The three, all now available for purchase:
Jafar Panahi’s story of home imprisonment in Iran and his artistic output since that vile ruling is one of the most fascinating in film history. His latest not only finds another way around his restrictions but feels deeply self-reflective in the way unpacks the limitations of filmmaking and the personal responsibility of the artist. It’s a masterful drama that I’ve thought about a lot in the year since I’ve seen it. And the Blu-ray from Criterion includes a conversation about Panahi’s work from another master and one of the most eloquent people alive about the art of filmmaking, writer/director Ramin Bahrani.
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On Panahi’s Films, a new interview with filmmaker Ramin Bahrani about director Jafar Panahi’s work
PLUS: Panahi Speaks from Prison
One of my ten best films of 2022 was Jerzy Skolimowski’s brilliant “EO,” a road movie from the perspective of a gray donkey. Skolimowski uses this unexpected perspective to comment on the natural and political landscape of his country, but “EO” is also a technical marvel, buoyed by riveting cinematography from Michal Dymek that’s as playful as its protagonist. The film ended up a surprising nominee for the Academy Award for Best International Feature, a reminder that the octogenarian filmmakers still had something to say about his country and his art form. It’s a film that’s alternately joyful and terrifying, one of the greats of the last few years, and it feels precisely like the kind of thing that never would have received an HD release if not for this new series from Criterion.
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The Making of “EO,” a new conversation with writer-director Jerzy Skolimowski and writer-producer Ewa Piaskowska
PLUS: All the Donkeys, an introduction to the six Sardinian donkeys who play EO
Finally, there’s the delightful and unpredictable “The Innocent,” a film I hadn’t seen until this release and now consider one of the best of 2023—it came out in Europe last year but not in America until earlier this year. I’ve never been a big fan of Louis Garrel’s work, but this one alone makes me wonder if I underestimated him in how it displays such a confident balance of tones. The director also stars in this tale of a young man who is concerned that his mother (Anouk Grinberg) may be falling into a trap in her relationship with a just-released criminal (Roschdy Zem). Part heist movie and part romantic comedy, it also features a truly phenomenal supporting performance from Noemie Merlant (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”), who won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role. She deserved it.
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Meet the Filmmaker, a new interview with director Louis Garrel
Note: The November Janus Contemporaries are the equally acclaimed “Tori and Lokita,” “The Eight Mountains,” and “Godland.” This is clearly a series to celebrate.