Fandor is offering another one of its specials this month, and with it a chance to catch up on some of the best of world cinema. In agreement with Hulu Plus, Fandor will offer a handful of new Criterion Collection titles each week for a limited time only (12 days), with each week’s new batch of titles representing a different theme. Here’s the full list:
7. “Woman in the Dunes” (1964), Dir: Hiroshi Teshigahara
“Island Life,” out 11/18
Each new week’s worth of titles would make for a great marathon, but I find the second group, “Island Life,” the most exciting of the bunch, with three titles in particular representing the start of major periods for their respective directors. “L’avventura” marks the beginning of Michelangelo Antonioni’s shift towards a more deliberately paced, elliptical style, as well as the start of a loose alienation trilogy. “Through a Glass Darkly” is part of a loose trilogy itself (Bergman’s “Trilogy of Faith”), and it’s the first film Bergman shot on the island of Faro, which would serve as the setting and creative inspiration for a number of later films (documented in “Bergman Island”). And “Stromboli” is the first film Roberto Rossellini made with star, muse and wife Ingrid Bergman, marking a shift away from neorealism and towards glorious melodrama.
Still, this week’s titles are nothing to sneeze at, a collection of journeys and missions ranging from humorous (“The Gold Rush”) to breathlessly intense (“The Wages of Fear”), from reality (Les Blank’s “Burden of Dreams,” which documents Werner Herzog’s mad ambition while making “Fitzcarraldo”) to experimental and allegorical (Hiroshi Teshigahara’s mesmerizing “Woman in the Dunes,” which made him the first Asian filmmaker nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards).
The last group of titles, meanwhile, features one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most accessible and potent melodramas, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” which reimagines Douglas Sirk’s “All That Heaven Allows” as a romance between a sixty-something German woman and a younger Moroccan immigrant. It’s powerful stuff, though not half as harrowing as the same year’s “A Woman Under the Influence,” arguably the most uncomfortable film in John Cassavetes’ filmography (saying something). Director Kim Ki-young borrows from Sirk as well in “The Housemaid,” but the Korean classic is more florid, as if a Sirk disciple had gone insane during the making of the film. In other words, there’s plenty of riches to be discovered.