Close Up

18 November 2023: Modern Masterpieces


Yi Yi
Edward Yang, 2000, 173 min

“Edward Yang’s beloved final completed film blends the critical eye of his “Taipei trilogy” with a gentler version of his trenchant, stinging comedies. Yang’s remarkable eye for detail is evident throughout Yi Yi’s sensitive chronicle of an upper-middle class Taiwanese family shaken by a series of unexpected – yet, in retrospect, clearly inevitable – events. As the middle-aged parents ruminate over past decisions and grow anxious for the future, their children grapple with the burdens of growing up. Like so many of Yang’s films, Yi Yi is a carefully orchestrated, almost musical ensemble piece that masterfully interweaves its characters rather in the manner of Renoir’s Rules of the Game. And like Renoir, Yang reveals himself to be a consummate observer of behavior, able to discern the comic and the tragic sides of the human predicament.” – Harvard Film Archive


Michael Haneke, 2005, 118 min

This compelling psychological thriller stars Daniel Auteuil as Georges, a television presenter who begins to receive mysterious and alarming packages containing covertly filmed videos of himself and his family. To the mounting consternation of Georges and his wife (Juliette Binoche) the footage on the tapes – which arrive wrapped in drawings of disturbingly violent images – becomes increasingly personal, and sinister anonymous phone calls are made. In Hidden, Haneke probes the pride, class-consciousness, and racial enmity of a man whose happy, comfortable, middle class family life is turned upside down by a series of intrusive and upsetting events that undermine his life.


Tale of Cinema
Hong Sang-soo, 2005, 89 min 

“When a great filmmaker titles a movie Tale of Cinema, it’s a red flag to herald matters of great personal implication. With its immediate drama and its far-reaching vision of untapped possibilities, this movie fulfils that promise.” – Richard Brody

Tale of Cinema breaks into two parts, an opening half depicting an obsessive love story among unhappy youth and set against a backdrop of intergenerational conflict. The second part shifts focus to someone who has been a spectator of the events of the first part and the way that he misapplies the lessons he thinks he’s learned from his voyeuristic experience to his own life. The interplay between the two halves reveals the rift that Hong often tries to reconcile in his films: the depiction of lived existence on the one hand, and the aesthetic experimentation with visual and narrative form on the other." – DP


Winter Sleep
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2014, 196 min

“Winner of the Palme d’Or of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, [Winter Sleep] blends elements of Ibsen, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov into a three-part symphony in dialogue. Aydin imagines himself the local potentate in the district of Anatolia that surrounds his mountaintop hotel. A former actor who now bloviates in the local newspaper, Aydin’s supreme self-confidence blinds him to the resentment of those he takes to be his natural subjects – not just the villagers, but his wife and sister, who live with him in his mountain redoubt. Focusing on the seemingly unbridgeable divisions between classes and generations, Ceylan develops his themes of guilt, responsibility, faith, and spirituality into a family drama with deep implications.” – MOMA