Notebook's 16th Writers Poll: Fantasy Double Features of 2023

In our annual poll, we ask contributors to pair a new release with an older film they watched for the first time that year.

Each winter, we invite Notebook contributors to take part in our unique twist on the year-end poll. Rather than tally their favorite new releases from the year, they’re asked to creatively pair a new release with an older film they watched for the first time that year: a “fantasy double feature.” We’re delighted by the range of responses this year; this year’s doubles offer up inspired combinations of moving-image art that might otherwise slip through the cracks.

We invite you to plunge into this collective viewing scrapbook, which captures our writers at their most imaginative, adventurous, and thoughtful—maybe it'll motivate you to test some of these out (or come up with your own) over the holidays.

We hope you enjoy the read, and find our sixteenth year appropriately sweet!

Paul Attard

NEW: Skinamarink (Kyle Edward Ball, USA) + OLD: Room Film 1973 (Peter Gidal, 1973)

Homebound horror films shrouded in darkness, ones that transform the overly familiar into something alarmingly abstract; the call isn't coming from inside the house, the call is the house itself. 

NEW: In Water (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: Untitled (Ernie Gehr, 1977)

What exactly am I looking at here? Can you focus the image just a little bit? 

NEW: Aggro Dr1ft (Harmony Korine, USA) + OLD: Untitled (For Marilyn) (Stan Brakhage, 1992)

Colorful odes to wives. 

Jennifer Lynde Barker

NEW: Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook, South Korea) + OLD: Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)

Two films that bury us in the dunes between land and water, leaving us thirsty, lost, astounded, bound.

Juan Barquin

NEW: Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé (Beyoncé, 2023) + OLD: In the Bathtub of the World (Caveh Zahedi, 2001)

[Carrie Bradshaw voice] Watching the works of Caveh Zahedi and the latest piece of the machine that is Beyoncé so closely together, I couldn't help but find myself wondering: at what point does the documentation of the self become more a piece of fiction than one of reality? On one hand you have Zahedi, a man who is honest to a fault and whose documentation of the self is often a point of shame and not pride. On the other, you have a performer, one whose entire life is presumed to be on display despite being able to have immense narrative control over her image, telling people that she is being vulnerable by revealing minute and digestible details about her history and being celebrated for it. It makes one question whether the most acceptable form of "honesty" is not one that is sincere and truly blunt, but one that is comfortably curated for those listening/watching. We want our celebrities to be just like us, but, no, wait, not like that, just how I imagine you being.

NEW: Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023) + OLD: Company (John Doyle & Lonny Price, 2008)

"Being alive."

Arta Barzanji

NEW: Man in Black (Wang Bing, China) + OLD: Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)

Both films begin with figures mysteriously emerging to overlook auditoriums. In Holy Motors, it's the director himself, Leos Carax, who glances down at a theater of entranced audiences. He doesn’t go down himself, but his camera does in his place, hinting at Carax’s role as an overseeing emcee rather than a participant in the film. The Chinese composer Wang Xilin also finds himself in a Parisian auditorium, but unlike Carax, with no audience. As such, he becomes (and remains) the camera’s sole focal point while slowly descending the stairs. 

Throughout Holy Motors, Carax shapes Denis Levant’s character into different molds, costumes, and embodiments. He both imagines and figures the film via Levant’s body, which moves through the streets, buildings and sewers of Paris, constantly transforming and masquerading. Wang Bing offers a naked portrait of Wang Xilin, in both a literal and figurative sense. As the celebrated composer recounts the events of the Cultural Revolution, the camera lingers on his uncovered body, obstinately observing the marks of time, as if to hint that the key to understanding the recounted history is in the flesh itself.

These are films in which the human body reigns supreme as the chief ingredient of the mise-en-scène. In one, the body drifts through the world, shaping it in its own image. In the other, history flows through the flesh, and flesh exists as the corporeal manifestation of history and memory. They’re both films about the fiction and fact of the body. 

NEW: Pictures of Ghosts (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil) + OLD: Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)

Two films haunted by the ghosts of pictures that pervade decaying spaces and pictures of ghosts that prevail through the decaying passage of time.

NEW: Kidnapped (Marco Bellocchio, Italy) + OLD: The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

Rafaela Bassili

NEW: The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, USA) + OLD: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987)

In which men's curmudgeonly hearts grow three sizes during the holiday season; snow presents a problem; and people learn to love and forgive themselves and each other. 

Koel Chu

NEW: River (Junta Yamaguchi, Japan) + OLD: What's Up Connection (Yamamoto Masashi, 1990)

Chaos is underrated.

Ryan Coleman

NEW: R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu, Romania) + OLD: Return to Peyton Place (José Ferrer, 1961) 

Each of these films are exemplary reckonings with the accumulated baggage of the cultural moment they find themselves in—amid the crestfallen hopes of an economically depressed, post-Ceaușescu Romanian province and amid the crestfallen hopes of a puritanical New England hamlet in the post-WWII boom. What unites these films is their sharp pivot from hours of slow, meandering plot development into an explosive final act of community reckoning that takes place at a town hall, in which revelation after suppressed, stunning revelation comes to light.

NEW: Don't Sell My Baby (Roxanne Boisvert, USA) + OLD: Sarah and Son (Dorothy Arzner, 1930)

It's not that they're both just movies about mothers discovering their babies have been sold against their wills ... they're also both melodramas that will make you laugh and cry at the same time!

Adrian Curry

NEW: Chile ’76 (Manuela Martelli, Chile/Argentina) + OLD: Una vita difficile (Dino Risi, 1961)

Idealism vs pragmatism. Two brilliant films about the political choices we make, or have made for us, which could not be more timely. In Chile ’76 an oblivious bourgeois housewife in the early years of the Pinochet dictatorship is asked to help an injured young leftist in hiding and finds herself sucked into a world of danger and paranoia. In Una vita difficile (the best revival I saw this year) Alberto Sordi starts out as an anti-fascist resistance fighter but finds it increasingly impossible to do the right thing as he is dragged kicking and screaming into the cosseted world of Italy’s post-war bourgeoisie. 

