Programmed by Serin Lee
"...It's no good meeting the right person too soon or too late. If I'd lived in another time or place...my story might have had a very different ending." So goes the closing monologue of Wong Kar-wai's 2046. Wong is far from the only director whose imagination this idea has captured, however, and many iterations of it have illuminated the big screen. The celebratory jubilance of these films - however complexly woven into them - perhaps therefore owes its own enduring success to this proposed formula their narratives dedicate themselves to exploring. Some titles stretch the temporal limits of the statement to its extremes, as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does with love borne by sweeping time travel; and the first two films of Linklater's Before... trilogy, by building passion upon absence. Others, such as David Lean's postwar classic Brief Encounter and Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, explore much shorter windows of meeting with searing humilitas. The Graduate and The Unbearable Lightness of Being are more skeptical and take time getting to the truth of "the right person" - Harold and Maude and Three Colors: Red, on the other hand, embrace it completely and sing its praises in ways simple and sublime. This collection of movies is for those who "meet squalid," for too little or too long - or almost not at all. Here's to those who love.
(Sofia Coppola, 2003) · Aging movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and young newlywed Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two drifting souls who meet in the vast streets of Tokyo. Unmoored in a foreign country, they find mutual solace in each other's company as they try to dispel the loneliness of outsiders. Sofia Coppola's poetic ode to 'mono no aware' - 'the transience of things' - claims its definitive place in 2000s cinema with quiet poise and a shimmering soundtrack.
runtime: 102m format: 35mm
(Richard Linklater, 1995) · Linklater's decades-long chronicle of the Meet Cute begins when the American Jesse and the French Celine meet on a Eurail train to discover, in a few conversations' time, their surprising connection with each other. Daring to disembark in Vienna together, the two have one day and night to talk about everything and nothing in particular-and their rare ability to do so swells breathtakingly from "mystery, [to] hope, to maybe even love."
runtime: 101m format: 35mm
(Richard Linklater, 2004) · Heartache is brought to boil by absence in Before Sunset, which takes place nine years after Jesse and Celine's chance meeting in Vienna. Now in their thirties, they no longer have the freedom to regard the world as a place of limitless possibilities. Reunited in Paris and yet weighed down by the lives that they've built together, the two have one afternoon to figure out if they were-and more importantly, are-right for each other.
runtime: 80m format: 35mm
(David Fincher, 2008) · Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button concerns the unorthodox romantic life of Benjamin Button, who was born old and ages in reverse. Though this complicates his relationship with Daisy, his love since childhood, the two continue to cross paths throughout the years, and David Fincher-in a rare instance of cinematic vibrance and warmth-spares no effort in depicting the waves of time on which their lives float.
runtime: 166m format: DCP
(David Lean, 1945) · Voted Britain's most romantic film, Brief Encounter finds heart-rending grace through its stylistic economy, voicing its lovers' suppressed turmoil through scarcely more than Rachmaninoff's sweeping score. Based on Noël Coward's Still Life, David Lean's postwar classic centers around Laura and Alec, a housewife and doctor whose chance meetings at a railway station develop into a bond both thrilling and frightening as it threatens to consume their lives and loved ones.
runtime: 86m format: 35mm
(Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994) · A jubilant meditation on the secret pathways, lucky bypasses, and cosmic accidents that govern human existence, Red is the lush conclusion to the iconic "Three Colors..." trilogy, not to mention Kieślowski's career. A part-time model is brought to the home of a retired judge by chance events-their story slowly unravels to reveal itself as part of an impossibly dense tapestry of lives, linked by coincidence's metaphysical echoes across space and time. Note: First reel has arc burn.
runtime: 99m format: 35mm
(Hal Ashby, 1971) · Ashby's cult classic captures '70s "woof and warp" with its endearing oddball pair: Harold, a miserable young man who regularly stages faux suicides to annoy his uppity mother, and Maude, an elderly woman who possesses an untiring lust for life. The bond formed between these unlikely kindred spirits, as well as their explorations of existential joy and horror, are both darkly funny and soulfully uplifting-and have become fondly remembered over the years.
runtime: 91m format: 35mm
(Alfonso Cuarón, 2001) · Y Tu Mamá También outruns its surface-level appearance as a raunchy teen drama with its tender and incisive exploration of disillusionment. Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal star as two Mexico City teenagers who persuade an attractive older woman (Maribel Verdú) to accompany them on a road trip. Their initially idyllic odyssey soon tests the limits of youth's horizons of possibility, in one of the most poignant coming-of-age stories in recent memory.
runtime: 106m format: 35mm
(Mike Nichols, 1967) · The future may no longer be in plastics, but Nichols' portrait of postgraduate insecurity and its vexation of the heart remains a delight, thanks to its iconic lines and unforgettable Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack. Fresh out of college, Benjamin Braddock drifts confusedly through the decadence of California. He is coerced into an affair with neglected housewife Mrs. Robinson, and their meetings soon complicate his infatuation with Elaine, her daughter.
runtime: 106m format: DCP
(Philip Kaufman, 1988) · Adapted from Milan Kundera's eponymous novel, this sprawling epic explores the precariousness of love through the stories of its three protagonists: a young surgeon named Tomas; the bohemian Sabrina; and Tereza, a guileless photographer Tomas meets on the job. Their stories are set against the backdrop of the 1968 Soviet invasion, and Kaufman's audacious infusion of the historical with the erotic hauntingly evokes the grandeur and the tragedy of love.
runtime: 171m format: 35mm