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Thread: New Directors/New Films 2017

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    New Directors/New Films 2017

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2017 at 05:57 PM.

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    Here is the whole program of features with the FSLC blurbs:

    New Directors/New Films 2017 (15-26 March)

    The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the following 2017 program of New Directors/New Films (in collaboration with MoMA). Reviews of the films follow in the rest of this thread.

    For dates and times of the public screenings at Lincoln Center and MoMA (each film is shown at both venues) go HERE


    PATTY CAKE$

    FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
    All films are digitally projected unless otherwise noted. A fuller list of short films will follow. For the Film Society of Lincoln Center (Walter Reade Theater) and Museum of Modern Art show schedules for each film go HERE.

    Opening Night
    Patti Cake$
    Geremy Jasper, USA, 2017, 108m

    New York Premiere
    Make way for the year's breakout star: newcomer Danielle Macdonald is Patti Cake$, aka Killa P, a burly and brash aspiring rapper with big plans to get out of Jersey. Patti lives with her mother (Bridget Everett), a former singer who drinks away her daughter's wages, and ill grandmother (an epic Cathy Moriarty); meanwhile Patti is assisted in realizing her dreams by her hip-hop partner and BFF Hareesh (Siddharth Dhananjay) and their mysterious new collaborator Basterd (Mamoudou Athie). This raucous and fresh tale from first-time writer-director Geremy Jasper—a musician and former music video director from Hillsdale, NJ—follows Patti from gas station rap battles to her shifts at the lonely karaoke bar, while empathetically portraying the aspirations and frustrations of three generations of women. With homegrown swagger and contagious energy, Patti Cake$ announces Jasper and Macdonald as major talents. A Fox Searchlight release.


    BEACH RATS

    Centerpiece
    Beach Rats
    Eliza Hittman, USA, 2017, 95m

    New York Premiere
    Eliza Hittman follows up her acclaimed debut It Felt Like Love with this sensitive chronicle of sexual becoming. Frankie (a breakout Harris Dickinson), a bored teenager living in South Brooklyn, regularly haunts the Coney Island boardwalk with his boys — trying to score weed, flirting with girls, killing time. But he spends his late nights dipping his toes into the world of online cruising, connecting with older men and exploring the desires he harbors but doesn’t yet fully understand. Sensuously lensed on 16mm by cinematographer Hélène Louvart, Beach Rats presents a colorful and textured world roiling with secret appetites and youthful self-discovery. A Neon release.


    PERSON TO PERSON

    Closing Night
    Person to Person
    Dustin Guy Defa, USA, 2017, 84m

    New York Premiere
    This understated yet ambitious sophomore feature by one of American independent cinema’s most exciting young voices follows a day in the lives of a motley crew of New Yorkers. A rookie crime reporter (Abbi Jacobson of Broad City) tags along with her eccentric boss (Michael Cera), pursuing the scoop on a suicide that may have been a murder, leading her to cross paths with a stoic clockmaker (Philip Baker Hall); meanwhile, a precocious teen (Tavi Gevinson) explores her sexuality while playing hooky, and an obsessive record collector (Bene Coopersmith) receives a too-good-to-be-true tip on a rare Charlie Parker LP while his depressed friend (George Sample III) seeks redemption after humiliating his cheating girlfriend. With Person to Person (exquisitely shot in 16mm by rising-star DP Ashley Connor), Defa matches the sophistication of his acclaimed shorts and delights in the freedoms afforded by a bigger canvas.

    4 Days in France / Jours de France
    Jérôme Reybaud, France, 2017, 141m

    French with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    An erotic road movie like no other, Jérôme Reybaud’s fiction feature debut begins in the dark, as Pierre (Pascal Cervo) uses his smartphone to snap photos of his lover’s sleeping body. Then, as if in a trance, he hits the road without any clear destination, drawn this way or that only by the connections he forges with strangers on a hookup app. Soon, his lover will set out in hot pursuit of Pierre across four long days and nights, crossing paths with a succession of curious characters. In the sophisticated angle he takes on the state of modern Eros, Reybaud evokes the work of Stranger by the Lake director Alain Guiraudie, imbuing the proceedings with mystery, humor, and a restrained yet pronounced sensuality.

    Albüm
    Mehmet Can Mertoglu, Turkey/France/Romania, 2016, 105m

    Turkish with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    In this shrewd and visually accomplished social satire from Turkish filmmaker Mehmet Can Mertoglu, a taxman named Bahar (Şebnem Bozoklu) and his history teacher wife, Cüneyt (Murat Kiliç), adopt a child, only to find they feel no emotional connection to the kid. Further complicating their own situation, the self-involved couple initiates an elaborate ruse, with the assistance of contemporary social media, to alter the facts about how they came to have a family. Stunningly photographed on 35mm by Marius Panduru (DP of Romanian New Wave cornerstone Police, Adjective), Mertoglu’s debut feature uses biting black humor to lampoon present-day Turkish society, capturing in equal measure the absurdity of reality and the reality of the absurd.

