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Thread: New Directors/New Films 2017

  1. #16
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    THE FUTURE PERFECT/EL FUTURO PERFECTO (Nele Wohlatz 2016)

    NELE WOHLATZ: THE FUTURE PERFECT/EL FUTURO PERFECTO (2016)



    XIAOBIN ZHAN IN THE FUTURE PERFECT

    "Apprendre une langue, c'est vivre de nouveau"

    This film reminded me of Ionesco. He's said to have been inspired to write his Theater of the Absurd plays by reading dialogues in language textbooks. Nele Wohlatz creates a delicately surreal atmosphere by following newcomers to Argentina, a Chinese girl and an Indian man who have a romance while communicating only in Spanish, of which they have a limited knowledge. At the same time I also thought of the folksy approach to immigrant interaction we get in the classic story by Leo Rosten, "The Education of H*Y*M*A*NK*A*P*L*A*N." This is a charming and original film.

    Fired from a deli because she doesn't know enough Spanish words to serve customers, Xiaobin finds work at a different Chinese grocery store where her knowledge of mandarin is sufficient to make her useful. There she meets a young Indian man called Vijay (Saroj Malik). She's pretty and young, and Vijay is immediately interested. Xiaobin goes against her relative, who says they're going back to China and studying Spanish is a waste of time. Xiaobin saves up enough money from her job to pay for language classes. For her it's an opportunity to break away from the restrictions of her traditional family, to expand her future possibilities and break free of the more dire restrictions of being a foreigner.

    Vijay comes a courting, a role that's defined largely just by body language, because while his Spanish is limited, Xiaobin's is even more rudimentary. Vijay almost at once declares to Xiaobin that he loves here and wants to marry her. He is barred by limited Spanish on both sides from conducting an elaborate courtship, but he's also under pressure from his family to find a wife. She knows this is going too fast, but she also lives in the fantasy. Speaking a new language makes it all feel like just a game and things move fast because there are no linguistic complexities to slow them down.

    The blurb calls this an "idea-rich work." Indeed: the subjects of simple language and complicated situations, and simple situations complicated by language, lead inevitably down the road of linguistic philosophy. Do we know more than we can say? Because we can say something does it mean that we know something?

    The conceit of this short feature grows out of moving along to better knowledge of the target language. It's that as the student moves toward conditional verbs, she also moves into consideration of multiple possibilities in her own young life. The film is made up of a series of short scenes with dialogue after the manner of language learning texts. A special guest is the talented and multilingual young actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, who arrives speaking fluent and very convincing mandarin. But he says he's just acting. Apprendre une langue, c'est vivre de nouveau, goes the saying: speaking a new language is a performance, taking on a new role and a new life.

    There are many opportunities for drollness and for romantic hints. At the same time it's hard to sustain these things for very long. And the pastel-pale color processing of the film gives it a kind of wanness. But this little film is as original as it is universal.

    The Future Pefrect/El futuro perfecto, 65 mins., debuted at Locarno 2016, winning the Best First Feature prize. It was screened for this review as part of the Mar. 2017 FSLC-MoMA New Directors/New Films series.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 06:03 AM.

  2. #17
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    4 DAYS IN FRANCE/JOURS DE FRANCE (Jérôme Reybaud 2017)

    JÉRÔME REYBAUD: 4 DAYS IN FRANCE/JOURS DE FRANCE (2017)


    MATTHIEU CHEVÉ and PASCAL CERVO IN 4 DAYS IN FRANCE

    A French gay road movie with oddballs and Grindr

    Gay viewers who expect this film to be a round of hot erotic encounters - or an intense melange of mystery and explicit sex like Giraudie's Stranger by the Lake - will be disappointed. Filmmaker Jérôme Reybaud has made a road movie with a decidedly gay focus, but his scope is more varied and bemused. His protagonist, 36-year-old Pierre Thomas (Pascal Cervo), though well primed for a tour of gay France with an attractive new white Alfa sedan and a smart phone loaded with Grindr, the worldwide gay hookup app, is as much as anything on a "fugue," as the French call it, an escape and a wild ramble. He's run off in the night from his Paris lover Paul (Arthur Igual) and gone wandering. After he fails to show up for a production of Cosi fan tutte for which Paul got them €150 seats, Paul goes in frantic pursuit of Pierre, using Grindr in turn as a search tool. As for Pierre, he goes where chance takes him, running into oddballs and old ladies more than hot men. This movie is whimsical, elegant, pretty, literary, a little too pleased with itself - and not really all that sexy. It requires some patience. In compensation it has humor, variety, poetry. And some sex.

    Grindr is a geographical-locator app gay men list themselves on: options pop up wherever you go, and the use of it makes this look for a minute like an updated French country-wide version of John Retchy's pre-AIDS novel Numbers, in which a narcissist a tad past prime goes on a frantic sex tour of gay L.A., racking up as many sweaty, sperm-soaked encounters as possible in a ten-day period. Pierre starts out promisingly with Matthieu (Mathieu Chevé), a cute young guy in Bourges, who wants Pierre to pick him up on his way back and take him to Paris. But Pierre has no plan to return to Paris. He has no plan. He tells Matthieu to go to Paris on his own.

    Pierre himself isn't wholly on his own. He calls his aunt, a theatrical grande dame, who cites Breton: "Hit the road." As someone else, a salesman (Bertrand Nadier) whom Pierre kisses, then masturbates thinking of through a wall, says, "only a car can give you certain sensations" of the land. Pierre becomes an automotive flaneur, a leisurely wanderer. When Matthieu gives him a package and a note for a lady up in the mountains, he later delivers it. Later he encounters a series of people, including a petty thief (female, Lætitia Dosch) who takes some of the most prized possessions he has with him; a fat old barkeep who wants only wordless, impersonal sex. He has a pretty, odd young godson, obviously gay, who haunts public toilets and memorizes facts about French towns. Pierre comes across a former teacher, now a mere provincial bookseller (Nathalie Richard). There are various ladies of a certain age - no young pretty ones. But Paul, hot on the trail, gets a blow job from a plain woman (Corinne Courège) working for a roadside fast food joint called Happy Dough (La Pâte à Bonheur) - out of kindness, because she won't take the mere €5 she's asking as a gift without the service.

