Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: New York Film Festival 2020

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    New York Film Festival 2020



    New York Film Festival 2020

    GENERAL FILM FORUM

    The 58th New York Film Festival Main Slate

    Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen 2020) Opening Night
    Nomadland (Chloé Zhao 2020) Centerpiece
    French Exit (Azazel Jacobs 2020) Closing Night
    Atarrabi & Mikelats (Eugène Green 2020)
    Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili 2020)
    The Calming (Song Fang 2020)
    City Hall (Frederick Wiseman 2020)
    Days 日子 (Tsai Ming-liang 2020)
    The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane 2020)
    Fauna (Nicolás Pereda 2020)
    [/URL]Gunda (Victor Kossakovsky 2020)
    I Carry You with Me/Te Llevo Conmigo (Heidi Ewing 2020)
    Isabella (Matías Piñeiro 2020)
    Malmkrog (Cristi Puiu 2020)
    Mangrove (Steve McQueen 2020
    MLK/FBI (Sam Pollard 2020)
    Night of the Kings/La Nuit des rois (Philippe Lacôte 2020)
    Notturno (Gianfranco Rosi 2020) doc
    Red, White and Blue (Steve McQueen 2020
    The Salt of Tears/Le sel des larmes(Philippe Garrel 2020
    Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue/一直游到海水变蓝(Jia Zhangke 2020) doc
    Time (Garrett Bradley 2020
    Tragic Jungle/Selva Trágica (Yulene Olaizola 2020
    The Truffle Hunters (Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw 2020) doc
    Undine (Christian Petzold 2020)
    The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sangsoo 2020
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 11:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    LOVER'S POINT (Steve McQueen 2020)

    STEVE MCQUEEN: LOVER'S ROCK (2020)




    A celebration staged - then watched

    Lovers Rock, the opening night film of the 58th New York Film Festival, is an hour-plus television series episode that is part of McQueen's five-part "Small Axe" anthology that premieres on BBC One later this year and in the US on Amazon Prime.

    Lovers Rock is nearly zero as a story - boy meets girl, they dance all night, take dawn bike ride, girl sneaks into house in time to go to church - but as a staged event it is enormous, a West Indian soul-reggae house party dance night that Peter Bradshaw, who gives it five out of five stars in a Guardian review, calls "the best party ever." He accurately says "everything and nothing" happens and notes most of this 68-minute film, co-scripted by McQueen with writer-musician Courttia Newland, designed by Helen Scott and (mainly?) shot by Shabier Kirchner, would be a five-minute sequence in a regular film. Dennis Lim, the Film at Lincoln Center Program Director, in a Zoom-style interview with McQueen, suggests this is more like one of the short art films he made before he got started on features, the chronicling of a process-event. I came to scoff (not a fan of McQueen coming into it), but I became a convert. This is a rich, lush, enveloping event. It's alive. It's young sexy blackness as you've never seen it caught on film.


    But Bradshaw is also right in calling it a "novella," because it has characters and mini-backstories to burn ("everything") - only they're brief and sketchy ("nothing"). McQueen told Lim this remarkably rich "staged" event was (became) a real party; it would have happened (gone on, and on and on) whether the camera was there or not; he felt "invited," and (he said this two or three times) "it was euphoric." In a way all but Michael Ward and Franklyn and Amarah-Jae St Augin as Martha, the couple the camera follows out into the night-into-morning at the end, are extras. but they are extras who are stars in their own right, starring in their own movie, living their own party, and they give their all. McQueen just had to "know when to step back" - and watch and let it happen. Self-indulgent? Yes, but no, because he frames it so beautifully.

    The time is 1980. The setting is set in Ladbroke Grove, west London, over a single evening at a house party in 1980. The people are mostly West Indian first or second generation men and women. Blacks weren't really welcome at London dance clubs, which had quotas for them, and so they made their own so-it-yourself clubs, for themselves. They took a living room, filled it with a humongous set of speakers, and charged a 50p entry fee at the door, extra for food and drink from the kitchen. Men dressed up in tight bell bottoms and fancy dress jackets with eventful hats; women wore fancy, slinky dresses they or their own had made for them. McQueen, who calls this a "blues party," is drawing on the experience of his own parents here, and a female relative whose father left the door open so she could sneak back in after a dance party in the morning, just as Martha (St Aubin) does here, to deceive her religious mother and go to church with her Sunday morning. All this is there, starting with the dragging in of the speakers and setting up of the table to play the vinyl, and dragging of the sofas into the back yard for private, more romantic interludes by couples during the night.