    Arábia
    João Dumans & Affonso Uchoa, Brazil, 2017, 97m

    Portuguese with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Arábia begins by observing the day-to-day of Andre, a teenager who lives in an industrial area in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. After a local factory worker, Cristiano, has an accident on the job, he leaves behind a handwritten journal, which the boy proceeds to read with relish. The film shifts into road-movie mode to recount the story of Cristiano, an ex-con and eternal optimist who journeys across Brazil in search of work, enduring no shortage of economic hardship but gaining an equal amount of self-knowledge. Invigorating and ever surprising, Arábia is a humanist work of remarkable poise and maturity.

    Autumn, Autumn / Chuncheon, chuncheon
    Jang Woo-jin, South Korea, 2017, 78m

    Korean with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    With a surprising structure that recalls the work of both Hong Sang-soo and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this delicate sophomore feature by Jang Woo-jin is a tale of human connection and searching for one’s place in the world. It begins simply enough, with a young man sitting next to an older couple on a train from Seoul to the city of Chuncheon. From there, we follow the man as he copes with the anxiety of trying to find a job, and then the couple, who, as it turns out, don’t know each other as well as it seems. With funny and moving scenes that play out in understated yet bravura long takes, Autumn, Autumn is as attuned to the passage of time and fluctuations of light as it is to everyday human drama.

    Screens with
    Léthé
    Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2016, France/Georgia, 15m

    Georgian with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere
    A lonely horseman wanders past the river of forgetfulness and through a rural Georgian village where both children and adults explore life's more instinctual pleasures.

    Boundaries / Pays
    Chloé Robichaud, Canada, 2016, 100m

    English and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Chloé Robichaud’s sophomore feature centers on three women trying to square their political careers with complicated personal lives. Besco, a fictitious island country off the eastern coast of Canada, possesses vast natural resources that foreign companies would love to tap into, which occasions negotiations between Besco’s president (Macha Grenon) and Canadian government reps (including Natalie Dummar as a junior aide from the Ottawa delegation), mediated by a bilingual American (Emily Van Camp). As these three suffer through endless condescensions and mansplanations, they must also contend with an array of outside threats, from lobbyists, terrorists—and their own families. The performances are impeccable, and Robichaud stylishly renders the often absurd mundanity of her heroines’ political ordeal.

    By the Time It Gets Dark / Dao Khanong
    Anocha Suwichakornpong, France/Netherlands/Qatar/Thailand, 2016, 105m

    Thai with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere
    In the beguiling, mysterious second feature by Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong, the story of a young film director researching a project about the 1976 massacre of Thai student activists at Thamassat University is just the beginning of a shape-shifting work of fictions within fictions, featuring characters with multiple identities. Drifting across a dizzyingly wide expanse of space and time, By the Time It Gets Dark offers a series of narratives concerning love, longing, the power of cinema, and the vestiges of the past within the present. Asking quietly profound questions about the nature of memory—personal, political, and cinematic—this self-reflexive yet deeply felt film keeps regenerating and unfolding in surprising ways. A KimStim release.

    The Challenge
    Yuri Ancarani, Italy/France/Switzerland, 2016, 69m

    Arabic with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    If you have it, spend it: Italian artist Yuri Ancarani’s visually striking documentary enters the surreal world of wealthy Qatari sheikhs who moonlight as amateur falconers, with no expenses spared along the way. The Challenge follows these men through the rituals that define their lives: perilously racing blacked-out SUVs up and down sand dunes; sharing communal meals; taking their Ferraris out for a spin with their pet cheetahs riding shotgun; and much more. Ancarani’s film is a sly meditation on the collective pursuit of idiosyncratic desires.

    Diamond Island
    Davy Chou, Cambodia/France/Germany/Qatar/Thailand, 2016, 101m
    Khmer with English subtitles

    U.S. Premiere
    In this stylish coming-of-age story, an 18-year-old from the Cambodian provinces arrives at Diamond Island luxury housing development outside Phnom Penh to work a construction job transporting scrap between building sites. He makes friends and courts a local girl, but things grow ever more complicated when his long-estranged brother resurfaces. Making his feature-length fiction debut, Chou (whose documentary Golden Slumbers explored the vanished past of Cambodian cinema) creates an intoxicating blend of naturalism and dreamy stylization, rendering the ecstasies and agonies of late youth with remarkable attention to detail.

