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Thread: NEW YORK MOVIE JOURNAL (Feb.-Mar. 2020)

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    NEW YORK MOVIE JOURNAL (Feb.-Mar. 2020)

    NEW YORK MOVIE JOURNAL (Feb.-Mar. 2020)

    Listed in order seen. Linked where there is a review.



    PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE/PORTRAIT DE LA JEUNE FILLE EN FEU (Céline Sciamma 2019). A beautiful film about an 18th-century lesbian love affair between a painter and the aristicratic woman (Adèle Haenel) she's supposed to paint without her knowing for the man who's to marry her, who hasn't seen her. Set on a rocky coastline, dark, stormy, romantic. This may have brought Sciamma the greatest prestige yet, but seemed for all its poetry and eroticism more removed from reality than her previous films. Metascore: 95%. Watched at Village East Feb. 26.



    YOUNG AHMED (Jean-Pierre, Luc Dardenne 2019). Set as usual in the Dardennes' part of Belgium, this focuses on a Moroccan-descent teenager who falls under the sway of a fanatical young imam and becomes fanatical himself. Fanatics are not interesting, and when they're inarticulate teenagers even less so. Young Ahmed becomes a negative example of the Dardennes' singleminded obsessiveness. Not one of their real successes, though for some reason this got them the directing prize at Cannes. Watched at Quad Cinema Mar. 26. Metascore: 66%.



    PREMATURE (Rashaad Ernesto Green 2019). Excellent scenes of Harlem with the pungent rapid fire talk of today. Set against a young couple in a sexy, intense summer love affair while she is slated to go off to college but things go wrong with an unplanned pregnancy. They go wrong in how this story is told too (the pickle scene is a clumsy cliché - as Mike Angelo also noted) and the casting of the two leads is off, because both actors are a bit old for their parts. The moments of Harlem talk, though, are great. Metascore: 81%.



    ASSISTANT, THE (Kitty Green 2019). Hour by hour depiction of one work day of a young woman (Julia Garner) just out of Northwestern employed at the lowest level in a NYC film production company with an unseen boss sort of like Harvey Weinstein. Okay, maybe a lot like Harvey Weinstein. She is not one of his victims yet but this shows the demeaning powerless system that would enable his behavior within the company. A muted shout of anger. Watched at Village East Feb. 27. Metascore: 77%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-03-2020 at 03:41 PM.

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    INVISIBLE MAN, THE (Leigh Whannell 2020). A slick reworking of the theme that's a new star vehicle for Elizabeth Moss, pared down here to a #MeToo story of an abused wife whose husband fakes death and comes back in an invisible suit to torment her. An elegant, minimal, and soulless movie with an elaborate, skillful plot. Watched at Regal Union Square (which has been and is being elegantly remodeled) Feb 28. Metascore: 70%.



    CANE RIVER (Horace Jenkins 1982). Restoration of a found negative of a lost film. The director died soon after completion of this film and it was never distributed. Set in rural northwest Louisiana. The hero is a handsome, athletic descendent of the land-owner creole Metoyer family, who gives up a football career to come home to farm and write poetry. In the course of the film he becomes involved with a young local black woman who wants to escape to go to college, whose mother objects to the relationship. A very sedate, proper film seriously addressing details of African American history. Awkward, touching, important to know about lost black filmmaker, like Charles Burnett. Watched at Quad Cinema Feb. 28.



    SEBERG (Benedict Andrews 2019). Interesting because of the subject , French Nouvelle Vague icon Jean Seberg, and the actress, Kristen Stewart. But though Stewart is cool, she lacks the warmth of Seberg. The movie is annoying, because it focuses only on Seberg's downfall, the way the FBI hounded her for supporting and sleeping with Black Panthers, and we have to spend too much time breathing down the necks of an evil agent (Vince Vaughan) and an innocent one (Jack O'Connell). A flop. Watched at Village East Feb. 29. Metascore: 54%.



