In the wake of the December 1962 opening of Lawrence of Arabia, some lightweight comic called it “four hours of sand.” Last night I watched the new Criterion Bluray of Hiroshi Teshigahara‘s Woman in the Dunes (’64). This, trust me, is the ultimate, ultra-definitive sand movie. Two hours and 27 minutes of the stuff. Lots of bugs, putrid water in wooden buckets, a fascinating clink-clank score by Toru Takemitsu, a certain amount of nudity and sex, luscious black-and-white cinematography by Hiroshi Segawa, and all tied together with a story that has something to do with Sisyphus, frustration, claustrophobia and escaping from whatever your daily grind may be. I had this horrible feeling of little particles of sand all over my bod. Sand and bugs, sand and bugs. Sand in my hair, in my ear canal, under my fingernails, inside my socks…Jesus! I honestly took a shower after watching it. Woman in the Dunes is indisputably an austere arthouse landmark. It has my respect for all the things it does perfectly or at least precisely, but I’ll never watch it again — guaranteed.