Coming to Home Video on Nov 22.
Mark Cousins is no stranger to the history of cinema since he’s a producer. And in The Story of Film, A New Generation, what he presents is not only meditative but also entrancing. He updates viewers about movies that were released after his seminal series from 2011.
Although he contrasts modern storytelling with older motion pictures, what he contemplates is in how the narrative has and has not changed over the years. It’s hard to be innovative these days, and what Cousins reveals restores my hope in what filmmakers can do. This Irish filmmaker (and historian) knows his stuff, and the fact he’s very well versed in independent and international cinema shows he’s the right person to host. To follow it all is tough, and my hat is off to him. He manages to track down films even I haven’t heard of, and although my focus is with Asian cinema, he goes further and considers even more harder to find works.
But in terms of popular culture, not only does he talk about Frozen, Joker, but also Midsommner. Finding a list of the works he referenced is easy with the Internet, but to find a copy to watch is harder. We need specialty streaming services or a local video rental shop like Pic-a-flic in my hometown that carries obscure films. Not every work has to be made in the USA. Some come from other territories like Romania or Argentina.
Cousins sometimes expresses his love with intimacy and at other times sounding distant. It’s tough to understand why he does it, but I guess he doesn’t want to show too much favouritism. Thankfully, I can at least follow along when he breaks down the technical aspects–lighting, sound, set design, camera technique–which makes a work stand out.
Equally important is in using film to document the harsh realities of the every day. Cinematic productions do a lot more to make the public aware of various issues, but sadly in North America, they aren’t offered very often at big box theatres. Instead, they are the mainstays of art house or campus screenings. Cousins recognizes their importance in The Story of Film, A New Generation, and devotes a good amount of time to them. Without it, I don’t think his work would be as well-rounded.
This nearly three-hour presentation made during the pandemic certainly has its moments to enjoy. But even I had to take a break every half hour or so to catch my breath. I feel it should’ve been broken into episodic format, like his original treatise. It would make the impact of each segment all the more significant!
3½ Stars out of 5