    EMMA. (Autumn de Wilde 2020) . This new adaptation of the Jane Austen novel is advertised as a visual comedy, staged like an opera or a musical. What most struck me was the characters are made to look not just gentry but enormously wealthy, with teams of liveried servants everywhere and the biggest stately homes in Europe. But Mann Booker prize-winning novelist Eleanor Catton follows the plot and characters faithfully and makes it all very clear. I had a good time. Watched at Angelika Film Center Mar. 1. Metascore: 70%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-21-2020 at 02:47 PM.

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    STRAIGHT UP (James Sweeney 2019). Is the arrival of a bright new talent, James Sweeney, who wrote, directed, and stars in this romantic comedy of a young half-Asian gay man in LA who won't accept he's gay and can't stand sex anyway since he's so OCD and averse to body fluids, so gets into a sweet but sexless live-in relationship with a would-be actress who's an intense hyper-verbal nutcase like him. Owen Gleiiberman of Variety heralds a "a new kind of brainiac screwball comedy" here and someone who writes for "pop-culture-saturated digital millennials who think faster than they can process." Sweeney has some problems with the structure but still, cool to watch. For some reason I thought of Miranda July but this was more amusing and quick-witted. Watched at IFC Center Mar. 2. Metascore: 63%.



    L'INNOCENTE (Luchino Visctonti 1976). Restoration. Faithfully adapted from an 1892 novel by Gabriele D'Annunzio. "Tullio Hermil [Giancarlo Giannini] is a chauvinist aristocrat who flaunts his mistress [Jennifer O'Neill] to his wife [Laura Antonelli], but when he believes [the wife] has been unfaithful he becomes enamored of her again" says the blurb. But when she becomes pregnant by Filippo d'Arborio (Marc Porel), the hottie writer she had the affair with, Tullio wrecks his life, her life, and the baby's. This melodrama reminded me of Patrice Chéreau's strange, operatic Gabrielle (NYFF 2005), which I liked better, but Visconti's last film has a rich aura about it too, even though I have never liked Giannini. Watched at Film Forum (whose auditoriums and foyer have been really nicely updated now) on Mar. 2.



    DISAPPEARANCE AT CLIFTON HILL (Albert Shin 2019).. This seemed to me almost as complicated as Robert Towne's wonderful script for Chinatown or as dark and violent in conception as the "Red Riding" trilogy or Fincher's Zodiac, and it might work better as a series. But nothing is ever as good a neo-noir as Chinatown or some of John Dahl's movies. Two unreliable narrators, plus David Cronenberg, and this is set in Canada, near Niagara Falls, where a woman with a very confused past comes back to try to solve the mystery of a boy she saw kidnapped when she was seven. Very good as a seedy evocation of a place. Promising. Albert Shin is a Canadian director whose first film was in Korean. Watched at IFC Center. Mar. 3. Metascore 61%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-17-2020 at 05:28 PM.

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    NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS (Eliza Hittmann 2020. I had only seen her Beach Rats (ND/NF 2017), about a young man with a secret gay life. This is a vérité, pared-down, linear account of a teenage girl in Pennsylvania going with her cousin to NYC to get an abortion. "Isn’t it wonderful how the opportunity for safe reproductive health is becoming something you can only find in a few major cities? " - comment on a key Season Four "High Maintenance" episode (S4E4, "Backflash"). The austerity and focus of Never Rarely are impressive, the theme important and increasingly timely, and response has been accordingly positive. It's also completely joyless and humorless. Do we have a choice? Mike D'Angelo has recently (4/18/20) opened an online review "A film that offers virtually nothing but compassion, which makes it all but impossible to criticize without seeming downright heartless." Watched at Angelika Film Center Fri., Mar. 13. Metascore 93%.



