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geezer cinema/film fatales #163: catherine called birdy (lena dunham, 2022)

apur sansar (the world of apu), (satyajit ray, 1959)

This is the twenty-second film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2022-23", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 8th annual challenge, and my fourth time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", the second year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", and last year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22"). Week 22 is called "Sight and Sound Top 250 Week":

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film from Sight and Sound's BFI: 2012 Critics Top 250 Films list.

(Note that this is based on the Sight and Sound list from 10 years ago. The most recent list hadn't been released at the time the challenge was created.)

It takes me awhile to get to things sometimes. Back in 2011, I took part with two friends in a long Facebook effort where we chose our 50 favorite films. I vowed at the time that I would watched every movie my friends chose that I had missed over the years. One of those selections was The Apu Trilogy, which one friend had at #15. I watched Pather Panchali in 2016, and Aparajito in 2020 (as part of an earlier Letterboxd challenge). Now, a dozen years later, I have completed the trilogy!

About the first, I wrote:

"It is easy to see why Pather Panchali is so highly regarded. But ultimately, for me, it falls into the category of “admired more than loved”. Maybe the languid pace gave me too much time to think, but I wasn’t as drawn in emotionally as I expected. It’s importance in Indian and World cinema is clear, and I have no problem recommending it. I just wish I had felt more sucked into its pleasures.

And Aparajito: "I finally started understanding why the films have such a high reputation."

The World of Apu completes my experience with these films, and my feelings remain pretty consistent. Like the other movies in the trilogy, The World of Apu has wonderful cinematography (Subrata Mitra was in charge of all three). Apu is far from a perfect person ... Ray gives us a well-rounded portrait throughout, where we understand what drives him even when we don't necessarily approve of his actions. And once again, Ray has chosen the right people to play his characters. Soumitra Chatterjee makes his film debut as Apu. He went on to make hundreds of films, 14 with Ray. And Sharmila Tagore, also in her debut, is unforgettable as Apu's young wife of an arranged marriage. Tagore was only 14 when the movie was filmed, but her youth adds to the poignancy of the character, who is also young.

I remain an admirer more than a lover of this trilogy. But it's quite an achievement, to make three connected films, all of a high quality.


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