Today is a continuation of frantically watching the 2020 films I missed during the lost year in hopes of putting a year end list out soon, but on the bright side, I’m getting close to the end of my list. Don’t get me wrong, most of the movies I’ve been watching are good to excellent, but variety is the spice of life and I especially can’t wait to dive into a criterion box set I picked up around the holidays (going to build the suspense on what it is for now). For now though, here are the films still on my list.
Beanpole (2020, Dir. Kantemir Balagovb)
Something that I’ve always loved about Russian films is how they are able to utilize the cold, harsh climate as a driving force against and contrast to livid characters. While not focusing so much on the treacherous weather as a foil, Beanpole instead uses the backdrop of post war Leningrad to emphasize the hardships of its characters. The two first time actors Viktoria Miroshnichenko as Iya and Vasilisa Perelygina as Masha are perfect fits for the film. They beautifully manage to balance the desperation that their situation warrants with the wants and needs that keep the two of them fighting. Miroshnichenko in particular expresses so much through her non-verbal communication allowing moments of uncomfortableness to linger uninterrupted.
I want to call special attention to the combination of costuming, set direction, and lighting that make Beanpole stand out. Costumes and sets rely heavily on reds and greens. This when combined with the heavily yellow tinted lighting, causing the illusion of everything being light by firelight lit, creates some of the most gorgeous shades of green and warmest reds in the women’s clothes and home. These beautiful hues contrast with the well-worn and dilapidated qualities of the clothing and wallpaper to emphasis the women’s attempts to make the best that they can with the awful situation upon which they’ve been thrust.
As Beanpole was well over two hours, I only watched one more film today, but it was the biggest one on my list.
Nomadland (2020, Dir. Chloé Zhao)
I swear I’m someone capable of my own thoughts, but sometimes the consensus is just right, and Nomadland the National Association of Film Critics best picture of 2020 is just that. Frances McDormand gives a career best performance and seems likely to join the elite class of actors with three or more Oscars. I have so much that I want to say about Nomadland, that instead of putting much down here, I want to give it a re-watch and take my time on something longer. What matters is that Chloé Zhao created a perfect film, and watching it was the perfect end to my weekend.