Monday, June 27, 2011


I've never done drugs before in my life (outside of the legal drugs that keep my uncle's kidney from rejecting my body), so i have no reference to stuff like heroine and cocaine, but still, i can only describe watching Elem Klimov's Tarkovsky's inspired masterpiece; 'Come and See' as the cinematic equivalent of doing coke & heroine at the same time. The film mixes intensity (cocaine) with a trippy atmosphere (heroine) that gives an unsettling and disoriented feeling that'll leave you thinking about it long after you've watched it (at least that's how i feel every time i watch it). And what makes the film even more disorienting is its experimental soundtrack that mixes up-beat classic music, random creepy vocal samples and synthesizers. There's plenty of non-violent (or minimal violent) war films ranging from 'dr. strangelove' to 'overlord', but 'Come and See' might be one of the few great VIOLENT anti-war films around. In 'Come and See', 14 year old "Florya" is drafted in to the Russian army during WW2. Whats odd is that he's actually quite eager to go. After he gets caught in the middle of an air raid, an explosion temporarily deafens him. As the film goes on and our 14 year old protagonist witnesses the horrors of war firsthand (the slaughter of his family and the wrath of the nazi's to be specific), he slowly loses his mind. Not only does the audience experience war from the perspective of a such a young character, be we also get a non-American/non-Jewish perspective about Nazi's which isn't exactly rare, but it isn't very common for Americans either. There's so many scenes in the film where you feel like Florya is going to have a nervous breakdown and literally explode. In one scene, made even more intense thanks to the soundtrack, Florya tries his best to suppress the fact that his family has been killed. When he finally comes to accept it, he pretty much loses his mind for a short period of time. And what he experiences and sees in the last 30-40 minutes of the film alone (the nazi's slaughtering innocent women and children by locking them in a giant barn and setting it on fire) is enough to to drive anyone insane. I'm surprised the young first time lead actor didn't have a real nervous breakdown playing this part. From never acting in your life, to being cast as the lead in one of the most physically and mentally draining film ever must take a toll on you. In fact, the actor who played Florya stated that when the film was finished, he went back to school with grey hairs. There's also a lot of crazy rumors surrounding the making of the film like real bullets being used in a gun during one scene and actors literally having to be hypnotized in order to get through the filming of other scenes. I don't know about that (sounds like a "herzog pulling a gun on klaus kinski"-type rumor), but i imagine the making of this film must have taken a lot out of everyone involved, much like another classic war film did to its cast & crew: 'Apocolypse Now'. In fact, Elem Klimov didn't make another film after 'Come & See'
Tarkovsky's influence is all over 'Come and See'. From Florya's mother's dramatic plea for him not to join the army (which is right out of the beginning of 'Stalker' where we see the main characters wife pleading with him not to leave) to the awesome steady cam style that 'Come and See' is shot in which is reminiscent of the camera work in 'The Mirror'. 'Come and See' is just one of the many modern Russian films that proves how influential Andrei Tarkovsky really is (see '4', 'The Ascent' or just about anything by Alexander Sokurov for further examples of his influence).

Anyone who reads this blog should know that a good portion of the movies i talk about on here fall in to the "coming of age" genre (the spirit of the beehive, u.s. go home, ratcatcher, george washington, etc).  But out of all the films that i just mentioned, 'Come and See' is the only coming of age tale where the young main character not only changes internally (like ana in spirit of the beehive or martine in u.s go home), but externally as well. In the short period of time that this film covers, our 14 year old main character goes from looking like this at the beginning of the film... THIS by the very end of the film due to the stress that the war has had on him. He looks like an old man trapped in the body of a teenager equip with wrinkles on his face and disgusting bags under his eyes. It almost looks like a different actor. Through out the film, our young main character witnesses mass murder, rape, goes deaf and finds his entire village murdered. Naturally that's gonna transform someone, especially someone so young.
And speaking of faces, the many close-up shots of the characters in 'Come and See' always express some deep intense agony or some deep polarizing stare directly in to the camera. Part of whats so great about the performances in the film is that the actors don't always have to rely on words to convey their message. Just a simple look gets the point across in many cases...

