Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123
Results 31 to 37 of 37

Thread: New York Film Festival 2019

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH ( Shaka King 2021)

    SHAKA KING: JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (2020)


    DANIEL KALUUYA (CENTER) AS FRED HAMPTON IN JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

    TRAILER

    Black radical history framed very successfully as action thriller

    Judas and the Black Messiah is a great film that deserves to be more widely seen in theaters than the pandemic situation allows. But what is it exactly? And what is its purpose? Those are daunting questions that stand in the way of writing a review. We'll try to answer them by starting with a glance at its genesis.

    It is not a biopic of the meteoric life and tragic death of chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers Fred Hampton, though that was what writer Will Berson had been working on for a while when writer-director Shaka King found him. King had material supplied him by the comedy team of twins Kenny and Keith Lucas. Had they been attracted because Fred Hampton was very funny? The Lucas brothers are black, they originally were going to be lawyers, and they tell in an interview about how they were simply thrilled by what seemed to them an exciting, shocking, and little known story when they first encountered it in an African-American studies course. They wound up working for a decade on a script that showed Hampton through the eyes of Bill McNeil, the FBI informant, and hence became a thriller. The Lucas brothers' script was handed over to Shaka King. Together Berson, who is white, and King, who is African American, worked through many versions to forge a genre movie along the lines of a period crime thriller. Trust me, it works, on many levels.

    Upping the action element, the screenplay also acquires dimensionality through the gentle romance of a sometimes shy Fred Hampton and bold revolutionary poet Deborah Johnson. This is not the story of any one of these things. McNeil is always around, but the film doesn't push any pat contrasts or relationships between him and Hampton. The message there is only that around messiahs there are always judases. Alongside the purity of the messiah is the confusion and self-hatred of the betrayer. Both are tools of social forces.

    In the thriller Berson and King forged together, Hampton comes out not funny but eloquent, which he also clearly and more importantly was. He could thrill and galvanize the audience, and here is where the performance of Daniel Kaluuya particularly sings, though not the only place. He comes through showing Fred Hampton's gentle, quiet side in the scenes with an Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson, Hampton's girlfriend, who, when Hampton died, executed by the Chicago police using a ground plan supplied by McNeill, was in the room sleeping with him and pregnant with his son. That son, Fred Hampton, Jr. later took up the mantle, and he and other family members played an advisory role in the making of this movie, another interesting story on the periphery.

    The not-biopic element is bolstered by the presence of Bill McNeill (Lakeith Stanfield), the FBI informant (evidently not the only one) who infiltrated the Chicago Panthers, taking orders from and feeding information to FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). McNeill is the "Judas" and Hampton is the "Black Messiah." Messiah isn't truly an accurate description of the revolutionary socialist Hampton in the eyes of his activist community. As in Oakland, where the Panthers were born, these activists provided breakfasts to youths and other community services, as well as openly carrying arms. The activists called Fred simply "Chairman."

    "Messiah" is a reference to the paranoia-fed predictions of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen), whose COINTELPRO of illegal search-and-destroy policies against black American leaders is another higher-level element that raises this movie's pulse. We see enough of Hoover here to learn of his white-supremist orientation. He wanted to destroy blacks, wipe them out, the Panthers first. He says in the movie "The Black Panthers are the single greatest threat to our national security," echoing something Hoover actually did say more than once.

    Obviously we can see this movie through other lenses than that of an action thriller. One of these is the actual history of the Black Panther Party, which has been covered in a number of documentary films, but rarely dramatized in major league feature films.

    Part of the excitement of Judas is that it's full of rising stars and King with this sophomore feature becomes a major player - even though the Hollywood execs insisted, as King told Jelani Cobb in a New Yorker interview, that this film would "bomb." It seems in their stats no black film, not even Ryan Coogler's, could possibly be a winner. (Coogler, now a black Hollywood star-maker like Ava DuVernay, produced Shaka King's new film.)

