George Tillman Jr.âs The Hate U Give has taken the recent Black Lives Matter movementâwith all its passion, fury, and hunger for justiceâand turned it into a lesson plan. The film lays out the complexities of contemporary race relations with a deliberateness that frequently edges over into didacticism.
Based on the young adult novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a young black girl from a low-income, high-crime neighborhood who travels across town to attend an affluent, mostly white prep school. No one in the film specifically mentions pioneering civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Boisâs notion of âdouble consciousness,â but Starrâs overly explanatory narration ensures that we never miss the point: Her identity is split between âStarr 1,â the neighborhoodâs â90s-obsessed sneakerhead, and âStarr 2,â the serious, cool-headed academic who acts whiter than her white friends so as not to intimidate them with her blackness.
Starr isnât really comfortable in either mode, as sheâs always suppressing herself, molding her behavior to fit a given situation. Low-key observations about being caught between these two very different worldsâStarr suffering her friendsâ corny âurbanâ slang with a smile, her inappropriately frumpy outfit at a house partyâare some of the filmâs truest, most resonant moments.
Starrâs two very different worlds collide when she witnesses the murder of her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a white police officer (Drew Starkey) who mistakes his hairbrush for a handgun during a routine (read: bullshit) traffic stop. This incident sets off a protest movement that reaches all the way to Starrâs high school, where the kids use it as an excuse to blow off class. But it also opens up fissures in the girlâs family, between her quasi-radical father, Maverick (Russell Hornsby), her family-first mother (Regina Hall), and her police-officer uncle (Common). In its attempt to cover a panoply of responses to racism, crime, and police violence, the film at times suggests a kind of junior version of The Wire, a wide-ranging social survey thatâs largely intent on not demonizing and outright caricaturing people.
The problem, though, is that the incidents in The Hate U Give donât happen to complicated human beings, but rather to two-dimensional avatars of people on both sides of what Du Bois referred to as âthe color line.â See, for example, Starrâs supportive but occasionally clumsy white boyfriend (KJ Apa), a bland cardboard cutout who might as well be wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words âGood White Ally.â Given its intensely relevant subject matter, the film canât help but churn up a lot of raw emotionsâand the allusions to Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Emmett Till are reminders of the real-life sorrow that birthed this filmâbut Tillmanâs anonymous direction is content merely to illustrate the screenplay without ever bringing it to life. Even scenes that are meant to be tinged with menace and dangerârun-ins with a local gang, a shooting at a partyâfeel about as raw as an episode of Degrassi.
The Hate U Give is studiously fair-minded in its approach to the problems of violence perpetrated by cops and criminals. Its allegiances are clearly with the BLM movement, but it does take pains to recognize the scourge of drugs and gang violence. Itâs notable that the only two irredeemable characters here are the cop who kills Khalil and the local drug lord, King (Anthony Mackie). The filmâs most impressive feat may be its ability to âboth sidesâ every issue without losing its firm commitment to racial justice.
But The Hate U Giveâs commitments only go so far, a limitation highlighted by Maverickâs repeated citing of the Black Panther Partyâs Ten-Point Program. He makes Starr and her brothers (Lamar Johnson and TJ Wright) quote in unison the seventh point: âWe want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people,â and with Malcolm Xâs dictum about racial independence needing to be achieved by âany means necessaryâ tacked on for good measure. But the film steers well clear of addressing the rest of the platform, with its radical demands for housing, full employment, and âan end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black community.â (One might question whether this slick, Hollywood-backed productionâs borrowing of a stirring image from the Ferguson uprising, in which protestor Edward Crawfordâsince deceasedâthrew a flaming tear gas canister at police, without so much as mentioning his name counts as one small example of such robbery.)
Instead, The Hate U Give crescendos with a risible moment of canât-we-all-just-get-along mawkishness, in which Starr singlehandedly shames both a cop and a criminal into laying down their arms. If the filmâs delineation of the problems of crime and violence are admirably clear-eyed, its proffered resolution is vague to the point of meaninglessness. Indeed, if we could stop the hate so easily, a film like this one wouldnât even need to exist.
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, Anthony Mackie Director: George Tillman Jr. Screenwriter: Audrey Wells Distributor: 20th Century Fox Running Time: 132 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2018 Buy: Video, Soundtrack, Book
Jeonju IFF 2019: Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, L. Cohen, & Introduzione all’oscuro
These are three enigmatic, challenging, and weird works of art by filmmakers pushing at the boundaries of the cinematic form.
Shortly after arriving in Jeonju, the mid-sized Korean city about 200 kilometers south of Seoul that serves as the site of the Jeonju International Film Festival, I pulled my bedraggled, jet-lagged body over to the guest center to pick up my press credentials. As I made my way through the carnivalesque open-air city block known as Jeonju Cinema Town, I found myself, to my surprise, in the midst of a rather peculiar, almost surreal scenario as a bunch of white- and black-suited stormtroopers marched in lockstep toward me, weapons at the ready, flanking none other than the Grand Imperial Poobah himself, Darth Vader.
The group maneuvered around me without incident, eager to pose for selfies with the crowd of locals assembled in the area, but after over 20 hours of travel, the encounter took on a vaguely sinister air, as if the forces of Hollywood monoculture had been dispatched to this relatively remote cinephile retreat to ensure that no one here got the wrong idea: Have fun with your cute little art films, but remember who really wields the power in the world of cinema.