    The music is enveloping. The atmosphere is sexy, and sexier as the night wears on. The music is lover’s rock, soul and reggae. Lovers rock is a thing, a "largely underground phenomenon," London black reggae emphasizing women's feelings, a genre that went global, a Guardian article Bradshaw references explains, but went largely unrecognized at home and faded away.

    I don't know how period-authentic all the gestures are, but McQueen says they avoid gestures that aren't. One is the way the men grab the women's elbow, then slide it down to their hand, asking for a dance. Did men drink bottled beer while dancing? I guess they did. They light a lot of nice long thin spliffs, and the women smoke cigarettes, innocent highs. It seemed like some of the men were very predatory, but it's interesting how they cloak it in an air of chivalry and flowery compliments. Martha comes in with her friend Patty (Shaniqua Okwok), who disappears early on. Martha runs out after her but can't find her, and, with a group of whit men aproaching her, quickly withdraws back into the party room. Apparently Patty is miffed that Franklyn has settled on Martha and not her. Or she didn't get the man she longed for.

    At one point there's a moment in a bedroom with two women sitting on a bed kissing.

    A remarkable and lovely moment comes - though in conventional terms, like everything else, it goes on too long, when the music stops and the entire crowd sings the Janet Kay song "Silly Games," a cappella. It's the kind of thing you'd absolutely insist had to be staged, and it apparently wasn't. McQueen says this just happened, he had nothing do do with it. It's climactic, but there's much, much more. Remember in Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark part of the show-offy single take is the ballroom full of elegant costumed dancers with the Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev conducting, and at the end the camera comes back to them, and they're still dancing? You imagine those dancers, dancing hour after hour for the camera. This is like that, only the dancers are having a hell of a good time. And at the end the music gets faster, and they get crazy, and the screen is full of figures jumping and jiving, leaping and down on the floor waggling their arms and legs.

    Before she goes home Franklyn takes Martha to the garage where he works, to make out, to entertainher in privacy. But his young white boss comes in, all unexpected, because it's Sunday morning, and chews him out and says, "You don't bring your Doris here!" At this point, Franklyn drops his Jamaican lilt he's bee speaking in all night and talks to the young white guy in more "multicultural London," a bland of cockney. Was the Jamaican a fake? No, it was probably his first language. This is only a hint of the depth and richness of this remarkable film's cultural and social detail. As I said I cam to scoff, and I admit I did feel bored in the middle of it, feeling it was going on much, much too long, which it does by normal standards. But I was swept away in the deep soul vibe and, the warm eroticism, and the fantastic go-for-broke in-character lived performances of the ensemble. As an opening night film, in a real not virtual NYFF, this would have worked unusually well. It's engaging, energetic, upbeat, and unique. How great it would have been on the Walter Reade Theater's great sound system and big screen.

    Lovers Rock, 68 mins., episode of McQueen's five-part "Small Axe" anthology series for BBC (two othes also included in the NYFF) watched in virtual form as part of the New York Film Festival, for which it was the Opening Night film.


    MICHAEL WARD AND AMARAH-JAE ST AUBYN IIN LOVERS ROCK
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-18-2020 at 12:09 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    Malmkrog (Cristi Puiu 2020)

    CRISTI PUIU: MALMKROG (2020)


    MARINA PALLI AND DIANA SAKALAUSKAITÉ in MALMKROG

    Idle rich with a lot to talk about, c. 1900

    I reviewed Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Laaarescu as part of the 43rd New York Film Festival in 2005. It was my first press screening at my first NYFF. It's also credited with spearheading a "Romanian New Wave." Malmkrog is named for a luxurious estate in Transylvania where the action, if we can call it that, transpires. Five Russian aristocrats in 1900, speaking to each other in stilted French as was their custom, talk from before lunch till after dinner about a variety of general subjects drawn from a book by the Russian 19th-century philosopher Vladimir Solovyov called Three Conversations. A 1915 English version is headed "War and Christianity from the Russian Point of view." It all goes to show the idleness of Russian aristocrats as seen by a latter-day Romanian, and mind-sets in which liberalism is a mask for colonialism and racism. It is largely a sterile exercise, more stagnant pond than New Wave, but the beautiful staging and disciplined acting are wonders to behold.