Poulomi Das

NEW: Family (Don Palathara, India) + OLD: Fire in the Mountains (Ajitpal Singh, 2020)

If Palathara’s Family conjures a sinister portrait of a closely-knit, rural Christian community in Kerala bound by faith and hypocrisy, then Singh’s debut feature treks upwards to the hills of Uttarakhand to observe the devastation caused by blind Hindu superstition. Although Family plays out like a social horror and Fire in the Mountains reveals itself as a tense familial drama, they express a similar contempt for patriarchal institutions, whether it is the church or society. It helps that the filmmakers possess a keen eye and feel for imagery—the meticulous composition in these two films weaponizes the natural beauty of the surroundings as a stark contrast to the bursts of violence simmering in the foreground.

NEW: Family (Don Palathara, India) + OLD Titli (Kanu Behl, 2014)

The violence in Family builds slowly, as a calibration between the transgressions that happen in front of our eyes and the action we are indoctrinated into looking away from. But Titli is suffused with brash and brutal rage—the nature of violence here isn't a negotiation; it is the way of life. 

Matthew Eng

NEW: Earth Mama (Savanah Leaf, USA/UK) + OLD: Clean (Olivier Assayas, 2004)

"What would happen, finally if, instead of asking mothers to appease the wrongs of history and the heart, and then punishing them when they inevitably fail, we listen to what they have to say—from deep within their bodies and minds—about both?"

—Jacqueline Rose, Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty

NEW: Other People's Children (Rebecca Zlotowski, France) + OLD: An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky, 1978)

NEW: Blue Jean (Georgia Oakley, UK) + OLD: Nighthawks (Ron Peck, 1978)

Frank Falisi

NEW: Janet Planet (Annie Baker, USA) + OLD: Little Men (Ira Sachs, 2016)

To reclaim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986) from the film maudit heap of history means realizing that our emotional responses—impatience with objects that used to comfort, spikes of novel longing in the gonads, dead fear of the past and future colliding—emerge in the film’s form rather than as fallout from our nostalgia engines. We’re remembering it right, and our remembering means more than what the film meant. Worse than getting lost as a child is remaining that way impossibly, stuck rubberized between the walls of adrenal desire and unspeakable frustration. Lacy puts herself into a maze of realizing and ignoring her mother. She walks around in orbit, dioramizes her world. Jake looks to art and bodies to orient his pen and hands. Instead, he gets a portrait of the father in the tantrum of making a living, which is to say actually making it, shoving it over other lives. What else do you want from a long summer? It ends. Baker and Sachs remind us to not extract grown-up meaning from the looks of children, to not demand lessons learned from the recitation of stories about looking back. There is just the desire to look and transmit that looking into an image, reflective, corrupted, corrosive, pleasurable, somehow. Look back beyond memory, towards feeling: you remind me of the babe.

NEW: May December (Todd Haynes, USA) + OLD: All I Desire (Douglas Sirk, 1953)

NEW: The Boy and the Heron (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan) + OLD: Explorers (Joe Dante, 1985)

Eileen G’Sell

NEW: Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, USA) + OLD: The Wizard (Todd Holland, 1989)

Desert road trips? World-weary children? A single dad just doing his best? Anderson's latest venture may be a highly stylized dramedy turned droll science fiction, but its story and themes recall another, much less lauded film that came out 34 years earlier. Starring indie music starlet Jenny Lewis and '80s child icon Fred Savage, The Wizard is much better than it has to be for a movie essentially made to promote the launch of the Super Nintendo. Holland's debut film opens with a long-shot long take that would likely lose the attention of today's adolescents (or smartphone-addled parents). Which ultimately is better: actual nostalgia for family-friendly films that take themselves seriously, or post-nostalgia for candy-colored mid-century ennui? 

NEW: The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, USA) + OLD: Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

NEW: Barbie (Greta Gerwig, USA) + OLD: Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012)

Rico Gagliano

NEW: The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer, USA/UK/Poland) + OLD: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Among a certain brand of cinephile, there is the ongoing debate: Which filmmaker is "the modern-day Stanley Kubrick?" I take this to mean a filmmaker who exhibits a keen intellect; favors driving, essentials-only narratives underlain with a sense of inexorable fate; fearlessly confronts the darkest realms of humanity; changes genre from film to film and seeks to make each one the definitive example of the genre; and meticulously deploys new methods or technologies to bring it all to screens. It also doesn't hurt if the guy takes forever between movies.

For a while, for me, this was a toss-up between Kubrick protégé Todd Field (even if he's not so much a genre guy) and Jonathan Glazer. With The Zone of Interest, the match goes to Glazer. Zone is a masterclass in letting a subject speak for itself, the subject being the banal face of evil. Shot at a cool distance with fixed cameras, mostly on the grounds of a single family's home, and boasting an unsettling sound design that slowly burrows into the brain and eventually gnaws at the soul, it conveys the absolute horror of the Holocaust without showing a single drop of blood. For me, it makes even the greatest Holocaust films seem overwrought and easy in comparison, too quick to let us off the hook. Even the music is uncompromising, a seething aural flame that licks at your nervous system as you stumble from the theater.

I could only pair Zone with something equally mind-bending, something that equally clobbered every previous film of its kind—and that's Kubrick's own 2001. Which also uses composed, virtuosic image and (sometimes assaultive) sound to meditate on violence, but makes room for pure awe and—unique among Kubrick's films—the implication that we might one day transcend the worst of our natures. After a long, disquieting double-feature, some light.

Lawrence Garcia

NEW: In Our Day (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) + OLD: Deed Undone (Frans van de Staak, 1989)

On the ambiguity of anaphora.