    4 Days in France has handsome cinematography, rich in painterly landscape, by Sabine Lancelin; the editing includes jump cuts expressive of Pierre's rudderless travels. The score includes classical excerpts, some opera. And a happy ending.

    4 Days in France/Jours de France, 141 mins., debuted in the directors series at Venice. It opens in French cinemas 15 Mar. 2017. (It scored high with critics: <a href="http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefilm-246427/critiques/presse/">AlloCiné</a> 3.6.) Screened for this review as part of the New Directors/New Films 2017 series (Lincoln Center/MoMA). [Mike D'Angelo gives this film a 71, and has wound up putting it at number 10 in his favorite films list for 2016.]
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-02-2018 at 10:03 PM.

  3. #18
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    AUTUMN, AUTUMN/CHUNCHEON, CHUNCHEON (Jang Woo-jin 2017)

    JANG WOO-JIN: AUTUMN, AUTUMN/CHUNCHEON, CHUNCHEON (2017)


    WOO JI-HYUN, YANG HYUNG-JU, AND LEE SE-RANG IN AUTUMN, AUTUMN

    Disappointment and awkwardness in a provincial town

    Not unlike Hong Sang-soo, who surely must be something of an influence, Jang Woo-jin's film is about a trip to a new place, with a lot of conversations. It's divided up into two story lines, which don't connect except that the three characters involved, a couple on a travel date who met on the Internet, and a young guy returning home after failing to get a job he sought in Seoul - and hey go to some of the same places without running into each other. The three are sitting next to each other in a train compartment heading from Seoul to the provincial town of Chuncheon, a shit hole, the disappointed young guy Ji-hyun (We Ji-hyun) says, but a spot notable for its pretty landscapes to Hyung-ju (Yang Hyung-ju) and Se-rang (Lee Se-rang); she used to live here and has pleasant memories of the place. The Korean title of the film, "Cuncheon, Chuncheon," signals its bipartite structure: it's two Chuncheons, that of the would-be couple, a liaison that ultimately doesn't work; and that of the sad and frustrated Ji-hyun, whose high school dreams are crushed.

    We hear Hyung-ju and Se-rang talk on the noisy train, but don't gather what's going on with them till later. We follow Ji-hyun as he stands that night on a bridge, then next day ferries to a temple to pray and then works in a friend's restaurant. From them he gets the phone number of a friend, Min-jung (Kim Min-jung), whom he's run into earlier, whose mother's funeral he was to attend, but couldn't because he missed the ferry back to Chuncheon. In what seems the most arresting scene in the film, Ji-hyun talks to his friend with the cell phone sitting on the ground. He remembers old times and weeps. His friend tells him he's given up singing as a career; he didn't have what it takes. But Ji-hyun begs him to sing a song for him, which he does, despite saying he doesn't usually sing for guys. It's a surprisingly emotional moment, despite there being nothing but Ji-hyun and a cell phone in the scene. The actor playing Ji-hyun, charming and sad, impresses.

    Hyung-ju and Se-rang are harder to watch. They go to some of the same places as Ji-hyun, the temple and a couple of restaurants, and a hotel, very awkward, like Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in the 1955 Marty. When they go to a hotel, Hyung-ju has to go outside while Se-rang takes a bath, because the bathtub is right out in the room. As time goes on, the somewhat older Hyung-ju declares himself well leased with Se-rang, but it emerges that she doesn't return the feelings, even though, by the time they admit the food at an outdoor restaurant she remembers isn't very good, and wasn't in the past either.

    Michael Sicinski, in his review on Letterboxd, suggests that Jang's aim is "humanizing embarrassment," a process by which we "become invested in gradually [accruing] disappointment." (This fits with the comparison to Marty.) In his Berlinale review, D.Kat Griggs focuses on the way the landscapes and locations work in relation to mood and action and holds that the film's message lies in its "visual representations, the sounds, the expressions, and the feeling of the interaction." Both these interpretations may be valid, and clearly Autumn, Autumn is sophisticated and conceptually ambitious. But this is a low-budget film, and its cheap, grainy look I found off-putting, the filming of most of its scenes (except perhaps Ji-hyun's phone call) unattractive and plodding. Jang Woo-jin was only around 30 when he made this film, however, and he could move on to more successful and polished work.

    Autumn, Autumn/Chuncheon, Chuncheon/ 춘천, 춘천, 78 mins., debuted at the Berlinale Forum. Screened for this review as part of New Directors/New Films (FSLC/MoMA) 2017.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 06:25 AM.

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

    ANGELA SCHANELEC: THE DREAMED PATH/DER TRAUMHAFTE WEG (2016)


    MIRIAM JAKOB AND THORBJÖRN BJÖRNSSON IN THE DREAMED PATH

    Couples troubles

    This Berlin School film of two couples who intersect somehow thirty years apart at first satisfies with its formal rigor and narrative clarity - until it becomes hard to follow and largely lost me. I did think of Godard but there is a harsh German severity. Its people treat each other cruelly, it treats the audience cruelly.

    The film starts in Greece with a couple roughing it in the Eighties (the fall of the Berlin Wall will come up). They are Theres (Miriam Jakob), who's German, and Kenneth (Thorbjörn Björnsson), who's English (though the actor isn't). They sing "Wimaway" ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight") as seated buskers for cash, and he uses change to call home, learning his mother is deathly ill. He goes home, where he and his blind father (Alan Williams) mercy-kill his mother using a large dose of morphine (Kenneth has been a heroin user, and so knows where to get drugs). Theres gets a scholarship to study in Berlin. When he turns up in Berlin, she walks past him. He disappears, leaving his dog chained in the rain in a square. She is now involved with a young German man who works in a hospital.

    The Dreamed path is shot in tight 4:3 ratio, and its shots are similarly often pared down eschewing back-and-forth coverage of conversation, showing often one person and only part of the body of the other, with head-on shots of faces and a lack of affect and a several-second delay of response in dialogue. This gives an effect of clarity and focus.

    Speaking of clarity and focus, that comes even in the blind father. "Are you completely blind now?" Kenneth asks, and his father says no, and explains exactly what he can see. No colors, but forms moving, and himself as a spot in the mirror. "I recognized immediately that it was you," he tells his son.

