Movies of the Week #3 (2023)

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920): One of my goals this year is to fill some of my big cinematic knowledge gaps, starting with bona fide classics, particularly from the first half of last the 1900s. Robert Wiene’s Caligari, even seen outside context, immediately feels like a clever movie, whose plot might be familiar to a modern audience, but still strikes a fine tune. Its visual style stands out and the musical theme is captivating, setting the tone for, as it’s described, the first horror movie. I wouldn’t call it horror, but it sure is unnerving and some of the prescient interpretations about power, control and mindless obedience bear considerable weight given the decades that followed. Additionally, I found Werner Krauss to be splendid in his role, even if I’m yet to really warm to the acting extravagances of silent film. An easy one to start this journey. 8

Corsage (2022): I think I’m at a point in my life where I can just watch Vicky Krieps peel an orange for two hours straight. She makes this rather slow semi-biographical tale memorable, not unlike Kristen Stewart in Spencer, but in a different way. We find Empress Elisabeth of Austria in a corseted state, bored of her formal duties, captive in a loveless marriage, a slave to duty. As the movie departs more and more from historical fact, it searches for Sissi’s freedom, offering Krieps ample opportunity to shine – and shine she does, making for a memorable film, one made for vibing. 8

L’événement (2021): The French version of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days is an equally gut-wrenching and intimate portrayal of a young woman fighting for her right to have the life she wants to. This is preconditioned on making an unwanted pregnancy go away, something that was not only morally frowned upon, but also legally back in 1960s France. The story is intimate and private, as Anne struggles unaided to take control of her life – with Anamaria Vartolomei’s performance a standout, the French-Romanian portraying a strong, determined and supremely dignified character. 8

Au Poste (2018): I recently came across Quentin Dupieux and then, perchance, also came across AP on Mubi, without initially knowing that there’s a connection. I wasn’t aware QD had the infamy of directing Rubber (2010) either, which I’m yet to watch. My personal history notwithstanding, Au Poste is the story of an unusual police interrogation, ripe with idiosyncratic characters and imaginative retellings of a curious murder. It might be too odd for some and surely isn’t an even movie, but it finds humor in a lot of unexpected places, thanks in no small part to Benoit Poelvoorde and Gregoire Ludig. 7

See How They Run (2022): This mildly entertaining whodunit only has some high standards to live up to and it only rarely does. SHTR only comes alive whenever Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan are on screen and that is not all the time. The mystery isn’t that exciting and neither are the other characters, so while the movie does capture the glamour of the 1950s, it doesn’t really do much else. 6

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