As I mentioned yesterday, today’s films all came from the leaving The Criterion Channel selection. While yesterday’s viewing was an embarrassing blind spot from the accepted cannon of film, today’s films were early outings from favorite directors of mine (along with some bonuses at the end).
Father of My Children (2009, Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve)
In general, I like to go into movies as blind as possible. For films like Father of My Children, all I need to know is that it’s directed by someone I respect, in this case Mia Hansen-Løve, and I’ll put it on with no other context. Normally this isn’t an issue, but every once in a while, the content of a film I watch blind backfires on me. Father of My Children unfortunately crossed that line for me by prominently featuring a suicide of a main character. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s the kind of thing I prefer to have a warning about so I can make sure I’m in the right place emotionally for it. I had to take a pause and collect myself today after that scene, but I was able to rally my way through it today.
Triggering scene aside, I really enjoyed Father of My Children. It is the earliest Hansen-Løve film I’ve seen as of current, but it doesn’t show any imperfections from lack of experience. The film may not have an actor with the gravitas of an Isabelle Huppert like Things to Come (2016) did, but from a direction standpoint, the film wants for nothing. In all her films, Hansen-Løve captures the complex emotions her characters experience while undergoing a period of change and strife; Chiara Caselli and Alice de Lencquesaing as Sylvia and Clémence the wife and eldest daughter of the deceased Grégoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) are wonderful examples of this trend. A must see for any fan of the director’s style.
Unrelated (2007, Dir. Joanna Hogg)
The second film for the day was the debut film of Joanna Hogg, a director who’s film The Souvenir was my favorite film of 2019, but who I only vaguely knew outside of that. I had watched her 2010 film Archipelago, but I only appreciated it in theory, not as much in practice. Still, that was plenty enough for me to put her debut film Unrelated near the top of my to-watch list of this group of films. For good reason too, this film was great. Where this film worked for me and her follow-up Archipelago didn’t quite as well was in its focus on a singular character. Anna (Kathryn Worth) is in a relationship crisis and instead of confronting the issues runs. This impulse to flee rings familiar and creates a strong backbone of the film. She attempts to regain her youth by attaching herself to her friend’s child Oakley (Tom Hiddleston in his first film role), but like any midlife crisis it’s for naught. Blending the extremely personal with the universal, Unrelated was a wonderful first outing from Hogg.
After two excellent features, I finished the evening by watching two Oscar-nominated animated shorts also leaving The Criterion Channel at the end of the month.
Your Face (1987, Dir. Bill Plympton)
Guard Dog (2004, Dir. Bill Plympton)
So, these were things. They were not necessarily bad, but there was very little there there. Both shorts were filled with bizarre and somewhat grotesque imagery, and while I don’t think I’d personally consider either of them especially Oscar worthy, the first one, Your Face, was my preferred one with its imaginative transformation of the face in question.