Double Double-Features

Would you like some programming advice for your home-viewing pleasure, and perhaps some thematic queries to consider along the way?

As always, putting interpretatively-related movies in conservation with each other elevates their resonance, revealing layers perhaps left undetected when they’re watched on their own.

Towards that end, here are two doubles-features that explore the osmosis line between performance and reality.

First up: 1941’s Suspicion paired with 1950’s In a Lonely Place. Both revolve around a similar “did he or didn’t he”…suspicion (sorry about that one), examining the blurry push-pull of movie star magnetism (Cary Grant! Humphrey Bogart! Respectively!) and its potential for gaslighting toxicity. Are these electric men devilishly charming, charmingly-devilish, or just the devil?

Second (or is it third?) up: 1984’s After the Rehearsal paired with 2000’s In the Mood for Love, a double feature about how performing a scripted, older relationship can act as present-day relationship-therapy for the performers. As art teaches us time and time and time and time and time again whenever we revisit a piece from the past, what is new is actually old, and replaying the old can birth something new. Throughout both movies, it’s deliberately unclear which relationship we’re observing: the present relationship performing a past relationship, or the past relationship creating a new relationship through the performance. They inform each other (like a double feature!), evolving/morphing/mutating both. Or, are we stuck in cycles with merely modicums of change as we go around and around (possibly back and forth), and all that differs is the location of the cycle? But perhaps this minute repositioning is the stuff change — or is it progress? Who can say? — is made of.

Life as performance, and performance as life — all four movies can be boiled down to this shared idea. How truly real can a performance — and thus life — be? If all we’re left with is the unreal, and we try to strive for only what’s true, where the fuck does that leave us?

Can you tell I’m on the tail end of an Ingmar Bergman complete retrospective?

Speaking of whom, has there ever been a more succinct summary of a “delightmare” than After the Rehearsal‘s, “You can only be that bad if you’re talented”?

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