Around the World in Film31 May 2013
Declan Mulcahy injects you with some film knowledge for wanky pub convos.
Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
There’s no better entry point into world cinema than the influential films of the French New Wave. Jean-Luc Godard’s tenth major feature is a technicolor dream, with moments of postmodern absurdity balanced out by stunning cinematography.
Fredrico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960)
Revered for his neorealist pictures, the Italian auteur went above and beyond with this unflinching dissection of Rome’s social hierarchy. As we follow an apathetic journalist on a seven-day waltz through various cliques, the irony of the title–’The Sweet Life’–becomes resoundingly clear.
Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011)
This 21st Century Middle Eastern drama seems a little out of place amongst the European auteurs, but this culturally reflective Iranian film is a modern masterpiece. The eponymous separation of a married couple serves as the catalyst for a chain reaction of unfortunate and controversial events.
Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957)
Riddled with themes of death, madness and ailment, the Swedish genius’s filmography stands as a confronting reflection of life’s darker elements. Wild Strawberries follows a cynical old man on a road trip, drifting through a string of flashbacks and culminating in a moment of epiphany that is the opposite of cliché.
Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987)
Despite the corny plot, Wenders’ story of a telepathic, invisible, immortal angel who falls in love with a French acrobat is executed in an artfully compelling manner. Throw in Berlin’s divided landscape and some bizarre cameos from Peter Falk and Nick Cave, and you’ve got a film well worth watching.
Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950)
Away from the art cinema hotspot that was Europe at the time, Kurosawa carved his place in cinematic history with his distinctly oriental take on cinema. His film Rashomon employs an innovative technique that is still recycled today; the violent central event of the film is retold four times, with each character’s version mystifying the truth to a greater degree.
France / Poland
Krzystof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Véronique (1991)
Picking one film to represent Kieslowski’s mastery is a difficult task. But this understated film, bookended by the bleak Dekalog TV serial and the lauded Three Colours trilogy, is as fitting as any. It enigmatically explores the fate of a woman and her dopplegänger, simultaneously asking philosophical questions of the entranced audience.
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972)
One of the most prolific Soviet filmmakers, Tarkovsky ingrains a sense of dread in his films that pertinently reflect the tense national climate of his home country. Solaris is set on a space station orbiting a mysterious planet, yet explores the concepts that lie much closer to home.