    Stilted French - that is a determining factor. This doesn't have the quality of speech. There are two men - one man, a general, having left early - and three women. Besides war, the place of Russia in Europe and the world is another topic, and the existence of evil in the world a third big one. There are some characteristics attached to the speakers. For instance, it's the general's wife, Ingrida (Diana Sakalauskaité), who defends war. The letter she reads about her husband's satisfaction at killing a horde of Ottoman Bashi-bazouk soldiers as punishment for their hideous massacre of a town full of Armenians is one of the film's more memorable moments. The "Franco-Russian" Edouard (Ugo Broussot, a theatrically-trained French actor), understood to be a prosperous businessman, expounds at length (several prominent reviews, Jonathan Romney's for Screen Daily and Boyd van Hoeij's for Hollywood Reporter, refer to it as "mansplaining") on Russia's role as a "European" civilizer of the world, in a way that incorporates Solovyov's racist attitude to the "yellow-faced" Chinese. Two other women, Madeleine (Agathe Bosch), a dryly intellectual middle-aged woman and Olga (Marina Palii), young and condescended to but presumably Nikolai's wife, complete the endlessly chattering group. The actors' discipline and stamina are world-class.

    Why is all this relevant, and what makes three hours and twenty minutes of stilted philosophical debate material for a film? The answer isn't evident, and this is a step backward, or further backward, from the lively, humane Cristi Puiu who made Mr. Lazarescu. This is more a test for film buffs and particularly festival-goers who pride themselves on their stamina and Olympic-level attention spans. It's like sitting through a Wagner opera if you're not a Wagner fan, but without the beautiful music. One reviewer recommended coffee "or something stronger."

    There are moments rf hints of excitement. We see in his own shortest of the five chapters headed "István," headed for the butler, who directs a team of nearly silent and diligent servants the outwardly "liberal" five conversationalists studiously ignore, that he hits a kitchen employee guilty of making bad - or could it be lightly poisoned? - tea. Later, there's a disturbance and loud music heard and the bell of the host Nikolai (Frédéric Schulz-Richard) is not answered. Then there is a wild chase of figures from the kitchen and explosions, with the five dropping to the floor. I thought revolution had come, and they had died. But we see them in the distance later out in front of the estate, mysteriously congregating. Maybe it was only firecrackers - after all, this was Christmas Eve. The sounds in the background, perhaps including a music lesson for a child, and the work of the servants, including the bathing and dressing and bedding of a member of the group who is unwell, show Puiu's meticulous attention to every detail, including of course furnishings and costumes. But one detail that has eluded him: making this action interesting or relevant to us.

    "A pristine, sometimes terrifying vision, of the shimmering violence beneath the colonialist's veneer of politesse" says a current NYFF tag for this film. Nice one. But you can't sell this dry summary of a dated book that facilely.

    Malmkrog, 200mins., debuted at the Berlinale FEb. 2020; Belgrade, Vilnius (internet), Cluj, and was screened online for this review as part of the New York Film Festival (Sept. 17-Oct. 11), hybrid with virtual and drive-in screenings.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-19-2020 at 01:36 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    GUNDA (Victor Kossakovsky 2020)

    VICTOR KOSSAKOVSKY: GUNDA (2020


    GUNDA WITH PIGLET IN GUNDA

    In a pig's eye

    What is the average life span of a pig? Well, that's just one of the many questions that Gunda, a non-fiction film focused on a large sow that's just given birth, will not answer for you. I confess myself resistant sometimes to the purely observational approach to documentaries, in dealing with subject matter where I'm ignorant of and could use some instruction. I am not a barnyard person. One of my thoughts while watching Gunda was though we get to hear the (enhanced) sounds, we don't have to smell the smells. I was grateful documentary Smell-o-Vision has not come, however John Waters might delight in the thought.

    There is evidently a runt of the litter - isn't there always? But while the camera seemed to follow this less energetic, more tentative piglet, it was never clear what was going to happen to it, if the eponymous large sow would be helping it, or just testing it. Earlier on, she appeared to sit on a weakling. Here an explanation would have been welcome.

    Of course, if there were explanations, this would not be the festival-ready art film it is, with its brilliant, contrasty black and white images, and its impressively austere aesthetic, it's willingness to take long pauses, when we're waiting for the piglets to come out of the hutch occupied by their mom, or for the free range chickens in another location edited in between the pig sequences, whose movements onto grassy surfaces are a marvel of tentativeness. For a bit, the film seems to have become a highly specialized closeup portrait of how chickens plant their - what do you call them? paws, claws, feet on the ground. And then comes the promised sight of the one-legged chicken. Yes, and a fascinating show of coping under adversity it is. And then the camera, as restless as the growing piglets, who grow jumpier and pushier in each successive sequence, moves on. What is the fate of the one-legged chicken? Did it live happily ever after? Another unanswered question.