    THE BOOKSELLERS (D.W. Young 2019) A documentary about New York independent booksellers and some of the institution's history, punctuated with comments by a famous book lover: Fran Lebowitz. Comprehensive, but I'd have perhaps preferred a closeup of one really colorful and interesting rare book dealer, like the late Peter B. Howard of Serendipity Books, in Berkeley. Watched at Quad Cinema Sat., Mar. 14, 2020. Metascore 74%.
    THIS JUST IN (Apr. 11, 2020):
    The Booksellers will open nationwide on Friday, April 17 as part of Greenwich Entertainment’s virtual cinema initiative. Greenwich is partnering with movie theaters that are currently closed because of Coronavirus precautions so their customers can still watch The Booksellers and patrons can support their local theater during this difficult time.
    When I watched this at the Quad, the little auditorium was full enough that I sensed it was probably dangerous to be there.


    ******
    That (]THE BOOKSELLERS) was the last movie I saw in New York after the Rendez-Vous public screenings and the ND/NF press screenings were cancelled and before I returned to California because everything was cancelled and because we are all afraid.

    ******



    THE CLIMB (Michael Angelo Covino 2019). Watched on a screener, this is a highly accomplished and cinematic film that's fun to watch and rewatch. The liaisons and interesting musical interludes and the fluidly tracked long single takes may overwhelm the emotional content a bit, but I am expecting raves, and there already are. Full review on release. It was to come out Mar. 20, but was postponed due to the vurus. Watched Mar. 18 and 19, 2020. Metascore 82%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-10-2020 at 11:19 PM.

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    Yes, we are all afraid. My thoughts and prayers for Chris, Bill, Jason, Uno, and all who peruse these pages. My gratitude to Chris Knipp for his excellent coverage of the global culture of cinema and for his film criticism.
    I have been watching biopics of Latin American historical figures, such as El Libertador, Aguirre and Viva Zapata! for a course I'm teaching at Florida International University. For fun, I've been watching the films of the greatest American romance director, Mr. Frank Borzage, an American of Italian descent born in Salt Lake City, who had a magnificent 40 year career in Hollywood. Can anyone name a film directed by Borzage? There's been some retrospectives over the years but I wonder to what extent he is known nowadays...

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    Stay safe, Oscar. Would like to hear a peep from those former contributors.



    Note distributors are starting to offer new films released online pay-for-view. Below are some recent announcements I've received:
    Please remove the March 27 (NY) and April 3 (LA) theatrical dates off the calendar. THE INFILTRATORS theatrical date is TBD but we want to inform you the film is still coming out Cable On Demand / Digital Platforms starting June 2.
    We are so excited to share that Lynn Chen ("Saving Face") directed and wrote a new film called I WILL MAKE YOU MINE. Gravitas Ventures will release the film on Cable On Demand and Digital Platforms starting May 26. The film is part of the SURROGATE VALENTINE trilogy. I WILL MAKE YOU MINE stars Goh Nakamura, Lynn Chen, Yea-Ming, Ayako Fujitani, and introducing Ayami Riley.

    Pre-order link is available now here. Check out the trailer here.
    Kino Lorber launches Kino Marquee, a virtual theatrical exhibition initiative to enable art house cinemas to serve moviegoers and generate revenue during the coronavirus outbreak

    Launches with Cannes prize-winning
    Brazilian thriller BACURAU
    Keep an eye out for THE CLIMB (Michael Angelo Covino 2020)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-26-2020 at 01:43 PM.

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    Here's information just in about virtual releases by Kino Lorber:

    KINO MARQUEE INITIATIVE EXPANDS TO
    150 VIRTUAL THEATER SCREENS


    Alamo Drafthouse & Laemmle Theaters sign on to screen
    Cannes-prize winning Brazilian thriller Bacurau

    Film Forum virtually screens Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You

    Future virtual theatrical releases will include
    new and repertory titles

    New York, NY - March 26, 2020 -- Kino Lorber’s virtual theatrical exhibition initiative called Kino Marquee has now expanded to 150 arthouse theaters to screen Cannes-prize winning Brazilian thriller Bacurau. Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle Theaters have just signed on to screen through many of their locations. A virtual Q&A with filmmakers and cast hosted by BAM will be available for all to watch on Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm ET. The Company also plans to offer top films from other independent distributors.

    Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and starring Sônia Braga and Udo Kier, Bacurau won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2019 and went on to play Toronto and New York Film Festivals to much acclaim.

    Ken Loach’s festival favorite Sorry We Missed You is also currently available through Kino Marquee with Film Forum in New York, where the film’s theatrical premiere (launched March 4) was cut short by the theater’s closure. Multiple cities will follow later this week.

    Kino Marquee launched last week to enable movie theaters shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak to continue to serve their audiences and generate revenue in this difficult time. The initiative has been designed to emulate the moviegoing experience as much as possible, enabling movie audiences to support their local theaters by paying to view films digitally.

    Under the Kino Marquee program, the Company plans to initiate virtual releases with participating theaters for other currently scheduled and upcoming Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist first run and repertory titles until theaters are able to reopen.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-26-2020 at 05:11 PM.

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    Another one just came in the mailbox. Pedro Costa's VITALINA VARELA was in the Main Slate of the NYFF 2019.



    [Pedro Costa's] Vitalina Varela at home—starts tomorrow!
    Winner of the Golden Leopard for Best Film and Best Actress at the Locarno Film Festival

    Your at-home screening purchase directly supports FLC.


    I expect to be providing reviews on Filmleaf of VITALINA VARELA, THE INFILTRATORS, and SORRY WE MISSED YOU shortly.

    Film at Lincoln Center presents VITALINA VARELA
    Your screening of this film supports Film at Lincoln Center!

    ---
    A film of deeply concentrated beauty, acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Costa’s Vitalina Varela stars nonprofessional actor Vitalina Varela in an extraordinary performance based on her own life. Vitalina plays a Cape Verdean woman who has travelled to Lisbon to reunite with her husband, after two decades of separation, only to arrive mere days after his funeral. Alone in a strange forbidding land, she perseveres and begins to establish a new life. Winner of the Golden Leopard for Best Film and Best Actress at the Locarno Film Festival, as well as an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, Vitalina Varela is a film of shadow and whisper, a profoundly moving and visually ravishing masterpiece.

    "Lit like a Rembrandt, acted like a neo-realist classic," wrote Screen Daily.

    click on "rent" below to rent it at home on your internet connection.
    RENT $12 Watch Trailer

    FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER Media Center
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-26-2020 at 10:39 PM.

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    BIAS (Robin Hauser 2018). "If you're human you're biased. Now What?" Bias is traditionally protective; it's necessary to "simplify" to function in the world. It involves subtler, more innate or implicit associations than prejudice, which people are usually aware of. Even if we consciously countermand our bias against, say, black females as white males, or associating men with career and women with family as both genders do, bias is insidiously there. The filmmakers, including Mahzarin Banarjij a Harvard expert on implicit bias, consider this element in programs like "Next Door" or in law enforcement, in a since reformed, with a new CEO, formerly crudely gender-biased business like GoDaddy; in A.I. or the "Compas" sentencing program; in ignoring the superiority of the US women's soccer team to the mens in all aspects. This little documentary may sound like a preachy school educational film and be full of women with forbidding accents that aroused my innate biases, but it's calculated to make us more aware and sensitive individuals where race, gender, wage and other gaps exist and need to be countermanded to create a more humane and sophisticated society. A virtual reality program that can reprogram a white person to see herself as black can at least temporarily counteract her usual innate racial bias. To be released on demand Apr. 14, 2020. It is 88 mins., debuted at Mill Valley Oct. 2018.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-26-2020 at 11:10 PM.

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    Bill (cinemabon) has decided to go back to work at Target so I'm sure he is quite busy as it is; he may not have time to post.

    Thanks Chris for a wealth of important information and criticism presented in a clear and compelling manner.