    The Dreamed Path / Der traumhafte weg
    Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2016, 86m

    English and German with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    The Dreamed Path traces a precise picture of a world in which chance, emotion, and dreams determine the trajectory of our lives. In 1984 in Greece, a young German couple, Kenneth and Theres, find their romantic relationship tested after his mother suffers an accident. Thirty years later in Berlin, middle-aged actress Ariane splits with her husband David, an anthropologist. Soon, these two couples’ paths cross in unexpected ways, short-circuiting narrative conventions of cause and effect as well as common conceptions of the self. Angela Schanelec, part of the loose collective of innovative German filmmakers that came to be known as the Berlin School, puts her signature formal control to enigmatic and subtly emotional ends in a film of mesmerizing shots and indelible gestures.

    The Future Perfect / El Futuro perfecto
    Nele Wohlatz, Argentina, 2016, 65m

    Spanish and Mandarin with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Winner of the Best First Feature prize at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival, Wohlatz’s assured debut is a playful, exceptionally idea-rich work of fiction with documentary fragments. Seventeen-year-old Xiaobin arrives in Argentina from China unable to speak Spanish. Employed at a Chinese grocery store, she saves up enough money to pay for language classes, and enters into a secret romance with a young Indian man, Vijay. As she begins to grasp the Spanish language’s conditional tense, she imagines a constellation of possible futures.

    Screens with
    Three Sentences About Argentina / Tres oraciones sobre la Argentina
    Nele Wohlatz, Argentina, 2016, 5m

    Spanish and Mandarin with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere
    Nele Wohlatz transposes archival footage of Argentinian skiers into prompts for language exercises in this short made as part of an omnibus feature for the Buenos Aires Film Museum.

    The Giant / Jätten
    Johannes Nyholm, Sweden/Denmark, 2016, 86m

    Swedish with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere
    Rikard lives to play petanque (a kind of lawn-bowling played with hollow steel balls). But his severe physical deformity, coupled with autism, makes communication with the world beyond a very small group of family, friends, and petanque teammates nearly impossible. As Rikard’s team gears up for a prestigious tournament, his fantasies—some involving his mother, who lives in squalor with her pet parrot, and some imagining himself as a giant stomping across a kitschy, romanticist landscape—transport him beyond the confines of the long-term care facility where he lives. Nyholm’s debut feature is a true original: a provocative, grittily realist sports movie, suffused with compassion and humor.

    Happiness Academy / Bonheur Academie
    Kaori Kinoshita & Alain Della Negra, France, 2016, 75m

    French with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere
    Uncannily melding fiction and documentary, Happiness Academy transports us to a hotel retreat for the real-life Raelian Church, a religious sect devoted to the transmission of knowledge inherited from mankind’s extraterrestrial ancestors. As the new candidates for "awakening" (two of whom are played by actress Laure Calamy and musician Arnaud Fleurent-Didier) spend time together at meals, out by the pool, at bonfires, and participating in new age-y group exercises, an unexpected humanism emerges amid the absurd spirituality. Humorous and moving, direct and enigmatic, this singular film meditates on the peculiar ways in which people strive to give their lives meaning.

    Happy Times Will Come Soon / I Tempi felici verranno presto
    Alessandro Comodin, Italy/France, 2016, 102m

    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Two young fugitives out in the wild, a series of talking heads recounting a local legend about a wolf on the prowl, a loose dramatization of that same myth… With a narrative that enigmatically leaps from one hypnotic passage to another, Alessandro Comodin’s sophomore feature, set deep in the northern Italian woods and drawing on local folklore, is the work of a true original. This beautiful and haunting meditation on the relationships between imagination, desire, and violence is a dreamlike fable with the weight of documentary reality.

    Lady Macbeth
    William Oldroyd, UK, 2016, 89m

    New York Premiere
    The debut feature by accomplished theater director William Oldroyd relocates Nikolai Leskov’s play Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District to Victorian England. Florence Pugh is forceful and complex as Lady Katherine, who enters into an arranged marriage with the domineering, repressed Alexander (Paul Hilton), and must contend with her husband’s even more unpleasant mine-owner father (Christopher Fairbank). In this constrictive new milieu, she finds carnal release with one of her husband’s servants (Cosmo Jarvis), but there are profound consequences to her infidelity. Boasting deft performances by an outstanding ensemble cast, Lady Macbeth is a rousing parable about the price of freedom. A Roadside Attractions release.

    The Last Family / Ostatnia rodzina
    Jan P. Matuszynski, Poland, 2016, 124m

    Polish with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    This sort-of biopic of Polish surrealist artist Zdzisław Beksiński, renowned for his stark, unsettling, postapocalyptic paintings, focuses as much on the rest of the funny and reclusive Beksiński family: his religious wife Zofia, a perennially steadying presence; and his son Tomasz, a DJ/translator always on the verge of spiraling out of control. Jan P. Matuszynski’s fiction feature debut renders Beksiński’s home life as a vivid and affecting succession of near-death experiences and psychodramatic blowouts, and shows the brilliant artworks that emerged from all the sturm und drang.