I suppose these are the sorts of strange inclinations that strike you when your bodyâs circadian rhythms have been shaken up like a snow globe, but, despite the presence of the Walt Disney Company as one of the festivalâs premier sponsors, the films I sawâpersonal, challenging, at times exhilarating work from all across the worldâcouldnât have seemed further away from the market-tested franchises that clog American cineplexes. Having said that, itâs with some irony that one of the first films I took in at Jeonju IFF was in fact a sequelâalbeit one whose eccentric sense of humor and repetitive, unresolved narrative mean itâs never going to be mistaken for the latest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The sequel in question is Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, Bruno Dumontâs follow-up to Liâl Quinquin. One of the great left turns in the history of auteurism, Dumontâs 2014 miniseries signaled his transition from austere Bressonian miserablism to a singular brand of deadpan grotesquerie that gleefully explodes the thin line between the clever and the stupid. Dumont doesnât vary his style too much for the sequel, as itâs another bizarre sunlit mystery set in the windswept countryside of Dumontâs native Nord-Pas-de-Calais. And Dumont has reassembled the same cast of non-professional local oddballs led by Bernard Pruvost as Commandant Van der Weyden, a twitchy, hapless police detective investigating matters way beyond his depths.
Dumont, though, still finds ways to mess with his audienceâs expectations, starting with the baffling and completely inexplicable change of the title characterâs name. If the earlier film felt like Dumontâs riff on popular international crime dramas like Broadchurch and The Killing, Coincoin turns out to be his spin on The X-Files, a sci-fi pod-people procedural featuring a mysterious black goo from outer space that inhabits its victims and forces them to give birth to their own uncanny clones. Like many stories about body-snatching, the series is a satireâhere on provincial racism, the poor treatment of African migrants, and the rise of the French far rightâbut Dumont isnât simply interested in topical point-scoring against Marine Le Pen, the anti-immigrant politician who represents Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
Rather, with its ambling, directionless narrative and lackadaisical long shots that perversely undercut the screenplayâs gags, Coincoin evokes a deep-rooted spirit of reactionary malaise, of people whose lives are hopelessly circumscribed by their own fears and prejudices. Dumont rigorously resists developing his plot or deepening his characters: Theyâre all trapped in an absurd loop, doomed to endlessly say the same things and reenact the same jokes.
Van der Weyden sums up that mentality in a single line: âProgress isnât inevitable.â Thereâs a group of black men who periodically appear throughout the film only to be consistently and summarily dismissed in a fit of racist panic. Each time, we expect the film to create some meaningful interaction between the white townsfolk and these migrants, and each time weâre rebuffedâthat is, until a final musical explosion of kumbaya-like camaraderie thatâs somehow goofy, moving, tedious, and invigorating all at the same time.
Dumont is one of the few artists in cinema willing to risk exhausting his audience to induce a particular effect, but heâs not the only one, as demonstrated by James Benningâs L. Cohen, a 45-minute static shot of a seemingly unremarkable field with a mountain visible in the distance. Itâs an elegantly composed frame, reminiscent of an American Regionalist painting and whose centrally located peak perhaps coyly refers to the Paramount logo.
After 20 minutes, even the most hardened cinephiles are bound to be squirming in their seat, at which point Benning reveals his remarkable trump card: As the sky quickly darkens and blackness falls over the Earth, we realize that weâve been watching the leadup to a total solar eclipse. Itâs a moment of quiet astonishment and confusion for anyone who doesnât know itâs coming, bringing us close to the feeling a caveman mightâve had when the same event occurred. With typical mathematical precision, Benning has placed the eclipse at the exact center of the film, allowing us to explore the subtle shadows that precede and follow it.
The film, however, isnât just some academic structuralist exercise, as itâs also a meditation on death, a fact highlighted by the next startling moment: the inclusion of Leonard Cohenâs âLove Itselfâ on the soundtrack, a stark divergence from the ominous drone (identified by Benning during his festival Q&A as the hum of airplanes flying overhead) that fills the rest of the film. This song and the dedication of the film to the recently deceased Cohen add a deeper layer of meaning to Benningâs precisely calibrated study of light and time.
L. Cohen is in essence a meditation on temporality. All things are fleeting, even grand interplanetary ballets. Considering the brief alignment of these celestial bodies puts one in a cosmic mood and calls to mind a cryptic, haunting line from a different Cohen song, âStories of the Streetâ: âWe are so small between the stars, so large against the sky.â
One could also find the specter of death looming over Introduzione allâoscuro, an expressionistic tribute to director GastĂłn Solnickiâs good friend, Hans Hurch, the recently departed director of the Viennale, the Vienna International Film Festival. Described by the director not as a film about Hurch, but a film for him, Introduzione allâoscuro dispenses with biography entirely, instead evoking its subjectâs buoyant, ragtag spirit in an almost subliminal fashion: through music, film, and the city of Vienna. Hurch âappearsâ in the film primarily through his letters and through his voice, recorded by Solnicki when he provided notes on one of the directorâs previous films. Solnicki does appear on screen: a comically lonely figure visiting some of Hurchâs favorite Viennese hauntsâsuch as the CafĂ© EnglĂ€nder, from which he would periodically steal cupsâon a journey that drolly recalls Holly Martinsâs investigation into the apparent death of his pal Harry Lime in The Third Man.
Like Solnickiâs KĂ©kszakĂĄllĂș before it, Introduzione allâoscuro is what might be called âslideshow cinemaââa procession of taut, piquant compositions whose relationship to one another isnât precisely clear but which, when taken together, create an indelible impression of a highly specific milieu. Structured more like a piece of avant-garde music than a narrative work or traditional documentary, the film has a hypnotic yet often dissonant allure. It pulls us into a strange liminal zone where Hurch seems to be simultaneously present and absent, haunting the film like a benevolent spirit. Solnicki simply has one of the best eyes in cinema today, and itâs the pungency of his images which makes the film such an endlessly compelling experience, even when the reasons behind Solnickiâs individual choices remain obscure.
