Anthology Film Archives’ Voyeurism, Surveillance, and Identity in the Cinema closes tomorrow. The series looks at its themes in the grand scope of cinema and how this has shaped contemporary self-identity. As the program demonstrates how central these themes have been in films throughout history, we wanted to highlight a few movies that also dabble in voyeuristic thrills and themes about seeing, watching, and public visibility. Here are a few voyeuristic films you might have missed.
Set just before the real-life Stasi in East Berlin dissolved, The Lives of Others finds one of the State Security Service’s agents performing surveillance on a controversial playwright and his lover, becoming increasingly drawn into their lives and a political scandal.
An unhappily married woman and mysterious stalker engage in high-stakes fantasies and sex games. Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s voyeuristic camerawork and blue monochrome palette adds to the aura of psychological tension and gives the movie its digital eye.
A Prague regime official discovers that the house he shares with his alcoholic wife has been heavily bugged by his own ministry. Think a Communist version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
Tinto Brass’ extra porny adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s eponymous novel looks at the love triangle between a husband, wife, and father-in-law, continuing the career-long themes of Brass’ links between voyeurism and eroticism.
John Carpenter’s made-for-TV movie Someone’s Watching Me! was released before Halloween and has a reputation as one of the horror maestro’s forgotten films — mostly due to lack of distribution. Lauren Hutton’s Leigh Michaels is stalked by a stranger who watches her in her apartment and engages her in a frightening game of cat-and-mouse. The movie also stars Adrienne Barbeau who would later appear in Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape from New York.
In Amer, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani use the stylistic devices of giallo cinema — Italian thrillers that fetishized voyeurism. The film follows a young woman name Ana through the different stages of her development, emphasizing vision and watching — as in when adolescent Ana sees her parents having sex and during a visceral razor-meets-eye scene.
Léos Carax’s 42-second short tale is about a mysterious blind woman and her surreal method of seeing. Watch it, above.
From RogerEbert.com on François Ozon’s film about the obsession between a teacher, student, and a story that blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction:
The voyeuristic aspect of Claude’s story is essential to its appeal, and one of the illicit pleasures of storytelling and moviemaking in general, but voyeurs are inevitably implicated in what they see. Eventually, Germain becomes an active participant in the story, so involved in its creation and cultivation that he conspires with the writer not only to change events in the story but to take questionable actions in his life outside the story to help it continue . . . which then become new wrinkles in the story.
Marco Martins’ Portuguese drama looks at how familial grief overwhelms a father who obsessively traces a path through the city of Lisbon with his own video surveillance network, poring over the tapes day and night to look for clues about his missing daughter.