NEW: May December (Todd Haynes, USA) + OLD: Killed the Family and Went to the Movies (Júlio Bressane, 1969)

On the self-consciousness of genre.

NEW: This Closeness (Kit Zauhar, USA) + OLD: M/Other (Nobuhiro Suwa, 1999)

On the theatricalization of the everyday.

Annie Geng

NEW: The Sweet East (Sean Price Williams, USA) + OLD: Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962)

NEW: Ferrari (Michael Mann, USA) + OLD: Floating Weeds (Yasujirō Ozu, 1959)

NEW: Aggro Dr1ft (Harmony Korine, USA) + OLD: The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

Destiny is dishonest.

Leonardo Goi

NEW: Here (Bas Devos, Belgium) + OLD: The Calming (Song Fang, 2020)

One of the best films of 2023 was also very possibly the year’s most soothing. In Bas Devos’s Here, the plot is a gossamer of chance encounters and late-night chats shot through with unexpressed longing. But the peace! Virtually every frame of this summer odyssey loosely anchored to the meanderings of a Romanian-born, Brussels-based construction worker oozes a lulling, comforting energy. It’s not that characters live in some otherworldly utopia (we’re still in Belgium). It’s just that the film isn’t powered by violence or conflict, and by refusing to genuflect to the demands of more traditional, three-act narratives, Devos can open up other powers of his images. In turns meditative and riveting, Here brought me back to the very last film I saw in a theater before the world shut down in early March 2020, Song Fang’s The Calming. Like Here, this is a resolutely serene odyssey that makes its contemplative pacing a feature, not a bug. And its portrait of a documentarian grieving over a bad breakup is similarly attentive to the textures and stimuli of the many locales she traverses. Lilting and ethereal, Here and The Calming both posit slowness as a form of empathy. Their long takes might test the viewer’s attention span, but they also reignite one’s predisposition to wonder. These are works of quiet exaltation; if they’ve slipped past you, seek them out.   

NEW: The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer, USA/UK/Poland) + OLD: The Black Tower (John Smith, 1987)

Two cumulatively disquieting journeys whose characters are defined through their relationship with the places that host and haunt them. 

NEW: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, USA/UK) + OLD: Twin Peaks The Return: Episode 8 (David Lynch, 2017)

The same bomb, the same test, two wildly different ways of approaching the Evil that men do in its most astonishing manifestation.

Carmen Gray

NEW: Smiling Georgia (Luka Beradze, Georgia/Germany) + OLD: A Report on The Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966)

Corrupt power is a game of seduction and intimidation. Its lie is the genteel, feted surface; brutal absurdity is its never long-hidden tyranny. 

Georgina Guthrie

NEW: Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg, USA) + OLD: Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971)

Decadence and decay make surprisingly easy bedfellows. In Daughters of Darkness, holidaying newlyweds enter the opulent lair of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who, with all the poise and glamor of a pampered cat, seductively draws them into a cycle of bloodlust and murder. One half achieves immortality through death, but the cloying whiff of rot remains. In Cronenberg’s latest, another vacationing couple enter a world of hedonism and violence, where rebirth assumes a similarly parasitic format. 

NEW: Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, USA) + OLD: L’argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)

L’argent shows Bresson’s hallmarks distilled to austere essentials—if you want to see where Anderson’s going, the clues might lie here. 

NEW: Great Yarmouth: Provisional Figures (Marco Martins, Portugal/France/UK) + OLD: Rosetta (Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 1999)

Dancing and karaoke respectively offer moments of tenderness in two very hard lives. 

Jenna Ham

NEW: Gasoline Rainbow (Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, USA) + OLD: Moving (Shinji Sômai, 1993)

The Ross brothers uncover new phosphorescence through the eyes of Gen Z adolescents on an odyssey to the beach in Gasoline Rainbow (2023). They kick up the sands of the road-trip genre, and refresh the strategies of this well-trodden story by capsuling a group of real teenagers in moments of improvisation and discovery. High school ends; the urge to journey, to commune, glows hotly. Thirty years prior, Shinji Sômai is carefully orchestrating the landscapes of Moving (1993): a young girl, at the very entrance of her adolescence, watches the fireworks and ceremonies of Lake Biwa as her parents agree to their separation around her. Sômai pushes the story outside of a domestic framework, in a lyrical turn, to explore the outdoors as a place of youthful searching. Across the decades-long chasm that separates these coming-of-age films is a shared visual language—an inventive symbolic landscaping—that would tie a double-bill together luminously. Both films depict the guiding lights, and the scattered revelations, that move you when you’re young.

NEW: Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismäki, Finland/Germany) + OLD: Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1982)

Kim Hew-Low

NEW: The Boy and the Heron (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan) + OLD: My Octopus Teacher (James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich, 2020)

It’s a classic boy meets beast story—not exactly romance, but full of heart, and if not love itself than certainly a testament to its transformative potential.

Patrick Holzapfel

NEW: Wankostättn (Karin Berger, Austria) + OLD: Warum ist Frau B. glücklich? (Erika Runge, 1968)

What I learned from those two films is what Seamus Heaney knew all along: we have to face thin ice with the sticks our parents gave us. 

David Hudson

NEW: About Dry Grasses (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/France/Germany) + OLD: Una vita difficile (Dino Risi, 1961)

The commitment of two self-serving intellectuals, Samet (Deniz Celiloğlu) and Silvio (Alberto Sordi), to principles each is convinced no one around them could possibly understand leads to a string of humiliations played straight in Ceylan’s absorbing feature and a series of tragic failures played for laughs in Risi’s.

A.E. Hunt

NEW: #MITO (Daisuke Miyazaki, Japan) + OLD: OctoGod (Shievar Olegario, Philippines)

Jonah Jeng

NEW: Jericho Ridge (Will Gilbey, UK) + OLD: The Nest (Florent-Emilio Siri, 2002)

The enduring power of the Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) formula. From a French industrial park to a small-town sheriff’s office in northern Washington, the one-long-night, single-location siege premise remains ripe for action and suspense.