Abstruseness, though, is no crime. In fact, the greatest pleasures of Jeonju IFF were to be found in grappling with âdifficultâ films such as Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, L. Cohen, and Introduzione allâoscuro: enigmatic, challenging, and even downright weird works of art made by filmmakers pushing at the boundaries of the cinematic form.
The Jeonju International Film Festival ran from May 2â11.
Review: As Teen Comedy, Booksmart Is Sweet and Nasty in Fine Balance
It’s an R-rated teen comedy that proves that you can center girlsâ experiences without sacrificing grossness.3
An uncharitable way of describing Olivia Wildeâs feature directorial debut, Booksmart, is as a gender-flipped version of Superbad. Like Greg Mottolaâs 2007 film, it concerns a pair of best friends whoâve spent their high school years as outsiders but, at the end of their senior year, decide to attend the biggest, coolest graduation party imaginable. As in Superbad, getting to the party devolves into an almost picaresque gauntlet through suburban nightlife, consisting of comical encounters with outlandish characters (both films even feature a âcreepy car guyâ). Booksmart and Superbad also share a ribald, R-rated sense of humor and a sex scene interrupted by vomitâeven the same casting director (the venerable Allison Jones).
For all that, Wildeâs film is less a derivative of Mottolaâs teen comedy than a corrective to it. Its exaggerated universe is less mean-spirited than the one depicted in Superbad, where so much of the humor depended on Jonah Hill loudly proclaiming his characterâs misogyny. Booksmart isnât above getting laughs from sex jokes that land somewhere between honest and outrageousâthereâs a recurring bit about Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) masturbating with her stuffed panda dollâbut it does show that teenage conversations about sex can be funny without being demeaning. And its belief in its main characters as more than just stand-ins for the most distorted beliefs that virginal high schoolers have about sex gives the film a fuller, more satisfying arc.
Amy and her best friend, Molly (Beanie Feldstein), are their elite Valley High Schoolâs A-type-personality do-gooders, well-meaning in their ambition and their wokeness, but with streaks of haughtiness and self-righteousness. Beanie is class president, the kind of kid who pushes the school principal (Jason Sudeikis) to arrange a budget meeting with the juniors on the last day of class. In contrast to the brashly assertive Molly, Amy is meek, barely able to eke out syllables when talking to her crush, Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), but sheâs also intensely woke, adorning her denim jacket with feminist-slogan patches and her car with âElizabeth Warren 2020â bumper stickers. The pair are so close that theyâre often mistaken for being a couple (Amy has been out since the 10th grade), and they definitely donât party.
As school is letting out, Molly discovers that her and Amyâs monk-like approach to high school life has been for naught. Although the two pride themselves on respectively getting into Yale and Columbia, it seems that virtually all of their classmates have a similarly propitious future lined up. Even the horny goofball Theo (Eduardo Franco), who repeated seventh grade three times, was recruited for a six-figure job with Google. Molly adopts partying as her new project, dragging the reluctant Amy, all the more anxious because Ryan will be at the party, along with her. The problem is that, not being a part of their schoolâs social scene, they have no idea where the party actually is, and limited means of figuring it out.
The obliviously indefatigable Molly is a star-making role for Feldstein, who keeps let her highly dynamic characterâMolly can be both very rigid and very foolhardyâfrom feeling inconsistent, or leading to broad caricature. As the quieter Amy, Deversâs role is mostly reactive, but, in the tumultuous climax, she supplies the filmâs most poignant and relatable moments. As the omnipresent Gigi, a troubled party girl who inexplicably appears at each of the girlsâ wayward stops on their journey to the party, Billie Lourd channels a chaotic energy, becoming the filmâs strung-out jester. Lourd is just part of an altogether impressive ensemble that also includes Jessica Williams as the teacher who loves Amy and Molly perhaps a bit too much, and Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as Amyâs super-Christian, super-supportive parents.
For the most part sharply written, and tighter and more consistently funny than the fragmented improv-style Superbad, Booksmart nevertheless has a couple of stretches that donât quite land. Thereâs a claymated ayahuasca-tripping sequence that neither suits the rest of the film nor is followed up on in any way by the narrative. And the filmâs conclusion is more than a little formally messy, with Wilde relying on a too-rapid succession of non-diegetic pop songs as emotional accents and to fast-forward the plotâat one crucial moment even drowning out the dialogue. But despite these small missteps, Booksmart feels like an innovation, an R-rated teen comedy that proves that you can center girlsâ experiences without sacrificing grossness, and that you can be gross without being too mean.
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Billie Lourd, Diana Silvers, Mason Gooding, Skyler Gisondo, Noah Galvin, Eduardo Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Mike OâBrien Director: Olivia Wilde Screenwriter: Olivia Wilde Katie Silberman, Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins Distributor: Annapurna Pictures Running Time: 102 min Rating: R Year: 2019
Terminator: Dark Fate Official Trailer: Going Back to the Well with Sarah Connor
Linda Hamilton at least makes a killer impression as Sarah visits fiery justice upon Gabriel Lunaâs terminator.
Today, Paramount dropped the trailer for the sixth entry in the Terminator series, Terminator: Dark Fate, which promises to deliverâŠmore of the same? With this film, Deadpool director Tim Miller aims to give the series a reboot: by pretending that none of the films that came after Terminator 2: Judgement Day ever existed (sorry, Rise of the Machines fans), maybe even Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. âWelcome to the day after judgment day,â reads the poster, promising the badass return of Linda Hamiltonâs Sarah Connor. And on that front, the film looks to deliver, as Hamilton certainly makes a killer impression as Sarah visits fiery justice upon Gabriel Lunaâs terminator.
