Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2
The Criterion Collection
Insiang (d. Lino Brocka, 1976)
Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2000)
Revenge (Ermek Shinarbaev, 1989)
Limite (Mário Peixoto, 1931)
Law of the Border (Lütfi Ö. Akad, 1966)
Taipei Story (Edward Yang, 1985)

Nearly four years ago, in December 2013, The Criterion Collection released one of my most treasured releases: Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 1. This set contained six films that had been restored and presented by the World Cinema Project, which was set up to care for neglected films from around regions around the world where the ability or will to preserve cinematic history was lacking. I loved the set, and since it came with a nice No. 1 attached to it, I’ve fostered hope for a No. 2 for years. At times I’ve doubted that such a set would materialize, but the dream has been realized, and with a set that is even better than the first.

This new set, which has just been released, again features six films from a variety of places and times. We get Limite, a 1931 silent film from Brazil; Law of the Border, a 1966 Turkish film that looks at smugglers along the Trukish-Syrian border; Insiang, Lino Brocka’s 1976 masterwork about a beautiful young woman struggling in the slums of Manila; 1985’s Taipei Story, the great Edward Yang’s second film that stars current master director Hou Hsia-hsien looking for progress in Taiwan; 1989’s Revenge, a Soviet-era Kazakh film about the Korean diaspora; and finally Mysterious Object at Noon, the 2000 debut feature film from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, another current master.

Each film has been restored (though some of them are still in rough shape, showing that film is very fragile and, once it starts to deteriorate, it can be next to impossible to salvage) and is presented along with a brief introduction from Martin Scorsese as well as a more in-depth interview with the director, a critic, a film historian, or someone else with a personal relationship to the film at hand. The large book that comes with the set also features lengthy essays about each film as well as about the World Cinema Project.

This set is an inspiration. It’s inspiring to see a group of people devoted to preserving and presenting films from all over the world. It’s inspiring to see such wonderful examples of world culture. And, most importantly, it’s inspiring to see such brilliant examples of film art. These six films are not minor curiosities. Some of them have been near myths for years because they were known to be brilliant examples of the art form but were practically impossible to see. Some are early statements by important directors we revere for later works but whose early work has remained inaccessible.

I’ll be reviewing each film in turn here on The Mookse and the Gripes, starting with Insiang.

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