    The Last of Us / Akher Wahed Fina
    Ala Eddine Slim, Tunisia/Qatar/UAE/Lebanon, 2016, 95m

    North American Premiere
    Two men silently traverse a vast, flat landscape; they get in the back of a smuggler’s truck, and soon after they’re attacked by men with guns; one of them escapes to sea, perhaps headed to Europe. He soon then finds himself in an endless forest, where a kind of spiritual journey unfolds. In Ala Eddine Slim’s mysterious, entrancing, dialogue-free film, the political significance of the unnamed protagonist’s journey is given a metaphysical twist. Urgent and evocative, The Last of Us speaks powerfully about both contemporary migration and the ancient struggle between man and nature.

    Menashe
    Joshua Z. Weinstein, USA, 2017, 79m

    Yiddish with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Something like Woody Allen meets neorealism in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Menashe follows its titular hapless protagonist through a host of existential, spiritual, and familial crises. In the wake of his wife’s recent death, Menashe must care for his ten-year-old son—despite the fact that he knows bupkis about parenting—at the same time that he finds himself straying from the rigid norms of his Hasidic community. His friends and family insist that he remarry as soon as possible, but since he can’t get over his deceased wife or make enough money to feed his son, an uncle attempts to intervene. Joshua Z. Weinstein’s fiction feature debut is a poignant and funny parable about the tension between our best intentions and our efforts to make good on them. An A24 release.

    My Happy Family / Chemi bednieri ojakhi
    Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Gross, Georgia/France, 2017, 120m

    Georgian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    The second feature by Ekvtimishvili and Gross subtly and sensitively follows a middle-aged woman as she aims to leave her husband and escape from the multi-generational living situation she shares with her aging parents, the aforementioned husband, her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s cheating live-in boyfriend. Lacking both personal space and free time, she breaks out on her own, building a new life for herself piece by piece while contemplating the family structure she has left behind. My Happy Family is a funny, perceptive, and sociologically rich work about the myriad roles we play in life and the obligations we endlessly strive to fulfill.

    Pendular
    Julia Murat, Brazil/Argentina/France, 2017, 108m

    Portuguese with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    A male sculptor and a female dancer live and work together in their big, barren loft, a mere strip of orange tape serving as the boundary between his atelier and her studio. Here, the stage is set for a low-key psychosexual drama centered around the couple’s erotic, artistic, and everyday rituals. This absorbingly intimate third feature by Julia Murat (her second, Found Memories, was a ND/NF 2012 selection) is a moving portrait of a couple caught between rivalry and the desire to build a future with each other.

    Quest
    Jonathan Olshefski, USA, 2017, 105m

    New York Premiere
    Jonathan Olshefski’s documentary chronicle of an African-American family living in Philadelphia is a powerful and uplifting group portrait rooted in today’s political realities. Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, the film follows the Raineys: patriarch Christopher, who juggles various jobs to support his family and his recording studio; matriarch Christine’a, who works at a homeless shelter; Christine’a’s son William, who is undergoing cancer treatment while caring for his own son, Isaiah; and PJ, Christopher and Christine’a’s teenage daughter. A patient, absorbing vérité epic, Quest covers eight years filled with obstacles, trials, and tribulations.

    Sexy Durga
    Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, India, 2017, 85m
    Malayalam with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sasidharan’s third feature, main competition winner at this year’s International Rotterdam Film Festival, is a wildly tense nocturnal thriller with a razor-sharp political message. Late one night, Kabeer and Durga, a young couple on the run, are picked up by two strange men in a minivan who offer them a lift to a nearby train station. However, these men reveal themselves to be anything but benevolent, and so begins a long, claustrophobic drive that feels like Funny Games meets The Exterminating Angel. Sasidharan renders this bad trip with precision and an economy of style.

    Strong Island
    Yance Ford, USA/Denmark, 2017, 107m

    New York Premiere
    A haunting investigation into the murder of a young black man in 1992, Yance Ford’s Strong Island is achingly personal — the victim, 24-year-old William Ford Jr., was the filmmaker’s brother. Ford powerfully renders the specter of his brother’s death and its devastating effect on his family, and uses the tools of cinema to carefully examine the injustice perpetrated when the suspected killer, a 19-year-old white man, was not indicted by a white judge and an all-white jury. As a work of memoir and true crime, Strong Island tells one of the most remarkable stories in recent documentary; as a political artwork, its resonance is profound.

