IN THE CINÉMA CLUB OF… IRA SACHS
New York-based filmmaker Ira Sachs has long been at the forefront of American independent cinema. His films often explore family dynamics, modern romance, and queer relationships, in sophisticated and provocative ways. Sachs’s sophomore feature, Forty Shades of Blue, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2005, and both the Arthur Russell-soundtracked Keep the Lights On (2012) and housing drama Love is Strange (2015) received praise for their insights into gay love. His newest film, Passages, stars Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adèle Exarchopoulos in a steamy love triangle that slowly eats away at everyone involved.
To coincide with Passages’ U.S. release, Sachs shared five films that he loves.
MES PETITES AMOUREUSES, Jean Eustache, 1974
A film of true beauty and delicacy, drawn from the early adolescent experiences of the filmmaker, Jean Eustache, but with such detail, like Proust, the images seem to reflect all our childhoods – or at least with the tenderness we might wish to feel for ourselves.
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, Elia Kazan, 1961
Sometimes the unreal (Hollywood) is more real than life itself. A technicolor dreamscape of teenage pain that conveys through color and raw passion the terror and loneliness of being young and discovering sex and love and lust, and heartbreak. Natalie Wood having a hysterical breakdown in the bathtub is straight out of a Wiseman documentary, and the last scene – when she visits Warren Beatty in his new family life on the farm – is one of the most beautiful in all of cinema.
JE TU IL ELLE, Chantal Akerman, 1975
A film that I return to as often as possible to remind me to be brave and rigorous and to think of cinema as something made by hand that demands that the filmmaker reveal themselves. Akerman is both in total control and in complete release. She is open and generous and honest. She also depicts a world of (male) violence that is, in moments, made bearable by the possibility of love (with another woman).
VERONIKA VOSS, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982
My favorite Fassbinder, though I often think of all his work as one long film, so it’s hard to consider them as separate objects. A loose remake of Sunset Boulevard, it’s a film in rich black & white that becomes, in the last scene, a “white movie” – black seems almost to have been removed, in the harrowing death scene of our dear, tragic heroine. Memories are made of this, as Veronika sings so memorably.
BEFORE I FORGET, Jacques Nolot, 2007
Jacques Nolot’s very personal film reads like a diary entry and is just as intimate. He stars as an older gay writer living alone in his attic apartment and the film chronicles his friendships, sexual encounters, and, like few films I’ve ever seen, the experience of being alone. The ending is a bravura moment of self-discovery, with Jacques dressed in full-drag in the lobby of a Pigalle porn theater – as defiant a metaphor of queer filmmaking as any I know.