    In the contemporary context Steve McQueen's "Small Axe" series, Coogler's other Black Panther, and the recentMa Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami reflect how significant black-dominated films have recently become in Hollywood and continue to be. Let's not forget Barry Jenkins' Moonlight won Best Motion Picture Oscar in 2016, with Green Book, with its black main character (Mahershala Ali) winning two years later. Whatever the relative merits of these films, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag rearranged hierarchies, even though the execs' race-motivated gloom persists.

    Recently also there have been black-made documentaries like Stanley Nelson's 2015The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Sam Pollard's MLK/FBI (NYFF 2020), the latter showing how under COINTELPRO the FBI constantly dogged Dr. King's footsteps and pried into his private life yet somehow were unable to prevent his assassination. Let's not forget Spike Lee's return to form in his Cannes Grand Prix-winning BlacKKKlansman, which has parallels with the undercover FBI thread of Judas. In his review of Judas, the Times' chief film critic A. O. Scott notes that it's a "tense, methodical historical drama" that grows in richness in the context of all these recent movies that collectively "make a strong case for the vitality of historical filmmaking in yet another era of political crisis."

    We know Kaluuya mainly for his underdog role in black director Jordan Peele's provocative 2017 Get Out, a global hit the white Hollywood execs were also sure would bomb). Kaluuya explodes in Judas and the Black Messiah, his evocation of the engaging eloquence of Fred Hampton the more impressive in a British actor who seamlessly blends a southern edge to his Marxist stance. We learn of Hampton's contempt for dashikis and willingness to forge links with black Chicago clans and gangs of poor whites.

    Stanfield, always the cool, ironic one, has the less flashy but perhaps more subtle job of depicting the very young "career criminal" who is blackmailed into his Judas role for crossing state lines in a stolen car (the - flashy - opening sequence, where he steals the new big red late sixties convertible from a black hoodlum by impersonating an FBI agent.

    Both Kaluuya and Stanfield deliver career best performances here and are likely up for major awards, as is Fishback. Let's not forget Plemons as the FBI manipulator of McNeill, delivered with complexity too, so you want to hate him but you can't, quite, just as McNeill soon disbelieves his false motivator that the Panthers are just as bad as the KKK, yet falls for his mentoring, his camaraderie, his scotch, and his envelopes of money.

    This is also a winner in the screenplay and editing, costume and score categories. This is a rich and tightly packed script with well-designed action sequences delivered for forward drive, while the acting and dialogue keep the movie character-centered from first to last.

    Despite mainstream ignorance, in fact much is known about Fred Hampton and about the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers and the murder of Fred Hampton in a police break-in to their headquarters where multiple members were sleeping. The event has been thoroughly chronicled on film as far back as Howard Alk's 1971 documentary The Murder of Fred Hampton (which you can watch on Vimeo or Amazon Prime today). The Lucas brothers report studying 7,000 pages of FBI records and the detailed "Eyes on the Prize" interview with Bill McNeill, which this movie directly references near the end. You can read the transcript of the entire interview with McNeill online . In the movie, even Deborah Johnson's bathrobe matches the one her historical original war the night of the killings. And Costume designer Charlese Antoinette Jones works wonders with the detail of crowd scenes where all the Panthers' outfits look period and right. This was a time when everybody looked cool, and the Panthers, with their Afros and berets and leather jackets and shades, were a group who had a sense of style lacking today.

    What's not to like? Well, even though this is an entertaining, really well made movie with black "creatives" behind it, the question remains all the more, why? What is the purpose of the movie? Take a look at the recent blog entry of young African American freelance writer, David McCloud entitled "My Problem with My Problem with Judas and the Black Messiah." He had only seen the trailer when he wrote this, but McCloud describes the content of the movie knowingly. He is aware of the story and he says, "Bro, I’m a 30-year-old black man, I don’t NEED to see Fred Hampton being set up by his people." McCloud concludes: "It just seems like I’m going to be watching Fred Hampton be assassinated again, and I honestly don’t need to see that. I don’t want white people to see this and feel like they’re making a difference because they’re able to view radical blacks from a safe distance. I don’t want black people to see this and become reminded that all of our heroes are dead, and THEY killed them." McCloud seems to contradict himself, because he has just said it was really the FBI who killed them. But his discomfort with having Fred Hampton's story sprawled excitingly all over the screen is understandable.