    The Summer Is Gone / Ba yue
    Dalei Zhang, China, 2016, 106m

    Mandarin with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Dalei Zhang’s atmospheric debut feature is a portrait of a family in Inner Mongolia in the early 1990s that doubles as a snapshot of a pivotal moment in recent Chinese history. As the country settles into its new market economy, 12-year-old Xiaolei stretches out his final summer before beginning middle school, while his father contends with the possibility of losing his job as a filmmaker for a state-run studio, and his mother, a teacher, worries about her son’s grades and future. Beautifully shot in shimmering black-and-white, The Summer Is Gone is intimate and far-reaching, creating ripples of uncertainty from the microcosm of one family’s everyday life.

    White Sun / Seto Surya
    Deepak Rauniyar, Nepal/USA/Qatar/Netherlands, 2016, 89m

    Nepali with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    The second feature by Nepalese filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar sensitively explores the damage done to the fabric of Nepalese society by the decade-long civil war between the Maoists and Nepal’s monarchical government. On the occasion of his father’s funeral, Chandra returns to the village he left years earlier to join the Maoists, and finds himself united with the daughter he never met and revisiting uneasy relations with family members and neighbors. Past traumas return and cause tensions to boil over. Finding the political within the everyday, White Sun uses one village’s complex tribulations to speak to an entire national history. A KimStim release.

    The Wound
    John Trengove, South Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France, 2017, 88m

    Xhosa with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    In a mountainous corner of the Eastern Cape of South Africa, an age-old Xhosa ritual introducing adolescent boys to manhood continues to this day. This is the backdrop for this stark and stirring first feature by John Trengove, in which Xolani, a quiet and sensitive factory worker (played by musician Nakhane Touré), guides one of the boys, Kwanda, an urban transplant sent against his will from Johannesburg to be toughened up, through this rite of passage. In an environment where machismo rules, Kwanda negotiates his own identity while discovering the secret of Xolani’s sexuality. Brimming with fear and violence, The Wound is an exploration of tradition and masculinity. A Kino Lorber release.

    Wùlu
    Daouda Coulibaly, France/Mali/Senegal, 2016, 95m

    Bambara and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    A gangster picture with political resonance, Wùlu tracks the rise to power of Ladji, a 20-year-old van driver in Mali who takes to crime so that his older sister can quit a life of prostitution. He calls in a favor from a drug-dealer friend and soon finds himself deeply involved in a complex and illicit enterprise; as he discovers his knack for his new profession and his lifestyle ostensibly improves, the stakes grow higher and deadlier by the day. Set during the lead-up to 2012’s Malian Civil War, Wùlu is more than an exciting and superbly made thriller—it offers a powerful glimpse at the complexities of a particular historical moment.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-02-2017 at 01:15 PM.

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    I added the first four reviews of 2017 New Directors/New Films.

    PATTI CAKE$ (Geremy Jasper 2016)

    A vivid film about a "Precious"-sized white girl rapper on the rise. A Sundance hit. The opening night film.

    THE LAST FAMILY/OSTATNIA RODZINA (Jan P. Matuszynski 2106)

    Chronicle of 25 key years in the lives of a somewhat reclusive family of a famous Polish artist whose problem son was a music commentator.

    WHITE SUN/SETO SURYA (Depak Rauniyar 2016)

    Touching film of Nepal dramatizes its recent history through personal, emotional issues captures some of the mood of Satyajit Ray classics.

    THE CHALLENGE (Yuri Ancarani 2016)

    Stylized documentary about falconry paracticed as a luxury sport by Qatari men.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-02-2017 at 05:46 AM.

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    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-07-2017 at 10:27 PM.

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    On the second day of press screenings, I saw three good films. The first and third I could gladly watch again. The last haunts me and lingers in memory.

    SUMMER IS GONE/BA YUE (Zhang Dalei 2016)

    In the early Nineties, a little family in Inner Mongolia faces transitions. The father may lose his filmmaking job with the privatization of state-owned companies. The 12-year-old son (on whom there is much focus) has finished elementary school and will enter junior high. In black and white. Reminiscent of Edward Yang and early Jia Zhang-ke. Uses non-professional actors. An excellent first film.

    WÙLU(Daouda Coulibaly 2016)

    In Mali, an enigmatic, stylish young man takes to drug running (cocaine) and makes a fortune. This is at once a Scarface-style crime thriller and a portrait of the country's and its neighbor's political unrest and its sources.

    ARÁBIA (João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa 2017)


    Beautiful, meditative, literary, moody story of a lonely Brazilian wanderer and his many jobs, friendships and love. Lots of live music. This is one I want to see again. It made me think of Wong Kar-wai's Happy Together. The philosophical voiceover. The wandering.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-02-2017 at 06:02 AM.

