The 20th anniversary of these three classic films

Photo by Brit Kovacs.

Well, 2020 is finally over. Thankfully, we somehow managed to make it to the end, which means we can all continue to progress back towards normality, and I can continue to rant and rave about semi-obscure films that not enough people know about. 

In 2021, many films will reach their 20th anniversary since release, so here are three of them that are worth your time.

The Royal Tenenbaums (Directed by Wes Anderson)

Filmmaking at its finest:, that is how I would describe The Royal Tenenbaums. The story follows Royal Tenenbaum, a broke, estranged father who tries to unite his distant family by announcing that he’s going to die. 

If you’ve seen a Wes Anderson film before, then you’ll know what to expect: symmetrical framing, a distinct style, spectacular use of colour and so on. All of Anderson’s classic techniques are at play. 

The comedy is on point as per usual;, however, the film is also comfortable moving into darker dramatic moments as well. This isn’t to say that Anderson is shy of embracing more somber plot points, but in The Royal Tenenbaums some darker scenes really don’t hold back. 

This helps the tone of the film frequently fluctuate, making the watching experience all the more interesting. The film is worth watching for the wonderful soundtrack alone. Whenever I hear “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon, I can’t help but think about the scene in which the song plays. 

Funny, dramatic and often chaotic, The Royal Tenenbaums is both visually stunning and intellectually stimulating. I highly recommend this film to anyone with so much as a passing interest in movies.

Mulholland Drive (Directed by David Lynch)

Surrealist dramas mixed with elements of sci-fi and psychological horror likely aren’t for everybody. Similar to Lynch’s other films, Mulholland Drive is strange, confusing and left ambiguous. 

All of this being said, Mulholland Drive is completely fascinating. It contains some of the most immaculate scenes I’ve ever seen put on film—scenes that nearly brought me to tears. 

I won’t talk about the plot as I believe the best way to watch it is blind, so I’d recommend not looking up any synopses or trailers. 

It may take multiple viewings to understand and comprehend everything the film has to offer, as the film tackles complex themes like perceptions of reality, amnesia and secret shady organizations—among other things. 

Once you do become invested in the film, however, there is no other type of viewing experience that I can relate the feeling to. 

Lynch has a knack for finding actors and using them to their fullest capabilities. In Mulholland Drive, he takes two relative unknowns at the time in Naomi Watts and Laura Harring and utilizes the two of them to create very compelling moments. 

While much of the film is left cryptic, the chemistry between the two leads is unmistakable. The film isn’t afraid to push the envelope, often getting creepy, dreamlike and even erotic when the plot demands it. 

All of this makes Mulholland Drive one of the most thought-provoking films I’ve ever seen.

The Piano Teacher (Directed by Michael Haneke)

I always try to make an effort in giving a shout out to foreign films that I feel deserve more attention. The Piano Teacher is as uncomfortable as it is beautifully shot. 

The plot follows a piano teacher named Erika who, while clearly talented, also lives with her mother well into her thirties and is borderline sociopathic. One of her older students, Walter, falls in love with her and romantically pursues her.

The film juxtaposes two main focuses. Firstly, the elegance and extreme precision that is associated with playing complex piano pieces and secondly, the sexual chaos that comes with the unexpected relationship explored by the film. 

If you are uncomfortable with the discussion of extreme fetishes or with difficult scenes that imply sexual acts that are difficult to watch, I’d advise you to skip this film. Even if you typically aren’t queasy about such subjects, many instances are bound to make you feel uneasy.

This, too, is a strange film with a strange plot, which makes it all the more engaging to me. I often pay less attention to acting in foreign films as it is difficult to connect it to the line delivery;, however, Isabelle Huppert’s performance alone makes the film worth the watch.

If you are looking to challenge yourself, this film is for you;, however, please watch it at your own discretion.

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