Having coasted off The Crown for several years and avoided dredging up the memories of The Reader and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in the meantime, Stephen Daldry finally returned to the cinema last year with the James McAvoy-Sharon Horgan lockdown drama Together, available for your enjoyment(?) this week on Blu-Ray. I don’t trust Daldry with a COVID movie like I don’t trust him with any kind of movie, but I’m not fully against COVID movies as a rule like some are. Case in point, this week’s other big new release, Abel Ferrara’s Zeros and Ones. It makes incredibly smart, unsettling use of all its COVID-era signifiers, shot mostly in the deserted streets of Rome where the few people out are all wearing masks. The plot doesn’t explicitly concern the pandemic but then again the plot is mostly left unspoken so that you instead focus your attention on Ferrara’s symbols of a world gone to Hell; tubs of hand sanitizer decorating every new location, graphic footage of waterboarding, a scene where long-haired Ethan Hawke (in one of his two, maybe three, roles) questions why people aren’t setting themselves on fire for their causes anymore. All this is captured with the year’s most audacious cinematography, courtesy of the ever-fearless DP Sean Price Williams (topping even the anxiousness of his work with Alex Ross Perry and the Safdies), which sets out to create a wholly digital equivalent to 16mm like Michael Mann did for 35mm. Even as the movie almost demands viewer frustration, it’s a transfixing experience as a sequence of one-of-a-kind screen images, nobody’s making movies that look or feel like this.
Cinema of Discovery: Julien Duvivier in the 1920s (Flicker Alley)
Double Door (Kino)
Rich and Strange (Kino)
Shake Hands with the Devil (Kino)
Weathering with You 4K (Shout Factory)
Zeros and Ones (Lionsgate)