Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 16 to 17 of 17

Thread: NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2022 (April 20-May 1, 2022)

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area






    Display of art-school cool and send-up of MFA completion

    "There’s a certain kind of New York culture vulture," wrote Roisin Tapponi in Vogue, "who can distinguish a Rick Owens shopping bag from a standard brown tote. If you can spot the difference (and you carry the former), you might just occupy the same world as artist Martine Syms—or at least the one she’s lovingly portraying in her debut feature film, The African Desperate (2022). In this film, Syms captures all the subtle signifiers of upper-middle-class-liberal art culture, from Asai tops to Rimowa suitcases. If you know, you know—and you’re invited to the party."

    In her central role as Syms' stand-in Palace, Diamond Stingily, with her screaming orange hair and low voice, is all attitude and confidence and has nothing to say during the highly satirical (I hope) MFA final oral that opens the film. But she doesn't have to. When they ask her what her plans for future work are she just says, "I don't know," and when she says it, it sounds like a wise remark. Palace says she's going to Chicago on the train the next morning, needs to tend to her sick parent, and that seems wise too, with everybody egging her on to come to the farewell party at this upstate New York art school venue that could be a stand-in for Bard.

    But when she keeps being reminded she's supposed to DJ, and also that she's got work showing in the Venice Biennale, it becomes inevitable she''ll stop being coy and do some heavy partying. The bulk of the film is a psychedelic ramble through drugs and alcohol, and Palace's recovery from same. She loses her cookies more than once, and with all the drugs it's a good thing she does, but she never breaks attitude.

    And that's about all there is to this film. But probably/maybe, if you know what you know as described in that Vogue excerpt cited earlier, that is enough as a calling card from this very hip "Hazy, alluring send-up of the art world" and of the MFA world and what it's like at art grad school nowadays, through a jaundiced eye.

    The African Desperate, 97 mins., debuted at Apr. 2022 New Directors/New Films as the Closing Night film.

    Saturday, April 30
    6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Martine Syms)
    9:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Martine Syms)
    Sunday, May 1
    2:45pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Martine Syms
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-31-2022 at 01:51 PM.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    BLUE ISLAND/ 憂鬱之島 ( Chan Tse-woon 2022)

    CHAN TSE-WOON: BLUE ISLAND 憂鬱之島 (2022)

    Beautiful, subtly moving film about what it means to be a Hongkonger

    This film is an elegant and gentle over-and-overing of themes of protest and repression surrounding Hong Kong and China. 1967, 1989, and protests of 2019 and 2020 are referred to. Protesters and pro-democracy leaders are heard from and seen. We go back at first to how people swam to Hong Kong to escape from the repression of the Cultural Revolution in China.

    It is moving to see numerous men (no women) who were leaders in recent protests against the mainland repression of Hong Kong who are now in custody and have been held in prison for a year or more. The film is sophisticated, self-reflective in format, showing itself being made. A motif is to show actors, sometimes playing themselves, having their hair trimmed, blow-dried, and arranged to prepare for filming, and as they are seen, they are identified in their roles as protestors.

    In this way the film is both detached and emotionally potent. The Variety review by Richard Kuipers calls this an "inventive blend of documentary and drama." Through this blend, the film works a Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt, making viewers more involved by distancing them, starting an imaginative involvement it then short-circuits. Outsiders can be moved and illuminated, but one might say the target viewer is one who knows already. There is no conventional exegesis or declarative narrative of the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protest Movement, but that is the subject.

    This approach may not be understood by American viewers, as evidenced by Simon Abrams of complaining of "a thinly drawn narrative of historic events" and Ben Kenigsberg in on of the New York Times' lately increasingly superficial short reviews saying the film's "past-present parallelism" is "provocative" but also "seems faintly superficial" and (merely?) "a way of eliding distinctions and streamlining history." It would not be these things if you come to the film with the right knowledge and prior understanding. It would seem it is these reviews that are "thinly drawn" and "faintly superficial."

    The film importantly is multigenerational in reference, bringing in older protesters early on and showing their direct link to their children or grandchildren who were arrested two years ago in Hong Kong. Young protestors are used to reenact the brave acts of their elders. We meet Chan Hak-chi, an elderly but still vigorous man who swam from China to Hong Kong with his wife Git Hing in 1973 to escape the Cultural Revolution. To play the couple in flashbacks young protestors Anson Sham Kwan-yin and Tin Siu-ying are called into service. Involvement in the past and detachment from it arrive together in a reenactment scene of rural outdoor community "education" come together in scenes such as a rural community education session in 1973 with a party official furiously extolling the virtues of “"great leader" Mao Zedong.

    Chan then appears in the reenactment crowd and Sham asks him if it was like this, and he says no, in 1973 the meetings weren't so fervent. There are several other important mixed references of reenactment and documentary. Kenneth Lam, a pre-Tienanmen Square protestor who fled to Hong Kong after the June 4, 1989 massacre is played by2019 Hong Kong student leader Keith Fong Chung-yin. Recreations are mixed with footage of Lam attending the now-banned annual Tienanmen remembrance vigil. Chan is seen asking Fong to project his 2019 experience on his performance as Lam in 1989. Another important cross-pollination is having Kelvin Tam Kwan-long, an activist born after the 1997 handover, play Raymond Young, a loyal pro-People's Republic Hong Kong teenager who was jailed for participating in 1967 anti-British riiots.

    It's powerful and disquieting to see Young today talk to Kelvin sitting on the floor of a prison cell about fear, doing time, and maintaining one's ideals. Young says prison time is hard to do but being out is harder: the ideals will erode over time. "We, the people of Hong Kong, in our 150 year history," asks Young, "have we ever been able to control our own fate?" After this, there are glimpses of a trial of the 2014 peaceful Umbrella Movement participants and the eloquent speech of one of them; a sentencing, left open-ended; and a series of portraits of recent accused "rioters" and their identities and statuses. Through the film is threaded moments of the man who swam from mainland China many years before. Whitehaired now, he still appears to swim in the ocean every day. He is one fit old dude - symbolic of human and Hongkonger survival, continuity.

    A wise and passionate film about freedom and place that is also a work of art.

    Blue Island 憂鬱之島 ("Island of Melancholy") 97 mins., debuted at Rotterdam online Jan. 26, 2022, showed in New Directors, New Films (FLC, NYC) Apr. 30, and won the top prize at Hot Docs (Toronto) May 6; also CAAMfest and Taiwan. It released in Japan Jul. 16 (it is Japanese-produced). Now playing at Metrograph from Jul. 29, 2022 and streaming from Aug. 5. showing at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco from Sat., Aug. 6.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12


Posting Permissions

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