Lately I’ve been thinking about films that reflect what it means to in live in (and through) the struggles of this world, this flesh—in other words, the Present, the Now—while holding onto hope of eternal promises. Each of these four films startle, comfort, and convict me in singular ways. I hope you find something here among the light and shadow to do the same for you.
Wings of Desire (1987) in German, French, and English with subtitles
Wim Wenders’s film about an angel longing to be human challenges us to see the goodness of the eternal in the current moment and the transient—in cups of coffee with cigarettes, in the color of graffitied walls, and even in the taste of one’s own blood in one’s mouth.
Stalker (1979) in Russian with subtitles
Director Andrei Tarkovsky is the film-school patron saint of spiritual and metaphysical heft (and “Serious,” capital S, cinema). Stalker raises the question: if you were offered a chance to go into room where your deepest desires would be met, would you go through that door? What would the things you most treasure reveal about your heart?
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) in Persian with subtitles
Abbas Kiarostami’s poignant film considers how our rush to embrace technology and its promise of human advancement is often at odds with ritual and a slower way of life necessary for human and spiritual connection.
35 Shots of Rum (2008) in French and German with subtitles
Claire Denis’s graceful film finds a place where relationships (familial and otherwise) are sensuous, earthy, and ethereal. In other words, 35 Shots of Rum is a little bit of heaven and little bit of earth for 140 minutes. This also has the best use of Commodores’ “Night Shift” in any movie, ever.