But based on everything else thatâs on display throughout the trailer, weâre worried that thereâs not anything new that a film in this series stands to bring to the table besides running and gunning, with the occasional wink thrown in for good measure. Cast in point: Mackenzie Davis stars as Grace, an âenhanced humanâ who looks to fill the hanger-on role to Connor that Edward Furlongâs John Connor did to Arnold Schwarzeneggerâs T-800, now apparently living in woodsy retirement, and at the ready to give sage advice. In short, weâre not impressed, and that also holds true of that cover of BjĂ¶rkâs âHunterâ by some zombie man singer.
Watch the official trailer below:
Paramount Pictures will release Terminator Dark Fate on November 1.
Review: Woodstock Offers a New Look at the Three Days that Defined a Generation
Throughout, the era-defining yet problem-plagued music festival astounds in large part for all the disasters that didnât occur.3
According to Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation, the 1969 Woodstock festival seemed fated to fail. But a rare convergence of good luck, good intentions, and good vibes somehow snapped into place and crystallized over a few days in August the aspirations of a counterculture about to hit its peak. The festivalâs planners, mostly promoters and music-industry pros, talk off-camera throughout this gloriously gleeful documentary about their somewhat spur-of-the-moment concept in a purposefully overlapping mosaic that makes it difficult to determine whoâs saying what. Their original idea was simply a big concert that would celebrate the opening of a recording studio in the bucolic artist community of Woodstock, NY and take advantage of the musicians living nearby.
That conceit ballooned into a sprawling three-day cultural amoeba of feel-good psychedelia billed as âAn Aquarian Expositionâ to be held in a bucolic setting. It would ideally seem, according to one organizer, âlike visiting another world.â Creating that gateway to paradise, however, hit one snag after another. Conservative fears about an invasion of hippies led to much anger among locals and triggered permitting issues. Original desired stars like Bob Dylan, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones all passed on the vent. Monthsâ worth of construction at the original site in Wallkill, NY had to be scrapped at the last minute.
But Woodstock shows also how both lucky circumstances and in-depth planning saved the day. The lineup swelled with a killer roster of acts whom David Crosby defines simply as âeverybody we thought was coolâ: Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana, Creedence Clearwater, Janis Joplin, and so on. According to writer Bob Spitz, interest grew as the organizers put the word out through the underground press, and though their top estimates of attendance topped out at 150,000, the eventual total was closer to a potentially unmanageable 400,000. Seemingly foolhardy ideas like hiring Wavy Gravyâs Hog Farm commune to handle what they termed âsecurityâ and what Wavy defined as trying to âspread grooviness,â helped the increasingly massive enterprise maintain an appealingly mellow tone. Then, a Republican dairy farmer named Max Yasgur, who just happened to have a visually gorgeous sweep of land shaped like a natural amphitheater, agreed to host the festival.
Just about everyone interviewed in Barak Goodman and Jamilia Ephronâs documentary still marvels a half-century on at the scope and tranquility of what happened, though the potential for disaster provides some dramatic grit to the narrative. Much of the festivalâs harmoniousnes was a result of on-the-spot empathetic resourcefulness, from Hog Farmâs thrown-together Sunday-morning âbreakfast in bedâ and âfreak-outâ tents for people on bad acid trips to the previously resentful locals who spontaneously emptied their pantries to feed the long-haired kids who had been tromping through their front yards. The crowds were soothed by the reassuring voice of the festival announcer, whose âweâ-focused addresses over the PA system strengthened the communal spirit, which is then echoed in the filmâs starry-eyed reminiscences of interviewees who all sound as though they wish they could go back.
Woodstock cannot hope to supplant Michael Wadleighâs more symphonic and experiential 1970 documentary. But conversely, its tighter, narrower focus on narrative and context ultimately tells a bigger story at roughly half the length. Co-director Goodman has shown in some of his darker work for PBSâs American Experience, like his episode about the Oklahoma City bombing, a knack for building suspense. He deploys that skill here marvelously when showing the sea of humanity converging on Yasgurâs farm, balancing a fear of impending disaster (short supplies, last-minute glitches, a crowd many times larger than the highest estimates) with the dawning realization that things might just work out.
That tightrope-walking drama is maintained through the actual concert portion of the movie. The musical highs, Hendrixâs squalling âStar-Spangled Bannerâ and Richie Havenâs raucous two-hour jam (filling the gap while helicopters ferried musicians in over the blocked roads), play out while the vast crowd contends with food shortages and an unexpected rainstorm. But even though the attendees rushed past the mostly unbuilt fencing and by default created what organizer John Roberts here terms âthe worldâs greatest three-day freebie,â he and his partners appear now happier about the instant community that metamorphosed in the mud than the fact that as a business venture the concert was âin deep shit.â
Woodstock hits many of the expected notes about the concertâs place in the nationâs cultural history. But itâs refreshingly less self-satisfied than awestruck at the simple beauty of what happened at the Woodstock festival and the utopian example it provided to the world. Though unmentioned here, the disastrous music festival that occurred four months later at Altamont Speedway, in the hills of Northern Californiaâs East Bay, where the organizersâ callous indifference to advance planning led to chaos and multiple deaths, shows just how rare the event that occurred in Bethel across three days back in August â69 remains to this day.
