For every infamous dictator, there are legions of nameless civil servants, spies, and thugs who propped up their leaders, making their will into brutal reality. These accomplices might have been grasping career bureaucrats, family men and women who were worried about the mortgage, or malevolent bullies delighting in their methods ascending to the top of the food chain, all working in deadly concert despite their myriad motivations. Bernardo Bertolucci asks what drove one particular functionary in his classic film The Conformist. Set in Mussolini's Italy, Bertolucci makes a deadening statement of amorality, depicting a period with recognizable social goals and the despotic means to achieve them.
Indian cinema conjures up images of Bollywood with its choreographed dance numbers and operatic musicals, but Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali shirks any of those eccentricities, telling a simple story beautifully. Inspired by neo-realist classics like Bicycle Thieves and looking towards coming-of-age films like The 400 Blows, Ray's brilliant debut is steeped in lived-in moments and the casual exuberance that children are capable of at any given instance.
Robin Hardy's British horror classic The Wicker Man is well-known for its iconic imagery, particularly involving an ending that's got way too much cultural penetration to be able to be spoiled. While the ending doesn't surprise, what does is how much the grandiosity of the titular structure comes as less of a sharp left turn and more as a culmination of all the weird, out-of-place customs that Hardy has spent the previous 75 minutes exhibiting. From the minute the protagonist's seaplane has touched down in the village of Summerisle, the eye painted on the dinghy that will bring him the rest of the way to land indicates how off these people are. Nude dances of an evening only put the dot on the exclamation point. The Wicker Man immediately creates a sense of dread and keeps it thrumming through the film before erupting in its timeless conflagration.
Random projects from the MMC Universe.