The imagery in 'Come and See' is pretty unique and kinda random for a war film. In the midst of the all violence and chaos, Klimov makes it a point to focus the camera on random shit like an attractive female Nazi officer eating something very sexually. She seems completely out of place, but the way she looks at the camera kinda hypnotizes the viewer, and you cant help but stare at her (at least i cant)...
The same thing goes Klimov's focus on animals through out the film. He makes it a point to show these little animals that have absolutely nothing to do with war, but just like the sexy female nazi officer, it catches our attention. I mean really, how random is it that during a mass murder the camera focuses on a Nazi General having an intimate moment with his pet or a close-up of a cow's eye rolling around in its head after its been murdered?

And like any war film there's a lot of disturbing and haunting imagery. But 'Come and See' kinda goes a little further than stuff like 'Saving Private Ryan' or even 'Full Metal Jacket'. From the shot of the young Russian girl with blood running down her legs after she's been raped, or the quick shot of Florya's entire village stacked up behind his house like pieces of wood after they've been killed, and of course the iconic scene of the film where, amidst all the madness, a group of Nazi's stop to take a picture with a gun (that supposedly had real bullets in it so that the actors would be more tense as the scene was shot) pointed at Florya's head...

Here's 2 of my favorite scenes from 'Come and See'. In the first clip, notice how odd the music is that the girl is dancing too. I think this scene best represents the films "trippy" qualities that i was talking about earlier...

And in this scene, pay attention to not only the great steady cam cinematography, but Florya's slow assention in to madness and how the scene builds up as he tries to deny the fact that his family (and the rest of his village) have all been killed (sorry, no english subtitles, but this DVD is not difficult to find).


It almost slipped my mind that this was one of criterion's new releases. These days it seems like the criterion collection is focusing more on re-releasing a bunch of titles many of us buyers already own, except THIS time around they're on blu-ray. Sorry, but that's hardly anything to get excited about. However, the criterion collection's release of Louis Malle's 'Zazie Dans Le Metro' IS something to get excited about. Louis Malle is no stranger to working with children. He always seems to get great performances out his young actors (Murmur of the heart, Au Revoir Les Enfants, Black Moon, etc). In my opinion, Malle's most iconic child performance would have to be from 10 year old Catherine Demongeot who played the precocious title character in 'Zazie DansLe Metro'. Its almost a shame she never went on to become an adult actress. Her debut performance in 'Zazie Dans Le Metro' was fearless. She seemed to have a natural acting ability that went way beyond just being a cute child (which is something as we all know a lot of child actors get away with). Her performance in the film is more "tatum o'neal in paper moon" than it is an "Olsen twins/full house" performance. She has these facial expressions and mannerisms that you'd expect from an adult yet they don't seem forced or fake at all. What sets "Zazie" apart from her peers like; Antoine Doinel ('400 Blows'), Suzanne ('A Nos Amours'), Francois (The Naked Childhood) or pretty much the entire cast of Truffaut's 'Small Change' is that even at her young age (10), she seems to have the whole world figured out, whereas the other characters previously mentioned have some growing to do. Zazie seems like an adult trapped in a kids body. Furthermore, she doesn't seem to let her dysfunctional family life (which pretty much consists of a careless mother) get to her. She has more than the average energy and curiosity of a typical 10 year old, the spunk and know-how of an old lady and the language of a young adult (although sometimes its obvious she's just repeating words and phrases that she's heard adults say).
'Zazie Dans Le Metro' not only draws comparison to the french films I've already mentioned, but it also has a strong connection to 'Mon Oncle'. Both films not only have the same playfulness and quirky/surreal humor as one another, but they both revolve around the relationship between a child and their uncle. In the film, Zazie's mother dumps her off with her cross-dressing uncle for 2 days, while she goes off to spend time with her new boyfriend. Instead of letting the fact that her mother has dumped her off her with an uncle she's never met before get her down, she makes the best of it by ditching him and going off on her own adventure through Paris. She has a fascination with trains, and desperately wants to ride the subway, but there's currently a strike going on so she has to find other modes of transportation through Paris. In Zazie's short time in the city, we see her steal, climb the Eiffel tower, run alongside building roof tops, and pretty much play a big game of hide & seek through Paris with all the different adults she crosses paths with.