Director: Barak Goodman, Jamila Ephron Distributor: PBS Distribution Running Time: 90 min Rating: NR Year: 2019
Review: Joanna Hoggâs The Souvenir Is a Knotty Trip Down Memory Lane
Its stylistic fluctuations are a sign of a filmmaker really wrestling with how she became the woman and artist she is today.3.5
True to the mission of its protagonist, a well-meaning student filmmaker working on a thesis feature about a community foreign to her, writer-director Joanna Hoggâs The Souvenir is engaged in a running dialogue with itself around the notion of howâand how notâto make a personal narrative. Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is a London-based, upper-middle-class young woman coming of age in Margaret Thatcherâs England who feels a moral imperative to transpose her own experiences onto a fictional story set in working-class Sunderland, and sheâs given ongoing opportunities in her film workshops to try to articulate why that is. Hogg, who based the character on her own early experiences as an artist, views Julieâs trajectory tenderly but through the lens of a greater maturity, dotting the young womanâs path with interlocutors who challenge and redirect her inclinations. Gradually, Julieâs certitude seems to fall out from under her, transforming Hoggâs film in the process.
Pivotal among these forces is Anthony (Tom Burke), a spectacularly smug older man with ambiguous professional and personal affiliations who becomes inexorably drawn to Julie, and she to him. When he first appears on screen across a table from Julie at a cafĂ©, Hogg frames the scene in the kind of spacious, sophisticated master shot that defined her 2013 film Exhibition, snapping The Souvenir out of the close-up-heavy, fly-on-the-wall aesthetic with which it opens. The shift in style registers the exhilarating impact Anthony has on Julie, who is up to that point seen as a wallflower at college parties, taking photos and rolling a Bolex in the corner while bouncing in and out of conversations. Sizing up Julieâs film project with suave dismissiveness, Anthony suggests that she might heed the influence of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who were able to express personal emotions free of the constraints of realism, and later proposes that âitâs not enough to be sincere or authentic.â
Julie takes such counseling in stride even when it comes from her casually condescending professors (also men), giving her a headstrong resilience that Swinton-Byrne beautifully underplays. But Julieâs toughness doesnât equate to stubborn pride, and soon The Souvenir turns away from its portrait of early filmmaking ambition and toward the knotty dynamics of Anthony and Julieâs strengthening relationshipâitself modeled off a fling in Hoggâs past. The director orchestrates this formal shapeshift with sly subtlety, first introducing the coupleâs scenes together as elliptical diversions from the central storyline, then gradually lengthening them until the sequences set in and around Julieâs film school take a backseat entirely. Now sharing an apartment, Anthony and Julie go through the growing pains of coexistenceâthe former posits a âWall of Jerichoâ made of pillows in a reference to It Happened One Night to solve his discomfort in bedâbut nonetheless find a strange harmony in their dissonant personalities, with his brutal honesty charming her and her placidity disarming him.
In Anthonyâs case, however, this apparent personality yardstick proves misleading, as it turns out that heâs frank about everything but his own life. Talk of a vague government job creates an impression of a posh background belied by Anthony and Julieâs trip to visit his parents, and later, an offhand remark made by one of Anthonyâs friends when heâs in the bathroom yields the startling revelationâcued by spatially disorienting mirror shots and the gentle use of Dutch anglesâthat Julieâs boyfriend is a heroin addict. Hogg omits the scene where Julie confronts Anthony about this revelation, but the mark it leaves on their relationship is implicitly, delicately apparent in every part of The Souvenir moving forward. The neatly organized, white-walled apartment where much of the action takes place becomes charged with tension, not only from the threat of dissident bombing that percolates outside its windows (a reality contemporaneous to the filmâs early-â80s setting), but also from Anthonyâs frequent, unexplained comings and goings, which starkly contrast Julieâs more fixed physicality as she spends her time hunched over a typewriter.
The Souvenir flirts with a few conventional movie premisesâthe doomed romance, the spiral into the hell of drug addiction, the pursuit of self-actualizationâwithout ever fully engaging one, which doesnât indicate an uncertainty on Hoggâs part so much as a supreme confidence in the intricacies of her own material. Likely to some viewersâ dismay, Julieâs story isnât one that ever comes to hinge on an a-ha moment, a sudden realization that sheâs strayed from her artistic passion in her entanglement with a toxic partner. Rather, Hogg evokes both the seductive appeal of an irrational romance and the less sexy but nonetheless potent comfort of falling into the role of nurturer, a discipline shown in a few touching scenes to be inherited by Julie from her mother (Tilda Swinton). Whatâs more, it canât be said that Anthonyâs influence is purely deleterious, as his bouts of real vulnerability, carried off with a persuasive display of wounded pride by Burke, repeatedly push Julie toward greater sensitivity and awareness.
Perhaps ambivalent herself to Anthonyâs recommendation that Julie seek inspiration from Powell and Pressburgerâs work, Hogg shoots in a grainy, underlit 16mm palette that has less to do with period fetishism than with draining the sparkle from Julieâs privileged upbringing. The Souvenir is shot from a measured distance, often with the camera in rooms adjacent to the actors so that walls and other objects populate the foreground, and the resulting sense is of being simultaneously immersed in the spaces of Hoggâs early adulthood and at an intellectual remove from them, a fusion seemingly reflective of the directorâs own mixed emotions in revisiting this story. In this case, however, that quality of fluctuation isnât a deficiency but a virtue, a sign of a filmmaker really wrestling with how she became the woman and artist she is today, and the mark of a film thatâs beholden to no recipe but its own.
Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Jack McMullen, Frankie Wilson, Richard Ayoade, Jaygann Ayeh Director: Joanna Hogg Screenwriter: Joanna Hogg Distributor: A24 Running Time: 119 min Rating: R Year: 2019
Review: Aladdin Is a Magic Corporate Ride to Nowhere Special
Guy Ritchieâs live-action remake is content to trace the originalâs narrative beats with perfunctory indifference.1
Compared to a few other recent live-action remakes of Disneyâs animated films, which at least attempted to bring striking story wrinkles or an auteurist perspective to bear on their interpretations, Guy Ritchieâs Aladdin is a remake in the most literal sense. Much of the filmâs first act traces the narrative beats of the 1992 animated feature, and in shot-for-shot fashion: Thieving street rat Aladdin (Mena Massoud) meets and charms the princess of his native Agrabah, Jasmine (Naomi Scott), and ultimately runs afoul of scheming grand vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), before obtaining a magic lamp containing a genie (Will Smith) who has the power to transform the young pauper into a prince worthy of Jasmineâs station.
The steadfastness with which every aspect of the original is replicated by this new Aladdin makes Ritchieâs film a grueling example of the streaming-era notion of art as content. Because thereâs no chemistry between Massoud and Scott, the legitimacy of Aladdin and Jasmineâs flirtations is largely sold on the basis of the viewerâs preexisting knowledge that these two will become a couple. Elsewhere, the relationship between Jafar and the Sultan (Navid Negahban) is an even paler imitation. In the original, Jafarâs viciousness was at least partially driven by his hatred of the Sultan, who issued inane commands to his grand vizier in all sorts of parodically infantile and buffoonish of ways. Here, though, the Sultan is a negligible figure, neither callous nor especially influential, thus robbing his subordinate of a compelling motive. The Jafar of this film is evil simply because heâs been designated as the storyâs big bad.
If the dogged faithfulness of Ritchieâs film to the original proves consistently stultifying, itâs the most noticeable deviations that ultimately damn the remake. In an attempt to give Jasmine something to do other than be the object of menâs affections, Ritchie and co-writer John August blend the characterâs traditional frustrations at being trapped behind palace walls with a newfound resentment over how her capacity to rule as sultan is thwarted by traditional gender roles. Nonetheless, her desires to lead are bluntly articulated and reflective of a broader tendency among the filmâs characters to express their awareness of their own repression by tilting their heads back and staring off into the distance as they speak extemporaneously about their dreams. Poor Scott is also burdened with the filmâs big new song, âSpeechless,â an instantly dated empowerment anthem that suggests the sonic equivalent of that old womanâs botched restoration of the Ecce Homo fresco in Borja, Spain.
The film does come somewhat to life during its musical numbers. Though these sequences are marked by simplistic and unengaging choreography, they donât quell the verve of Howard Ashman and Tim Riceâs original songs. Less successful is Smith, who, unable to match the intensity of Robin Williamsâs performance as the Genie in the original film, leans into his signature drawling sarcasm to bring his spin on the character to life, effectively draining the Genie of everything that made him so memorably larger than life in the first place. Even when portraying some of the Genieâs more antic behavior, Smith mostly takes the path of least resistance, injecting just enough energy into his performance to hint at Williamsâs memorable take on the character but without seeming as if heâs actually working up a sweat.
Elsewhere, Massoud mostly goes through the motions in establishing Aladdin as a rakish pauper, but the actor comes alive in a comic scene that sees his street urchin, newly styled as a prince by the Genie, presenting himself to the Sultanâs court. Having never been trained on any points of social graces, Aladdin can only stammer out pleasantries, using strange honorifics to refer to the Sultan as he curtsies instead of bows. Later, the Genie helps Aladdin perform an elaborate dance by controlling the young manâs body in order to wow the Sultanâs court. Impressively, Massoud manages to perform complicated steps while looking as if every movement is done against his will, giving Aladdinâs flailing motions a slapstick quality.
Such flashes of personality, though, are few and far between in this remake. Certainly there was a lot of room to bring a contemporary perspective to this materialâto counter the originalâs problematic representation of its Middle-Eastern milieu and deepen its characters. Instead, the film settles for telling you a joke youâve already heard and botching the delivery.
Cast: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Alan Tudyk, Frank Welker, Billy Magnussen Director: Guy Ritchie Screenwriter: John August, Guy Ritchie Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Running Time: 128 min Rating: PG Year: 2019 Buy: Soundtrack
Review: Brightburn Is a Soulless Mishmash of Disparate Genre Elements
The way the film shuttles through its 90 minutes, itâs as if itâs been stripped of its most crucial narrative parts.1
Like a lot of kids squirming through puberty, Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) is an asshole. Unlike most, however, heâs from outer space and possessed of formidable superpowers. Soon after learning of his abilities, he stalks a classmate, Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter), who consoled him in class after he was teased for his incredible smarts. Brandon makes a show of controlling Caitlynâs laptop before appearing outside her bedroom window, eerily floating in the air. By this point in director David Yaroveskyâs Brightburn, one is still optimistic that Brandonâs creeper tendencies will be the most insidious of his problems. But when Caitlyn calls him a pervert, after letting him fall to the ground during a âtrust fallâ exercise in gym class, Brandon crushes the bones in her hand after sheâs forced to help him up. By the end of the film, Caitlyn will prove to be one of the lucky ones.
