Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Mysterious Object at Noon: A camera crew travels the length of Thailand asking villagers to invent episodes in an ever-expanding story, which ends up incorporating witches, tigers, surprise doublings and impossible reversals. With each participant, Mysterious Object at Noon seems to take on a new unresolved tension. Celebrating equally the possibilities of storytelling and of documentary, it’s a work that’s grounded in a very specific region, but feels like it came from another planet.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on La Ciénaga: No one ever seems to go anywhere; parents and kids lay in bed, half-naked in communal sloth, but there are powerful undercurrents running beneath the seemingly languid country-house atmosphere. One of the all-time great debut films, La Ciénaga announced a daring new voice in Argentine cinema, and constituted a mesmerizing portrait—reminiscent of Buñuel—of the privileged class far gone in decay, unanchored from religion, nature, marital or blood ties.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Japón: Cinema of the 21st century found its heir to Andrei Tarkovsky with the emergence of Mexican master Carlos Reygadas who, perhaps more than any other major auteur of his generation, has devoted himself to wrestling with weighty metaphysical questions of sex, spirituality, mortality, and suffering. His quietly iconoclastic vision emerged fully formed with the cryptically titled Japón, in which a tormented man travels to a remote valley with a plan to commit suicide, only to find his will to live restored through his relationship with an older widow. Straying readily from its narrative path to chase down moments of visual and auditory transcendence, this sublime psychic journey is rich with aesthetic and philosophical revelations.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Unrelated: The 2007 debut from Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), visually detached yet emotionally cutting, established her immediately as an unusual artist with a place-specific approach to drama.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Corpo Celeste: Alice Rohrwacher’s extraordinarily impressive debut feature chronicles Marta’s private duel with the Church, carried out under the shadow of the physical changes coursing through her. Rohrwacher is not interested in pointing out heroes and villains, but instead in offering a perceptive look at how the once all-powerful Church has dealt with its waning influence.