Both adults and little kids can enjoy this. Naturally a child will relate to the title character, and enjoy watching her get in & out of trouble with her iconic and easy to spot bright red sweater reminiscent of "where's waldo?", while adults will appreciate some of the more grown-up themes in the film which would probably go over a child's head. This is one of Malle's more experimental films. Many times, the camera speed goes from normal to fast, similar to the Benny Hill montages when he's being chased around (and please understand that that's the ONLY comparison the film has to Benny Hill. 'Zazie Dans Le Metro' is much better and funnier). Also, when you watch this, you can clearly see where a director like Michel Gondry may have gotten inspiration for stuff like 'The Science Of Sleep' and 'Human Nature'. Its more and more difficult to find movies for little kids to watch outside of pixar & disney. I wouldn't recommend this for a 4 or 5 year old, but id try 'Zazie Dans Le Metro' out on kid that's 9 years old or older.

and be sure to check out these classic french films in the similar vein of Zazie if you havent. The vibe is a bit more serious in these films (although 'Small Change' has plenty of humor), but they all fall under the same family.

Friday, June 24, 2011


While many classic love stories take about 2 hours to get their point across, Aki Kaurismaki does it in just over an hour. Calling a minimal style, straight forward story with the basic premise of; "boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back" a MASTERPIECE is a bold statement, but i stand by it. 'Shadows In Paradise' is the first part in Kaurismaki's "Proletariat Trilogy" (a series of Bresson-inspired romantic dark comedies that focus on the Finnish working class). In the film, "Nikander" (played by Kaurismaki regular; Matti Pellonpää) is a lonely garbageman who immediately falls in love with a grocery store employee named "Ilona" (played by another Kaurismaki regular; Kati Outinen) after she bandages a cut on his wrist. Eventually he builds up the courage to ask her out, but 30 minutes in to their date (he takes her to play bingo) she decides a relationship between them wont work and she leaves. Around the same time, Nikander is about to go in to an independent business venture with his friend & fellow garbageman "Tayokaveri". These plans are put to rest when Tayokaveri suddenly drops dead on the job. The death of his friend combined with the rejection from the woman he loves puts Nikander in a dark place, and he finds himself in jail after a drunken rage (this scene stands out quite a bit, because by this point in the film we know that this type of behavior is out of the norm for a quiet guy like him).
Like Nikander, Ilona is just as lonely and has a job that's not exactly "glamorous" either. She's also very shy and has a dry personality. Like so many other female leads in Kaurismaki's films, Kati Outinen looks very "plain" and homely at the start of the film. We only see her around drab/flat-looking colors (like the colors in the grocery story at the beginning of the film where Nikander first sees her). But as the movie goes on, she looks more and more attractive. We start too notice the color of her eyes, her hair and even her freckles. She barely smiles through most of the film. Showing an emotion like happiness is a slow progression for Ilona that we see more and more as the film goes on. When we first see Ilona working at the supermarket, the most we get out of her is a super quick, yet sincere, smirk that she gives Nikander when she sees how genuinely nervous he is around her, and she's obviously touched by it. As most of us know, Kaurismaki's actors have a dry deadpan delivery similar to the actors in Bresson's movies. If someone was looking for the perfect example of "Kaurismaki-style acting", I'd use Kati Outinen's performance in 'Shadows In Paradise'. Like Nikander, Ilona falls on tough times. After she's fired from her job for a bullshit reason, she steals money from her boss, and goes on the run without a place to hide out. Since she has no friends, Nikander (who she just rejected a few days ago) is the only person who can help her. He not only helps Ilona hide out, but he manages to sneak in to her old job and put the money back just in time before Ilona can be blamed for it. Because he helped her out in a tough situation, she feels somewhat obligated to give him another shot, and the 2 main characters have another go at a relationship. Over dinner, Nikander opens himself up to Ilona, and actually charms her. In this scene we see Ilona smile for the 2nd time. Eventually she moves in with him, and things seem to be going great...for the time being...

Nikander & Ilona:
I've never been to Helsinki but I'm willing to bet there's better places to take a girl on a first date besides bingo. Their first date always reminded me of  Travis & Betsy's date in 'Taxi Driver'. Sure Nikander didn't bring Ilona to a porno theater like Travis did with Betsy, but a bingo parlor is just as inappropriate. Realizing that Nikander is a "dud", Ilona lets him down nicely, but its not the last they'll see of each other...
This has always been my favorite scene. We've all been in that situation where someone you're attracted too or have a crush on does something nice for you (in this case bandage up a cut) and our attraction to that person grows. Ilona notices the cut on Nikander's wrists, and without hesitation offers to clean it for him even though she doesn't even know him. After only 5 minutes of knowing each other, the 2 main characters have an intimate moment...
Realizing she judged Nikander too soon, she gives him another chance ...

