With The Criterion Channel now streaming Atom Egoyan’s first seven features (plus an eighth, actually his eleventh), I decided to start rewatching them in order—my first viewings of all except for Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter in over twenty years. So far, Next of Kin is as unique and assured a debut as I remember, Family Viewing a more ambitious but less resonant follow-up (before this rewatch, I barely recalled anything about it) and Speaking Parts less frustrating and infinitely more layered this time around. Having a blast doing this, so expect more deep chronological dives into directors’ filmographies in the future.
Got to see two early Miranda July shorts on Criterion as well (in July! That didn’t occur to me until after the fact.) Both are inessential compared to her first feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know (which could also use a rewatch) although it’s genuinely interesting to see July run through numerous ideas (particularly in Nest of Tens) that she would fully realize (albeit in mutated forms) in Me and You…
My highest rating of the month goes to The Living End, which I hadn’t seen since 1997 when it nearly changed my life in terms of queer depiction/representation, its frank approach to gay sex and desire and Araki’s DIY spirit. It holds up far better than expected thanks to how well it captures an ultra-specific zeitgeist and also for its daring, humanizing ending. Also revisited My Own Private Idaho, an invaluable record of River Phoenix’s presence (and Gus Van Sant’s talent before he pivoted to the mainstream) and The Age of Innocence, one of Scorsese’s most improbable, successful adaptations.
As for new movies, I checked out two at PIFF’s reimagined-for-streaming edition of their annual festival. Black Bear is, in some ways, a riff on Mulholland Drive-style duality without David Lynch’s genius or flair for the bizarre, but it becomes its own thing by the end, with Aubrey Plaza here nearly as good as Naomi Watts was there. Stage Mother is far more conventional and sentimental, but entertaining and affecting thanks to great work from Jacki Weaver.
Got to a few things that were on my watchlist forever: The Sheltering Sky (as odd as you’d expect from a Bertolucci/Malkovich/Winger pairing), Kramer Vs. Kramer (Hoffman’s iconic, but I prefer Baumbach’s homage/update Marriage Story), Gaslight (the best Bergman?), two from Godard’s peak period (neither of which compel like Band of Outsiders or Pierrot le Fou) and Jacques Demy’s Model Shop, a provocative time capsule of Los Angeles, 1968 reflecting back a metropolis both tarnished and sinister even a year before the Manson Murders.
Films viewed in July in chronological order, with director, year of release and my rating (out of 10)
David Holzman’s Diary (Jim McBride, 1967) 6
Golden Eighties (Chantal Akerman, 1986) 8
Next Of Kin (Atom Egoyan, 1984)* 8
The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield, 2012)* 7
Disclosure (Sam Feder, 2020) 6
The Amateurist (Miranda July, 1998) 5
The Sheltering Sky (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1990) 8
The Living End (Gregg Araki, 1992)* 9
Mucho Mucho Amor (Kareem Tabsch, Cristina Costantini, 2020) 7
The Married Woman (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) 7
Edie (Simon Hunter, 2017) 6
Nostalgia For The Light (Patricio Guzman, 2010) 6
Family Viewing (Egoyan, 1987)* 7
The Boy With Green Hair (Joseph Losey, 1948) 6
Stage Mother (Thom Fitzgerald, 2020) 7
Black Bear (Lawrence Michael Levine, 2020) 8
Kramer Vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979) 7
Nest of Tens (July, 2000) 6
My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)* 8
Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944) 7
Yes, God, Yes (Karen Maine, 2019) 7
A.C.O.D. (Stuart Zicherman, 2013) 4
The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993)* 8
Made In U.S.A (Godard, 1966) 6
Tchoupitoulas (Turner Ross, Bill Ross IV, 2012) 7
Speaking Parts (Egoyan, 1989)* 8
Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969) 8