Magnificent Obsession ★★★★

I get overwhelmed by certain directors who I feel have a particularly important or influential canon. This has happened most frequently with Akira Kurosawa: he has so many movies that are considered to be all-time greats and that have influenced some of my personal favorite movies, and my experience with his work has only confirmed the weight and validity of these perceptions, to the point that I struggle to sit down and watch a new one of his films because I want to wait until I'm in the right head-space to fully appreciate it and subsequently write about it. If I don’t, my readers (that's you!) will finally see through my carefully constructed facade and realize I'm an idiot

I hope this feeling is relatable to someone out there because otherwise it's a long way of saying that I'm also similarly intimidated by Douglas Sirk, whether it's because I'm obsessed with David Lynch, who was influenced by Sirk in a big way, or because I was raised in suburbia and sympathize with the plights of his characters, or even just because I'm having an affair with 1950's American cinema and he played a big part in that. But I've been trying to tell myself the obvious thing: that being afraid of these directors and their movies is a great way of avoiding watching some movies that I'll probably love whether I totally get them right away or not, and not a great way of doing much else

So I finally watched Magnificent Obsession, and I loved it—even without the stuff about the ethics of money, which of course I love, or the way Sirk finds ways to sympathize with characters who would just be one-dimensional villains in most other movies, there's something about the way he constructs his conflicts that's so elegant it almost makes me want to get back into structuralism, and that alone makes his films a pleasure to watch even if I don't come away from them with as cohesive an understanding as I'd like—and ultimately I didn't come away with as cohesive an understanding as I'd like; but that's okay, because I'm going to watch Imitation of Life in a couple days, and maybe I'll have a similar experience with that but I'm sure I'll also love it, and then I'm going to keep watching these movies until I understand them well enough to be as casually and quietly insightful as Anna Imhof is in this review of There's Always Tomorrow. Until then, however, you all get this nonsense

Douglas Sirk

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