That Yarovesky and screenwriters Brian and Mark Gunn donât exactly push the link between Brandonâs pubescence and his growing self-awareness isnât the first sign that something is amiss here. Right out of the gate, Brightburn reveals itself unwilling to animate its charactersâ emotional dramas, using visual shorthand to simply hint at them. In the opening scene, set more than 10 years in the past, the camera pans across a bookshelf full of fertility books, informing the audience that Brandonâs parents, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman), really want to have a baby. Later, while helping his dad with chores, Brandon accidentally throws a lawnmower halfway across the family farm. This is when he recognizes that he has superpowers, but rather than prolong the kidâs doubt across more than one scene, the film zips straight to the moment where heâs about to shove his hand into the lawn mowerâs spinning blades to confirm his suspicions that heâs nothing short of invincible.
More genre filmsâmore films, periodâcould stand to have a lot less fat on their bones, but the way Brightburn shuttles through its 90 minutes, itâs as if itâs been stripped even of its most crucial narrative parts. Outside of one pulpy hallucination sequence, the film stubbornly refuses to give a concrete sense of the desperation that drove Tori and Kyle to adopt Brandon, just as it canât be bothered to give shape to the mythology of his creationâor rather, his arrival. For a spell, though, this suggests a purposeful show of evasion. Much is made of the red light that peeks out from the floorboards in the family barn and to which Brandon is drawn throughout the film. If youâre a fan of Larry Cohenâs canon, you may wonder if the kid will be revealed as a kindred spirit of the ever-glowing human-alien antagonist from God Told Me To, here to make sport of our biological urge to procreate in our increasingly decaying world.
No such luck, as Brightburn is a meaningless mishmash of disparate genre elements. The truth of what lurks beneath the floorboards turns out to be of no particular consequenceânot exactly a red herring, just a bit of hogwash that confirms Brandon to be a gene splice of Damien and Superman. Maybe a sense of majesty, of mythic grandeur, might have made him feel as if he was less arbitrarily willed into being, though Yarovesky certainly conveys the weight of the kidâs killing spree. Not its existential weight, only its repugnant force. At one point, one of his victims struggles to hold up the lower part of his grotesquely shattered jaw, as Brandon pulls off the mask that he wears because, presumably, he understands that thatâs what someone with superhuman powers should do. Brightburn never shows us how Brandon came to such a realization, but it does let us glimpse the stone-cold delight he takes in erasing human lifeâa spectacle of violence that exists for its own soulless sake.
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Jennifer Holland, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Gregory Alan Williams, Steve Agee, Emmie Hunter Director: David Yarovesky Screenwriter: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn Distributor: Screen Gems Running Time: 90 min Rating: R Year: 2019
The Nightingale Trailer: Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin Star in Jennifer Kentâs Follow-Up to The Babadook
Today, IFC has released the first trailer for the film, which is set during the colonization of Australia in 1825.
Jennifer Kentâs The Nightingale, the Aussie filmmakerâs much-anticipated follow-up to The Babadook, premiered way back in September at the Venice Film Festival, and to mostly positive notices. Today, ahead of its U.S. theatrical release in August, IFC has released the first trailer for the film, which is set during the colonization of Australia in 1825 and follows a young Irish convict settler, Clare (played by Aisling Franciosi), who, after finishing her seven-year sentence, struggles to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). According to the studioâs official description of the film:
Clareâs husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. The terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and its colonizers plays out in what is now known as âThe Black War.â Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge.
Watch the official trailer below:
IFC Films will release The Nightingale in NY and LA on August 2.
Cannes Review: The Lighthouse Is a Hilarious and Grotesque Genre Pastiche
Robert Eggers loosens the noose of veracity just enough to allow for so much absurdism to peek through.3
Willem Dafoe farts and Robert Pattinson masturbates vigorously in Robert Eggersâs creepy and unexpectedly, if grotesquely, hilarious follow-up to The Witch. Set in 1890s New England, The Lighthouse finds Eggers again mining the past for an air of mythic portent but loosening the noose of veracity that choked his meticulously researched yet painfully self-serious debut just enough to allow for so much absurdism to peek through.
From the moment that lighthouse keepers Thomas Wake (Dafoe), an experienced old âwickieâ with a shuffling gait and a hair-trigger temper, and Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson), his handlebar mustache-sporting assistant, set foot on the tiny island where theyâre to spend the next four weeks, they start to get on each otherâs nerves. Wake is a slave driver whoâs said to have made his last assistant go crazy, and who ignores any and all regulations, while Winslow, whoâs on his first assignment as a lighthouse keeper, refuses to drink and be merry with Wake, which causes its own problems. Before long, the two men kick into motion a game of one-upmanship, a raising of the stakes to see who will be the first to drive the other to madnessâwith flatulence and horniness among the many, many factors fueling that pursuit.
Eggersâs willingness to get goofy, and to not worry about humor defusing his narrativeâs macabre horrorâas in, say, the cartoonish pummeling that a devious seagull receivesâmakes The Lighthouse something of a breakthrough for the filmmaker. Diverging from the formula of coiled tension followed by sudden and jolting release thatâs favored by so many contemporary arthouse horror films, Eggers parcels out the action in the film, steadily and methodically building toward the psychological breaking point of his characters.
Dafoe and Pattinson are crucial to selling that trajectory, ensuring that every moment here bristles with performative bluster. Dafoeâs surly former sea captain is a blowhard whoâs given to sentimental reverie whenever he gets hammered, while his foil is played by Pattinson with slyly vacillating docile subservience and scheming spitefulness. The veteran character actor and dressed-down movie star play off each other exceptionally well, especially when, as is often the case in a two-hander, they have to pull-off a tricky role reversal.
Taking advantage of a bigger budget than The Witch, Eggers shot The Lighthouse on 35mm film. Heâs also utilized the 1.19:1 Movietone aspect ratio, which was briefly standardized in the 1920s and is tighter than the already boxy 1.37:1 academy ratio, as a means of emphasizing his vertical compositions and the at times literally stratified relationship between his main characters. At one point, Dafoeâs old codger refuses to share lantern duty, while Winslow toils down below, swabbing decks and maintaining the dilapidated station.
