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MUBI Special

“Perfect Failures” is a joint curatorial collaboration between MUBI and Fondazione Prada to spotlight films that were widely misunderstood upon their original release. Whether box office flops or critical disappointments; a shocking divergence from a beloved artist or burdened with a difficult production; or whether a film ahead of (or ingeniously behind) its time, this selection serves to prove that a movie’s original reception is not the final word on its true value. With added time, new contexts, and distance between us and the contemporaneous expectations and buzz, we are better equipped to look back at what was once met with confusion, dismissal, or revulsion and proudly claim: This is great cinema.

Showgirls

Paul Verhoeven United States, 1995

In the tradition of the subversive melodramas of Douglas Sirk, Paul Verhoeven’s satire of American materialism and showbiz was widely misunderstood in its day, but is, in some circles, considered to be one of the greatest films of the 90s. It’s high time to rediscover this modern classic!

Passion

Brian De Palma France, 2012

The New Hollywood maestro’s work is always ripe for reevaluation, from his celebrated films to the sorely maligned. This feverish, Hitchcockian corporate hall of mirrors, packed with intoxicating rivalry and eroticism, has proven to be one of the latter—and yet is as masterful as anything he’s done.

Fedora

Billy Wilder France, 1978

Almost 30 years after Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder reunited with William Holden for this spiritual sequel: another self-reflexive stare-down with Hollywood revolving around a fading star—modelled on Garbo, Swanson, Dietrich, and Monroe. A farewell to a lost era, both sun-drenched and nightmarish.

Night Moves

Kelly Reichardt United States, 2013

An eco-thriller made by delicate and observant director Kelly Reichardt may have been a too unusual mix of genre and sensibility upon the film’s release. In retrospect, this haunting character study forgoes genre twists for simmering tension—emboldened by its astonishing cast led by Jesse Eisenberg.

Southland Tales

Richard Kelly United States, 2006

Richard Kelly’s much-anticipated but fiercely lambasted follow-up to Donnie Darko has rapidly achieved modern cult status overwriting the critics baffled by the film’s exuberant, Pynchon-esque satire of a near-future America. 14 years later, the prescience of Kelly’s madcap vision is breathtaking.

A Countess from Hong Kong

Charlie Chaplin United Kingdom, 1967

Working with stars—Brando! Loren!—and in colour for the first time, Chaplin revived the soul of silent cinema & screwball comedy in this much maligned cry for modernity. The slapstick genius’ deceptively old-fashioned swansong is strange and sophisticated: we wish all failures were this fascinating.

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