    The fact is, achieving mainstream status involves loss of subtlety of content and context. And don't even look at what gay, black, conservative, Christian film critic Armond White writes about this film in National Review. Typically he claims to prefer King's 2013 stoner comedy first film Newlyweeds, which few have seen. He's shocked Warner Bros. took on the film. He is horrified that this film may be "woke corporate advertising" holding up the Black Panthers of the sixties as a solution relevant to #BlackLivesMatter today. White calls this a "would-be spiritual parable" and says it's a "facile, false romantic fantasy." He seems to get some of his facts wrong, though. For instance, the clip of the Bill McNeill "Eyes on the Prize" interview at the end isn't a "reenactment," as he says, not does the film promote Afro-centrism; it shows Hamptons rejection of that stance. And White's framing black "media professionals" as today's "race traitors" replacing FBI informants is a low blow.

    My feeling is, if only we had an active, vibrant Black Panther Party today, #BlackLivesMatter would have an organizational backbone. And then we'd see how liberal Joe Biden is. (Judging from his hard line against Iran and recent authorization of bombing in Syria - warmly approved by Israel, not very.)

    Basically, Judas and the Black Messiah was simply something involving the Panters and the murder of Fred Hampton that could get made. And personally, I'm glad it did. In years to come, we'll see how it stands up.

    Judas and the Black Messiah, 126 mins., debuted at Sundance Feb. 1, 2021, released in many countries and the US virtually Feb. 12, 2021 (also in AMC and other theaters). Screened for this review at home on HBO. Metascore: 86%.


    KALUUYA, LEFT, AND STANFIELD, RIGHT, IN JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-26-2021 at 10:14 PM.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    BEAST BEAST (Danny Madden 2020)

    DANNY MADDEN: BEAST BEAST (2020)


    SHIRLEY CHEN AND JOSE ANGELO IN BEAST BEAST

    The young people today, oh my

    American teen life has long had alcohol, drugs, petty crime, sex, heartbreak, clothes and laziness as distractions. Now there's an even more dangerous threat to a good education: the internet. Is further schooling even worth it if you can get an audience of thousands or millions and make a living with cool videos on YouTube? But sometimes it's hard getting there. This is the predicament of Adam (Will Madden, the director's younger brother and star of his earlier film, the 2013 Euphonia). He's still living at home at 24, he's quit his part time job, and his pro-gun channel has yet to take off. Comments are derisive and humiliating. He's a privileged white boy whose parents are breathing down his neck: when is he going to accomplish something? Mom is sympathetic, the old man, ready to kick him out.

    Adam lives somewhere near the other two main characters in this Georgia town. One is Nito (Jose Angelo), a whiz at skateboarding and parkour who could be a YouTube star if his father would buy him a new smartphone. He is new in town and at the school, he's a poor Latino boy whose dad has no time or money for him and who makes him stay out on nights when he's having "company."

    Proximity of school lockers leads the bright smile of Nito to catch the eye of popular drama fan Krista (Shirley Chen). "Beast, beast ready to act!" is a chant her acting class teacher leads to whip up energy in the group, which bookends the film. Theater is everything for Krista. But her drama coach seems to think she lacks the courage or depth to work up intense emotion for her lines. A look at Krista at dinner with her parents - silent, everyone staring into space - is an obvious hint at why this might be so: her home "schooling" has been in repression and affectlessness, not the free expression of feelings. Obviously Krista is Asian, completing the multiculturalism of the trio. (Black people there are none.)

    Angelo is an actual YouTube skateboarding and sign spinning star whose cheerful manner and light voice make him seem real. He is fluid, but the movie manipulates him. I found it at best painful to contemplate Nito having a play-date romance with Krista continuing to develop when a friendship with an older neighbor leads him to more and more trouble.

    Adam's gun advocacy, together no doubt with his isolated status, closed in a room making unsuccessful YouTube videos, pushed by his unsupportive dad into growing frustration and rage, leads him to tragic action with ironic consequences. The twists and turns come hot and heavy toward the end. But unlike various reviewers who think Madden "swerves into melodrama" or "accelerates from reality to sensationalism," I see clear hints of coming violence and tragedy in the disjointed, cacophonous early sequences of this choppy, energetic film.