NEW: The Equalizer 3 (Antoine Fuqua, USA) + OLD: The American (Anton Corbijn, 2010)

Idyllic Italian locales inspire seasoned killers to dream of a different life.

NEW: Young Ip Man: Crisis Time (Li Liming, China) + OLD: The Legend is Born: Ip Man (Herman Yau, 2010)

A sampling of the fun and varied “Ipsploitation” films, which range from a riff on Die Hard (1988) to a pensive evocation of community, old age, and the course of history.

Brandon Kaufman

Brandon Kaufman

NEW: Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World (Radu Jude, Romania) + OLD: By The Law (Lev Kuleshov, 1926)

Boruch of Medzhybizh: "What a good and bright world this is if we do not lose our hearts to it, but what a dark world if we do!”

NEW: May December (Todd Haynes, 2023) + OLD: City Streets (Rouben Mamoulian, 1931)

Daniel Kasman

NEW: Dry Ground Burning (Joana Pimenta & Adirley Queirós, Brazil) + OLD: Dust of Angels (Hsu Hsiao-ming, 1992)

Two crime films radically transmuting the genre into something new for a young generation trying out violent solutions to break free of their marginal lives. The films find new cinematic languages to evoke the specificity of those living in their countries in their present moment, attaining a raw transparency, dramatic freshness, and political bite.

NEW: Writhing City (Ken Jacobs, USA) + OLD: A Crofter’s Life in Shetland (Jenny Gilbertson, 1931)

Two personal, idiosyncratic love letters to and explorations of their homeland, whether New York City or the Shetland Islands, made with the homemade craft of artisans and the knowing, poetic intimacy of lifelong residents.

NEW: A Thousand and One (A.V. Rockwell, USA) + OLD: One Mile from Heaven (Allan Dwan, 1937)

Two bold portraits of fierce, striving Black motherhood that probe the very definition of both of those ways of being a woman—ways crucially fraught with anxieties over belonging, guilt, justice, and family.

Phuong Le

NEW: Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Lijo Jose Pellissery, India) + OLD: Macario (Roberto Gavaldón, 1960) 

Returning from a pilgrimage, a man dozes off on a bus in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam. When he wakes up, he strangely starts to behave as a completely different person, specifically a villager who has disappeared two years prior without a trace. While this peculiar afternoon nap induces an absurd case of soul-swapping, in Roberto Gavaldón’s magnificently restored Macario, sweet slumber opens a portal to another realm, as an impoverished peasant comes face to face with Death itself. In both cases, the human body, when put under the spell of dreams, ceases to be a fixed entity. Instead, it becomes a kind of commons—a meeting ground—between forces unseen by the naked eye. Grounded in material conditions such as regional differences, wealth inequality, and more, the films’ supernatural happenings also form a direct opposition to the rigid dogmas of religion, making space for spiritual ambivalence. Separated by a span of 60-plus years, Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam and Macario embody the paradoxes of cinema, a visual medium that seemingly embalms life against death, yet is also full of ghosts. 

Dora Leu

Dora Leu

NEW: Evil Does Not Exist (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan) + OLD: The Battle Front For The Liberation Of Japan: Summer in Sanrizuka (Shinsuke Ogawa, 1968)

Ogawa's film feels like the remains of a long-gone-by political conscience of Japanese cinema—and there's a glimmer of it in Evil Does Not Exist, even if I'm not sure Hamaguchi would like to agree with me. Resisting villagers, the disillusionment of modernization, violence: shared themes that manifest so differently because of their respective time periods, separated by an arc in time. It initially seemed more appropriate to pair Hamaguchi with the Heta Village film in the Sanrizuka series from Ogawa Productions, because of its quieter focus on the protesting villagers' daily lives, and because, as if providentially, both films open on observations about pure water. I then decided to settle on Summer in Sanrizuka for its various quasi-theoretical musings on the nature of protesting and for its proactive sentiment that lights a better fire, so to speak. Ideally, this would be a triple bill, with Evil Does Not Exist in the middle (could even be a quadruple if we add Gift!) A small nod to Hamaguchi as a documentarian.

NEW: Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet, France) + OLD: She and He (Susumu Hani, 1963) 

Wife. Husband. Third Guy that has a sweeter relationship with Wife. Dog. Visually Impaired Child. The tribulations of marriage. Lovely take on gender roles. Swann Arlaud vs. Eiji Okada.

NEW: The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer, UK/Poland) + OLD: Respite (Harun Farocki, 2007)


Z. W. Lewis

NEW: Close Your Eyes (Víctor Erice, Spain) + OLD: Kyrie Eleison (Hisayasu Satô, 1993)

Though cinema was invented during an age associated with growing secularism and scientific materialism, there have been plenty of movies that present the medium either as a divine force or a malevolent entity. Celluloid acts as a vessel and cinemagoing is a ritual in Victor Eríce’s Close Your Eyes, a film in which the director asks us to believe in miracle-working. Likewise, Hisayasu Satô’s Kyrie Eleison conjures the demons first released in Videodrome, equating constant video monitoring to spiritual possession. Film was born out of the chemicals developed for alchemy, and cinema was developed by Méliès the magician—these are films that haven’t forgotten that history.

NEW: Hit Man (Richard Linklater, USA) + OLD: Twilight (György Fehér, 1990)

The lightest and darkest films noirs ever made.

