- Dan Whitworth
- Writer and reformed projectionist
Neglected Russian filmmaker Larisa Shepitkov’s debut Wings stars Maya Bulgakova as a former Soviet fighter pilot now serving as a school administrator in the early 1960s. Disappointed with her career, family, and friends, Bulgakova dreams of her days in the air as Shepitkov slowly reveals the details of her wartime experience. Bulgakova’s performance is subtle yet stunning.
Luis Buñuel’s The Milky Way seems to be a bizarre fantasy concocted by a master surrealist. It details the pilgrimage of two modern Spanish men who seem to become unstuck in time. En route, they encounter a series of characters that espouse some truly unusual religious beliefs. The catch is, every single idea expressed — from gnosticism to freethinking — is historically accurate. DVD extras include a documentary that examines Buñuel’s paradoxical relationship with religion.
- Wings/The Ascent (Russia) 1966, Criterion/Eclipse
- List price: $29.95 (two discs)
The Milky Way (Spain) 1969, Criterion
- List price: $29.95
- Geanncarlo Hussein Lugo-Villarino
For some of us, movies are more than just mere entertainment; they represent a mirror in which our deepest hidden emotions are reflected. Love is the simplest feeling to experience but the most difficult to explain, and when your own understanding of love has wounded you, certain movies can help you bleed willingly. In my case, I’m thankful to director Richard Linklater for providing us with two cinematic gems. In Before Sunrise, his mastery integrates well with the electric chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, whose brilliant performances made a simple conversation between strangers into an unforgettable journey.
And just when you think this film could not be repeated, or even worse, ruined by a sequel, nine years later we’re taken for another memorable walk in Before Sunset. Only this time, both characters have grown together with you, helping you bleed joyfully in the name of love.
- Before Sunrise
- (USA) 1995, Turner Home Entertainment
- List price: $14.98
- (USA) 2005, Warner Home Entertainment
- List price: $19.98
- William A. Nericcio
- Professor, English literature, SDSU
While most people watch The Pillow Book for the legions of beautiful (and awful) nude bodies captured by Peter Greenaway’s unique eye and camera, I am thankful for this cinematic masterpiece for being the most thoughtful meditation on the relationship between literature and photography ever filmed; that it also evocatively probes the conflicts/attractions of Chinese and Japanese cultures is just gravy.
Soderbergh’s Traffic repeated images of fear and loathing that make it harder and harder for both Americans and Mexicans to see each other as anything other than cartoons. But back in 1958, Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil figured out the border, giving us an ironic nightmare world where the line between good and evil and Mexico and the U.S. is purposely blurred. David Lynch’s Blue Velvet owes its semiotic DNA to the marvelous imagination of Welles, each director a subterranean pathologist of human psyches on the verge, on the border.
- The Pillow Book
- (England) 1996, Sony Pictures
- List price: $24.96
Touch of Evil
- (USA) 1958, Universal
- List price: $26.98 (two discs)