The Homecoming, dir. Peter Hall, 1973
Peter Hall’s soul-sick adaptation does suffocating justice to Harold Pinter’s great play, arguably the pinnacle of his art.
Ari Aster is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer, best known for writing and directing the horror films Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). His newest film Beau is Afraid opens in theaters April 21.
The Scent of Green Papaya, dir. Tran Anh Hung, 1993
I love looking at the hands in The Scent of Green Papaya. There’s very little dialogue in this lush upstairs/downstairs tale of a young servant girl in mid-century Saigon—the better to linger on each close-up set before you, like a small self-contained meal: observe a milky stream of latex dribbling down a leaf, these soiled flip-flops, eels fidgeting in a tureen, an acupuncturist’s needle piercing through taut skin. But it’s the scenes of hands, smoothing down a sheet of hair here or suddenly clasping there, which move this film along so tenderly that I always find myself sighing aloud.
Delia Cai is a writer at Vanity Fair and the author of the novel Central Places.
Babylon, dir. Franco Rosso, 1980
Babylon is the British antipode to Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style (1983), and first to market. New York’s blend was rap and London’s native plant was a dub-centric style of reggae, the logical output of the Windrush generation of Jamaicans living in a new land. As with Wild Style, the actors are the artists themselves—Brinsley Forde of Aswad, who also produced some of the music, plays soundsystem DJ Blue. The rest of the music comes from Dennis Bovell, dub royalty, and future star of Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock. Raw, goofy, and completely legit, Babylon is the thing itself about the thing itself.
Sasha Frere-Jones is a musician and writer from New York.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, dir. Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014
I could go anywhere. Mostly I don’t go anywhere. Walking beam, horse’s head, the horizon silvers and I form a triangle. Strict cruiser: speed was never really my thing. You understand: I like clean hearts. I am watching. I am watching. Restless in my uniform, haunting the too-clean streets. Appropriation isn’t interesting to immortals, we prefer theft. For instance, I like your watch. Another allusion hovering beyond the streetlight. People always think a storm is coming. I absolve them of their sins. I become silence. I go. Money forever circulates, and you know what else. No? I’ll tell you. Blood.
Claudia La Rocco’s books include Certain Things, Quartet, petit cadeau, and Drive By. She edits The Back Room, a publishing project at Small Press Traffic.