Chloe Lizotte

NEW: Last Things (Deborah Stratman, USA) + OLD: Hector (Nick Corirossi, 2014)

Two films about the world after human extinction. The first: a cerebral odyssey from the perspective of rocks; the second: a tale of an inscrutable Henry Jaglom obsessive making a bizarre, lewd, Neil Breen-esque vanity film. As Stratman explores geologic time—dizzyingly—she (and the rocks) encourages us solipsistic mortals to be less self-important about our place in the universe. On the other hand, Corirossi's provocation about our hubris is more twisted, an extreme hairpin turn in sensibility. He asks, what if this borderline unintelligible movie by a guy with delusions of grandeur were the only artifact that remained of the human race ... to the point that it becomes a sacred text to bewildered ETs in the 32nd century? Stratman's film is dreamy and philosophical; Corirossi’s will make you feel like you need to take three showers afterwards, à la Damon Packard. Good thing the total running time of this program is 96 minutes.

NEW: The Killer (David Fincher, USA) + OLD: Blast of Silence (Allen Baron, 1961)

"Living amongst the normies," the melodrama of internal monologues, Rockefeller Center at Christmas, gutted WeWorks & Parisian Egg McMuffins & Equinox gyms & Amazon storage lockers, by Friday life has killed me.

NEW: Morrissey is interviewed on Good Day New York (segment director unknown, USA) + OLD: Tár (Todd Field, 2022)

Cancel the DJ!

Sofie Cato Maas

NEW: Inu-Oh (Masaaki Yuasa, Japan) + OLD: Máscaras (Noémia Delgado, 1976) 

In Yuasa Masaaki’s latest film Inu-Oh, two performers seek to break away from the prevailing musical traditions in medieval Japan and in doing so incur the wrath of the authorities. One of the musicians is Inu-Oh, a Noh performer forced to wear a mask to hide his unusual appearance. Meanwhile, the men wearing traditional masks and clothing in Noémie Delgado’s ethnographic as well as fictional Máscaras, which is set in the Northern region of Trás-os-Montes, try to keep tradition alive by performing the yearly rituals of the winter cycle. Comparing these two films is in many ways impossible, but there are some unexpected and interesting points of contact as they both inquire into the sociological meaning and use of masks in Japanese and Portuguese society by intertwining reality, fiction, and history. 

Jonathan Mackris

NEW: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, USA) + OLD: Cloak and Dagger (Fritz Lang, 1946)

I don’t have many positive things to say about Nolan’s newest film, but I take its central question seriously: can an aesthetic act prevent something from happening in reality? Fritz Lang confronted this same question as Hollywood turned its attention toward the war effort in the ’40s. His quartet of antifascist films—Man Hunt (1941), Hangmen Also Die! (1943), Ministry of Fear (1944), and Cloak and Dagger—is pristine, a genuine moral high point in the history of Hollywood. In the final film, Gary Cooper confesses his trepidation about building the bomb to another scientist in a manner reminiscent of a line in Oppenheimer, telling him, “I’m scared stiff. For the first time, thousands of Allied scientists are working together to make what? A bomb!” Lang’s film does not make an explicit judgment about the use of the bomb, which narratively is still a year away. But the adjacent question it poses is the key one: what kind of person do we have to become in order to create such a thing? And can we ever come back from it? (Naturally, Hollywood axed its entire final reel and with it Cooper’s warning: “God have mercy on us.”)

Saffron Maeve

NEW: Pictures of Ghosts (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil) + OLD: Fata Morgana (Werner Herzog, 1971)

NEW: Last Summer (Catherine Breillat, France) + OLD: Brief Crossing (Catherine Breillat, 2001)

NEW: Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/USA) + OLD: Frankenhooker (Frank Henenlotter, 1990)

Lukasz Mankowski

NEW: Trenque Lauquen (Laura Citarella, Argentina) + OLD: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

The Laura genre—the fables of Lauras being looked for and looked at. There's a striking similarity between those two, but nearly eight decades later, Laura is still there: first missing, then designed in one's (male) gaze. The mystery is not about what really happened to either of the Lauras; but rather, what do men think of Laura? All the Lauras in the cinematic world, unite—Laura Palmer included.

Ciara Moloney

NEW: Napoleon (Ridley Scott, USA/UK) + OLD: War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1966-67)

Napoleon and War and Peace take place simultaneously on either end of Europe. To the west, Ridley Scott deconstructs the myth of Napoleon as a great man: Joaquin Phoenix plays him as a man whose reputation—as a military genius, as a French patriot, as anything but a petty tyrant—is a result of his constant and grandiose self-mythologizing. He doesn’t believe in anything but power, and hundreds of thousands of bodies line his path to it. To the east, Napoleon pops up in War and Peace in a series of pivotal cameos, nestled among Evil Dead cameras gliding through the woods, the biggest, most indelible and disturbing battle scenes ever put to film, and Cimino-esque long, slow scenes of nothing much happening at all. If Napoleon deconstructs a myth, War and Peace is a double-inflected engagement with Russian national mythos, reflecting and refracting the story a country tells itself about itself like the best of John Ford’s westerns. 

NEW: Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, USA) + OLD: Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964)

The definitive American filmmakers of their generations deliver late-career masterpieces unflinchingly confronting America’s original sin. 

NEW: The Meg 2: The Trench (Ben Wheatley, China/USA) + OLD: Wrath of Man (Guy Ritchie, 2021)

Not since Sylvester Stallone has an actor as skillfully combined “meathead action star” and “emotionally astute actor’s actor” into one career as Jason Statham. Guess which one of these movies is which. 

Vikram Murthi

NEW: Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt, USA) + OLD: One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder, 1961)

Two comedies, one that's methodically paced and the other operating at top speed, about the politics of labor (creative vs. corporate), the myriad frustrations and distractions that impede the progress of work, and how it's impossible to control everything, even when it's absolutely necessary.

Andrew Northrop

NEW: Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki, Japan) + OLD: Gamera the Brave (Ryuta Tazaki, 2006)

NEW: The Secret Garden (Nour Ouayda, Lebanon) + OLD: Tales from Planet Kolkata (Ruchir Joshi, 1983)

María Palacios Cruz

NEW: Nowhere Near (Miko Revereza, USA/Philippines) + OLD: In Order Not To Be Here (Deborah Stratman, 2002)

Two haunted visions of America—of its empty suburban and corporate spaces, its fears, paranoia and broken dreams. While Stratman constructs a new form of horror cinema out of nighttime 16mm tableaux and helicopter surveillance footage, Nowhere Near is an expansive, poetic, often funny, personal memoir that keeps finding and redefining its form along Revereza's journeys and impossible return to the ancestral home in the Philippines.  

