A leading figure in contemporary Greek cinema’s recent renaissance, Athina Rachel Tsangari is a favorite on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, having served as the first subject profiled in our exclusive series Meet the Filmmakers. This week’s Friday Night Double Feature dives into her off-kilter world with Chevalier, a dryly farcical comedy in which a sextet of chest-puffing men decide to submit to an increasingly absurd series of competitions at sea to determine who is “the best in general,” and Attenberg, a look at the strangeness of the human species through the eyes of a misanthropic young woman living in a small industrial town.
Also up this week: a pair of films by two of Tsangari’s compatriots in the Greek Weird Wave, a contemplative family drama from Hirokazu Kore-eda, and an erotic masterpiece by Luis Buñuel.
Contemporary Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda pays tribute to his late mother in this deeply personal film, which depicts one day in the life of a family gathered for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear. Rather than focus on big dramatic moments, Kore-eda relies on simple gestures and domestic routines (especially cooking) to evoke his characters’ deep regrets and daily joys. Featuring vivid, heartrending performances and a gentle naturalism that harks back to the director’s earlier, documentary work, Still Walking is an extraordinary portrayal of the ties that bind us. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: interviews with Kore-eda and director of photography Yutaka Yamazaki; a documentary on the making of the film, featuring on-set footage; and a trailer.
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Washingtonia and Dogtooth
With Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer now in theaters, revisit the eccentric, award-winning breakthrough that catapulted him to the forefront of contemporary Greek cinema. In 2009’s Dogtooth, the director penetrates the twisted world of three adults who have been held in captivity their entire lives by their manipulative parents. This brilliantly constructed provocation is preceded by another taste of the Greek Weird Wave, Konstantina Kotzamani’s Washingtonia, an expressionistic short that evokes the sweltering heat of a summer in Athens. You can read Channel programmer Penelope Bartlett's interview with Kotzamani here.
Catherine Deneuve’s porcelain perfection hides a cracked interior in one of the actress’s most iconic roles: Séverine, a Paris housewife who begins secretly spending her afternoon hours working in a bordello. This surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream from provocateur for the ages Luis Buñuel is an examination of desire and fetishistic pleasure (its characters’ and its viewers’), as well as a gently absurdist take on social mores and class divisions. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary featuring Michael Wood, author of the BFI Film Classics book Belle de jour; a video piece featuring writer and sexual-politics activist Susie Bright and film scholar Linda Williams; an interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière; a segment from the French television program Cinéma, featuring interviews with Carrière and Deneuve; and original and rerelease trailers.