    But this illustrates that this film - which also cheats in shooting not just on Gunda's farm in Norway, but also on ones in Spain and Britain, and making them blend together - isn't simply observational, like, for example one of my longtime favorites and models of such filmmaking, Philibert's To Be and to Have. Because Kossakovsky, known for the "visionary" quality of his films, and their "simplicity," has chosen dramatic moments - a very large sow with a new brood; a chicken with one leg. Because observing these farm animals in their ordinary daily rounds would be pretty unexciting, unless presented in an informational documentary, filmed over a long period, with narration based on lengthy informed observation and expertise. Some things don't necessarily cry out to be made into an art film.

    Nonetheless for many viewers no doubt Gunda does perform an important function. It takes you into an at least apparently unmediated view of the world of pigs and chicks, and cattle too (they like to stare at you, and use each other's tails as fly-whisks, while pigs get away from bugs by wallowing in mud). Away from the music and the narration, viewers may look harder, feel closer, and learn to form their own opinions. They will be uninformed opinions, but they won't be crafted by artificial anthropomorphic storylines. Of course we are grateful for a film that's so keenly observed and beautiful, and for the lack of a narration that might have been tasteless or corny. And needless to say, I was glad to have no dialogue after the tedious yaffest that was Crisi Puiu's Malmkrog, seen and reviewed here last night.

    No dialogue is necessary for the stunning finale, when Gunda suddenly has her whole brood taken away, and the last ten minutes are her looking for them, and I guess going through the first stage of Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief. Executive-produced by now famous vegan Joaquin Phoenix, this brilliantly made film is a strong statement of the stark inequality of the place of humans in the natural world.

    Gunda,93 mins., debuted at the Berlinale Feb. 2020, released theatrically in Norway Aug. 2020, and was part of the Main Slate of the New York Film Festival (Sept. 17-Oct. 11, showing Sept. 19, screened virtually as part of the NYFF for this review. A Neon release. Slated for Crested Butte and Hamptons showings in October.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-19-2020 at 10:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    THE CALMING 平静 (Song Fang 2020)

    SONG FANG: THE CALMING 平静 (2020)


    QI XI IN THE CALMING

    Where life, though joyless, still is calm

    I reviewed Son Fang's first film, Memories Look at Me, as part of the 2012 NYFF.

    This one, about movie lady Lin Tong (Qi Xi), a documentary filmmaker who's broken up with her boyfriend Guiren, is itself in a sense becalmed. Call it meditative, observational, or, to be more trendy, slow cinema. In Japan for movie business, Lin only tells one Japanese guy what's happened. In Tokyo her hotel view at night is gorgeous. She goes to Niigata to see snow, staying in hotels, taking public transportation, alone. She looks at things. We get the point: she's lonely, perhaps shut down. Back in China, she moves into a new apartment. Visiting with her parents, her father, a doctor, is very ill now. They don't know. She doesn't tell them. She gives him congee. That's not much for forty minutes, but it's a kind of warmup, warmup for contemplation. I started to miss the pigs in Gunda. They're so enthusiastic! Even if they only grunt or oink. But of course it's just a question of tuning in. The Letterboxd responses are very happy and approving.

    When Lin meets up with her good friend in Hong Kong, the energy level rises. She has a nice caucasian husband who speaks Chinese, which one rarely sees in a film. Asked about Guiren, she says things are as usual, but "Let's change the subject." Gradually one realizes Lin is not so much sad as learning to live alone. But as a kind of artist, she is used to that state. I remembered T.S. Eliot's The Cocktain Party, how Peter and Celia bond because they discover both like to "go to concerts alone, and to look at pictures." It's nice to experience certain things, like music and pictures, even wild nature, alone, but nicer if one can do that by choice, if one has a partner.

    Lin is reminded she hasn't one. There's the nice husband, and another man who's just getting married, and the old couple observed walking, still in good health and still walking hand in hand. And Lin's own parents, but with the hint of loss in her good friend's grandmother's recent peaceful passing in her sleep.

    To see how Lin is learning to experience things alone and to be, perforce, alone, we often see her against the window of a single hotel room, or on a train, or a boat ride, with the scenery behind her and no one nearby. Or lovely foliage, with no one else around. Every time the shot is beautifully composed, and that expresses calm. Aesthetics are a discipline that calms. "After great pain a formal feeling comes."

