Movie Diary 1/4/2022

Identifying Features (Fernanda Valedez, 2020). One of the best directing debuts of the past year, this film has power not just because of its urgent subject matter (a Mexican mother searches for her lost son, last seen heading for the U.S. border) but also because of the rich cinematic imagination at work. If you believe that the opening shot of a movie should give evidence of what you’re about to see, then this one delivers.

Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944). As an exercise, it certainly holds up well. Ingrid Bergman’s performance looks very modern – the more unbalanced her character becomes, the more risks Bergman takes, and her presence becomes really unsettling in a way that more traditional, actor-y depictions of madness don’t reach. Also a lot of examples here of how Cukor sets up people in two-shots that allow actors to get into a rhythm with each other and explore the space around them.

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