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Arthouse (and a bit bizarre) film recommendations

Need ideas for some good, a bit bizarre, artful and immersive films splattered with a brutalist vibe? We think we got some.

 


 

 

 

DAVID LYNCH

Eraserhead

​​1977

 

What can we say about David Lynch’s debut feature film masterpiece that hasn’t already been said? For us this industrial, black-and-white body horror has been a huge artistic influence. From its desolate urban landscapes to its chugging mechanical soundtrack, it’s an archetypal example of how beauty and hope can be found even in the bleakest corners.

 

 


 

PETER STRICKLAND

In Fabric

​​2018

 

We found Peter Strickland’s latest film strange and unsettling, but all the more enjoyable for it. If you’ve seen Berberian Sound Studio, then you’ll recognise the blending of elements of 70s Italian horror films – or giallo – and modern-day black comedy to create something entirely new. And this merging of disparate genres isn’t the only re-appropriation of retro culture: the alluring costumes and set design are lifted straight out of the 1970s and thrown into a world where the past is repositioned in a new, modern context.

 

 


 

ALICE ROHRWACHER

Happy as Lazzaro

2018

 

Alice Rohrwacher’s magic realist film has a twist that is truly astounding, so it would be a crying shame to reveal anything about it. All we will say is that like In Fabric, this is another film that takes elements and values of the past and repositions them in a more modern context. That conflict between the traditional and the modern is nowhere so acute as in this film. It brings ideas of progress, collective happiness and historical/modern values into question – in short, it questions everything and answers nothing. Our favourite type of film.

 


 

 

ANDREY ZVYAGINSTEV

The Return

​​1977

 

Like Happy as Lazzaro, this film raises hundreds of questions while offering probably not one single answer. It’s an enigmatic look at a family living in a rural Russian village somewhere near to Finland – but that’s the only real signpost you get. A father returns from an unknown location to visit his wife and two sons, and takes the latter on a fishing trip. The film’s darkly poetic atmosphere the film evokes will linger with you long after you’ve forgotten any particulars of the film. It’s not an easy watch, but it is beautiful.

 


 

 

ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI

Possession

​​1981

 

This masterpiece from 1981 by Andrzej Zulawski is a really trance-like depiction of Cold War claustrophobia and personal and societal paranoia, as well as individual and collective neuroses. If this doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, it isn’t – but it is a brilliant film nonetheless. A spy (presumably British, but it’s never explicitly explained) returns to his flat in West Berlin, and to his wife… who begins to behave in increasingly disturbing ways. The atmosphere in this film seems to capture the general instability and uncertainty of Central and Eastern Europe of the 1980s – a fear of the future, or a fear of the unknown that can be applied to our current situation.

 


 

 

 

CORNELIU PORUMBOIU

12:08 East of Bucharest

​​2006

 

This is a film we could watch over and over again. It’s a dry-humoured exploration of a small eastern Romanian town’s recollections of what its inhabitants were doing on the day Nicolae Ceausescu fled following the Romanian Revolution of 1989 – and in particular, what two inhabitants guesting on a local TV talk show remember. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s embellishing? Who’s lying? Is there such a thing as absolute truth in their recollections of the past? The film calls into question how society and the individual remember historical events – and if the truth of things can ever really be attained.

 

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