Festivals (#110 of 1047)

Berlinale 2017: On the Beach at Night Alone Review

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Berlinale 2017: On the Beach at Night Alone Review

Berlinale

Berlinale 2017: On the Beach at Night Alone Review

A melancholy air blows through every haunted frame of Hong Sang-soo's On the Beach at Night Alone, and it's a feeling wholly appropriate to evoking the headspace of its main character, Young-hee (Kim Min-hee). A former actress currently taking a professional break after an affair with a married filmmaker ended badly, Young-hee is seen in the film's first part wandering around Hamburg with an older friend, Jee-young (Seo Young-hwa), talking about their romantic desires and regrets with remarkable frankness. And the second part sees Young-hee meeting with various friends back in her home city of Gangneung, in a series of scenes which reveal the character's volatile mix of burning resentment and brutal self-awareness.

Berlinale 2017: The Other Side of Hope Review

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Berlinale 2017: The Other Side of Hope Review

Berlinale

Berlinale 2017: The Other Side of Hope Review

The elaborate visual gags. The sharply ironic one-liners. The astutely poised compositions. The willfully undemonstrative acting. Those have been the familiar signposts of Aki Kaurismäki's style since the Finnish auteur burst onto the world-cinema scene in the 1980s. And if his latest, The Other Side of Hope, feels as fresh as it does, it's because of the memorable set pieces, gags (like a restaurant employee wiping what turns out to be a nonexistent window), and grace notes that spring forth from within the confines of a familiar aesthetic template. The wry and wistful are intertwined throughout the film, as in a scene where a Syrian asylum seeker says, “I don't understand humor,” when a fake-ID creator asks him if he's a man or a woman.

Berlinale 2017: Call Me by Your Name Review

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Berlinale 2017: Call Me by Your Name Review

Sony Pictures Classics

Berlinale 2017: Call Me by Your Name Review

Those put off by the aesthetic flashiness of Luca Guadagnino's prior two features, I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, may be surprised by Call Me by Your Name's relative stylistic restraint. The film, based on a 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, traces the maturation of Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), but the story's coming-of-age arc is so delicately rendered that audiences may not even realize the growth Elio has made until they've had time to reflect on his behavior after the credits have rolled.

Romantic desire, both acted-on or sublimated through gestures, was the subject of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, one that Guadagnino reflected through his impulsive filmmaking style. The roving camerawork, the lurid colors, and the operatic soundtracks all served to viscerally evoke passion, so much so that the characters at times barely needed to say any words to each other for us to grasp how they felt at any given moment.

Berlinale 2017: El Mar La Mar Review

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Berlinale 2017: El Mar La Mar Review

Sensory Ethnography Lab

Berlinale 2017: El Mar La Mar Review

On paper, El Mar La Mar sounds simple: a documentary about life in the Sonoran Desert, specifically for the border control agents stationed near the U.S.-Mexico border and the undocumented immigrants who've survived the daunting trek across the area's rugged terrain. But Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki's documentary is one of the latest works to come out of the Sensory Ethnography Lab, an experimental laboratory based in Harvard University that's devoted to pushing the aesthetic boundaries of nonfiction filmmaking. As such, Bonnetta and Sniadecki's approach to exploring the desert and topic of immigration often veers toward the avant-garde.

Berlinale 2017: The Dinner Review

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Berlinale 2017: The Dinner Review

The Orchard

Berlinale 2017: The Dinner Review

In The Dinner, Oren Moverman wastes no time in establishing a tone of grandiose scabrousness. Right in the opening scene, history professor Paul Lohman (Steve Coogan, sporting a rather jarring American accent) articulates his profoundly anti-American view of American history; and to his wife, Claire (Laura Linney), he calls his politician brother, Stan (Richard Gere), an “ape” as they both prepare to meet Stan and his new wife, Katelyn (Rebecca Hall), for a fancy dinner. Paul, at least at the start of the film, seems positioned to be the grim—and grimly funny—truth-teller among a group of people who prefer to hide their true natures behind a veneer of high-class civility.

