All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
A newborn baby is told of her creation from dirt and water. She cannot react to such words just yet. However, she will come to understand that the change within herself and around her is no different than rain’s plummet into the soil.
Raven Jackson’s first feature film is a poetic rising of memory bridging together decades of the life of Mack, a woman growing up in Mississippi. It wields beautiful imagery that lingers on the mind far after disappearing from the screen. Sounds are designed precisely, capturing a woman’s memory years after events have occurred. Jackson’s synthesis of what was once seen and heard is fluid and steady, seeping deep into you. The movie is more than the art of remembering; it is a devotion to the interconnectedness of life and family, a devotion to blood.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is graceful and devastating. I was lucky to catch it at the Nashville Film Festival in October and had to see it again when there was a surprise screening at Vanderbilt through iLens. Its narrative isn’t straightforward, which might prove difficult for some, but the gradual processing of events is ultimately rewarding. The original score by Sasha Gordon and Victor Magro is luscious and thoughtful, surging only during a few crucial moments. It comes to the Belcourt on December 1st and is one of the year’s best films.
The autumn months have been a busy time for new movies. Sofia Coppola’s most recent film, Priscilla, features great performances by Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi. Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is small and nice. It doesn’t go much beyond that, but at least it’s showing at the Belcourt in 35mm.
Two great films in new restorations also played at the Belcourt recently: American Graffiti and Farewell My Concubine. While the restoration of American Graffiti has sparked some disappointment because of a possible smoothed-out look, it is still a great film with an even better soundtrack that I saw for the first time. Farewell My Concubine has a few screenings left with more added next week during Thanksgiving Break. It is an epic political film of endurance and blurred gender. Not great for Maoism.
There’s much more to be excited about coming soon: Napoleon releases next week and has been getting mostly positive reviews. It seems like it will be a decent addition to Dad Cinema. Nicholas Cage is starring in Dream Scenario, which also releases next week on Thanksgiving. It’s produced by A24 (if that means anything to you). Miyazaki’s latest Studio Ghibli flick, The Boy and the Heron, begins screening at the Belcourt on December 8.
David Fincher’s The Killer is now on Netflix. His hitman thriller is surprisingly contrived but still passes because of a quick and relatively entertaining two hours.
Besides that, it’s mostly time for me to play catchup on 2023 films I’ve missed so that my eventual year-end list is indisputable.