    Beast Beast,85 mins., which grows out of his award-winning short film , debuted at Sundance Jan. 2020 and was shown in a few other festivals through the year as well as streaming on Tubi in Feb. 2021. In select theaters April 16, 2021, online May 4. Metascore 63%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-10-2021 at 10:05 PM.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    ABOUT ENDLESSNESS (Roy Andersson 2019) US release Apr 30, 2021

    ROY ANDERSSON: ABOUT ENDLESSNESS (2019)


    OPENING SCENE OF ABOUT ENDLESSNESS

    Gloom as high art and profound philosophy

    In Swedish, the title is Om det oändliga, which sounds so exotic, it may have different overtones to it. People speculate (in English) about what the director, Roy Andersson, means by it. Last things? Is it ironic, focused on the finiteness, rather than the endlessness, of our individual petty existences? For me it's a mystery, perhaps, but alludes to human limitation. We are small beings, our actions but a flicker in the vast firmament that opens the film with the "Chagall" image of the supine, embracing couple floating horizontally in the sky over the ruined city of Cologne, which fades into tiny floating stars that form into the words of the title.

    What follows is a very sui generis feature-length series of short scenes, more tableaux than tales. In them, people often move slowly, imperceptibly - except, notably, for the big central dream sequence (thankfully it is a dream, if - worse luck - a recurrent nightmare) of the man carrying a huge wooden cross pursued by a mocking, abusive crowd, a modern Jesus on a Stockholm street. This is the storyline most carried on through various episodes. This is the dream of a priest who has lost his faith, and his daymare ordeal goes on.

    Andersson sees this priest's predicament as a particularly terrible fate. It represents not only the sadness of lost hope, broken dreams, but what he sees as being stuck in a demanding job you can't get out of, so this priest must go on celebrating mass, etc., feeling like a fraud, encouraging parishioners when his heart is no longer in it. Leaving the priesthood is not an option, as the director sees it. Inertia contributes to endlessness. Perhaps that is what the word means: no way out. No end, no exit.

    The sadness that pervades Andersson's sometimes ironic, sometimes witty scenes can be interpreted biographically. Frank Kermode, inThe Observer, explains: "The fact that Being a Human Person [a documentary tribute to the director by English filmmaker Fred Scott released last year] depicted Andersson creating these scenes while struggling with alcoholism and detox (the latter at the insistence of his friends and family) simply adds a further layer of frailty." I want to ask: did Andersson drink because he was depressed, or was he depressed because he drank? A very Scandinavian question, perhaps. But while I've heard Sweden has a drinking problem, worldwide statistics show alcohol consumption to be as high or higher in Europe, Australia, Canada, Korea and above all, Russia.

    Anyway, relief from this film's very depressive (and perhaps that is Swedish) worldview is that, aesthetically, more than ever, Andersson has made a film that is nonetheless a delight to the eye, every shot finely crafted - the result of largely being precisely made, after careful planning, inside the studio where Andersson likes to work. The color, rather as before, is of a pervasive, delicate pearl gray. Every set is denuded of anything unnecessary. For a while, the "look" is so distinctive and so pleasing, simply drinking it in from sequence to sequence (in moderation, of course!) is enough. Though the world seen here is dry, drained of energy as of color, there is compensation in the sense of control the style exudes that so amply satisfies the director's and our own rage for order.

    I said in reviewing the director's 2007 You the Living, he is "master of the static middle distance shot" and noted for his wit, "which ends every scene with a smile." There's not as much wit here, but the style still reigns, and this like that earlier film (I missed his 2014 A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence), is a series of little skits unified by worldview and style. These are linked this time by a godlike woman's voice often saying "I saw..." defining how to see what we've just witnessed. "I saw a man with his mind elsewhere," "a woman..incapable of feeling shame," a man who did not trust banks," "a young man who had not yet found love, "a man who had stepped on a landmine, and lost his legs." If I described these incidents it would destroy the spell the voice creates, with the images. The voiceover creates a linkage that's a bit arbitrary.