Ilona Opens Up...slowly:
As you can see in all the other images of Ilona/Kati Outinen in this blog entry, her face is pretty blank and emotionless. This is an accurate representation of how she acts for most of the film (along with just about every other actor as well). Sure Nikander doesn't smile AT ALL in the film, but in most films its a common thing for the female co-star to mindlessly smile and act feminine. However, by the end of the film she gives the audience a genuine smile, which ends up being one of the most memorable moments. In 'Shadows In Paradise', you have this suspicion in the back of your head that not only could Ilona just be a cold bitch, but she could also be using Nikander. And anyone who's a fan of Kaurismaki should know that he loves to show male leads as clueless fools or schmucks that fall for women (like the main character in 'lights in the dusk'). But Kaurismaki carefully places the few scenes where Ilona smiles & smirks to remind us that she's actually a good person. She's just kinda insecure. In the film, there are 4 key smiles (and possibly the only smile) that we get from Ilona which indicate that she's opening up more and more...

1). At the very beginning of the film, she quickly smiles at Nikander as he fumbles and drops money on the floor in her presence (and then immediately turns her face back to stone). Its true that woman love confidence in men, but at the same time they obviously like a guy who's sincere and isn't afraid to show how scared or nervous he is.
2). The next time we see Ilona smile again isn't until 30 minutes or so in to the film after Nikander has already been rejected by her. Because he can now act like himself around her, he lets his guard down and he makes her smile intentionally. Only this time he wins her over...
3). Once the 2 leads are comfortable in their relationship, we see her smile again when Nikander takes her out to get her hair done...
4). And at the very end of the film when they leave together and live happily ever after, we see the most genuine smile from her in the entire film (in my opinion)...
*there is one debatable scene where she kinda half smirks at Nikander before they have sex, but i don't count that. Generally speaking, other than the 4 scenes indicated above, Ilona has a very "cold" face all through out the film.

Even though 'Shadows In Paradise' is a (dark) comedy, there are still some pretty sad moments. Kaurismaki really drives home how lonely our 2 main characters are before falling in love with each other. In one scene, we see Ilona go out to a club but its as if she's not even there. Guys come by her table and ask her friends to dance, yet no one asks her (as you can see in the picture below, her friend on the left is getting ready to get up and dance with someone, and her friend on the right is having a conversation with someone off camera while she just sits there). 
And almost any scene that takes place in Nikander's apartment is pretty sad too. Its usually just him in a darkly lit room sitting by himself.

In any relationship there are obstacles. Eventually the honeymoon period between Nikander and Ilona wears off and a few negative elements try to come between them, putting their love to the test. In one scene, Ilona watches Nikander do the dishes, and we get this feeling that she's become bored with him. There's also another man (her new boss) who tries to move in on her. He has more money, is better looking and he's able to get in to restaurants that Nikander couldn't get in to. With Nikander, jealousy and the influence from his new friend turn him in to a mean and possessive person. But we've already gotten to know the real Nikander earlier on in the film, so we don't take this side of him seriously. Insecurity is the major problem with both characters. Its pretty clear that they both have self esteem issues. Even at the beginning when Nikander's friend sees him headed to his first date carrying flowers for Iliona, and he asks what they're for, Nikander says the flowers are for his brother who has just graduated. Why would Nikander lie about going on a date? Is it because she's a checkout girl at a grocery store? Is he worried that people may not find her attractive enough? In another scene, Nikander visits Ilona at work on his break, wearing his garbage uniform. She's embarrassed and quickly meets him at the door, and her body language clearly says she doesn't want him to come in. After he leaves, and her boss asks who he was, she says it was her brother. This creates tension in the house, and Ilona takes a break from Nikander and actually goes on a date with her boss. She immediately discovers that her boss is a sleazy guy and she regrets her decision. For the remainder of the film, we watch Nikander as he tries to win Ilona back.
'Shadows In Paradise' is part of an "eclipse series" box set by criterion, featuring the other 2 films in the Proletariat trilogy ('Ariel' & 'Match Factory Girl'). For a director who comes off like a very stern & serious person (as you'll see in the video below), this film is truly touching.
Fans of Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley and the movie 'Dogtooth' will like this a lot.


