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Molly Haskell: “At the start of the pandemic, I went through a zombie phase with Train to Busan and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s genre films. I had somehow never seen Carnival of Souls—it blew my mind. I discovered two stunning films (restored and streamed by MoMA) by the totally unknown French director Louis Valray. I commune with fellow movie lovers with tips and reactions: one recommends Andre de Toth’s Day of the Outlaw, on YouTube; another, George Cukor’s The Model and the Marriage Broker; still another, Japanese noir on Criterion. I have stacks of unread film books and magazines which I’m finally delving into. We all have favorite movie years or decades, often having less to do with the quality of the movies than with our own age and susceptibility, who we were and were about to be, at the time. For someone who formed an early addiction to transactions between grown-up men and women, my favorite theaters will always be the tiny (often underground) boxes on Paris’s Left Bank where my cinema education and my adulthood really began—screens that, in retrospect, seem both smaller and larger than the one in my living room. On the latter I watched all or most of the films of 2020. And I began to think about the idea of spectacle being as much in the beholder’s eye as on the screen. Certainly I felt transported by the ending of Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, when the sorrow and awkwardness of four Danish teachers’ lives is momentarily forgotten and, among the throngs of a crowded dock, Mads Mikkelsen launches into a delirious, gravity-defying dance. I would trade those few minutes of human-size euphoria for all the CGI wizardry of Christopher Nolan.”

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