Five years after its release, the thrilling, subversive film Donnie Darko had already cemented itself as a cult classic and its writer/director, Richard Kelly, as one forward-thinking filmmaker to watch. Then Kelly’s follow-up, Southland Tales, opened at the Cannes Film Festival to nothing short of a ruinous reception. For those of us who saw it in 2006, Kelly’s truly odd cinematic work did not obscure his talent, but it did make many wonder what the hell they were watching. Now, Fondazione Prada is asking audiences to revisit it—and several other films that failed upon their release. In collaboration with (and through) the streaming service MUBI, Fondazione Prada presents Perfect Failures, a series of films they believe are worth returning to.
The curators from Fondazione Prada looked in several different directions for their programming slate, including unexpected box office flops and uncharacteristic critical disappointments from beloved directors. They further honed in on films that could be considered before their time. Viewers may be surprised to learn that outside of traditional release expectations, and in a new cultural climate, these films hold their own.
In addition to Southland Tales, MUBI will stream Charlie Chaplin’s last comedy, A Countess from Hong Kong (1967); Billy Wilder’s campy melodrama, Fedora (1978); Chantal Akerman’s comedy Un divan à New York (A Couch in New York) (1996); Kelly Reichardt’s beleaguered drama Night Moves (2013)—and Showgirls (1995) by Paul Verhoeven. The latter has already undergone years of critical poking and prodding, as its reputation slowly shifts.
The Perfect Failures films will be available on MUBI (in 190 countries) starting 5 April. In addition, a dedicated section on Fondazione Prada’s website will highlight related original materials and further information on the films and the talent involved. Ultimately, the series continues Fondazione Prada’s relationship with both cinema and MUBI—and asks viewers to understand that the first word on a film might not be the final one.
Hero image courtesy of Showgirls