The besties review
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I really liked this! A subtle, unnerving family drama from the perspective of Anna, a family-friend who isn’t actually related to anyone else. Kathryn Worth and Tom Hiddleston have great chemistry (both in their feature film debut) and the Italian locales add a beautiful texture. You can tell they shot this on-location (especially on their day trips to Siena, the historical city of Palio fame). Since all three of Joanna Hogg’s features are on the Criterion Channel, I have decided to watch them in anticipation for The Souvenir. Next up, Archipelago…
“You did a great job. Look at me. You should’ve had that… Don’t get mad, there’s a lot of people watching…”
I found Cameraperson to be a moving and inventive doc that lives and breathes on its own terms. By repurposing twenty-five years of raw footage, Kirsten Johnson examines a life spent capturing grief and trauma, and then learns to cope with it herself. Johnson's cinematography is what makes Cameraperson a great film; her reflexive concept and flawless execution are what make it great art.
The film’s summary on the Criterion Channel declares it “quietly devastating,” and I honestly can’t think of a more apt descriptor. Tom Hiddleston and the other actors are really in full control here, elevating Joanna Hogg’s already immaculate script into the realm of poetic realism. And once again, Hogg’s choice to film on location pays off— the landscapes are even more impressive and immersive than in Unrelated. I’m really really looking forward to Exhibition and The Souvenir.
Though it is more intimate and voyeuristic than Hogg’s previous films, Exhibition is ultimately less compelling. I don’t want to be reductive, but this is one of those films that feels like it would have worked better as a 40-50 minute short. There are a lot of interesting and complex ideas packed in here, but I just never felt the weight that so effortlessly existed in her previous films. Even so, I am looking forward to The Souvenir!
This is a really interesting film. The vibrant music and grungy aesthetics are super cool, but the story wasn't fully there for me. I know not every film needs to have a tight script, but I could tell that Agnieszka Smoczyńska wasn’t going full-on experimental with this one. The Lure is a fun and freakish fairytale, but one that surely would’ve benefited from a more cohesive narrative.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!
David Merkle rules.