Peter Falk, an icon of both Television and Film, has passed away today. May he rest in piece. Now, instead of flooding facebook with a bunch of youtube clips one after another like I usually do when someone I admire dies, I figured I'd put them all in this one blog entry and not annoy my facebook friends who don't share the same feelings I do for Mr. Falk.
Surprisingly enough, almost all of my favorite movie clips of his are on youtube (but the clips from 'Wing Of Desire' are pretty slim). And I didn't really watch 'Columbo' (although i do obviously realize that's what he'll always be known for), so I'd feel like a fraud posting a bunch of clips from a TV show that I didn't really know.
And I realize that we've lost a lot of important actors & artists in 2011 so far (most notably Elizabeth Taylor) and I haven't made a blog entry about them, but due to Peter Falk's life-long connection to John Cassavetes (one of my all time favorite directors who I constantly mention on this blog) this passing holds a little more importance to me.


Here it is! The trailer for David Cronenberg's latest film. There may not be any exploding heads or talking insect typewriters, but lets not forget that this is the same director who's responsible for straight forward, non-gory films like 'M Butterfly' & 'Dead Ringers' (except for that one scene), which are both based on true events like 'A Dangerous Method'. I look forward to seeing this at TIFF this year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Hopefully you guys have been checking out my reviews for the flud watches website in addition to this blog (links for recent flud reviews are on the right, or click the "flud reviews tag" on the right as well). The content from the old flud website is gone, but thankfully i saved everything, so here's the third installment of older reviews that aren't up anymore. And make sure to check out the new flud site if you haven't already...

‘Let Me In’ is not as bad as everyone wants it to be. Trust me, I was one of the people that wanted this movie to be bad so I could say; “told you so”, but just like; ‘Solaris’, ‘The Beat My Heart Skipped’ (a remake of James Toback’s ‘Fingers’) and a small handful of others, I cant deny how solid the remake of ‘Let The Right One In’ is. Although ‘Let Me In’ may not be as good as the first one, it still retains the spirit of the original version: The story of a lonely boy that becomes friends with a mysterious vampire girl and the “complicated” relationship between her and her ‘father’. The American remake is more of a horror movie, whereas the original Swedish version is pretty much an art house drama with a few isolated scenes of gore & violence here & there. The American remake has more of a traditional horror movie soundtrack (tense, dramatic strings that build up to an obvious vampire attack), way more blood, and (like most remakes) there are some parts of the original that were left out in the remake. The biggest contrast between the original and the remake is how its shot. Specifically the lighting of each film. Because the remake is made to be more of a traditional horror movie, the look of the movie is very dark. It seemed like most of the scenes took place at night. This is a HUGE contrast to the original which is very bright and makes great use of the snowy landscape. The bright white look of the original accentuates the bloody scenes. No matter what, this is not only the best movie playing in regular movie theaters at the moment, its one of the best American horror movies I’ve seen in a while. ‘Let Me In’ is WAY better than anything ‘Paranormal Activity’ or ‘SAW’ could ever be. Not only am I surprised this remake turned out good, but this movie came from the director as that headache of a movie; ‘Cloverfield’. As you can tell from the trailer of ‘Let Me In’, the style of film making is almost night and day from ‘Cloverfield’. Bottom line, this movie has everything. Horror, good acting (especially on the part of Chloe Morentz as the vampire), and most importantly it actually has style which makes the movie stand out from a lot of American Horror movies of today. And still, even you see ‘Let Me In’ first, I highly suggest checking out the original Swedish version.

