We watch movies mostly to be entertained. We go to the theaters or rent a video to escape from the vagaries of life. We have come to associate movies with escapist fare – light, shallow and generally an opportunity to stop thinking. But then there are movie fans that think more highly of movies – or ‘FILM’ as they love to call it. These people consider film an art form and, as the opposite of the regular movie watcher, expect movies to have a higher meaning and to be a wonderful form of modern artistic expression.
There are a lot of art films being made from practically all countries in the world. If your interest has been piqued and you want to experience a different kind of movie experience check out these fine art films:
1. What Time Is It There? (Taiwan)
Tsai Ming-Liang’s What Time Is It There? Is a testament to the power of silence. The film is understatement personified, which only reinforces the film’s theme, which deals with introspection, meditation and the inevitable movement of time. It’s a melancholic film that would unexpectedly surprise you with snippets of humor – like a ray of sunlight that peeks through an overcast and cloudy day, illuminating you with the powerful effect of such a well made film.
2. Je T’aime, Je T’aime
Another art film that deals with time, Alain Resnais’ masterpiece is one of those head-scratchers that could alienate audiences who do not want to give the film time to latch on to them. It’s a weird science fiction romp about a man – who failed in his suicide attempt – volunteering as a test subject for scientists who have been able to create a technology that would allow him to revisit a certain period in his life in the past for a few minutes. The experiment goes awry and he jumps back and forth in his life and in the end the audience begins to piece together the circumstances that would lead the man to suicide. It’s a mesmerizing piece of work, and a big part of this is the deft editing of the film as it successfully plays around with linearity.
When it comes to surrealism, one of the true masters of the genre would definitely be David Lynch. The maverick director has managed to carve a niche for himself in Hollywood without compromising his unique style and vision. Lynch’s unique point of view is best illustrated in his seminal film Eraserhead. As art films go, expect to see Eraserhead included in practically all lists. And rightfully so, Eraserhead is a triumph in surrealist filmmaking, throwing away the conventions of traditional narrative to tell the story of Henry in episodes that are driven mainly by absurd and head-scratching images. It’s a movie that should be seen because mere words will not give it justice.
Michelangelo Antonioni is a director that may not be immediately recognizable to the joe schmoe moviegoer, but nevertheless he is one of the most important auteurs of our time. Antonioni has made many memorable films, and one of his best is L’Eclisse. The film, which stars French superstar Alain Delon, is a study on the moral state of France during the 60’s. The film is deftly directed by Antonioni, and he craftily tells the story of the two protagonists with a firm hand and a great sense of visual poetry.
6. The Mirror
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky may be most famous with his science fiction film Solaris, but the man is equally adept in other genres. The Mirror can be seen as moving poetry as Tarkovsky plays with the whole concept of narrative with different visual tricks and imagery. It’s pure joy to behold.