As cinemas – like churches, bars, restaurants, hair salons etc. – begin the arduous process of trying to accommodate the public and still keep them safe during the time of Covid-19, we’re promised a rehash of old classics as the new releases are pushed back to mid-August at least.
At home we can watch our own material. One director I’ve been sampling a lot of recently is Jim Jarmusch. He makes films about the ordinary lives of ordinary people. Most of our lives are ordinary so they have a direct appeal. He always shows great sensitivity. Even when he makes a film about vampires, like Only Lovers Left Alive, it becomes poignant.
One of his most recent works is Paterson. It’s about a bus driver of that name who writes poetry. The poems seem ordinary too but, like Jarmusch’s films, they have a sense of deep profundity.
His wife is eccentric. She paints everything, even her dress. Her efforts at mastering the guitar are hilarious. Then there’s the dog who goes out to the garden every morning and knocks the postbox askew. The most exciting part of the film is where the bus breaks down.
Jarmusch captures the slow life of his town, also called Paterson, to perfection. This is one of his most beguiling films. I urge you to see it.
Another director I’ve grown attached to over the years is Stephane Brize. He made a film years ago called Not Here To Be Loved. It’s a beautiful story of the May-December romance between a bailiff and a woman who’s engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t love.
It’s set against a backdrop of a tango dancing class. There’s a subplot about the man’s relationship to his father who’s in a nursing home. He appears not to care about his son but he does. Just how deeply is revealed in the film’s heartbreaking finale.
One of Brize’s most recent films is The Measure of a Man. It’s about how unemployment strips people of their dignity. It centres on a character played by Vincent Lindon. After losing his job he has to take a more menial one as a security person in a supermarket. He’s manifestly unsuited to this. We wait for him to crack.
I’ve been an admirer of Lindon for years. His face is like that of an Irish farmer. You should see him in Mademoiselle Chambon, a moving story about a doomed romance, or Anything For Her, a brilliant thriller about a man who springs his wife (Diane Kruger) from jail after she’s wrongfully arrested for murder. He doesn’t do much but in his small gestures he captures all the longing of the human heart.
All of these films are available from Amazon. Another one I bought recently from here is Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s incredible story of a woman driven to a desperate act when her ailing husband decides to disinherit her child by a previous marriage. It’s icily powerful.