    The priest who has lost his faith is a theme that does connect. The priest goes to see a therapist in a white coat. (Not a very promising figure.) Maybe there is no god, the therapist says. He suggests one had best just be satisfied to be alive. This seems the bottom line, the film's ultimate message. In the context this may appear grim and sardonic. In another, it would be quite positive. Some scenes are positive in themselves here: girls dancing near an outdoor café; a man who bends over to tie his little girl's shoelaces walking in the rain. The lady who loves champagne.

    As I said in 2007, "there's a kind of stillness that comes out of the visual style, the pacing of scenes, and the detached humanism of the overall outlook. There's something about a fully mastered style that's calming, reassuring." Well, with Andersson there is.

    And yet though I respect it, I do not love it. If we compare Andersson with the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki we find the latter also has a dry, droll, dark worldview and style, but a more expansive, easygoing one. My memories of Kaurismäki films are happy. Andersson doesn't leave a warm glow of any kind. But he may prompt more philosophical reflection. Every tiniest scene seems universal and general and points irresistibly toward last things so our thought must go there too. If this is Andersson's last feature, as has been said, he will have made a little corner of the world of cinema utterly his own. He is a miniaturist. But like Jane Austen and her "little bit...of ivory" his tiny pictures, dominated by gloom, nonetheless are high art and present a profound philosophy of hope that survives great challenges.

    About Endlessness/Om det oändliga, 78 mins., debuted at Venice Sept. 3, 2019 and played at some two dozen international festivals, among them Toronto, Vienna, and Rotterdam. It is scheduled for US release by Magnolia Apr. 30, 2021. Metascore: 83%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-11-2021 at 07:13 PM.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    BEAST BEAST (Danny Madden 2020) publish April 15

    for chrisknipp.com


    SHIRLEY CHEN AND JOSE ANGELO IN BEAST BEAST

    The young people today, oh my

    American teen life has long had alcohol, drugs, petty crime, sex, heartbreak, clothes and laziness as distractions. Now there's an even more dangerous threat to a good education: the internet. Is further schooling even worth it if you can get an audience of thousands or millions and make a living with cool videos on YouTube? But sometimes it's hard getting there. This is the predicament of Adam (Will Madden, the director's younger brother and star of his earlier film, the 2013 Euphonia). He's still living at home at 24, he's quit his part time job, and his pro-gun channel has yet to take off. Comments are derisive and humiliating. He's a privileged white boy whose parents are breathing down his neck: when is he going to accomplish something? Mom is sympathetic, the old man, ready to kick him out.

    Adam lives somewhere near the other two main characters in this Georgia town. One is Nito (Jose Angelo), a whiz at skateboarding and parkour who could be a YouTube star if his father would buy him a new smartphone. He is new in town and at the school, he's a poor Latino boy whose dad has no time or money for him and who makes him stay out on nights when he's having "company."

    Proximity of school lockers leads the bright smile of Nito to catch the eye of popular drama fan Krista (Shirley Chen). "Beast, beast ready to act!" is a chant her acting class teacher leads to whip up energy in the group, which bookends the film. Theater is everything for Krista. But her drama coach seems to think she lacks the courage or depth to work up intense emotion for her lines. A look at Krista at dinner with her parents - silent, everyone staring into space - is an obvious hint at why this might be so: her home "schooling" has been in repression and affectlessness, not the free expression of feelings. Obviously Krista is Asian, completing the multiculturalism of the trio. (Black people there are none.)

    Angelo is an actual YouTube skateboarding and sign spinning star whose cheerful manner and light voice make him seem real. He is fluid, but the movie manipulates him. I found it at best painful to contemplate Nito having a play-date romance with Krista continuing to develop when a friendship with an older neighbor leads him to more and more trouble.

    Adam's gun advocacy, together no doubt with his isolated status, closed in a room making unsuccessful YouTube videos, pushed by his unsupportive dad into growing frustration and rage, leads him to tragic action with ironic consequences. The twists and turns come hot and heavy toward the end. But unlike various reviewers who think Madden "swerves into melodrama" or "accelerates from reality to sensationalism," I see clear hints of coming violence and tragedy in the disjointed, cacophonous early sequences of this choppy, energetic film.