    There is an odd, haunting scene of kids bathing in an indoor pool. The opening shot is of a couple dozen kids clustered together at the edge of the pool - no preparation. It's arresting. Then starting with one bolder boy they all lower themselves (not diving) into the water. Then, we see a boy in a wheelchair in the distance. He unlocks himself from being hooked into the wheelchair, slides forward - and flops boldly into the water. Later he's helped out and there's a spot like a wound on one leg. "Use spit, that will disinfect it," says one kid, and a girl licks the wound.

    In the main second plot section middle-aged actress Ariane (Maren Eggert) splits with her husband David (Phil Hayes), an anthropologist. There is a little girl (Anaïa Zapp) who hurts her left arm and it's put in a cast by a doctor who asks her if she likes sports. She says she liked football. At the end she is by herself kicking a ball around. Theres appears wearing the same red top and black and white skirt she wore in the first scenes. Kenneth has come to Berlin, and it's raining. They look the same.

    What gives? Is Schanelec telescoping time? I could not parse these latter sequences. The early ones between Theres and Kenneth and Kenneth and his father and dying mother are clear and memorable. In a longer piece about the director by Blake Williams in Cinema Scope Online, he calls this "perhaps the freshest and most profoundly emotional film that [Schanelec has] ever made." Vadim Rizov says he ilked Schanelec's earlier Marseilles, and The Dreamed path is "a hilariously severe film, The Marble Index of Bresson-damaged High European Art Cinema, in which Schanelec sort of gives you enough information to get oriented at the start before systematically adding more and more characters and incidents for whom all context has been elided."

    The Dreamed Path/Der traumhafte weg, 86 mins., debuted at Locarno 9 Aug. 2016.Seven other international festivals including Toronto, Hamburg, Vancouver, Cologne and Mar del Plata. It was screened for this review as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center-Museum of Modern Art 20117 New Directors/New Films series, Mar. 2017.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 06:29 AM.

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

    ALESSANDRO COMODIN: HAPPY TIMES WILL COME SOON/I TEMPI FELICI VERRANNO PRESTO (2016)


    SABRINA SEYVECOU AND ERIKAS SIZONOVAS IN HAPPY TIMES WIIILL COME SOON

    Of wolves and men

    The Italian film avant-garde may have a penchant for local legends and roughing it on the land. One might see those elements in Micheelangelo Frammartino's much admired Le quattro volte (NYFF 2010) and also in Simone Rapisarda Casanova's The Creation of Meaning (ND/NF 2015)]. The same goes for Alessandro Comodin's Happy Times Will Come Soon/i tempi felici verrranno presto - but this time ingredients are thrown down, but don't fit together. Clarence Tsui puts it politely when he says in his Hollywood Reporter Cannes review that Comodin is "an innovative filmmaker yet to master the art of combining wildly diverse ideas into a cohesive whole."

    The elements are a couple of young men hiding out in a forest, a local legend of a wolf that adopted a pretty girl, and a young women in the area who gets lost. There is also digging holes and going down into holes. And narrative logic is regarded lightly. The two young men are Tommaso (Erikas Sizonovas) and Arturo (Luca Bernardi). They trap a rabbit (by digging a hole and perching a big rock over it), find a dead man and take his rifle. Perhaps all this is meant to be happening at an earlier time. It somewhat looks like it - except that the guys are wearing modern day charity shop clothes and good, up-to-date hiking shoes. They play around foolishly with the rifle. With this turn, Comodin tips his hand. We know things won't go well. Tommaso and Arturo are soon surrounded and shot. All this action is staged and filmed in an effectively visceral style. Tommaso and Arturo's exhausting run through wood and hill, followed by a dogged shaky cam, is pure physicality. But the lack of explanation or context limits our engagement.

    In a more documentary-style passage, several men recount for the camera versions of a local tale about a wolf that adopted a lost girl and took her away to the woods and protected her. She was however, pale and unhealthy and eventually died, and the wolf pined for her. This storytelling is obviously an inspiration for the film but its literalness disrupts the spell cast by the rough action.

    Later we return to the woods and follow Ariane (Sabrina Seyvecou). After riding on a tractor with a pipe-smoking older dude, she sets out on her own and gets lost in the woods. Like the two guys on the run, she also strips and takes a dip in the muddy lake; only she mucks about in the mud; they just dove off a rock.

    Then, to our surprise, Ariane finds Tommaso, hiding in a hole. They have sex. Then it looks as if he may have killed her. He winds up in a nice prison - and Ariane comes to visit him. They touch through a separation grill that, final titles say, was constructed for the film and isn't the real one.

    In the second half, Tommaso has presumably become the wolf's avatar and Ariane a version of the folk tale girl, but the film's lack of connective tissue leaves these equivalences hanging. After this film's Cannes Critics Fortnight debut Variety ran a review by Guy Lodge where he called it "an elegantly mounted but effortfully cryptic foray into narrative filmmaking. . ."

    The film was shot in Cuneo, in the sparsely populated Val d'Aosta, northwestern Italy, where according to the 35-year-old Comodin, there indeed are wolves. Comodin's first feature, the 2011 docudrama Summer with Giacomo, won the Golden Leopard at Locarno.

    Happy Times Will Come Soon/I Tempi felici verranno presto, 102 mins., debuted in Critics Week at Cannes; also other festivals including Rio, Vienna, and Rotterdam; at Mexico City it won the Puma Prize for Best Film. Screened for this review as part of the FSLC-MoMA 2017 New Directors/New Films series.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 06:39 AM.

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    PENDULAR (Júlia Murat 2017)

    JÚLIA MURAT: PENDULAR (2017)



    Hazards of cohabitation for an artist couple

    Júlia Murat's previous film, the 2011 Found Memories, was a delicate semidocumentary meditation about a fading town and its customs and people. It would be nice to think of her new feature, Pendular as a "huge leap forward," as Mike D'Angelo says he does in his Letterboxd discussion. But to begin with while D'Angelo walked out on Found Memories, I liked it; it's low-keyed, but that's the point: it seemed to me haunting and beautiful.

    Pendular certainly is a very different kind of film, a straightforward drama about a heterosexual relationship. Ele (Rodrigo Bolzan), a sculptor, and Ela (Raquel Karro), a dancer/choreographer, are an artistic couple who cohabit a huge live-work space in a semi-derelict industrial building, and while their relationship is sexy and relaxed, it's also by implication and inevitably uneasy and competitive: they work where they live (the spaces never seem to me very clearly defined; it's only half-way through that it's clear they have a bedroom away from the open spaces).

    Murat struggles with the old problem of showing us what can't be shown - the creative process. There's an imbalance perhaps because Karro is a "more forceful" screen presence (as D'Angelo says). But aggressiveness isn't the only way of getting our attention. Bolzan holds his own a lot of the time with his sad and gloomy looks. Murat likes to show her dancing, and his sculptures and sculpture-making never really come to life. But that's intentional. He's supposed to be having a dry period or a personal crisis. Maybe he doesn't like that she is always having intimate, touchy-feely dances with a younger male partner. And then, Ele wants to "give" Ela a baby, and she doesn't want one. Maybe it's just pretty obviously not a good idea for two artists to be working in the same open space, especially when they're a couple.

    The film goes through meandering and repetitive efforts to show us "artists". This includes the couple's bohemian friends, who periodically get together for mixed games of soccer in a courtyard. The friends aren't developed as characters, except, slightly, the plump man who's the critic "friend" to whom Ele foolishly confides that he doesn't know where in the hell he is going with his new work, and the critic tells him he's going nowhere. Is Ela's dancing going anywhere? There is nothing special to prove that, really, other than the fact of those sexy dances with the young male partner. Would it have been too obvious to show Ele noticing this?

    With all the junk and sculptures (though what Ele's style is isn't ever clear except that he works big) and Ela's props for her dances it seems Murat is trying to tell by showing, rather than to act out a narrative. The sculptures show Ele is ineffectual because he's not getting them right, not putting together a body of new, consistent work. The big space that Ela's filling with dancing is a mockery to him, who's stuck. But here's another problem: if it's hard to show creativity, it's even harder to illustrate creative blockage.

    I frankly found this movie grating. And as so often with movies about artists it makes one wonder if they know what they're talking about, and they're falling into cliché. This is of course also a war of the sexes, and while frontal nudes scenes show Bolzan is perfectly well endowed, there's no doubt his character is pussy-whipped and D'Angelo is right: lots of passive-aggressive stuff is going on. Pendular is flailing, and lacks economy.

    Pendular, 108 mins, debuted at the Berlinale, where it won the FIPRESCI Award for the best film in the Panorama section. Screened for this review as part of the 2017 FSLC/MoMA series, New Directors/New Films.
    Showtimes Walter Reade Theater 24 Mar. 6:30 p.m.; MoMA 26 Mar. 6:45 p.m.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 06:43 AM.

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    BOUNDARIES/PAYS (Chloé Robichaud 2016)

    CHLOÉ ROBICHAUD: BOUNDARIES/PAYS (2016)


    MACHA GRENON IN BOUNDARIES/PAYS

    French Canadian women-in-politics film is dutiful, a bit flat

    Chloé Robichaud, a French Canadian filmmaker, wants to show us women in politics. In her film Pays ("Countries"), called Boundaries in English, the focus is on three women at a conference about a mining contract involving Canada and a fictitious nearby island country called Besco. The women are: Danielle Richard (Macha Grenon), Besco's distinguished-looking woman president; Emily Price (Emily VanCamp of the Captain America movies), an impressive and cute blonde bilingual moderator; and Félixe (Nathalie Doummar), a promising and - in her case especially important - pretty young intern with the Canadian ministry, who's just helped manage a successful political campaign.

    The men are shits, terrorists, or sex partners. The shits are the high government officials and the fat lobbyist who try to force Besco to accept the mining company and its crooked, polluting ways because the country needs the jobs and money the mining will bring. The terrorist is a rural nationalist and anti-vegetarian who momentarily paralyzes everyone near the film's end. The sex partner is primarily Vincent (Alexandre Landry), a tall, fit young member of the bargaining team who, on a drunken night, Félixe takes to bed. The women do their power things and also women things. Félixe's woman thing is to get laid (and sick drunk); the lady president's is to have to tend to a young daughter who gets a broken leg; and Emily Price has it the toughest: she must cope with a soon-to-be ex who's negotiating to get total custody of her adorable little long-haired blond son.

    We are told at the end that Danielle Richard's effort to exclude the mining corporation and develop a mining coop à la Brazil was successful, and she was reelected; Félixe went into independent charitable work and was successful; and Emily became part of a global team doing good things and was successful. Nice outcomes, but a little bit generic, to put it mildly.

    Pays is neatly constructed, taking place during only a few days. And the austere, pristine locations of St. John's in Newfoundland and Fogo Island, Labrador that stand in for Besco are beautiful. But as Stephan Dalton politely points out in his Toronto Hollywood Reporter review, this movie is "an interesting idea let down by lukewarm execution." It's "underpowered and unfocused," and "not the strong sophomore film it might have been."

    The political negotiation sessions are sometimes downright boring: you so much wish, particularly in depicting the stuffy and boorish males, that Robichaud had not written this to be so much by-the-numbers - that she had ramped up the humor and the excitement. She could have tweaked the plot to make those negotiations really intense and suspenseful like the recent Wall Street films - one of which, Meera Menon's Equity, like J.C.Chandor's great Crash film Margin Call (ND/NF 2011), is a smart intense step-by-step thriller - but in the case of Equity, has women as its main characters. Boundaries is (mostly) watchable, but it lacks the pizzaz, wit, and smarts a subject like this has got to have to make a good movie. Interesting to watch French Canadians operating 95% in French in a story like this, though.

    Boundaries/Pays, 100 mins., debuted at Toronto; it failed to get into Cannes in rough cut form, Dalton reports. Screened for this review as part of the 2017 Film Society of Lincoln Center-Museum of Modern Art joint series, New Directors/New Films.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-07-2017 at 10:52 PM.

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    BEACH RATS (Eliza Hittman 2017)

    ELIZA HITTMAN: BEACH RATS (2017)


    HARRIS DICKINSON AND NICOLE FLYUS IN BEACH RATS

    (NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2017 CENTERPIECE FILM)

    A double life

    In Eliza Hittman's Beach Rats, the main character, Frankie (the excellent young English actor Harris Dickinson) is largely a blank, to himself and us. But the film is precipitous and intense and Dickinson has a powerful physicality. To the gay men he approaches online, he is a delicious young hunk - tall, well-muscled, with emphatic pecs, a tapered torso, and a pretty, fresh, choirboy face. Frankie is in every scene, and Hélène Louvart's 16 mm. photography is up so close you'd see his pores, if his skin wasn't so smooth and perfect. This movie is skin-deep, but it's risky and vivid. It made me think of Patrice Chéreau's L'Homme blessé, Jean-Hugues Anglade's searing debut. Before the days of the Internet and a long, long way from Coney Island where Frankie hangs out with his posse, Anglade's Henri rushes out of his lower middle class parents' dreary apartment and over to the train station to find sex, and he never goes back. His newly discovered homosexuality explodes in his face and almost destroys him and it sweeps us away. There's something of that here, but none of the wonderful lurid, operatic poetry of Chéreau's iconic film. Hittman achieves a vérité sesuality and depicts a troubling, druggy confusion. Frankie is as ready to take risks as Henri. But he isn't committing himself the same way, and this movie doesn't have the mythic power of L'Homme blessé.

    For one thing, there is Frankie's mother, Donna (Kate Hodge), who reigns at home, though she does not know what he's up to. His father is in hospice care dying of cancer (an event dutifully sketched in) - providing opioids for Frankie, who is doing a lot of drugs with his straight buddies. The members of this posse are not differentiated except visually but they are his constant companions, to whom he plays straight. He lives the beginnings of a double life. (How long has this been going on? We don't know, and one of the weaknesses of this in-the-moment approach is he has no background, no psyche, really.) Frankie stages a whole dating game with a girl (Nicole Flyus) to put up a front for them and for home and perhaps for himself. Chéreau's Henri never has these possibilities. Like Frankie, this movie has everything to offer and nothing to give; it's drenched in atmosphere and short on story. It is, however, of this moment, particularly as to the online video sex connections. In the short time covered in the movie, Frankie begins, and makes sex connections. All of a sudden he is moving fast and entering danger and risk.

    Season 3 of the global hit Norwegian teen TV series "SKAM," focuses on Isak (Tarjei Sandvik Moe), a cute, popular 17-year-old Oslo high school student who's discovering, or finally admitting, that he's gay; he too goes online to gay sites, but doesn't connect to anybody. He has something better, an upperclassman who's interested in him. When he and Even have "a thing," he reluctantly, piecemeal, comes out to his posse of three straight guys. (They're not macho and generic, like Frankie's pals. One is black, and one is a virgin; the previous season was all about the third.) They're okay with it, and even give him tips on how to make sure Even treats him fairly. "SKAM" director Julie Andem has fashioned an iconic gay coming of age story with all the nuance and humor lacking here, and a positive outcome. The sad thing is that Frankie lies to everybody, including his buddies, making up a drug story to explain connecting with gay guys. How long would they believe that? We don't know, because Beach Rats stops up in the air, with Frankie staring into the sky, filled with fireworks. This is an easy, weak ending that betrays the limitations of Hittman's bold and able film. It's almost as if Beach Rats ends where L'Homme blessé begins. Beach Rats is compelling and intense, and yet is seems almost more the idea for a movie than a movie

    Beach Rats, 95 mins., debuted at Sundance, and is included in New Directors/New Films (the Film Society of Lincoln Center-Museum of Modern Art series) in which it's the Centerpiece Film. A Neon release.
    Fri., Mar. 17 6:45 Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center
    Sat. Mar. 18 6:30 Titus Theater, MoMA.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 07:05 AM.

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    LADY MACBETH (Willilam Oldroyd 2016)

    WILLIAM OLDROYD: LADY MACBETH (2016)


    FLORENCE PUGH IN LADY MACBETH

    A wild young lass

    William Oldroyd's elegant, arresting and economical film is based on an 1865 Russian novella, Nikolai Lescov's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, whose strong links with Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Lady Chatterley, and other rebellious women make it eternally contemporary. (Lady Macbeth explains the extra gore.) In its new English setting it seems quite strange. But how could it not, in any setting, since it depicts a young woman who has a raging affair with her husband's groom while he's away, poisons her father-in-law, then bludgeons her husband to death, smothers his young ward, and pins the murder on the groom and a woman servant? But such is its boldness of execution and the adeptness of the actors, especially the spirited 21-year-old Florence Pugh, we simply watch with astonishment, amusement, then horror.

    There is a new strain of color introduced into this version of the story. Anna (Naomi Ackie), who's the personal maid to Katherine (Florence Pugh), is black; the groom who's beaten by her husband, Sebastian (songwriter Cosmo Jarvis), looks mestizo, and her husband Alexander (Paul Hilton) turns out to have fathered a black child, Teddy (Anton Palmer). This helps to give the story a contemporary edge. The fact that events aren't quite period-appropriate is a strength, causing us to take everything on its own unique merits. The source, like the German 19th-century novel used as the source for the musical Spring Awakening, was lurid and radical to begin with. It also was the basis for an opera that got Shostakovich into trouble with the Soviets, and has had other treatments on film and TV.

    Much depends on Florence Pugh, and the simple, attractive staging of the action, which was shot (on a relatively tight budget) at an estate in rugged Northumberland (with the cast deftly mimicking the local brogue). The house is austere yet grand, with lovely wild views out the big windows, and seems filled exclusively with big Victorian furniture that fits the cruelty and distance of young Katherine's husband, whose sex habits are creepy and dried up. Katherine is pressed to stay indoors, but constantly lured to walks in the rugged meadows and hillsides: there's a pull between the solid, often symmetrical framing of indoor shots and the fluid, shaky cam shooting of the external wilds. We see Anna strap Katherine into girdles and braces and undo them, showing how she's both controlled and unbridled. This movie is buttoned up and in control of itself too, but in close touch with madness and sensuality. By letting the house and the outer landscape speak for themselves, first time filmmaker and theatrical veteran Oldroyd keeps things fresh and distinctive-feeling.

    Oldroyd and his cast have plenty of action to keep our attention and the forward thrust is constant. This version leaves the wrongdoing unpunished, adding a provocative modern note. After it's all over you may need some time to get your mind around what you've seen. There is a recurring image of Katherine sitting on a sofa, in various full-dress outfits, staring directly into the camera, as if taking stock, and letting us see what further stage of outrageousness she has reached. This is the one essential moment when the action stops for breath. Pugh keeps her character's enormous capacity for revolt and violence just below the surface most of the time in a performance that shows the beginnings of a star. In its way Lady Macbeth is really quite exhilarating.

    Lady Macbeth, 89 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 2016, playing in at least 17 other international festivals including San Sebastian, Zurich, London and Sundance. Screened for this review as part of the 2017 New Directors/New Films.

    June 6: NYC, LA releases scheduled for July 14, 2017.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-06-2017 at 04:58 PM.

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    THE GIANT/JÄTTEN (Johannes Nyholm 2016)

    JOHANNES NYHOLM: THE GIANT (2016)


    CHRISTIAN ANDREN IN THE GIANT

    This freak's too normal

    This freak's if not cuddly, at least pleasant, and that explains more or less the limits of what the Swedish director Johannes Nyholm is out to do. Be it noted that the tiny, severely deformed, perhaps autistic, at least inarticulate Rykard is an actor (Christian Andren), and the tumors that swell one side of his face and blot out one eye are prosthetic, not real. Rykard, who has fantasies of lurid landscapes that he strides like a colossus (hence the title), is a devotee of the southern French version of boules called pétanque; there's a local Swedish pétanque club to which he belongs and there are international competitions. Rykard and his best friend in the pétanque club, Roland (Johan Kylén, a benign but not particularly notable presence) team up on their own calling their team "Zughi," one of the only words, besides "Mom," that Rykard can say, and Zughi goes to the international (Nordic) pétanque competition, and do well. This makes The Giant one of the year's weirdest underdog sports movies - but not one that is likely to play well outside the festival circuit. This is a good-natured movie. But it might creep people out, and might not please disability advocates given its falsifying and cutesifying of its disabled lead character. When you see Rykard up close, he smiles quite a lot, and the parts of his face you can see seem like an ordinary person.

    Rykard gets hit in the head with a pétanque ball and goes to the hospital. This is where a doctor shows him off to medical students as an odd case, and we learn that his birth led his mother to go from neurotic to psychotic. We see her from time to time, living in a bright but cluttered mess of a house with a large white parrot's that's often loose, with a raft of pétaque trophies Rykard has won - but for some reason mother and son are estranged and only meet briefly and sadly. Yet besides living for pétanque, Rykard lives for his mother, and carries a wallet-sized photo of her with him at all times.

    Rykard lives in a care center for down syndrome and other mentally disabled people where he is given a magnificent thirtieth birthday party. He is insulted and belittled from time to time, but is in a loving environment. The Giant is not sad. It is also not real. The climactic Pétanque tournament is perhaps the most memorable part of the movie, but it's not the most original. One might like to have seen this, or a richer variation on it, as filmed by Nyholm's more talented and more original fellow Swede Roy Andersson. This movie is nice, and harmless, but somehow wrong.

    Variety review at Toronto by Nick Schrager: "While unique, this lumbering crossbreed never truly gains melodramatic traction, and beyond festival bookings in Toronto and San Sebastian, seems unlikely to get very far outside its homeland." John DeFore on Hollywood Reporter said "An oddly delicate fable in which heartbreaking scenes of rejection sit alongside easy laughter."

    The Giant/Jätten, 86 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 2016, playing in at least 11 other festivals including San Sebastian, Vancouver, Busan, London and Warsaw. Screened for this review as part of the 2017 iteration of the Film Society of Lincoln Center-Museum of Modern Art series, New Directors/New Films.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-08-2017 at 09:37 PM.

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    PERSON TO PERSON (Dustin Guy Defa 2017)

    DUSTIN GUY DEFA: PERSON TO PERSON (2017)


    MICHAEL CERA, ABBI JACOBSON IN PERSON TO PERSON

    Several short films don't make a long 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, Abbi Jacobson and Michael Cera add recognizable faces.

    The main plots, if you can call them that, are a possible murder covered by two New York Post reporters, or a reporter with a camera (Michael Cera) and an intern (Abbi Jacobson) who he's hoping to date as a result of impressing her; and a vinyl record scam suffered by a guy (Bene Coopersmith) who thinks he's found a rare Charlie Parker disc but discovers it's a reprint with a fake label. A subplot offshoot is Bene's depressed black friend who has fatally alienated his girlfriend by posting nude shots of her on Facebook as revenge for her sleeping with another guy. The possible murder was reported as a suicide by the dead person's wife. She has taken her husband's wrist watch to be repaired. Philip Baker Hall is the watch repairman, who refuses to speak to police or to the journalists.

    It must be admitted that Defa has exercised a certain amount of ingenuity in constructing and resolving these stories. But while their separate unreeling alternates through the film, the journalists' story and the vinyl record scam story do not connect, except everything takes place in New York City.

    I almost forgot my favorite character, Wendy (Tavi Gevinson), a preternaturally articulate young woman with a prettier, more outgoing best friend. Wendy may be a lesbian, or has simply not tried men, though she starts trying in one scene. Gevinson is the opposite extreme from Mumblcore (though actors in Mumblecore weren't really so inarticulate, very often, as the name implied): she talks like an earnest, punkish version of a Jane Austen character - or someone in Whit Stillman's Metropolitan. If only everyone talked like her, we could dispense with all this running around, which in the case of Bene is carried to an untoward extreme. Bene chases and beats up the man who cheated him, and dresses down the record dealer who said this man was probably okay. This story line, of two young women, the boyfriend of one, and the boy who might like to become Wendy's boyfriend, is reasonable material for a rom-com. Perhaps that could be incorporated with the lovelorn Facebook poster's débâcle.

    The murder story probably is beyond the filmmaker's powers to develop on a full scale.

    The vinyl record scam is too trivial for anything but a short film. Defa is moving up from shorts to a feature film here, not with total success. Each subplot is handled with adequate detail, but the combination is underwhelming.