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    BY THE TIME IT GTS DARK/DAO KHANONG (Anocha Suwichakornpong 2016)

    This Thai film about a student massacre is beautiful and owes something to fellow countryman Weeresethakul but it's too much in the head. It put me to sleep.

    MY HAPPY FAMILY/CHEM BEDNIERI OJAKHI (Naa Ekvtimiishvili, Simon Gross 2017)

    Oh yes, this is a gutsy old-fashioned play-like depiction of a Polish family that live all together, seven, in one big crowded apartment, and the wife leaves and takes an apartment by herself, upsetting the apple cart. Very watchable.

    STRONG ISLAND (Yance Fort 2017)

    Yes yes yes. This intense documentary by an African American gay, now trans-gender guy about the murder of her brother 23 years ago and its devastating effect on his family is indelible and deeply felt and elegantly made. Passion and truth here, and much to think about.

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    BONHEUR ACADÉMIE/HAPPINESS ACADEMY (Kaori Kinoshita & Alain Della Negra 2017)

    Raëlians, a cult with a guru who laugh and smile and are erotic and think extra terrestrials made us and are in touch with us - what is this? An info-mercial? A promotional film? It's a docu-drama, and it lacks substance.

    SEXY DUERGA (Sanal Kumar Sasidharan 2017)

    The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reviewers hated this, about a flesh-punishing ritual festival in India and a couple who hitchhike and are picked up by men who psychologically menace and harass them is tedious to watch in the middle but is effective and visually remarkable, especially at the end.

    MENASHE (Joshua Z. Weinstein 2017)

    This is sweet and authentic. It's a feature film about a bereaved Hasidic man in Brooklyn who's a bit of a doofus - exaggerated by his grieving - and is struggling to regain respect in the community and be allowed to raise his ten-year old kid. It is remarkable to be able to make a film about this community at all, with authentic people and settings, because the community doesn't permit such things and they dont' even watch movies, or get the Internet. The director is a documentary maker and spent some time setting things up.

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    THE FUTURE PERFECT/EL FUTURO PERFECTO (Nele Wohlatz 2016)

    Argentine film, just a little over an hour, about a Chinese teenager in Buenes Aires who broadens her horizons by getting serious about learning Spanish. (Chinese people sometimes live in close society, not learning the local language well.) The extra touch is play with language, with the way it alters perception and defines what one can do as well as what one can say. A bit wan, with its stilted conversations a bit à la Ionesco Theater of the Absurd and its faded colors, but this is also very original and thought-provoking material.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-06-2017 at 10:55 PM.

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    4 DAYS IN FRANCE/JOURS DE FRANCE (Jérôme Reybaud 2017)

    This has been compared to Alain Giraudie of Stranger at the Lake - French gay film about a man who runs away from his Paris boyfriend and goes wandering and crusing using Grindr, the bay hookup app, while his boyfriend uses Grindr to try to find him. More literary and elegant and meandering than erotic, this is a good-looking, well-made, rather too-long film (2 hours 20-some minutes). Lots of high-culture stuff. And a gallery of "interesting" though not essential characters met along the way. Too much David Lynch a colleague said.

    AUTUMN, AUTUMN/CHUNCHEON, CHUNCHEON (Jang Woo-jin 2017)

    Well, in principle this is promising and formally inventive, a Korean film somewhat in the manner of Hong Sang-soo (a FSLC darling), but this guy is in his very early thirties. About an Internet date trip from Seoul to a provincial town of a middle-aged couple along with a young high school grad who's going home after not getting the job he sounght in the capital. The trouble for me is that it's so low-budget it looks terrible and the couple are so drab and boring. It reminded me of Delbert Mann's 1955 Marty though - shyness and discomfort. The young guy has one virtuoso sequence with a cell phone.


    THE DREAMED PATH/DER TRAUMHAFTE WEG (Angela Schanelec 2016)

    High-concept art film stuff, but being from the Berlin School, it has a kind or clarity and precision that give peleasure at first, and it has emotional content. But the second half starts completely confusing you. The first is about a German woman and her English boyfriend, buskers in Greece, who break up when his mother gets deathly ill and he goes home. the second part - I don't know. An arresting scene in a swimming pool.

  10. #10
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    This was a mixed bag. But anything might be your thing. Great movies? There were none.

    HAPPY TIMES WILL COME SOON/I TEMPI FELICI VERRANNO PRESTO (Alessandro Comodin 2016)

    A wild avant-garde Italian mix of folk legend and intense physicality set in the Val d'Aosta, with a boy who's a stand-in for a wolf that adopts a girl. And people disappear down into holes, and dig them.