    Beast Beast,85 mins., which grows out of his award-winning short film , debuted at Sundance Jan. 2020 and was shown in a few other festivals through the year as well as streaming on Tubi in Feb. 2021. Produced by Alec Baldwin. In select theaters April 16, 2021, online May 4. Metascore 63%.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    EASST OF THE MOUNTAINS ( S.J. Chiro 2021)

    S.J. CHIRO: EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS (2021)


    TOM SKERRITT IN EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS

    Nothing to lose

    This vehicle for Tom Skerritt (you might remember him from M*A*S*H, Alien, The Dead Zone, Top Gun, A River Runs Through It, or Up in Smoke), who's now eighty-seven, is one of those old-codgers-gettin'-in-trouble pictures. Another in the genre is 2018's The Old Man and the Gun, starring Robert Redford (admittedly a mere eighty-two at the time). But the codger Redford plays, based on an improbable but real person, breaks out of jail and robs banks. Quite a few of them. Ben Givens (Skerritt) isn't anything so colorful but a retired Seattle cardiologist. He's an enigmatic type, long estranged from his brother Aiden (Wally Dalton). Sadly, his wife died a year ago after a long illness. He's neglected to tell his daughter Renee (Mia Sorvino) that he's been diagnosed with cancer and not surprisingly he doesn't share that he's not seeking treatment and expects to end it all, using a handsome old hunting rifle he inherited from his father, with whom he and Aiden, in friendlier days, learned to hunt in the woodland valleys of eastern Washington. Ben takes leave of Renee for a while, taking the rifle and his brown and white setter Rex in his van for one last lone hunt back in the beautiful lands he hunted as a boy. From the look of things he may aim to blow his brains out when he's done using the rifle for the hunting.

    Ben is a dry old fellow. He's got balls, for sure, as we see when he stands up to a coyote hunter he has an unfriendly encounter with in the middle of the night in the woods, after sharing a quail or two with Rex over a fire. Rex winds up the biggest loser after a clash with the coyote hunter's mean coyote dog. Remarkably, they wind up in the care of a warm-hearted veterinarian called Anita (Annie Gonzalez), who sews up Rex better and gives Ben a home-cooked meal or two.

    I don't want to saw I'd rather Ben robbed banks, though one must admit that the real-life crook Redford played, Forrest Tucker, was a mighty appealing character and the Redford picture, which shows the original touch of its director, David Lowery, has a lot of charm and is graced by the presence of Danny Glover and, especially, Casey Affleck. Actually, plenty happens in East of the Mountains, considering the main character's age and state of health. A lot of the time Ben is alone. He's an unrevealing character, whose stoicism is admirable. I'm not sure I'd have wanted him as my cardiologist. But the real trouble is that he's not silent and mysterious enough to be interesting. The movie relies a lot on echoing guitar music with strings; photography of the beautiful mountain, forest, river valley country of East Washington State; and on a lot of elaborately staged flashbacks showing both Ben and Aiden as boys (idyllic) and Ben meeting his wife and their early married life (touching) These flashbacks, I'm guessing, are hinting at more elaborate storytelling involving all kinds of complexities between Ben and his wife (the memorable-looking Victoria Summer Felix) that come out into the light in the novel by Snow Falling on Cedars author David Guterson that Thane Swigart chooses to present only as mime in his screenplay adaptation. Away from the beautifully staged but ultimately unrevealing flashbacks, there are a few strong moments of dialogue when somebody for a minute is pushed to the limit into a high level of explicitness. But the finale is unsatisfying and Skerritt, whose eyes look narrow and unfriendly to me, has not won my heart. This movie has its shortcomings. Nonetheless I think I'd rather watch an old guy hunting and getting in scraps -- or robbing banks -- than see Anthony Hopkins fighting dementia. When Ben loses things, it's intentional, and I like that.