The Kids Are Alright is another one of the few American dramadies that doesn’t totally steal from Todd Solondz (a director who’s genius everyone is going to realize long after hes dead) and his more popular films like; Welcome To The Dollhouse and Happiness. I haven’t been a fan of Director: Lisa Cholodenk. In fact, I thought her highly praised directorial debut; High Art was pretty awful. I think she’s finally come around with her third film. In The Kids Are Alright, a brother and sister raised by two lesbians, played by Annette Benning and Julianne Moore (who are currently having some typical marital problems), look to find their biological father. After tracking him down, not only do they hit it off, but they even form somewhat of a bond. However, the new addition of the children’s biological father in to their lives doesn't sit well with one of the mothers. Eventually, the marital problems that Moore and Benning are having come to major head-on collision and their relationship is put to the test. This is one of the few American films with 2 gay characters where the homosexuality isn’t “the issue” of the film (something German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was doing decades ago). In fact, Gus Van Sant is the only active American director I can think of that does this. This movie has a perfect blend of humor, tolerable quirkiness and drama reminiscent of early 90’s sundance films like Tom Noonan’sWhat Happened Was…, The Opposite of Sex and Hal Hartley’s Trust (3 movies worth seeing if you haven’t). For an American film centered around a family, this is a pretty progressive film. The few films that portray gay couples raising kids is usually something to be poked fun at. I think choosing a gay female couple was the best thing to do. I don’t think most audiences would be able to take this movie serious with 2 men as the main characters. Benning and Moore are two of the best American actresses out right now, and were perfectly cast. I couldn’t see the leads played by anyone else (well, maybe Katherine Keener and Jennifer Jason Leigh). This may be the year that Annette Benning finally wins an academy award.


We have a new cult movie on our hands in the form of “Black Dynamite”. Not only does this movie follow in the footsteps of “Im Gonna Get You, Sucka”, but it even gives it a run for its money. Micahel Jai White plays a collage of Jim Kelly from “enter the dragon” mixed with Fred Williamson and Jim Brown, mixed with Richard Roundtree from “Shaft” in a parody on blaxploitation movies. Finally Quentin Tarantinto’s influence rubs of in a POSITIVE way, and not in a Guy Richie kinda way. Lets be honest, ever since Pulp Fiction came out, aren't you tired of the endless remakes ranging from 2 days in the Valley and Lock, Stock… to Amores Perros and Smokin Aces? My one and only criticism is something that i didn't even realize but was brought to my attention from a friend i saw the movie with. There could have been two movies made out of Black Dynamite, but they crammed a lot in to one film. Based off of what i saw in the first half of the movie alone, i would've signed up to see a sequel right away. In Black Dynamite, the title character tries to avenge his brothers death, deal with the drug problem that's infecting the youth in the community and solve a crime that involves malt liquor that carries a secret ingredient. Not only does he battle the local pimps in his neighborhood, but his adventures take him to “kung-fu island” and eventually all the way to the white house to battle Richard Nixon in a numchuck battle. The best thing about “Black Dynamite” is that you don't have to be familiar with blaxploitation films at all to enjoy the movie.
Now...that doesn't mean you don't have to get familiar with the genre. Sure there's a lot of silly shit in the realm of blaxploitation (which is an element that black dynamite pokes fun at), but there''s also some very entertaining movies in the genre too. Furthermore, blaxploitation has produced some of the most iconic poster designs and scores/soundtracks, which you can clearly see all through Black Dynamite.

Monday, June 20, 2011


If you aren't sick of all the recent Tree Of Life/Terrence Malick-related posts on my blog yet, check out this email correspondence between myself and the guys over at the on their website. It's a 4-way conversation between 1 person who hates the film and isnt that fond of Malick either (chris funderberg), 1 person who loves the film and Malick (eric pfriender) and 2 people who are kind of on the fence about the film, but do like Malick (john cribbs & myself). Between doing this, i actually saw the film one more time.
No matter what you have to say about Tree Of Life, it does have people talking.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN: from Persona to Black Swan (and everything else in between)

These days I come across a lot of people who call Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan' "original". They act like its something they've never seen before. Although i do think that 'Black Swan' is pretty good, I wouldn't go so far as to call it original (even Aronofsky himself sited Polanski many times as a huge inspiration in the making of 'Black Swan'). Lets take a look at some of the subconscious cinematic influences that went in to Aronofsky's film (If you take anything away from this blog entry, at least treat it as a list of movie suggestions for people who like 'Black Swan').