    After many beautiful scenes experienced by Lin alone, she has pain, and spends time, unexplained, in a hospital. Then she attends a concert playing Handel's "Alexander Balus" oratorio, and hears the beautiful aria containing the lines, "Where life, though joyless, still is calm,/And sweet content is sorrow's balm." Life, though joyless, still is calm. That sums it up. "Sublime, don't you think?" as asks the Chevalier Danceny (Keanu Reeves) in Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons., after music like this. A tear drips down from Lin's eye as she listens, as it should.

    The Calming is very beautiful, and calm, so beautiful and calm it's not quite real and can't quite breathe. But it can provide great satisfaction to some viewers. If one had a copy, one could take a hit off it at almost any point, and zone out.

    The Calming 平静 ("Calm"), 92 mins., debuted at the Berlinale Feb. 2020, and showed at the NYFF virtual festival Sept. 19. Screened online for this review as part of the New York Film Festival (Sept. 17- Oct. 11, 2020).
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-20-2020 at 01:15 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    TIME (Garrett Bradley 2020)

    GARRETT BRADLEY: TIME (2020)




    A woman waits eighteen years for her husband to get out of prison

    Time by documentarian Garrett Bradley is an amalgam. Focused on a black mother whose husband is in prison for nearly twenty years and her six sons, it blends a mixture of film footage. The most plangent and vivid, sometimes clumsy, is home footage shot by the mother herself of the boys for her husband. The rest was made by the filmmaker's cameramen of the family. The whole is joined together by conversion of all to black and white. The period footage is purposely jumbled up in time, to be not just documentation but the haunting of memory. The result is perhaps intentionally disorienting - a "vibrant cubist portrait," as Shri Linden puts it in her <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/time-review-1271894">Hollywood Reporter review</a>.

    Sibyl Fox Richardson, known as Fox Rich, the center of the film, is the wife of Rob Richardson, sentenced to sixty years in Louisiana State Prison for a failed bank robbery. It was an act done out of "desperation," Fox Rich says. They and another were trying to start a hip hop clothing store, in Shreveport but an investor pulled out, and they were poor. Fox Rich was involved in the crime too, as the driver. She agreed to plea bargain and wound up doing 3 1/2 years. Rob wouldn't, and he got the big sentence.

    The point of the jumping around is what? To make us feel the same powerlessness, perhaps, as Fox Rich and enter into her memories. The whole point is her struggle, her pain, and her determination, as she raises the boys, with help from her mother, into what looks like an impressive, good-looking brood. Fox Rich is a powerful, steadfast, determined woman, who we see often as an inspirational speaker in her self-defined cause talking to wives and families of prisoners about how incarceration of black people in America is slavery, and she is an abolitionist. At some times we see she has a car dealership, and recording a filmed advertisement, presumably for television. This is Fox Rich's portrait and that of her six sons, especially the twins, Freedom and Justus, born after Rob was imprisoned because she was pregnant when he went in.

    The time-mix makes a dizzying continuum of the near twenty-year wait, reduced to only two visits to her husband a month, and the thousands wasted on lawyers who come up with nothing, while the boys go from chirping kindergarteners, junior high schoolers and high schoolers to college kids, and back again, and Fox Rich waits and controls her anger and pain as year after year she calls the white judge's office to find out what his response is to the latest appeal of the sentence.

    As is often the case, I appreciate the artistry of this film, and above all the immediacy of its vivid personal portraiture, while still wishing it had at least sometimes been also framed in a more conventionally explicit form or included more conventionally explanatory material, more facts. But there are many strong moments here. Fox Rich is eloquent, and fascinating. All the different hair styles! The dignity, and the passion! Filmed by Bradley, Justus, a very handsome 18-year-old, perhaps, says, in crisp tones, "When my mother and father were arrested for robbing a bank" (with a confident click on the "k" of "bank"), "she wound up having a set of twins, one being myself, the other being my twin brother Freedom." He also says, "My family has a very strong image." (Here we see them assembled, adult, well dressed, at a public occasion.) "But behind that is a lot of hurt, lot of pain." And this film is a stirring portrait of that pain.

    What stands out is Fox Rich's apparently unwavering loyalty to her husband, and to the cause of making a decent living and raising her sons right, in the racist South. Eighteen years for a minor bank robbery, a sentence of sixty? I guess they didn't have access to the right fancy lawyers. I guess they were Black in America.

    The score is unusual, like the chronology, periods of conventional string music augmented by a tranquil piano performance by a now ninety-something Ethiopian nun called Emahoy Tsegué Guèbrou, found on YouTube.