    East of the Mountains, 93 mins., debuted at Seattle Apr. 9, 2021; Skerritt is a longtime resident in the region, as are the director and author Guterson. The film has no distributor yet. Watched at home on a screener Apr. 12, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-15-2021 at 03:22 PM.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    THE COUNTY/HERAĞIĞ (Grímur Hákonarson 2019)

    In The County/Hérağiğ, Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir plays Inga, a farming wife who suddenly becomes a widow. She is a tough middle-aged woman something like Frances McDormand. The death of her husband in his truck is suspicious. It maya be self-caused and related to impending backrupcy. But later we learn the problem was worse than that. And it all goes back to the local coop. It's the only place the farmers can sell their products, and they must buy their supplies from them or face dire consequences. After Inga's husband's death has settled in she starts to speak out on Facebook, calling the coop a "mafia." The local TV news comes to interview her. So begins this rapidly moving drama about the manipulations of an over-powerful local body. (Hákonarson was already known for his intensely focused drama 2015 Rams about feuding sheep-herding brothers.


    The County/Hérağiğ (2019), 90 mins.,
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 05:13 PM.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,175

    THE COUNTY/HERAĞIĞ (Grímur Hákonarson 2019)

    GRIMUR HAKONARSON: THE COUNTY/HERAĞIĞ (2019)



    In The County/Hérağiğ, Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir plays Inga, a farming wife who suddenly becomes a widow. She is a tough middle-aged woman something like Frances McDormand. The death of her husband Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson) in his truck is suspicious. It may be self-caused and related to impending bankruptcy. But later we learn the problem was worse than that. And it all goes back to the local coop. It's the only place the farmers can sell their products, and they must buy all their supplies there too or face dire consequences.

    After Inga's husband's death has settled in she starts to speak out on Facebook, calling the coop a "mafia." The local TV news comes to interview her. So begins this rapidly moving drama about the manipulations of an over-powerful local body. Hákonarson was already known for his intensely focused 2015 Rams about feuding sheep-herding brothers. This time the focus is on dairy farmers. They're at odds too, but not entirely. We also get a look at the leading figures of the coop. This is a timely tale again drawing on Hákonarson's documentary background.

    In the nineteenth century the community around Erpsfyörğur were Inga lives was dominated by a monopoly that controlled where the dairy farmers sold their products and bought their supplies. This was when the coop was established - to free them of that. Then, it was democratic and run by local citizens. Now it has become like the old monopoly. The need is to find an alternative, sufficiently overcoming the farmers' fears from the coop to organize.

    Hákonarson's movie again has authenticity, though nothing is out of place, almost to a fault. I said the real topic of Rams was austerity and that's partly true here. We can't fault the director for focusing on people when they aren't having a good time. But don't expect a smile. I only saw one: a younger man when he agrees informally to join the new coop. It stood out like a sudden ray of sunlight.

    This topic is more than ever topical. It is not too much a stretch to compare what Inga is turning against to the way corporate power and Bill Gates have pushed the "Green Revolution" in India that is leading to massive suicide by farmers there. An analogy in the current situation is how Reynir have converted their barn to a robotic operation to produce more milk, but put them heavily in debt.

    The power to manipulate is ever easier to spread and small farmers are fair game. We don't know where the power behind the this local Icelandic "mafia" can be back traced to, but power is ominous and must be constantly fought. This is Hákonarson's true subject. Austerity is only a byproduct of the situation this time.

    The Variety reviewer at Toronto called this "the yin" to Ram's "yang" as "an appealing and endearingly modest tale." This indeed is more rousing than Ram's, but it's stern stuff too.

    In the film we get to hear Icelandic spoken. The title Hérağiğ preserves the ğ (capital Ğ) or eth, in Old English called ğæt. Icelandic is the descendent of Old Norse, which was a cousin of Old English. It's interesting to hear a modern language spoken in an underpopulated, isolated part of the world that may be not unlike the language Beowulf, English speakers' most ancient literary treasure, was originally recited in.

    The County/Hérağiğ (2019), 90 mins., debuted internationally at Toronto Nov. 2019, showing at over half a dozen other festivals including Hamburg, Chicago, Leiden, Palm Springs and Göteborg. It releases in the US Apr. 30, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 08:15 PM.

Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •