, commentary, and conversation from a set of off-screen voices, including Duras’s. As the wife of a French ambassador staving off boredom in a crumbling embassy, Delphine Seyrig’s Anne-Marie takes on lovers with the full knowledge of her husband. “Seyrig, here at her most soignée, and the quartet of actors playing her paramours, all clad in Cerruti 1881, are often arranged in tableaux vivants: static scenes that suggest postcoital lassitude more than passivity,” writes Melissa Anderson at 4Columns. “Sound and image are synced” in Duras’s Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977), “yet the torpid ambience is similar to India Song’s. This is trance cinema, tranq cinema, existing somewhere on the thin edge dividing consciousness from sleep.”

  • Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero (1983) is “one of the true foundations of twentieth century pop culture in Scotland, a hugely influential comedy that redefined an entire nation to the rest of the world,” writes Kayleigh Donaldson for Paste. The image of Scotland is “often stuck between two poles of stereotype: tartan frenzy or kitchen sink miserabilism. Outside portrayals of the nation and its people tend to swing wildly between Brigadoon or Trainspotting, settling for familiarity over the prickliness of truth.” Local Hero “threads that fine needle of being extremely for the people it depicts as well as those outsiders who crave a specific image of shortbread tin-friendly coziness.”

  • Zineb Sedira’s installation Dreams Have No Titles, which essentially turned the French Pavilion at last year’s fifty-ninth Venice Biennale into a film studio, has arrived in Berlin, opening today at Hamburger Bahnhof. Sedira, the daughter of Algerian immigrants, tells the Ex-Berliner’s Duncan Ballantyne-Way that she “made a decision to talk about my story and connect it to a bigger story, which is Algerian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s.” Speaking to Róisín Tapponi in frieze last year, Sedira elaborated on that connection, noting that her project serves as—among other things—an “homage” to The Battle of Algiers (1966). The company behind Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic also produced Ennio Lorenzini’s Free Hands (1964), which was long believed to have been lost. Sedira found the reels in Rome and contacted the Cineteca di Bologna. “At last, after fifty-six years, we will be able to circulate the film internationally!”

For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

You have no items in your shopping cart