The political unrest and paranoia of this film mirrors our current social climate to a point beyond familiarity. It makes itself accessible to the populace in a way that is still relevant.
Instead of iterating what’s been said enough, in honor of election season, I’d like to draw parallels to today, attesting to The Great Dictator’s timelessness. Americans have been quick to afford political candidates their opinions, but are often exaggerated in their criticisms. Expedient attacks by comparison to Hitler are commonplace, vilifying whatever politician is against your predilection. If not Hitler, the Anti-Christ. In fairness, the Trumpster isn’t a genocidal maniac, and I doubt Hilary’s questionable sincerity is enough to usher in the apocalypse. But let’s check just to be safe.
I attended a screening for the polarizing director’s 2004 film, “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”, and remember the acerbic and quippy crowd (at least 60% of them went on to become Buzzfeed writers, no doubt). Beanies, complete with the Zissou team logo, were handed out to everyone in line.
Of no credit to Gavras and his team beyond simply choosing to make a film about London, his story is inherently interesting; London was an actor—in some capacity—in the Spanish civil war; a Jew and a communist, he had spent time in occupied France which lead to his internment in a concentration camp (where, according to the film, one of his children was born); and he endured an undeserving fate as a political pawn of the Soviet Union to indict the West.
The brevity of Vagabond’s unpretentious title speaks volumes about its content. Director Agnes Varda’s film doesn’t pirouette around its murky, cigarette butt dotted landscape. She lets you know, without burying the lead, that her picture is about loose rocks, bruised skies, and matted hair.
Why is Chasing Amy so extremely reviled by yours truly? The answer could be as simple as it’s just a lousy film but on top of that, its a ridiculously typical, bordering on downright offensive film.
In its treatment of fidelity, class issues (the reason Hans is unable to marry his true love), skewed values, family relationships, and the rest of the contorted social paradigm represented, this film allows its viewers to be moved—even in its derision.
So I’ve arrived at the unavoidable question: What is the criteria for Criterion? Inasmuch as I’ve gathered, it simply must be “great”. But that’s still subjective and, as a consumer, I want to know that my purchases are backed by some level of scrutiny.
State of Siege, directed by Costa-Gavras and written by Franco Solinas, offers a glimpse inside South American politics and the U.S. involvement therein.