    Reviewed in Hollywood Reporter by John DeFore in the Next section of Sundance, and at the same screening by Dennis Harvey for Variety. Both acknowledged Defa's evocation of indie films of an earlier time. DeFore seemed to find the effort appealing, its use of Kodak film the equivalent to the story's implied celebration of the "warmer" sound of the older technology of vinyl records. But Harvey found the film not just small scale but "just too damned little," and a "familiar brand of shaggy-comedy-with-pathos that has very little edge." This is true. Defa takes up our time with these details and provides no overriding takeaway. (By the way, Defa has done a lot of acting and is very appealing in that role, as is shown in his performance as the TV producer in Caveh Zahedi's new feature about a TV series, The Show About the Show.)

    Person to Person, 84 mins. was screened for this review as part of the 2017 iteration of the FSLC-MoMA series New Directors/New Films, for which it was selected to be the Closing Night Film.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-16-2017 at 08:55 PM.

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    QUEST (Jonathan Olshefski 2017)

    JONATHAN OLSHEFSKI: QUEST (2017)


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

    The saga of a wonderful African American family in North Philly

    A multiple-year documentary following a black family, the Raineys, in North Philadelphia who face poverty, hard work, and the violence of the neighborhood with inspiring spirit and courage. The father is the youthful and hip-seeming Christopher Rainey ("Quest"), who works at several jobs delivering papers and circulars to support his family as best he can and keep open his recording studio showcasing local rap artists. The matriarch, also youthful, is Christopher's wife Christine'a, who works at a day job at a homeless shelter and supports the family. She and Christopher look to have a great relationship, and it's gone on for twenty years or more. The filmmaker has described the Rainey family in an interview in Indiewire as "community builders."

    The events focus is on their two children. The older son, William, is found to have a cancerous tumor just after a baby boy is born to him. He survives to be a good dad to his beautiful little boy, Isaiah. William's 13-year-old sister is PJ, the Raineys' daughter, a lively, cheerful, independent girl who spends a lot of her time on the basketball court, who is struck by a stray bullet from a far-off gunfight and loses an eye. Thanks to PJ's pluck and the warmth of her parents, she deals with this trauma, and even can still shoot hoops. In time it comes out that PJ is gay. Her parents have trouble dealing with this and "blame" each other or themselves for this happening, as if it was a choice. Olshefski began as a still photographer, not a filmmaker, planning to do a photo series about Quest, the recording studio, and the local rap artists who come there. Then he stayed and became "like a piece of furniture," filming the life of the Rainey family. The family members, and at times the neighborhood, gives themselves to Olshefski's camera and mike, serving as their own articulate narrators.

    Much of the action Olsevski shot happens during the time of Barack Obama's presidency and a little more. And the Rainey parents help get people to vote, and posters and portraits in local places remind white viewers what a very special thing it was to have a black president with wife and daughters to match, in the White House, for the past eight years. But Olshefski downplays the timeline and politics: here the issues are local and the support is communal, while the problems are such as urban poor and black America faces all over the country. Price, Christoper and Quest's most promising rapper, develops an alcohol problem that keeps him from achieving his potential. Christopher also contributes to a local radio program, and PJ plays in the Quest house band for a while. It's in the nature of the Raineys that they are creative, interactive, and contributors to the community in multiple ways. Their lives and this documentary film are inspiring. Olshevski hopes that his film will inspire others to follow such communities and give back.

    Quest, 105 mins., debuted at Sundance 21 Jan. 2017; will play at Cleveland; was screened for this review as part of New Directors/New Films.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-11-2017 at 11:33 AM.

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    DIAMOND ISLAND (Davy Chou 2016)

    DAVY CHOU: DIAMOND ISLAND (2016)



    A dreamy slow epic coming-of-age of a country boy in Pnom Penh

    Diamond Island is 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 on the titular big new luxury housing development. Buddies, girls, the appearance of his lost older brother figure. A very visual film, full of night lights, fluorescent neon-pastel colors, 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, the filmmaker, is Cambodian-French, and the production has heavy French involvement.

    The protagonist is Bora (Sobon Nuon), a handsome young guy from the provinces who says goodbye to his sick mother and comes to work on a new overblown resort center called Diamond Island. He falls in with three other guys including the punkish Dy (Mean Korn). Near the site are some girls, including the perfectly pretty Aza (Madez Chhem), who takes an interest in him, though he holds back at first.

    Sometimes conversations are hieratic and formal, with two characters standing at some distance and addressing each other slowly, underlining the film's intentionally deliberate pace and sometimes dreamlike feel (and there are dreams, too), perhaps also to show their subservience to the encroaching urban landscape. This use of space is the case when Bora's older brother Solei (Cheanick Nov) mysteriously appears, standing in the semi-darkness. They have not met for five years and Solei is out of touch with their family. Solei has long hair tied back and is dressed in black and is taller and has a nice motorcycle, money, and his own older posse of cooler, more distant guys and their girls and bikes. His wealth is due to his American "sponsor," presumably gay lover, though this is never explained, presumably not understood by the provincial, naive Bora. Boys and girls barely even kiss, and much of the action takes place outdoors, and at night, in glowing, romantic light. Beautiful glowing urban landscapes show partly unfinished buildings.

    This film is all about the images and the dreamlike, hypnotic movement of the leisurely action. One of the key events is a non-event: the news that Solei's "sponsor" will not be taking them to America, and that Solei will not keep his promise of seeing their mother again. It is all sad and frustrating except that feelings are muted too, sorrow of loss reduced to a funeral seen from a distance. A slight flash-forward shows Bora doing well working in a non-labor job and looking "cool," as one of his work site pals, now a security guard, insists.

    The mincing sound of Cambodian and Thai speech and the delicacy of the young men makes one expect the handsome Bora, on whose face the camera is wont to dwell, to be part of a gay coming-of-age story, a possibility that Solei's "sponsor" hints of too. But this is averted, if it was ever there. No, Bora is ostensibly straight, but sexuality is refined and neutralized in this aestheticized world.

    Jordan Minzer's Hollywood Reporter reivew sees links with Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito (for the country-to-city plot) and Tsai Ming-liang's Rebels of the Neon God, the latter obviously faster paced and more intimate in feel. He connects images of the motorcycle riders in Rebels with some beautiful shots of boys on their bikes at night seen from above here. Solei's bike has blue lights on it that glow. Minzer notes that DP Thomas Favel (Gaz de France), whose importance to Chou might be compared to that of Christopher Doyle to early Wong Kar-wai, helps the filmmaker develop "a rich palette of blues and yellows,contrasting the dusty [yellow] world of condo construction with the candy-colored [blue and pink] nightclubs and amusement parks that Bora frequents as he emerges into adulthood."