    This rather grisly pandemic crisis we face, full of unknowns when it comes to facts, bringing uncertainty, and angst, along with the transition to a new decade, compels me to think about what matters most, what's essential, what's supreme. I find myself thinking about the films I would watch if I knew exactly how finite my time was. Which films would I watch if I had time only for 50 or a 100. Which are the films of today that I believe to be advancing the medium, developing its expressive capacities, talking about the things that matter to me, that move me...Pedro Costa would get consideration for the designation of the most important filmmaker nowadays. Pedro Costa's films and particularly his "Horse Money"come to mind; Albert Serra's attention to a single "action" (as Aristotle would say), to the minutia of the ordinary; in Poland, Lazlo Nemes has used the Dardennes brothers' tendency to track right behind the protagonist to create engaging, mysterious dark holes in the narrative that often remain empty so that your imagination has a playground; in the US, I'm fascinated by the Patrick Wang's "A Bread Factory" and simply glad it exists for what it says about art and its importance, amongst many other things.

    I'm excited to watch Costa's latest film. This would be a first time I watch a film streaming. I assume one can pause the film and continue watching later. I assume there is a limited time you have access to the film. I wonder how long? I assume that when you buy one month on Netflix you can watch anything they have, but this is different, this is a one-time event...
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 03-28-2020 at 04:53 PM.

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    After you pay for it you have three days during which you can watch it as often as you like, I believe. No doubt if you like Pedro Costa you'll enjoy Vitalina Varela. It is visually maybe even more striking than previous films of his.

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    Thanks, Chris Knipp.
    At home, I watched the Mexican submission to the competition for Best Foreign Film at the 1963 Oscars" Tlacuyan(1962)
    It was written and directed by the Luis Alcoriza, a Spanish writer who collaborated with the genius Luis Buñuel on a dozen films in México; classics such as Exterminating Angel and El. Alcoriza was also an actor and director. He won important awards with films like Lo Que Importa es Vivir (1986), which is a rare and early example of Latin American "queer cinema".

    Tlacuyan adopts a humanist, neorealist approach to the depiction of village life in Morelos, Mexico (Zapata's home state). I imagine that a cinephile not recognizing the language spoken may think she's accidentally discovered an Italian neorealist film no one knew about. A priest's relationships with the townsfolk play a big role. It's among many aspects that would also be important in Italian provincial culture. The central event is the robbery of a pearl, which is exploited for dramatic and also comedic purposes (when the pearl is lost and it's believed one of many piglets that roam around throughout the film might have ingested it). However, there are other episodes equally engaging, especially an unlikely but convincing romance between an uptight spinster and a younger man, who is blind and begs. Alcoriza finds a way to show the goodness in every character by the end, with a close-up of dirty piglets roaming around their mother.

    I think it's sad that Mexican cinema is regarded as "foreign" and ignored in the US. There was a Golden Age waiting to be discovered if it could be made accesible to English-speaking audiences. The companies that manufacture the dvds I watch for distribution in the US don't even bother to add English Subtitles, so that's part of the problem. It is simply assumed that the only people interested are US Latinos who speak Spanish. Shame.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 04-05-2020 at 04:54 PM.

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    Shakeup at Cahiers du Cinéma (Guardian).

    This isn't new - it was the end of Feb. - but interesting to find that at least the staff of France's legendary film criticism journal wants to maintain its independence. They have all resigned in protest of a new management (after the sale of the journal) that now includes individuals representing film production companies and members of a movie directors group. The article is in the Guardian

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    This just in today (Apr. 11, 2020):
    The Booksellers will open nationwide on Friday, April 17 as part of Greenwich Entertainment’s virtual cinema initiative. Greenwich is partnering with movie theaters that are currently closed because of Coronavirus precautions so their customers can still watch The Booksellers and patrons can support their local theater during this difficult time.
    FOR SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTS, IT OPENS VIRTUALLY AT THE VOGUE AND BALBOA THEATERS ON APRIL 17th

    FIND YOUR THEATER + RENT IT HERE
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-13-2020 at 11:22 AM.

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