Speaking to his work as a filmmaker and his own emotional sensibility, John Cassavetes once said, "That’s all I’m interested in—love. And the lack of it. When it stops. And the pain that’s caused by loss of things that are taken away from us that we really need." His films exposed the painful struggles of love and turmoil loving another causes on the human heart. And in its most overwhelming and passionate form, love is rarely healthy, perhaps no more than an illness from which you’ll never fully recover. And according to the Criterion Collection’s Amour Fou section of films, love is apparently all I am interested in as well. Featuring some of my favorite features from Terrence Malick’s dangerous love story Badlands to Nicolas Roeg’s obsessive psychodrama Bad Timing, to Cassavetes’ soul-crushing A Woman Under the Influence and Liliana Cavani’s darkly erotic The Night Porter, these are films best enjoyed with a glass of whiskey on standby.
But this week, Criterion and Hulu are showcasing rare films of bad romance that delve into the misguided, corrosive, and often violent nature of love. Ranging from Gus van Sant’s first feature Mala Noche to Keisuke Kinoshita’s rarely seen Snow Flurry, these intense dramas penetrate the soul and illuminate the hardships of love. Get acquianted with these rare and stunning films and decide whom you’d like to break your heart tonight. Enjoy.
"Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s visually innovative, Cannes Grand Prix-winning adaptation of August Strindberg’s renowned 1888 play brings to scalding life the excoriating words of the stage’s preeminent surveyor of all things rotten in the state of male-female relations. Miss Julie vividly depicts the battle of the sexes and classes that ensues when a wealthy businessman’s daughter (Anita Björk, in a fiercely emotional performance) falls for her father’s bitter servant. Celebrated for its unique cinematic style (and censored upon its first release in the United States for its adult content), Sjöberg’s film was an important turning point in Scandinavian cinema."
"With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant’s debut feature Mala Noche heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, the film evokes a world of transient workers, dead-end day-shifters, and bars and seedy apartments bathed in a profound nighttime, as it follows a romantic deadbeat with a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant. Mala Noche was an important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the nineties and is a fascinating capsule from a time and place that continues to haunt its director’s work."
"A generation-spanning drama from 1959 that partly concerns the fallout from a couple’s failed suicide pact, shot in wonderfully expressive widescreen and color."
"Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a Bunraku puppet play (featuring the music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his erotic obsession with a prostitute. Criterion is proud to present Double Suicide in a stunning digital transfer, with a new and improved English subtitle translation."
"In this cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave, a yakuza, fresh out of prison, becomes entangled with a beautiful and enigmatic gambling addict; what at first seems a redemptive relationship ends up leading him further down the criminal path. Bewitchingly shot and edited, and laced with a fever-dream-like score by Toru Takemitsu, this gangster romance was a breakthrough for the idiosyncratic Masahiro Shinoda. The pitch-black Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) is an unforgettable excursion into the underworld."
"This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, during the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principles on the line by engaging in a torrid affair with a dashing Austrian lieutenant, played by Farley Granger. Gilded with ornate costumes and sets and a rich classical soundtrack, and featuring fearless performances, this operatic melodrama is an extraordinary evocation of reckless emotions and deranged lust, from one of the cinema’s great sensualists."
"Julien Duvivier’s film, starring Merle Oberon as a woman looking back on a life of doomed affairs."