    Catherine Bray in her Variety review naturally talks about the visuals too, noting the color grading pushes some scenes, particularly of a fairground, to "wildly saturated fluorescence." She also notes an original stylized aspect to the sound, so that in a nightclub "noise and music" are "mixed low and the dialogue delivered in a whisper, a counterintuitive effect given the typical club-scene reality of having to shout at people only a few inches away."

    Not everything is successful, and the non-professional actors sometimes seem clumsy. But Chou sets a certain standard for stylishness in such a films. This is film as aesthetic ritual. Even as the young men and construction site action has a vérité naturalism, it is often stilled to beautiful static tableaux.

    Diamond Island, 101 mins., debuted at Cannes Critics Week. It opened in French cinemas 28 Dec. 2016 and received enthusiastic reviews (AlloCiné press rating 3.8/5 based on 24 reviews). Screened for this review as part of the 2017 FSLC-MoMA New Directors/New Films series.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2017 at 10:37 PM.

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    THE LAST OF US/AKHER WAHED FINA (Ala Eddine Slim (2016)

    ALA EDDINE SLIM: THE LAST OF US/AHKER WAHED FINA (2016)


    JAWHAR SOUDANI IN THE LAST OF US

    A conceptual Robinson Crusoe film that plays with the hot issue of immigration

    This is a Tunisian film shot in Tunisia. It's spoken of as an immigration film. The film's own website says, "N is a young sub-Saharan man who crosses the desert in order to reach North Africa and be smuggled into Europe." But this is, as it progresses, more and more a myth with surreal, primal elements. The film website states that N "meets an altered image of himself." A lot of this film's early section feels like something Claire Denis might do - till it turns into a apocalyptic kind of Robinson Crusoe story in which the Robinson follows an ancient gnarly Friday around and takes on his role of old stancher and lone survivor - the meaning presumably of the title, The Last of Us. Props to Jawhar Soudani, who plays N, who carries the film as its protagonist, providing a sympathetic and strong presence even though he never utters a word. The Last of Us is a haunting and beautifully photographed film whose acting is impeccable and tech credits are excellent. There are several haunting landscape images worthy of Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux.

    This is a case where the festival blurb is pretty nearly perfectly accurate. Indeed two men silently traverse a vast, flat landscape. Nobody speaks, from beginning to end of the film. The two men get in the back of aa smuggler's truck, and soon after are caught in a holdup by men with guns. Only one of the men appears to escape from this melee, and we follow him for the saga that follows. He hides out near the sea for a long time, surviving on scraps, and then steals an outboard motor and attaches it to a rough derelict old boat. He sets out across the sea, but where he lands we do not know.

    When lost in the heavily forested landscape, N falls into a trap and is severely wounded in one leg. He suffers the torture of the damned and it looks as thought this is the end. But a rope is thrown to him, and when he is passed out, his wound is treated with natural remedies. When he awakes he sees the large, ancient M (Fathi Akkari), a wild hermit draped in many layers of animal skins. As N heals, he follows M and depends on him. They live largely on small animals they cook. N starts to put on skins like M and his hair and beard grow out and he begins to resemble his dominant Man Friday.

    The Last of Us is a beautifully made feature debut that resembles what might be a student short film in its material. It is worthy of close festival attention but would seem to have limited theatrical release potential. Ala Eddine Slim has a background in documentaries and shorts.

    The Last of Us/آخر واحد فينا (Akher Wahed Fina), 95 mins., debuted Sept. 2016 at Venice International Critics Week, where it won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film. The Paris-based Still Moving acquired world sales rights to the film at Venice. Also shown at Rotterdam, Lyon, and New Directors/New Films (Mar. 201); it was screened as part of the latter for this review.

    Here is the trailer.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2017 at 07:23 PM.

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    THE WOUND/INXEBA (John Trengove 2017)

    JOHN TRENGOVE: THE WOUND/INXEBA (2017)


    NAKHANE TOURÉ, NIZa JAY NCOYINI (FROM LEFT) IN THE WOUND

    A striking if unbalanced directorial debut tackles powerful material

    This movie has powerful material and a strong authentic feel to its setting of a Xhosa manhood ritual for adolescent boys taking place in a mountainous corner of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. However, director John Trengove goes astray in various ways. The theme of the two older "caregivers" who are secretly gay is not revealed gradually as it ought to be, but in our face early on, and the theme is hit over and over repetitiously. Meanwhile the Xhosa ritual is inadequately presented, when it ought to provide the strong solid underpinning for the story. However, Trengove is a promising director from South Africa with an MFA in filmmaking from NYU who already has ten years of experience in Theater and TV, and his shooting method in this feature debut is intense and engaging, if (perhaps willfully) chaotic.

    The main characters are three: first the "rich" boy from the city of Johannesburg, Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini); the sensitive factory worker Xolani (musician Nakhane Touré); and the more macho, married Vija (Bongile Mantsai), whom Xolani seems to be in love with. The other initiate boys barely emerge as individuals, or do the various elders and villagers. Kwanda's uncle sends him off to this event, thinking he's too soft. He may be, but he's also contemptuous of the whole thing.

    And when Xolani is put in charge of Kwanda as his "caregiver," Kwanda soon guesses he is gay and senses his relationship to Vija and even warns him Vija will never really care about him. It's not clear how Kwanda knows all this. Perhaps his sexuality is similar and it's "gaydar"? However, the other young initiates' feelings toward Kwanda are differently motivated. They resent him for being a city boy and a rich boy.

    The most interesting thing is that Kwanda isn't as macho perhaps as the other youths, yet is bold in setting himself apart from them. But his unwillingness to fully play along with the rituals is a risky move in this environment that will have dire consequences.

    [I]The Wound/Inxeba[/I, 88 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 2017, and will be theatrically released in France 15 Apr. 2017. It was screened as part of the 2017 FSLC-MoMA New Directors/New Films series. To be a Kino Lorber release in the US. Releasing in France 19 Apr. 2017 as Les Initiés.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-04-2017 at 02:07 PM.

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