NEW: Stone, Hat, Ribbon and Rose (Eva Giolo, Belgium) + OLD: Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

Charlotte Palmer

NEW: Enys Men (Mark Jenkin, UK) + OLD: Gone to Earth (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1950)

Enys Men’s Cornish coast and Gone to Earth’s Shropshire countryside are hyper-saturated: sky and grass are lurid, unreal; matte, primary colors abound. Within these strange landscapes, home to the inexplicable, women must undergo nightmarish transformations. In Powell & Pressburger’s film, set in the 1890s, Hazel (Jennifer Jones) is an intuitive child of nature, a singer of the old songs, a pagan guided by the hand-me-down traditions of her mother’s spell book. The histories of Enys Men, set eighty years later, are buried deeper. Mary Woodvine’s “Volunteer” is a visitor to the stone island, not a native, and becomes overwhelmed by visions of the past seeping into the present. Fragments of music, of figures long dead, flash out—they appear both remembered and seen for the first time. After her intimate relationship with her home is severed by her suitors’ desires and her own sexual appetites, Hazel dies falling into the deep, black ditch that she had previously shrank from, sensing an omen. The Volunteer stares into an abyss and sees the faces of the dead rising out of the darkness. 

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer

Nicolas Pedrero Setzer

NEW: The Beast (Bertrand Bonello, France) + OLD: That Most Important Thing: Love (Andrzej Źuławski, 1975)

The romantic appeal of Paris, and the French in general, does not exist in either of these films. At the heart of director Bertrand Bonello’s new spin on Henry James’s "The Beast in the Jungle" lies a fear that humanity will be drained of all emotion as the centuries go by, while madcap Polish filmmaker Andrzej Źuławski’s lovesick drama about a slumming actress (Romy Schneider) and a down-on-his-luck photographer (Fabio Testi) indulges such melodrama that it is impossible to imagine a world succumb to apathy. Nevertheless, both films arrive at the same conclusion apropos of love. Both of these lyrical explorations of love and despair represent their respective filmmakers at the top of their game, and the films’ collision is bound to ignite or extinguish the hearts of its viewers.

NEW: New Strains (Prashanth Kamalakanthan & Artemis Shaw, USA) + OLD: A Mordida (Pedro Neves Marques, 2019)

NEW: De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel, France/Switzerland/USA) + OLD: Innerspace (Joe Dante, 1987)

Savina Petkova

NEW: All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh, UK) + OLD: Of an Age (Goran Stolevski, 2022)

Two transformative meetings between men who end up holding each other forever, as if the beds they share are portals, not resting places.

NEW: Ferrari (Michael Mann, USA/UK/Italy/China) + OLD: Bobby Deerfield (Sydney Pollack, 1977)

Daddies be racing.

NEW: Sanctuary (Zachary Wigon, USA) + OLD: Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)

Ladies be dominating.

Adam Piron

NEW: Gush (Fox Maxy, USA) + OLD: The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki, 1995)

Like particles orbiting a nucleus, youth, chaos, and attitude are the lifeblood of these anarchic works and driving forces behind the joy and pain that's felt in both. “Underground” is a descriptor tossed around to describe anything remotely on the periphery, but both of these films have an energy and essence true to the formal and thematic modes found in those realms of their respective eras. Both look at specific ideas of the land and histories on which they were made and toss something like a cinematic Molotov cocktail to them, scrambling them and ourselves, and leaving audiences to rebuild from the ashes they've left.

Rachel Pronger

NEW: Barbie (Greta Gerwig, USA) + OLD: The Nurtull Gang (Per Lindberg, Sweden, 1923)

I’d like to pair The Nurtull Gang with Barbie because… why not? Here are two escapist, fabulously frothy films about girls taking on the world, making mischief, and generally having a good time in the face of intractable “real world” patriarchy. Per Lindberg’s The Nurtull Gang, which I saw recently with live accompaniment at REMAKE: Frankfurt Women’s Film Days, is a playful silent following a group of office girls in a house share as they try to navigate the material hardships and social challenges of early-twentieth-century Stockholm. Like Barbie, it’s an unashamedly populist slice of mass entertainment which capitalizes on existing IP, in this case Swedish feminist Elin Wagner’s 1908 novel Men and Other Misfortunes. Both films have feminist-lite approaches which are superficially empowering but easy to pick holes in—Barbie’s cheerful neoliberalism, The Nurtull Gang’s obsession with marriage—but are executed with a gleeful energy that is difficult to resist. It’s easy to see a continuum between the exaggerated, hyper-expressive lead performances of Margot Robbie and co, and the wide-eyed clowning of silent comedy, while the hapless himbo Ken also finds parallels in The Nurtull Gang’s lightly pathetic men (a Peeping Tom desperate to catch a glimpse of his female neighbor’s ankles, a lonely boss besotted with his secretary). At REMAKE, as I sat in the dark fixated on the bubbles that I could see fizzing through the flutes of century-old champagne onscreen, I felt the same kind of surge of joy that I did watching Barbie for the second time, with friends, as the audience began singing along with “I’m Just Ken.” Imperfect films can make perfect cinema trips.

