The Stranger (1991)

Director: Satyajit Ray

American films worry too much about plot; stuffing things in and forcing them forward as if meaning comes from business rather than depth. What I love about this film is that it only about one thing. It focuses on the questions of whether this mysterious visitor is actual Anila’s long-lost great-uncle or not and it lets that play out naturally. No gimmicks. No sudden revelations. Just human development. It makes space for itself. As the visitor says, “it takes time.”

While in no way related in subject matter, the focus of The Stranger reminds of Akira Kurosawa’s 1949 film The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail.

I also find it impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning the extraordinary reason that the visitor claims to have run away in the first place. He was young man about to enter art-school and he opened a book to find an extraordinary cave-painting of a bison in Altamira, Spain.

He looked at it and thought: no art-school in the world can teach me to paint a bison like this. So he chose to travel the world.


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The Cruise (1998)

Director: Bennett Miller

Some of the shots are grainy, some are blown out, it’s just following around a New York City double-decker tour guide, and it’s totally great! When you have someone like Timothy “Speed” Levitch as your subject it just works.