With erotic thrillers, the likelihood of astonishment runs parallel to the assurance of knowing precisely what you’ll get: intrigue, infidelity, conspiracy, obsession, doubles, misdirection, insatiable corruption and corrupting insatiability.
It may be that with its real locations, non-professional performers, and documentary-style cinematography of the city surrounds, People on Sunday presages aspects of both Italian neorealism and the French New Wave. but it’s also a film about presaging.
What we commend as “real” in life as in film, and perhaps in Scorsese’s films in particular, we might call gritty, dark, or uncompromising; The Age of Innocence proposes otherwise. What could be more violent than a life sculpted by compromise?
If this is a list, let it be a syllabus, a series of entry points joined by common questions: What does it look and sound like to understand your life, previously envisioned as exclusively “ahead,” as incrementally, but increasingly, behind? What can a moment of emotional accuracy accomplish? What imperative pleasures does meticulousness afford?
Well before Christian Grey donned his dumb ripped jeans, James Spader embodied the paradigmatic combination of vulnerability and composure; his appeal, from Crash to Secretary, requires our conviction that he would, and would like to, and could, punish us—only gently.
Much of what I saw in 2018 reflected a related range of anxieties—about difference, catastrophe, isolation, belonging. Maybe that’s every year. Likely it’s too soon to tell. But among the things I saw, in a year of personal and political upheaval and ambivalence, these are the moments that solicited my attention most memorably.