    PENDULAR (Júlia Murat 2016)

    Brazilian director's 2011 ND/NF film was Found Memories, which Mike D'Angelo says he walked out of; he considers this a great leap forward. This one is very different: about a male sculptor and female dancer in a relationship and sharing a big live-work space where the dancer dominates. I found it grating and repetitious. But it won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, so others agree with D'Angelo and not me.

    BOUNDARIES/PAYS (Chloé Robichaud 2016)

    A movie about national level negotiations over a mining corporation, Canada, and a small fictitious nearby island country called Besco. The focus is on three women who are involved in the game at various levels. It's a watchable movie, but it hasn't got the wit or the thrills needed to keep it from being flat. Still, it's interesting to watch a French Canadian movie 95% in French set in this kind of exalted milieu.

  11. #11
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    Some more impressive films today.

    BEACH RATS (Eliza Hittman 2017)

    Frankie (remarkable British newcomer Harris Dickinson) is a teenager spending the summer with his posse doing drugs and flirting with girls, but at night he trolls the online gay sex sites for hookups. He is cruising into trouble. This is a vivid and intense movie, but Frankie is a blank, and there isn't much plot line or context. It feels in-you-face real, though. The ND/NF Centerpiece Film, this drew the biggest screening crowd since Patti Cake$ Release coming.

    LADY MACBETH (William Oldroyd 2016)

    A Briish theater director making his first feature using the very young actress Florence Pugh has made an elegant zinger of an adaptation of Nikolai Lescov's 1865 Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District - a wild tale of sex and murder with overtomes of Lady Chatterly and Madame Bovary as well as Lady Macbeth. Release coming

    THE GIANT (Johannes Nyholm 2016)

    A severely disabled man plays pétanque, a variation on boules. Real down syndrome and other mentally handicapped people are used but the main character, Rykard, is an actor wearing prosthetics. Disability advocates might not like this. The movie is sweet, but not real. It has little hope of an audience beyond the festivals.

  12. #12
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    PERSON TO PERSON (Dustin Guy Defa 2017) Closing Night FILM

    This seems like an odd corruption of Mumblecore: the same kind of minor topics and low-keyed acting - but no mumbling. And strangely, we miss that, because Mummblecore's quirky naturalism is lacking, really, and the plots are artificially crisp and neatly resolved, if not particularly interesting. Philip Baker Hall and Michael Cera add recognizable faces.

    QUEST (Jonathan Olshefski 2016)

    A multiple-year documentary following a black family in North Philadelphia who face poverty, hard work, and the violence of the neighborhood with spirit and courage. Focus on the older son, William, who has a cancerous tumor and a baby boy at the same time. He survives to be a good dad; and the 13-year-old P.J., their daughter, who is struck by a stray bullet from a far-off gunfight and loses an eye. Thanks to her pluck and the warmth of her parents, she deals with this trauma, and even can still shoot hoops. In time it comes out that she's gay. Her parents have trouble with this and "blame" each other or themselves for this happening, as if it was a choice.

    DIAMOND ISLAND (Davy Chou 2016)

    A Cambodian coming-of-age film focused on a young man from the country who comes to a place outside Pnom Penh to work in construction. Buddies, girls, the appearance of his lost older brother figure. A very visual film, full of night lights and pastels and pretty faces: considerable formal beauty, a hypnotic mood. Though it can feel a bit static at times, almost like Kabuki theater, this film features what is at once a very distinctive and personal style and moments that may bring to mind Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Jia Zhang-ke.Davy Chou is Cambodian-French, and the production has heavy French involvement.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2017 at 08:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    AST OF US/AKHER WAHED FINA (Ala Eddine Slim (2016)

    An avant-gardist wordless film from Tunisia that alludes to exile and immigration, than morphs into a Robinson Crusoe-like tale where Man Friday is the leader copied by the shipwrecked man.

    THE WOUND/INXEBA (John Trengove 2017)

    In this feature debut from South Africa, a traditional Xhosa manhood ritual for adolescent boys taking place in a mountainous corner of the Eastern Cape of South Africa is the setting for a showdown about two adults' concealed homosexuality.

    ALBUM (Mehmet Can Mertoğlu 2016)

    In this midfire from Turkey a couple adopting a baby go to extremes to conceal it's not actually their child. Too many extraneous elements. Somewhere here there might be a witty dark comedy gesturing to be let out.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-14-2017 at 10:21 AM.

  14. #14
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    New Directors/New Films 2017 opens. Some picks.


    PATRICIA ("PJ"), CHRISTINE'A AND CHRISTOPHER ("QUEST") RAINEY IN QUEST

    New Directors/New Films, presented jointly by and at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, runs from March 15-26 this year. Here are comments and recommendations followed by an index to my reviews of all 29 films of the series.

