The besties review
Please mind the dust! the site is undergoing Maintenance and will be back up and running soon!
Beautiful landscapes. Great cinematography. Perfectly simplistic dialogue. And a happy ending that makes you want to run it all back again.
This was a sleeper hit for me. I chose it from a long list of female-directed films simply based on the title font. And what can I saw? I loved it. I could definitely see myself buying this Criterion Blu-ray before the year is over.
The cinematography brilliantly captures the beautiful Nevada landscapes and the dialogue is perfectly poetic in its simplicity. The cast is great too, especially Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau. Without spoiling anything, I also want to add that more movies deserve happy endings like this one. If you are a fan of queer cinema, add this to your watchlist.
I was so tired when I watched this, but once it ended I really felt like I just wanted to watch it again. I didn’t, because I was practically asleep, but when I woke up the next day I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The cinematography, the settings, the fragmented narrative, the magnetic lead performance from Denis Lavant, THAT ENDING?! Legitimately a Top 10 movie ending of all time, and probably a Top 5 needle drop? I’m putting “The Rhythm of the Night” on all my playlists.
I love the dreamy color palettes and the poetic, low-budget energy that Kathleen Collins brings to every scene—there’s a reason this film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress—but as a whole movie this one didn’t really click with me. That said, I feel like the most intriguing parts (which for me were the abstract/avant-garde/meta moments) will only grow on me with more rewatches, so I am looking forward to giving this one another chance.
Daughters of the Dust
Okay, so this is one that’s been in my list for a long while, for obvious reasons. Daughters of the Dust has been included in film school syllabi and touted as one of the great masterpieces of independent cinema. And I get it, this is a fever dream of a movie with immaculate costumes and amazing shots throughout. And I also have no idea how I feel about it, because I watched it over the course of four days. It’s not a particularly long film, but it is slow and dense (great films often are) and I don’t feel like I gave it the “sit down” attention it deserves. This isn’t generally the type of film I gravitate towards, but I will revisit it, probably in a few months.
This was so sweet and endearing—yet another great experience watching a movie from New Zealand! I also liked watching it in this lineup of films, because a lot of the themes of ancestry and spirituality felt like they carried over from Daughters of the Dust.
Though I think the story itself was a bit predictable, you can’t not fall in love with this family. I was happy to read that Keisha Castle-Hughes got an Oscar nom for this because she is legitimately great in this and it was awesome to see Rachel House in one of her younger roles—she is never not great.
Also wanted to give a shoutout to the cinematography, which was striking (especially the underwater shots).
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!