'Persona' (1966)
It's no mystery that 'Persona' laid the seeds for many psychological thrillers. It inspired everything from 'dont look back' (which features a scene where we see the faces of the 2 female leads super-imposed over each other just like the classic scene in 'Persona') to 'Black Swan'. Even films like 'Mulholland Drive' got elements of their plot directly from 'Persona' (an actress or artistic woman breaking down, going insane or switching identities with another woman). 'Persona' is easily one of the most influential films of all time, with some of the most iconic imagery in film (which is commonly associated with "arthouse"). Many of the shots in 'Persona' are used as a metaphor for identity or loss of identity, which is essentially what the film is about. And like so many other films I'm going to mention, it plays on that "lipstick lesbian" fantasy that many men have (even if Bergman meant to or not). The scene when Ullman slaps Andersson is VERY sexual.

'3 Women' (1977)
Robert Altman has admitted that his film '3 Women' was partially inspired by 'Persona' (the rest was inspired by a dream). Just like Persona, '3 Woman' is another film about the loss of identity and women with 2 different personalities who eventually switch roles. At the beginning of the film, "Pinky" (Sissy Spacek) is shy and almost childlike, and looks up to "Mildred" (Shelly Duvall), who is very confident, and pretty bossy towards Pinky. After what appears to be a suicide attempt, and a brief stay in the hospital, Pinky turns in to the bossy (and kinda bitchy) one between the 2, and Mildred slowly turns in to the less dominant friend in the relationship. '3 Women' is very surreal and dreamlike. Along with 'Shortcuts', if there was a ever a film to be used as an example of the influence that Robert Altman has had on PT Anderson, it would be this. Even though the plots are very different, the music and overall vibe of 'Punch Drunk Love' borrows HEAVILY from '3 Women'.
And as you'll see in some more of the films in this entry, at some point the 2 female leads end up in bed with each other. Even when they're in the bed with one another under non-sexual pretences, there's still that element of the "hot lesbians in bed together"
And here in this promotional still for the '3 Women' (this isn't an actual scene from the film), you can see that it was obviously inspired by 'Persona' (look at the way Duvall is holding Spacek and look at the way Ullman is holding Andersson in the Persona Picture)...

'La Ceremonie' (1995)
Of all the films mentioned, Claude Charbol's drama/thriller is the most literal one out of the bunch, but i still feel it deserves to be mentioned. There's no identity switching and the film isn't surreal at all, but over time Bonnaire's character changes drastically after Huppert kind of takes her under her wing (the relationship between Kunis & Portman in Black Swan has shades of Bonnaire & Huppert's relationship in La Ceremonie).
Once again, our 2 female leads end up in bed with one another. 

'Mulholland Drive' (2001)
Just like how David Lynch drew inspiration from Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' for 'Lost Highway', he clearly got inspiration from 'Persona' for 'Mulholland Drive' (the story of an actress who has a breakdown for various reasons). 

'Inland Empire' (2006)
'Inland Empire' pretty much has all the same elements and themes as 'Mulholland Drive' (a struggling actress having an identity crisis, women kissing each other, "lipstick lesbians", etc), but should still be included in this list...

'Dont Look Back' (2009)
'Dont Look Back' is probably the weakest film on the list but the homage to Persona is so blatant that it deserves to be mentioned. Like almost every other film mentioned, in 'Dont Look Back' we have a female artist who slowly starts to have what appears to be a nervous break down and literally sees someone else when she looks in the mirror. As the story unfolds she uncovers something shocking about her childhood.
In addition to 'Persona', De Van got a lot of inspiration from Polanski (specifically 'Repulsion'). What would an "arthouse" film be without at least one scene where the main character freaks out and has a nervous breakdown in front of a mirror?

'Black Swan' (2010)
The Polanski/Hitchcock vibe is pretty obvious, but I'd say 'Mulholland Drive' had the biggest influence on 'Black Swan'. 
Naomi Watt's audition in 'Mulholland Drive' vs. Natalie Portman's audition in 'Black Swan'
Once again, we see the female characters in bed with another in a scene that's very reminiscent of the love scene in 'Mulholland Drive'...

"Men On The Verge Of  A Nervous Breakdown"
And obviously these types of psychological thrillers aren't just for females. There's plenty of exceptions with male leads too (although i feel there's a lot more depth in these films when its a woman in the lead)...

James Stewart in 'Vertigo'
Polanski in 'The Tenant'
Bill Pullman in 'Lost Highway'


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