    There were two powerful documentaries about African American experience. Yance Ford's Strong Island is a searing personal memoir of how the murder of a family member 23 years ago tore apart their lives and deepened their cynicism. Jonathan Olshevskii is a white still photographer who came to shoot the North Philly rap studio of Christopher Rainey, known, as is the film, as Quest - and spent years shooting the whole remarkable family. A story of love, heart, and sharing in the community in ways that transcend poverty.

    Otherwise if there were no absolutely great films, there were a number of good ones, some rich in blending the personal and the political and some full of poetry and emotion.

    Several with gay content include 4 Days in France/Jours de France (Jérôme Reybaud 2016), the whimsical "fugue" of a boyfriend across France from his Parisian lover full of odd encounters and poetry; and Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman) about a hunky but badly confused Brooklyn teenager acting macho with his posse by day and cruising sex sites by night hooking up with older gay men.

    Set in a not too dissimilar poor greater New York milieu is Geremy Jasper's Patti Cake$, the US indie hit of the fest, about a feisty white fat girl struggling to become a rapper. But I am not a fan of this Sundance film and it doesn't need my hyping. I'd rather recommend documentary filmmaker Joshoa Weinstein's feature debut Menashe, the touching Orthodox Jewish drama of a bereaved dad struggling to be a mensch and regain custody of his young son. Menashe has some of the fest's most authentic emotion.

    At the opposite extreme is William Oldroyd's elegant and shocking period drama of a killer female, Lady Macbeth, based on an 1860's Russian novella. Wicked!

    Otherwise, there were some more exotic films that had poetry and beauty, three of them in particular. Dumans and Uchoa's Arábia is a novelistic, dreamy exploration of a lonely working-class life over a decade wandering all over Brazil. Also from South America is Nele Wohlatz's whimsical, though-provoking The Future Perfect, about a young Chinese girl learning Spanish and through it exploring a new life in Buenos Aires. From Cambodia comes the beautiful, dreamy, hypnotic coming-of-age film from Davy Chou, Diamond Island. This is a film drunk with the visual.

    I can also recommend Zhang Daiei's Summer Is Gone, a black-and-white coming-of-age tale set in Inner Mangolia in the early Nineties that bears comparison with both Edward Yang and Jia Zhang-ke; and the fast-moving, bright-colored political drug thriller about Mali, Wùlu (Dauda Coulibaly). Some will be fascinated by the artful meandering of another exotic tale blending the personal and the political, Depak Rauniyar's White Sun.


    ARISTIDES DE SOUSA IN ARÁBIA

    NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2017
    Links to the reviews
    4 Days in France/Jours de France (Jérôme Reybaud 2016)
    Albüm (Mehmet Can Mertoglu 2016)
    Arábia (João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa 2017)
    Autumn, Autumn/Chuncheon, Chuncheon (Jang Woo-jin 2017)
    Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman 2017) Centerpiece Film
    By the Time It Gets Dark/Dao khanong (Anocha Suwichakornpong 2016)
    Boundaries/Pays (Chloé Robichaud 2016)
    Challenge, The (Yuri Ancarani 2016)
    Diamond Island (Davy Chou 2016)
    Dreamed Path, The/Der Traumhafte Weg (Angela Schanelec 2016)
    Future Perfect, The/El Futuro Perfecto (Nele Wohlatz 2016)
    Giant, The/Jätten (Johannes Nyholm 2016)
    Happiness Academy/Bonheur académie (Kaori Kinoshita & Alain Della Negra 2017)
    Happy Times Will Come Soon/I tempi felici verranno presto (Alessandro Comodin 2016)
    Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd 2016)
    Last Family, The/Ostatnia Rodzina (Jan P. Matuszynski 2106)
    Last of Us, The/Akhar Wahid Fina 2016)
    Menashe (Joshoa Z. Weinstein 2016)
    My Happy Family/Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi ((Naa Ekvtimiishvili, Simon Gross 2017)
    Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper 2017) Opening Night Film
    Pendular (Julia Murat 2017)
    Person to Person (Dustin Guy Defa 2017) Closing Night
    Quest (Jonathan Olshefski 2016)
    Sexy Durga (Sanal Kumar Sasidharan 2017)
    Strong Island (Yance Ford 2017)
    Summer Is Gone/Ba yue (Zhang Dalei 2016)
    White Sun/Seto Surya (Depak Rauniyar 2016)
    Wound, The (John Trengove 2017)
    Wùlu (Daouda Coulibaly 2016)


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-14-2017 at 10:30 AM.

  15. #15
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    Mar. 23rd, 2017.
    New Directors/New Films wraps up this weekend with Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON screening as Closing Night.


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-23-2017 at 05:20 PM.

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