I will admit to you dear reader that when we started The Popula Film Club, I was assuming I would run out of material sometime during the middle of summer. I believed that people had been conditioned to serve capitalism enough that they would normalize the betrayal and death that our leaders so willingly deliver.
In a sense, I’m glad to be wrong. But that also means the Popula Film Club is going to become even more relevant in the coming months. Increasingly it appears that quite a number of us are going to be staying inside for a while. This week, I decided to share some movies about life & dreams & possibility. We all need a mental escape.
Waking Life (dir. Richard Linklater, 2001)
via Fotogenia (free)
An unnamed man drifts meaninglessly, confronting the growing dread looming over the American experience.
Richard Linklater’s movies are brilliantly perceptive of their respective time. Just as Boyhood captured the essence of growing up in Bush-era America—something I experienced myself—and Slacker was a perfect reflection of late-80’s and early-90’s bohemian Gen X drifter culture, Waking Life encapsulates America’s fears at the turn of the millennium, as war crept closer, and the slow collapse of the economic highs of the 90’s crashed into a swelling fear of uncontrollable technological advancements.
Fotogenia is an online film festival and platform space that promotes avant-garde and alternative concept filmmaking and video experiments.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (dir. Jaromil Jires, 1969)
via Criterion Channel (subscription – $10.99/month or $100/year)
Whenever one of my favorite films of all time comes to a non-oligarchical platform, I will certainly be sharing it with you here. Jaromil Jires’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a surreal fantasy tale of a young girl who is sold off by her grandmother to a demon weasel-king. A dream-metaphor of Czechoslovakia under communist rule, and a blinding masterpiece.
Criterion Channel is an online streaming service from the Criterion Collection, which streams classic, foreign, and art-house films.
Hill of Freedom & Yourself and Yours (dir. Hong Sang-soo, 2020)
via Grasshopper Film ($12 rental each)
Hong Sang-soo is one of South Korea’s most prolific 21st century filmmakers—averaging a bit more than one every year since 2000. A lot of Sang-soo’s work has never enjoyed wide release, but this month Grasshopper Film is bringing two of these characteristically small, personable films to US audiences for the first time. Hill of Freedom and Yourself and Yours are, in contrast to Bong Joon-ho’s more intricate political constructions, slice-of-life parables that telescope out into broader interrogations of Korean culture.
Grasshopper Film is an emerging independent film distribution company.
The Modern Ocean (written by Shane Carruth)
via Shane Carruth (free)
This is a little bit of a cheat – it’s a script, not a movie. But Shane Carruth is one of the most interesting and unique voices in 21st-century American cinema. His debut film Primer became a phenomenon. But like so many great things in this world… we can’t have more, at least not for now. When Carruth’s next projects, A Topiary and The Modern Ocean, failed to secure funding after years, he announced that he is stepping away from filmmaking. What we’re left with is a most baffling and beautiful screenplay: What might have been.
Shane Carruth is the award-winning American filmmaker of Primer and Upstream Color.
Distant Constellation (dir. Shevaun Mizrahi, 2017)
via National Gallery of Art (free)
I am starting to become much more aware of my age; perhaps you are, too. Shevaun Mizrahi’s Distant Constellation takes place in a nursing home; intercutting this setting with dreamlike and magical imagery, the movie unearths our place in the cosmos and history, and how as we get older we might appreciate our tenuous connection with the abstract notion of time.
The National Gallery of Art is a Smithsonian-funded museum in Washington D.C. showcasing great works of art.
The Popula Film Club brings you worthwhile options to stream, chosen with a view to quality, and to withholding as much money as possible from the oligarchs and monopolists of Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and the like.
Please send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, POPULA FILM CLUB.