    Greg Nussen wrote eloquently of this film on <a href="https://letterboxd.com/gregnussen/film/time-2020/">Letterboxd</a>: "Time is both a cinematic wonder and a heavy piece of political agitation. . . [it's] as much about the arbitrary nature of time as it is about the fallacy that forms the basis of the American justice system. Time that is 'served' and time that is taken away, time that is thrust upon victims of the system and time that is even gained. Prisons are neither places for rehabilitation nor a useful means with which to punish someone, they accomplish nothing of value except for the people that literally profit off it."

    "Are we going to see him get out?" I think we wonder as we watch. Yes, we do, and it's worth the wait. Rob comes out in a T-shirt saying "NEVER GIVE UP." The return is joyous, sexy, and loving. Rob is not a cowed victim. He is presidential. At a celebration of many hugs he says the greatest value and the greatest faith is love and adds, "If it could be an acronym it would be Life's Only Valid Expression." These people have a lot of class. They're pretty awesome.

    Time, 81 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 2020, and won the Documentary Directing award at Sundance and has won several other awards and nominations. It also showed at Miami Mar. 2020 and Sept. 20 at the virtual New York Film Festival, as part of which it was screened for this review, and is set for showing Sept. 24 at Zurich, Camden International (virtual) Film Festival, London and the Hamptons (virtual) Oct. 9. It is slated for internet release on Oct. 16 in the US and Oct. 23 in Canada.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 04:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    NIGHT OF THE KINGS/LA NUIT DES ROIS (Philippe Lacôte 2020)

    PHILIPPE LACOTE: THE NIGHT OF THE KINGS/LA NUIT DES ROIS (2020)



    Night of the Kings
    Philippe Lacôte, 2020, France/Ivory Coast/Canada/Senegal, 93m
    At the Maca correctional facility in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan, the inmates run the prison, a place all but ruled by superstitions. Tonight, upon the rising of a red moon, a newly arrived prisoner (Koné Bakary), jailed for pickpocketing, has been selected by the autocratic Lord Black Beard to assume the position of “Roman” (storyteller): he must keep his fellow inmates entertained with wild tales or risk his own life. As this Scheherazade-like scenario unfolds, he tells the story of Zama, his childhood friend who became a legendary crime boss. Paying homage to the tradition of the griot in West African culture, Night of the Kings is a work of Shakespearean fabulism and gripping, energetic cinema, an altogether original vision from breakout Ivory Coast filmmaker Philippe Lacôte.

    Showing Thurs., Sept. 24, 2020.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 05:04 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    CITY HALL (Frederick Wiseman 2020)

    FREDERICK WISEMAN: CITY HALL (2020)



    Guy Lodge's Variety review lead off, "Frederick Wiseman’s Mammoth Boston Doc Shows Anti-Trump Politics in Practice."

    City Hall
    Frederick Wiseman, 2020, U.S., 272m documentary
    Nonagenarian national treasure Frederick Wiseman returns with another kaleidoscopic look at the function and practice of community, policy, and civic engagement in shaping Americans’ everyday lives. This time, Wiseman trains his gaze on the inner workings of the city of Boston, taking viewers into the public and backroom discussions that can either inspire or stall municipal action. As in such recent works of penetrative institutional analysis as At Berkeley and In Jackson Heights, Wiseman shows—without editorializing or casting broadsides—a country’s steps toward inclusivity and social reform, as well as the entrenched systems that keep progress in relative check. Wiseman’s top-down approach to representing governmental function speaks to the multicultural and immigrant communities and businesses of Boston’s neighborhoods and suburbs, while also standing in for the whole of a nation constantly wrestling with its legacy and debating its future. A Zipporah Films release.

    Showing Fri., Sept. 25, 2020/
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 05:26 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    DAYS (Tsai Ming-liang 2020)

    TSAI MING-LIANG: DAYS (2020)



    Days
    Tsai Ming-liang, 2020, Taiwan/France, 127m
    The great Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang has been directing exquisite examinations of alienation, isolation, and the fleeting beauty of human connection featuring his muse Lee Kang-sheng for decades. His latest film, Days—his first feature-length fiction since 2013’s magnificent Stray Dogs (NYFF51)—will undoubtedly stand as one of his best, sparest, and most intimate works. Lee once again stars as a variation on himself, wandering through a lonely urban landscape and seeking treatment in Hong Kong for a chronic illness; at the same time, a young Laotian immigrant working in Bangkok, played by Anong Houngheuangsy, goes about his daily routine. These two solitary men eventually come together in a moment of healing, tenderness, and sexual release. Among the most cathartic entries in Tsai’s filmography, Days is a work of longing, constructed with the director’s customary brilliance at visual composition and shot through with profound empathy. A Grasshopper Film release.