Caitlin Quinlan

NEW: Menus-Plaisirs—Les Troisgros (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA) + OLD: Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (Les Blank, 1980)

Robert Rubsam

NEW: Stonewalling (Ryuji Otsuka & Huang Ji, China) + OLD: Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964)

Dan Schindel

NEW: Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki, Japan) + OLD: Pulgasari (Shin Sang-ok, 1985)

Two monster movies grappling in very different ways with the legacy of the greatest movie monster, produced under vastly divergent material conditions and circumstances. On the one hand, a contemporary Japanese blockbuster that revisits the postwar setting of the original Godzilla with a new, more jaundiced eye toward what the Empire asked of its people. On the other, a passion project of Kim Jong-il, directed under duress by a captured filmmaker. Two views of the legacy of the Empire of Japan (with a little bit of Cold War America's influence over the region), two different conceptions of a rampaging monster—Godzilla as an implacable, rapacious force of nature vs. Pulgasari as a people's champion turned weapon out of control. What unites the two is a touching faith in people's collective power to overcome obstacles and survive.

Michael Sicinski

NEW: A Respectable Woman (Bernard Émond, 2023) + OLD: Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)

With these hypothetical pairings, it’s usually the case that the contemporary film is a bit more widely seen than this older one. In this case, the reverse is undoubtedly true. Bernard Émond is a veteran Quebecois director whose works used to sometimes turn up in the “Masters” section at the Toronto International Film Festival. That’s where I discovered him. That section, renamed “Luminaries,” is now more of a subcategory. Regardless, I don’t know exactly why A Respectable Woman, the best film from 2023, has fallen into total limbo, and I hope that it receives some play dates in 2024.

Meshes is a film you probably know, and if not, you can easily find it online. A 13-minute psychodrama, it depicts the inner turmoil of a wife (played by Deren herself) who is experiencing estrangement from her husband (Hammid), beginning to perceive their shared home as a house of horrors. Deren’s character divides herself into multiple versions of herself, and eventually dies either by murder or suicide. It’s a portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but one that affords her ever greater clarity.

There is no interior retreat for the heroine of A Respectable Woman, and the home invasion she experiences is all too real. Set in Trois-Rivières, QC, during the Great Depression, Rose (Hélène Florent) is living an isolated life of relative comfort. The daughter of an industrialist, she is a pillar of her community, admired from afar but also regarded with some suspicion Many years ago, her husband Paul-Émile (Martin Debreuil) ran away with a younger mistress, started his own family, and yet they never formally divorced. Rose has adjusted to this solitary life, but is then approached by her two closest acquaintances, her financial manager (Normand Canac-Marquis) and her priest (Paul Savoie), who inform her that her husband is penniless and needs her help.

Paul-Émile’s mistress Mary (Marilou Moran) is dying of tuberculosis, and soon the couple’s three young daughters will be both motherless and destitute. Rose, faced with an untenable situation, does something almost unthinkable. She agrees to let her husband and his children move in with her, presenting herself as a loving “aunt.” The reasons behind her decision to take the family in are never made explicit, but Florent’s delicate performance conveys a host of mixed emotions. While some part of her still cares for Paul-Émile, she rejects him absolutely.

Although her outward behavior suggests piousness and generosity, we also see a passive-aggressive streak. She not only wants to show Paul-Émile the life he gave up, but clearly aims to provide the girls a better mother than they had before. Her imitation of Christ has a cold, judgmental streak, even as she treats the three girls with genuine affection. We never know for certain whether the wife in Meshes is indeed being menaced by her husband, but Émond’s film articulates a wife’s forcible conscription into duties that are in no way her own. Refusing to be a victim or to reveal the pain of this unbidden echo from the past, Rose chooses to forge ahead, hardening herself into a kind of patrician phantom, haunting her own existence.

Josh Slater-Williams

NEW: Priscilla (Sofia Coppola, USA/Italy) + OLD: Memories of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2006)

Portraits of women caught up in cycles of abuse and neglect, relegated to suffer in return for whatever love they may try to give. One rooted in real life, the other fictional. One a literal musical, the other scored and soundtracked like only a Sofia Coppola film can be. One as “minimalist” as a film about the Presleys can possibly be, the other a maximalist marvel. The respective textures and atmospheres feel like the films are generating coping mechanisms for the protagonists while you watch them. Priscilla is the antithesis of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, while Memories of Matsuko is like if a post-1990s Baz Luhrmann film was actually good.

Christopher Small

NEW: This Closeness (Kit Zauhar, USA) + OLD: Two Wives (Yasuzo Masumura, 1967)

Best melodramas of 2023. Proof that the greatest cinema still mostly exists on the fringes. A screening of Kit Zauhar’s new film at our cinema in Prague, to a packed audience a couple of months after its underhyped SXSW premiere, was one of the major cinephilic and emotional highlights of the year for me. Same goes for my own screening of an .mkv of Masumura’s film to myself in my living room: a masterpiece as great as any other he made. Discoveries like these are why we keep plodding along, doing what we do.

NEW: Notes on Eremocene (Viera Čákanyová, Slovakia) + OLD: Dance, Voldo, Dance (Chris Brandt, 2002)

Digital futures past. Two key experiments in digital puppetry and with the artificial paintbrush that look and feel like nothing else. Best needle drops of 2023.

NEW: Mad Fate (Cheung Soi, Hong Kong) + OLD: The Black Pit of Dr. M (Fernando Méndez, 1959)

Mad fate, mad cinema. This kind of thing should be the bread and butter of contemporary filmmaking, but isn't. Proof we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.

Imogen Sara Smith

NEW: Evil Does Not Exist (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan) + OLD: Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)

Disquieting and enigmatic, Hamaguchi’s new film starts as an eco-parable satirizing corporate greed and urbanites’ back-to-nature fantasies but morphs into something much stranger, laced with poetry and horror. The last section plays out like some fragmentary folk legend, inexplicable but spellbinding. The setting of snowbound woods, icy ponds, and rustic cabins could hardly be more different from the windswept emptiness of the Castilian plain in Spirit of the Beehive, or the melancholy grandeur of the family’s crumbling villa. But beyond certain trivial plot similarities (both films involve fathers walking in the woods with their daughters, warning them about dangerous plants; and both climax with the search for a young girl who has gone missing), these films conjure spirits and shudders of enchantment with the simplest images and effects—a lap dissolve, a traveling shot, a play of light. Specters appear when woodsmoke drifts across the setting sun or moonlight spills through panes of glass. We are allowed to glimpse the uncanny place where childhood innocence consorts with death and the unnamable mysteries of nature.

