With the summer of 2019 firmly in the rearview and a slew of anticipated films coming up this fall, it seems like an apt time to catch up with the most acclaimed, provocative, or notable films of the past few months. The state of theatrical moviegoing may be in flux and the cultural discourse surrounding cinema isn't what it used to be (unless the film in question is a three-hour superhero epic); but still, it's refreshing to know that some movies can engender some kind of heated debate.
Back in the summer of 2007, a friend and I rented a couple movies: the Chris Rock comedy I Think I Love My Wife (which was improbably based on Éric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon) and Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us. I assumed that the Chris Rock movie would be vastly inferior but, given the narrative propulsion of most Hollywood movies and the charisma of its star, writer, and director, at least entertaining and intermittently funny. I expected the Kiarostami film, meanwhile, to be masterful, majestic, and thought-provoking but occasionally trying on one's patience. These presumptions were the result of the binary ways of thinking that many critics, distributors, and filmmakers have subscribed to over the years: movies are quick and fun and entertaining, films are substantial and artful but slow. I was surprised on that day in 2007 to find that I Think I Love My Wife was interminably dull, filled with desperate jokes and a story that failed to engender any sympathy or interest, while The Wind Will Carry Us was ravishing and riveting, each shot populated with sparks of beauty and uniqueness, all of its 118 minutes stuffed with ideas on technology, communication, the concept of home, what it means to be alive. In short, the Kiarostami film was infinitely more entertaining than the Chris Rock comedy, which was meant almost entirely to provide a fun diversion.
In discussing the impetus for the 2018 "reimagining" of Suspiria, screenwriter David Kajganich hardly conceals his disdain for Dario Argento's 1977 original. Admitting he's not as enamored with that film as Luca Guadagnino, the director of the new version, Kajganich reveals that he wasn't sold on revisiting Suspiria until Guadagnino suggested a political undercurrent, digging into the setting of 1977 West Berlin, a city plagued by anarchist terrorism and the bloodstained ghosts of the past. "Suddenly, it seemed like the scope of it could be quite a bit more, dramatically, instead of the sort of hermetically sealed kind of fever dream of the original," Kajganich said. "We can really have a much grander scale, in terms of understanding the politics of the day.”