    Reviewed by David Lodge in Variety: "Rumors of Tsai Ming-liang’s retirement are greatly exaggerated as the slow-cinema auteur reunites with Lee Kang-sheng for this gentle look at healing and human connection."

    Showing Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 05:31 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    NOMADLAND (Chole Zhao 2020)

    CHLOE ZHAO: NOMADLAND (2020) Centerpiece


    FRANCES MCDORMAND IN NOMADLAND

    Premiered September 11, 2020 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion.

    Centerpiece
    Nomadland
    Chloé Zhao, 2020, U.S., 108m
    Frances McDormand delivers a beautiful performance of understated grace and sensitivity in this richly textured third feature from director Chloé Zhao (The Rider, NYFF55), adapted from Jessica Bruder’s acclaimed 2017 nonfiction book about itinerant older Americans. Set against the grand backdrop of the American West, Nomadland recounts a year in the life of Fern (McDormand), a stoic, stubbornly independent widow who, having spent her adult life in a now-defunct company town, repurposes an old van and sets off in search of seasonal work. Alongside McDormand, the film features deeply affecting turns from David Strathairn and a supporting cast of nonactors, all real-life “nomads” playing versions of themselves. With this road movie for our precarious times, Zhao establishes herself as one of contemporary cinema’s most clear-eyed and humane chroniclers of lives on the American margins. A Searchlight Pictures release.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 05:30 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    THE DISCIIPLE (Chaitanya Tamhane 2020)

    CHAITANYA TAMHANE: THE DISCIIPLE (2020)



    The Disciple
    Chaitanya Tamhane, 2020, India, 128m
    Indian filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane became a sensation after the runaway international success of his 2014 feature debut Court. His much-anticipated follow-up, The Disciple, is a finely crafted labor of love set in the world of Indian traditional music. Hindustani classical singer—and remarkable first-time actor—Aditya Modak stars as Sharad, a man living in Mumbai who makes it his life’s goal to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a practitioner of the centuries-old Khayal music tradition. As the years wear on, Sharad grows increasingly disillusioned as he strives for divine purity in a world tipping over into bland commercialization. The Disciple is a refined yet uncompromising portrait of a young artist’s journey, his dreams, and his loneliness, featuring some extraordinary musical performances.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 05:45 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    THE SALT OF TEARS/LE SEL DES LARMES (Philippe Garrel 2020)

    PHILIPE GARREL: THE SALT OF TEARS/LE SEL DES LARMES (2020)



    The Salt of Tears
    Philippe Garrel, 2020, France, 100m
    Veteran filmmaker Philippe Garrel once again fashions a pinpoint-precise and economical study of young love and its prevarications, which ever so gradually blossoms into an emotionally resonant moral tale. Handsome Luc (Logann Antuofermo), following in his aging father’s footsteps to study the craft of furniture joining, doesn’t appear to have any trouble meeting and dating women; as the film opens he’s aggressively courting Djemila (Oulaya Amamra) at a Paris bus stop. Skeptical yet ultimately trusting, Djemila will not be Luc’s one and only. Constructed and composed with crystalline austerity, and co-written with Jean-Claude Carrière and Arlette Langmann—who collaborated on Garrel’s last two films, In the Shadow of Women (NYFF53) and Lover for a Day (NYFF55)—The Salt of Tears is a pocket portrait that demonstrates the persistent vitality of one of French cinema’s great observers of the callowness of youth. A Distrib Films release.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2020 at 11:59 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,934

    FAUNA (Nicolás Pereda 2020)

    NICOLÁS PEREDA: FAUNA (2020)


    LÁZARO GABINO RODRIGUEZ AND LUISA PARDO (WEARING WIGS) IN FAUNA

    Meeting up and making up

    The 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Nicolas Pereda's Fauna is not part of the elite but more mainstream Main Slate but from the NYFF's "new and innovative" Currents series - a collection one needs to approach with an open mind. Pereda is working in an intentionally disjointed ironic minimalist manner. Partly this seventy-minute feature is dead serious, touching on Mexico's pervasive "narcos" issues in the first half and alluding to a disappeared activist miner in the second. But it's also playfully absurdist in its references to making up stories and acting. Little happens here and less makes fully coherent sense - the hardest kind of movie to summarize. But one hangs on every word as one did long ago with the plays of Eugène Ionesco. Pereda is clearly a sui generis original. This review constitutes a first look. I don't know what all this "means," but one is in a distinctive world. Pereda is a semi-surrealist/semi-abstract painter delighting in his ability to shape his own world at will, and his medium is his actors and his scenes.