Berlinale 2017: T2 Trainspotting Review

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Berlinale 2017: T2 Trainspotting Review

TriStar Pictures

Berlinale 2017: T2 Trainspotting Review

Compared to its predecessor, T2 Trainspotting is a relatively aimless and sedate experience. But that's to be expected for a film that's largely about people trying to move on from the follies of their youth and finding themselves unable to let go of the past. Director Danny Boyle's style this time around fully reflects this: Dialing down the devil-may-care impulsiveness that he brought to disquietingly exhilarating effect in Trainspotting, he allows a reflective melancholy to seep through even the film's loosest sections, a quality that was nowhere in evidence in the original because the characters were too busy getting high or trying to avoid falling back into the habit.

Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes 2017 Baronesa, Estado Itinerante, Vando Vulgo Vedita, & More

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Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes 2017: Baronesa, Estado Itinerante, Vando Vulgo Vedita, & More

Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes

Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes 2017: Baronesa, Estado Itinerante, Vando Vulgo Vedita, & More

The colonial town of Tiradentes, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, is nothing if not quaint. With baroque churches, cobbled streets, and pristine historical homes, Tiradentes seems immune to the present, and thus to the country's deep turmoil, including the impeachment of populist president Dilma Rousseff and the ongoing massive corruption scandals. And yet, it's here, at the Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes, that a major artistic shakeup takes place, reflecting Brazil's contemporary zeitgeist.

Now in its 20th year, the Tiradentes film festival has given a start to filmmakers as varied, and, by now, as critically acclaimed as Kleber Mendonça Filho, Gabriel Mascaro, Adirley Queirós, and Affonso Uchoa (whose Arabia just premiered at the Rotterdam Film Estival). More importantly, it's created an ambitious network of young programmers, filmgoers and critics, who look to the festival to set the pace for where Brazil's cinema goes next.

Berlinale 2017: Django Review

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Berlinale 2017: Django Review

Berlinale

Berlinale 2017: Django Review

For a biopic about a jazz musician whose music and personality had the power to set hearts afire and toes tapping, Django plays as a disappointingly staid and conventional affair. Certainly, Etienne Comar's film about guitarist Django Reinhardt (Reda Kateb) isn't reinventing any wheels aesthetically. As storytelling, the film falls into that numbing one-thing-after-another rhythm that dooms many biopics to by-the-numbers dullness. And Comar—making his directing debut here after many years as a producer and co-screenwriter of films like Of Gods and Men and My King—gives his film a cautious prestige-movie sheen that belies the roiling passions that Reinhardt consistently expressed on his guitar even with his two disabled fingers.

Marrakech International Film Festival I Am Twenty, Zoology, Orphan, A Talk with Abderrahmane Sissako, & More

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Marrakech International Film Festival: I Am Twenty, Zoology, Orphan, A Talk with Abderrahmane Sissako, & More

Lago Film

Marrakech International Film Festival: I Am Twenty, Zoology, Orphan, A Talk with Abderrahmane Sissako, & More

The labyrinthine security apparatus surrounding the Marrakech International Film Festival's red carpet, the high-wattage of its celebrity and auteur attendees, and the live-broadcast-TV slickness of its nightly award ceremonies made for a persistently surreal backdrop. I had to remind myself that the tributes to Paul Verhoeven and Isabelle Adjani also entailed mini-retrospectives across the festival's smaller venues, and the “Tribute to Russian Cinematography” included public screenings of over two dozen movies ranging from Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin to Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan. Again, all screenings were free to the registered public. Culture: commodity or charity?

Mar del Plata International Film Festival Honoring Masao Adachi, Anti-Porno, We Are the Flesh, & More

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Mar del Plata International Film Festival 2016: Honoring Masao Adachi, Anti-Porno, We Are the Flesh, & More

Arrow Films

Mar del Plata International Film Festival 2016: Honoring Masao Adachi, Anti-Porno, We Are the Flesh, & More

With its beaches and maritime climate, Mar del Plata has been hailed as the Cannes of Latin America. The Argentine city merits the title in some ways, as Mar del Plata hosts the only A-list film festival in the region, the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, which pools a considerable number of films from top European festivals. This year's slate was a fair representation of the festival's ambition to mirror Western trends, featuring Cristi Piu's Sieranevada, Oliver Assayas's Personal Shopper, Hong sang-soo's Yourself and Yours, Radu Jude's Scarred Hearts, and Lav Diaz's The Woman Who Left.