10. ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ (Laura Poitras)
Poitras’s tough-minded, formally graceful portrait of the photographer Nan Goldin, her art and her activism, opens with Goldin huddled with some like-minded compatriots outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before long, Goldin et al., are staging a die-in inside the institution, one of many such protests that she and others mounted against institutions that had taken money from members of the Sackler family whose company, Purdue Pharma, developed the opioid painkiller OxyContin. As Poitras goes on to show, Goldin’s protest is just the latest chapter for an artist who draws beauty from bloodshed. (In theaters.)
And make sure to watch: “Armageddon Time”; “The Cathedral”; “Corsage; “Descendant”; “Dos Estaciones; “Funny Pages”; “Futura”; “Great Freedom”; “Hold Your Fire”; “I Didn’t See You There”; “Intregalde”; “Lingui, The Sacred Bonds”; “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues”; “Nanny”; “Playground”; “Pleasure”; “Return to Seoul”; “Riotsville, U.S.A.”; “Three Minutes: A Lengthening”; “The Tsugua Diaries”; “Till”; “The Woman King”; and “The Worst Person in the World.”
The Best Questions Raised by Movies
Scrolling through my memories of 2022, I find a lot of interesting movies and a lot of anxious, contradictory opinionizing about The State of Cinema. Most of it had to do with one question: Would people venture back into theaters post-pandemic, or did the future belong to streaming? The boffo success of “Top Gun: Maverick” in May and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in November didn’t quite settle the issue.
Neither does the proliferation of movies that evoke the wonder and glory of the movie past. Cine-nostalgia has become a genre in its own right. Last year’s tender elegies to celluloid, “Belfast” and “The Hand of God,” were followed this year by “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s reflection on his own film-besotted youth; Sam Mendes’s “Empire of Light,” set in a fading seaside movie palace in early 1980s Britain; and “Babylon,” a fever dream of old Hollywood from Damien Chazelle.
Sentimentality and self-consciousness can be signs of decadence. Set out to memorialize the glories of an embattled art form, and you may end up contributing to its obituary. Not that I think the movies are dying, any more than they have been dying for the past 90 years or so, as they were fatally menaced by sound, television, corporate greed and audience philistinism. The movies are always turning into something else, even as they drag their history along with them. Old styles persist alongside new possibilities, and originality finds a way to assert itself amid the thunderous conformity of the franchises and the howling wilderness of the algorithms.