    Pereda likes to work with a few actors who are his friends. Critics complain this film is too offbeat and nonsensical to make any political points, but he wouldn't care; he has an international following and has received international accolades (see below). This is work that in part fits in with a playful strain in Latin American filmmaking one finds in Alonso Ruizpalacios (of Güeros ) or Alexis Dos Santos of the 2006 Glue, or the films of Fernando Eimbcke and even Gerardo Naranjo, though I don't quite see their charm here. He might owe something to the Iranian master Abbas Kiarastomi; one thinks of his Certified Copy.

    Cigarettes, as in old Hollywood movies, are key narrative devices. Two siblings arrive separately in a small mining town to visit their parents. Sister Luisa (Luisa Pardo) is with boyfriend Paco (Francisco Barreiro); both are actors. Luisa’s estranged brother, Gabino (regular Pereda collaborator Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez), comes on his own. They both use GPS which doesn't work very well, and when the GPS tells them they've arrived at their destination, they don't believe it.

    Paco goes to buy cigarettes; he and Gabino are both out. A guy has just bought out the little local shop and Paco begs the man to sell him and the man bargains hard. One gets the impression Paco has paid two or three times the price and been forced to buy two packs. Then when he goes inside, the man who has reamed him is Luisa's father (José Rodríguez López). Gabino insists on paying Paco 40 pesos for one pack. But when Paco tells him he's paid more than double, Gabino gets annoyed an demands the 40 pesos back.

    Everyone seems disgruntled. They sit down to eat, but dad says the food tastes off and insists they go out, for "pizza," of to "the Oasis." At the Oasis, dad insists that since Paco has said he has a role in the "Narcos" TV series, he perform one of his scenes. Paco protests that so far, he has not had any lines. Dad still insists, so he does a mute scene. Not satisfied, dad presses further, insisting he should just make up lines. Paco winds up doing a whole scene speaking the lines of the lead actor in the series. Barriero really is in "Narcos" as a minor member of the Arellano Félix cartel family, and the lines he performs are actual ones that Pereda has painstakingly transcribed. When Paco has done the scene, dad presses him to do it again.

    At night, Luisa is lying in bed with her mother, but can't sleep because she's nervous over an acting role. She wakes her mother up, and says the lines. Her mother says she's fine, but she would say them differently. She then does say them - and damned if she doesn't say them much better.

    The second half is more fanciful, growing largely out of a slim novel that Gabino is reading. Luisa asks him to describe the book, and he proceeds to do so, apparently freely improvising. This becomes "a mystery involving a missing activist, an amateur investigator (Rodríguez), twin sisters named Flora and Fauna (both played by Pardo), a low-level criminal (Barreiro), and an unseen group of narcos with nefarious ties to the local mine." (I'm quoting from a long discussion of this film and interview with Pereda by Jordan Cronk in Cinema Scope, where readers may go if they want more information.)

    But here, just as the jokey disagreeableness of the first part undercut the serious references to Mexico's drug cartel problem, jokes about Gabino mistakenly entering Fauna's room when they're staying at the same motel and "stealing" her towel and playful references to the fact that this is all about fantasy and imagination, disguise (because the actors are using wigs, Gabino with a full head of hair covering his shaven head), and the idea of improvisation and performance, undercut the references to gangsters involved in the mining industry and disappearing an investigator.

    Many themes crop up in these sequences, but a key one is manipulation, the ability to alter the direction of others but the likelihood of oneself being misdirected.

    Nicolás Pereda has made nine feature films, two medium-length films and two short films that have been presented at festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Locarno and Toronto, as well as in art galleries such as the Reina Sofía in Madrid, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Guggenheim and MoMa. His work has been the subject of 36 retrospectives worldwide at venues such as Anthology Film Archive, Pacific Film Archive, Jeonju International Film Festival, TIFF Cinematheque and Cineteca Nacional de México. He has received 30 awards in national and international festivals. In Mexico he has won the award for Best Mexican Film at the festivals of Guadalajara, Morelia, Guanajuato, Ficunam, Monterrey and Los Cabos. In 2010 he was awarded the Orizzonti Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

    Fauna, 70 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 16 and showed starting Sept. 19, 2020 at the virtual New York Film Festival, as part of which it was screened online for this review. It is also scheduled for the AFI Latin American Film Festival Sept. 27.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-22-2020 at 12:42 AM.

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
  •