List 13

Greetings All,

Hmm . . . shave the beard or let it ride, Letterman-style

Internet workout or couch surfing with Pringles? 

Essential part of the company or Zoom zombie in sweatpants? 

Stay-at-home parent or newly promoted elementary school teacher?

An enormous part of how we see ourselves has to do with how we relate to others. So what happens when the entire world shifts into pandemic mode, and we are asked to shelter in place for the safety of our families and community? Who are we if we’re not reflected by others while collaborating with and performing for them?

To be confronted with oneself day after day after day is pretty daunting, and being that we are all more than likely at different stages within our respective cocoons, we thought it might be an excellent time to explore both the caterpillar and the butterfly, with Identity Crisis films this week and movies of Rebirth slotted in for the next.

These are hardly novel themes or topics in film history. In fact, there are likely to be elements of identity fragmentation and/or transformation within any movie, so for this list we have opted to narrow our focus to those films that take existential uncertainties to the next level, not only for the characters involved, but also in terms of how the audience’s experience is affected by intentionally altered cinematic techniques. So these are movies in which “Identity Crisis” applies to the characters and the films themselves. 

We start with Ingmar Berman’s Persona, a film that could easily be called the mother of Identity Crisis cinema and an accordingly outsized influence (along with Roman Polanski’s Repulsion) on Robert Altman’s Images, our second film of the week. Following it up is Brian De Palma’s Raising Cain, a multiple personality disorder film that blurs the lines between waking life and dreams as much as it does between Hitchockian thrillers and Lifetime melodramas. It’s such an over the top film that when you then go on to watch Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (the fourth film on the list), you may be lulled into thinking that it isn’t about an Identity Crisis at all, until you start to realize what the protagonist is working his way toward and what its implications are for us as we face an intractable future of climate catastrophe. And finally, a film set in italy, starring a famous French actress and a British opera singer, and directed by an Iranian filmmaker: Kiarostami’s Certified Copy explores how our understanding of even the most intimate relationships hinge upon identities that we can pick up and drop as easily as coins in a fountain.

Let’s get to it!

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to register for this virtual film talk