Öykü Sofuoğlu

NEW: Our Body (Claire Simon, France) + OLD: MURDER and murder (Yvonne Rainer, 1996)

It seems like I just can't get enough of films about illnesses and hospitals in my double bills, but this is how I cope with my troublesome body. Just like me, who introduces their health into the completely unrelated context of fantasy film programming, both Simon and Rainer appear in their films as themselves—but in rather unexpected and surprising ways. Simon, who first attempts to film other patients in the hospital through a conventionally distanced manner, suddenly lays herself bare—not only to the audience, but also to the medical institution she ventured to explore in the first place. When she is diagnosed with breast cancer, Simon radiates with fragility and an honest fear that is completely understandable for a patient at the beginning of their treatment. Rainer, on the other hand, appears in her metafictional narrative as a modern Amazon warrior, a survivor who proudly carries her scarred chest from the battle she fought against herself. Thoughts can be murderous but fantasies don’t kill, says Rainer. And this is a double fantasy dedicated to healing, nourished by this unavoidable death drive. 

NEW: Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, USA/UK/Ireland) + OLD: Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

Destructive and unhinged women who use sex and food as weapons against stupid rich men will save us (and perhaps the arthouse cinema as well).

NEW: Menus-Plaisirs—Les Troisgros (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA) + OLD: Genèse d'un repas (Luc Moullet, 1979)

Laura Staab

NEW: La chimera (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/France) + OLD: Il dialogo di Roma (Marguerite Duras, 1982) + OLD: La Montagne infidèle (Jean Epstein, 1923)

Italy as a place of love, mythology, ruin, of crumbling strata with visible but unknowable secrets beneath. 

NEW: Afire (Christian Petzold, Germany) + OLD: Everyone Else (Maren Ade, 2009)

Summer holidays in the vein of the list above—but with the misfortunate addition of the male artist’s ego. 

Elissa Suh

Elissa Suh

NEW: Barbie (Greta Gerwig, USA) + OLD: One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder, 1961)

Failures of art and triumphs of commerce. A slick advertisement clobbering you with jokes.

NEW: Passages (Ira Sachs, France) + OLD: Hackers (Iain Softley, 1995)

Exceptional day-to-night raiments, androgynous mixed-materials partywear.

NEW: The Killer (David Fincher, USA)  + OLD:Ape (Joel Potrykus, 2012) 

A hard day's night.

Matthew Thrift

NEW: Menus-Plaisirs—Les Troisgros (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA) + OLD: La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991)

Two four-hour procedurals that anatomize the creative workflow. One a documentary, the other a work of fiction. The protagonists of both are engaged in a dance, but while Wiseman finds a simpatico relationship to the orderly, collaborative hierarchies of the ballet (well, of course), Rivette stages a battle of wills with a pas de deux steeped in the violence of Tango.

NEW: Ferrari (Michael Mann, USA/UK/Italy/China) + OLD: The Crowd Roars (Howard Hawks, 1932)

Michael Mann is one of the great inheritors of the Hawksian mode. Resurrecting The Crowd Roars’s raceway assaults, Ferrari matches the earlier film’s ideological dictum—that you’re only as good as the job you do—while similarly engulfing its obstinate glory hunters in a blaze of fire and fury.

NEW: Close Your Eyes (Victor Erice, Spain/Argentina) + OLD: Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)

A pair of digital matryoshka dolls from two masters of the form. One finds an answer to its mysteries through an exhumation of the cinematic past, the other only disillusionment in its endlessly refractive hall of mirrors.

Matt Turner

NEW: Rebranded Mickey Mouse (Conner O'Malley, USA) + OLD: Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, 1928)

“I've been in the woods for the last five months creating a new, darker, rebranded version of Mickey Mouse that’s just for millennials and Gen X, Gen Z ... the new generation [...] I wanna take him and turn him from a mouse into a rat, put him in a cage and see what he's made of, spit him out to the world as a demon, a devil, a bastard and a hellfucker. I want him to come up from hell and fuck an angel and I want that angel to give birth to a Mickey Mouse." 

Genevieve Yue

NEW: Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet, France) + OLD: Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992)

I accidentally did this double feature last week, and it really works! Two films about writers who maybe don't kill a person the way they describe it in their books.

Kit Zauhar

NEW: Fair Play (Chloe Dumont, USA) + OLD: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Doug Liman, 2005)

I'm freaking obsessed with movies about dysfunctional couples, and this gem is no exception. It won big at Sundance but then got sucked up into the black hole of Netflix's infinite queue, but go look for it, please. I've even semi-teasingly referred to Fair Play as "my Joker" (when I saw it in theaters it was just a few older women and I, and we spent the majority of the screening whooping and hollering). It's sexy, cathartic, and a surprisingly prescient and nuanced character study of the fragile-ego'd finance bro. When Mr. and Mrs. Smith first came out it left a similarly potent mixture of arousal/brutality/a strong desire to kick a guy's ass in my prepubescent brain. Also elegant and hot as hell, also a lively and intense sparring match between two halves of a very capable and power-hungry whole, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is what I can only imagine to be the ostentatious and ridiculous fantasy of the scorned lovers in Fair Play: a literally explosive depiction of two people fighting for what they want and think they deserve, with only the person they love (?) standing in their way. 

NEW: Superposition (Karoline Lyngbye, Denmark) + OLD: Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1974)

See note above about dysfunctional couples. Here, quantum mechanics, doppelgängers, and attractive and self-absorbed academics who are definitely ruining their children's lives all converge in the magical land of Sweden. 

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