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Author: Tanner Tafelski

Only the Lonely: Josef von Sternberg’s Anatahan

Cinema has the power to express the brunt of loneliness. This idea wasn’t lost on Robert Kolker who wrote a book called A Cinema of Loneliness (1980) that examined a group of New Hollywood directors. Characters from all sorts of films feel different strains and gradations of it. There are those, like Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion (1965) and Delphine Seyrig in Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), slowly cracking up in their domestic holes. Sometimes, such as Lee Kang-sheng and Yang Kuei-Mei in Tsai Ming-liang’s The Hole (2001), tenants reach out and touch someone from their...

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Transmissions: Rita Azevedo Gomes’s Correspondences

Rita Azevedo Gomes’ cinema rests on a higher plane. Her films exude an air of romanticism. In precise mise-en-scène, the mark of a formalist, characters in Fragile as the World (2002) and A Woman’s Revenge (2012) perform the rituals of love. Her latest film, Correspondences (2016), which premiered at this year’s Locarno Film Festival, merges romanticism with the reality of historical facts. As the title suggests, Correspondences is about communication. It is a reverie, based on the letters exchanged between Jorge de Sena and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, two major Portuguese poets of the 20th century. From 1959...

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Gold is Where You Find It: Salomé Lamas’ Eldorado XXI

Above sea level, at 16,700 feet, and surrounded by glaciers and mountains in the Peruvian Andes, people prospect for gold. La Rinconada is the highest-elevation permanent human settlement. 30,000 Peruvians, mostly poor, live in this harsh mining town to find what the Quechua called “Tears of the Sun.” A ramshackle pueblo, La Rinconada is grueling and gruesome, awesome and apocalyptic. Mercury contaminates the soil. The city does not have running water or a sewage system. A recent development, electricity powers the city. Yet, with no substantial government presence, La Rinconanda is unregulated. There are no rules, no laws, no...

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