Film: “Aniara”

Aniara,¬†an ambitious science fiction film from Sweden, takes enormous risks by imagining the end of the world – in fact of human civilization – from a realistic perspective. Written and directed by Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja, it was inspired by an epic poem by Nobel Laureate Harry Martinson, which was later turned into an…

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Film: “The Souvenir”

Joanna Hogg has directed and written an openly autobiographical film, “The Souvenir”, about her early career as a filmmaker. One reason it has received a lot of attention is because it stars Honor Swinton Byrne, who is Tilda Swinton’s daughter. One of Hogg’s first short films starred Swinton, who plays her daughter’s mother in this…

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Film: “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”

    There were high expectations for this docudrama about serial killer Ted Bundy, which was based on the book, “The Phantom Prince”, written by Liz Kendall, the woman who lived with him for several years. As adapted by Michael Werwie, and directed by documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, it was given the awful title, Extremely…

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Film: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”, a peculiar but intermittently enjoyable Chinese film, has no connection to the Eugene O’Neill play other than the title. Bi Gan gave a brief introduction to the film because he realized, correctly I think, that the audience was likely to be frustrated because the “mystery” that the film’s…

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Two from New Directors/New Films

  I‘ve seen two films from this highly respected showcase for new talent. They make an interesting contrast. Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined is a fairly engrossing, mystifying film about modern-day Singapore. Hua’s vision is quirky, kind of all-over-the place, but he shows promise. The film opens at a major land reclamation project, where…

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Film: “The Mustang”

It’s always welcome to catch Matthias Schoenaerts in a film, and his latest, “The Mustang”, affords him one of his better roles. But, while his performance is often strong and charismatic, the film has story and execution problems that lessen the impact. Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnere, from a script by Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman…

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Film: “Climax”

After five features, it should be evident by now that the controversial French-Argentinian filmmaker, Gaspar Noe, is a rigid formalist. His latest, “Climax”, which was previewed at last year’s Cannes festival, is as formalized and anti-dramatic as any of his previous features. It presents sex and violence as irrevocably combined, resulting in destruction and guilt.…

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Film: “Birds of Passage”

“Birds of Passage”, a Colombian crime drama which has gotten serious attention from critics, is both unusual and ambitious. Co-directors Cirro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, whose previous film was “Embrace of the Serpent”, have used a contemporary genre as a kind of anthropological document of a primitive society. From a script by Maria Camila Arias…

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Film: “Velvet Buzzsaw”

Today, one of the most universally despised cultural targets is the art world, which seems to prosper from cynically exploiting the public’s appetite for the “new”, the undiscovered genius who will “disrupt” the snobby elites who control the business. This viewpoint has been expressed in recent films, including Ruben Ostlund’s “The Square” and “Boogie Woogie”.…

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