At Home With…February Picks

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Friends of Metrograph Elvia Wilk, Mary Manning, Miriam Bale, and Jesse Pearson each share a film they love, streaming on demand on the Metrograph At Home platform.

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Bacurau, dir. Kleber Medonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, 2019

What starts as a family drama spirals into a revolt against greed and corruption, environmental devastation, and neocolonial violence. Enter the fictional town of Bacurau, in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, where the mayor has hijacked the water supply for profit, the residents are spotting UFOs, and pervy Westerners have arrived to hunt locals for sport. This could be a breed of ’sploitation film, but it’s not pornographic and the shots aren’t cheap, in any sense of the word. I usually put my head between my knees during violent movies; during Bacurau I kept my eyes open to follow every twist and turn. To reference that crop that destroyed so much Brazilian land: the plot is completely bananas. My favorite scene takes place in the village museum, which turns out to be a repository for the ghosts of revolutionaries past—and a weapons cache stashed for a future generation. That future generation: it’s upon us.

WATCH BACURAU

Elvia Wilk is the author of the novel Oval and the essay collection Death by Landscape. 

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Red Road, dir. Andrea Arnold, 2006

I’m not too concerned with describing the plot. Not knowing what you’re getting into will greatly reward you here. What is worth noting, though, is that Red Road, Andrea Arnold’s debut feature, was also the first in the “Advance Party” trilogy, conceived in part by Lars von Trier’s Zentropa company, so there were lots of limitations imposed on the first-time director, such as a six-week shoot in Scotland, and even an intended shared cast for each of the three films. The remarkable CCTV footage is so beautiful and textural and tense—if you’re like me it is heaven (in a weird hell way) to revisit scenes of early aughts Glasgow. A final fun fact: a ripe pear was involved in the making of one of the scenes. You’ll know when you see it. 

WATCH RED ROAD

Mary Manning is an artist living and working in New York City. Their book of photographs Grace Is Like New Music will be published by Canada gallery in February 2023.

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My Brother’s Wedding, dir. Charles Burnett, 1983

When Milestone Films released Killer of Sheep (1978) in 2007, it became “The One,” the single black art film referenced by mainly white critics for years. “The One” continues, yet changes titles every few years. One film comparatively ignored is My Brother’s Wedding, Burnett’s third film, also released in 2007 by Milestone. This tender, nuanced comic tragedy is about class, loyalty, friendship, weddings, and funerals. The film captures an accuracy of life in South Central Los Angeles, including the high contrast of rooms lit by bright California light. The last shot is perfect. 

WATCH MY BROTHER’S WEDDING

Miriam Bale is the Artistic Director of Indie Memphis (including the Indie Memphis Film Festival). She is also a former film critic. 

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Russian Ark, dir. Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002

A one-take, first-person-perspective, 96-minute dream that remains one of the greatest feats of physicality cinema has ever seen, Russian Ark explores Saint Petersburg’s Winter Palace, which houses the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world. A ghost among ghosts, our bewildered narrator (voiced by Sokurov) traverses the galleries encountering Russian citizens spanning centuries of history. He is accompanied by the aquiline Marquis, another figure out of time who prowls around offering history lessons, aphorisms, and bits of Catholica. The movie has a drifting quality and is filled with grandeur and melancholy. It is an experience unlike any other filmic mood.

WATCH RUSSIAN ARK

Jesse Pearson is a writer based in LA. He is the founder and editor of Apology magazine and the host of Apology, a podcast about books and reading.