Eggers successfully approximates F.W. Murnauâs stark and dynamic use of light and shadow in images that ensconce his characters in darkness and place them in geometrically unbalanced positions within the frame. But the quirkiest influence on this film is Night Tide, Curtis Harringtonâs 1961 supernatural farce of a noir, which Eggers cribs from blatantly in a surreal sequence where Pattinsonâs character has an erotic fantasy about a mermaid, and in a delirious body-horror montageârealized through largely practical effectsâthat co-opts Harringtonâs hybridization of Roger Corman and Kenneth Agerâs stylings.
And like Night Tide, a send-up of beach-party movies and cheap â50s sci-fi, The Lighthouse aims for self-aware pastiche and pulls it off without smugness. Unlike Harringtonâs film, though, it doesnât register much affection for the forms itâs working with, and can come off like a calculated exercise. Still, Eggersâs ability to take the piss out of his inflated genre movie pastiche, without lapsing into parody, is an impressive and an entertaining feat.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman Director: Robert Eggers Screenwriter: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers Distributor: A24 Running Time: 110 min Rating: NR Year: 2019
Maryland Film Festival 2019: The Hottest August, Donbass, & American Factory
This yearâs selections exhibit a scope and ambition that should continue to draw adventurous filmgoers for years to come.
Judging from the enthusiasm of the surprisingly high number of New York filmmakers and critics this writer met in Baltimore this past weekend, the Maryland Film Festival isnât seen as a pale shadow of Big Apple filmgoing. Rather, itâs a vital supplement to itâa program that compresses many of the festival seasonâs essential offerings into a manageable four-day run in an easily walkable city with comparatively chill crowds.
Those who made the commute to Baltimore for the festival this year had the chance to encounter one of the more trenchant New York-set films of recent memory in Brett Storyâs The Hottest August, an essayistic documentary made in the intellectually vagrant spirit of Chris Marker. Shot in August of 2017 around a principle of âorganized spontaneity,â per producer Danielle Varga, the film spans New York Cityâs five boroughs while adhering to a nebulous, difficult-to-define but nonetheless valuable objective: to take the temperature of the times we live in and tease out the collective mood of the countryâs most densely populated area.
Willfully biting off more than it can chew, The Hottest August features rich people, poor people, scientists, skateboarders, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, barflies, artists, and more waxing extemporaneous on topics including climate change, economic inequality, automation, racism, and the future. The mood is off the cuff, conversational. A pair of women in lawn chairs joke about how their streetâs rat population has swelled as a result of gentrifying construction in adjacent neighborhoods. Two former cops reframe the term âracismâ as âresentmentâ in a sports bar just moments after demanding that no politics enter the hallowed space of the drinking hole. A loft-dwelling futurist pontificates on what the tax system might look like if the country embraced robotics instead of fearing it as a job killer. Occasionally we hear the filmmaker off screen, tersely prompting her subjects with open-ended questions, but mostly this is an ensemble of eager talkers, their openness running contrary to the old chestnut about closed-off New Yorkers.
Finding form in this seemingly disconnected mass is editor Nels Bangerter, who managed a similar feat with Kirsten Johnsonâs Cameraperson. The film drifts subtly from subject to subject, pointedly using B roll not just to evocatively provide a sense of place, but to extend someoneâs thought or offer counterpoint. Three streams of information exist at once: whatever opinion is being put forth by the person on screen; whatever in-the-moment perspective Story takes on her subjectâs response through the questions she asks or the camera angles she chooses; and the question of how that segment ultimately interacts with the film in its final form, where images have been invested with meaning through context.
The Hottest August is a film thatâs constantly âthinking,â and that thought isnât fixed or authoritative, but rather in flux and negotiable. Story isnât setting out to answer any pressing political issues so much as capture the tactile sense of how those issues permeate everyday settings. Hers is a form of ambient reportage that feels very welcome in our contemporary moment, when the daily barrage of information can sometimes make it difficult to recall how one felt about something two days earlier, let alone in that turbulent August of 2017.
Similarly macro in its approach is Sergei Loznitsaâs Donbass, which adopts a sprawling, vignette-driven structure as it catalogues the miseries and grotesqueries of the eponymous eastern Ukrainian territory. A region occupied by pro-Russian paramilitary forces (specifically the Donetsk and Luhansk Peopleâs Republics) ever since the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014, present-day Donbass is a morass of conflicting sympathies and ideologies that Loznitsa doesnât so much seek to clarify with this film as reflect in all its muddy complexity.
In fact, Loznitsa goes so far as to call into question the very possibility of the truth of this situation he captures on camera. Whenever reporters appear on screen, theyâre portrayed as ineffectual stooges waiting to be chewed out as propaganda peddlers by their political opponents, and the filmâs bookending sequences, set at the trailer park of a movie set, build toward a thesis statement on the dubiousness of contemporary reporting with its tendency to stage and reframe reality according to the mandates of whatever affiliation is being placated.
Cameras, weâre repeatedly reminded by the mise-en-scĂšne, are violators, as they merely augment the dangerous power of the person wielding them. Donbassâs most harrowing elucidation of this theme comes in a scene on a public street, where a Ukrainian loyalist, tied to a telephone pole by a pair of armed separatists, endures a humiliating beating at the hands of a growing mob of passersby, one of whom decides to record the grisly spectacle with his smartphone. As Loznitsaâs camera circles the action, the hecklerâs phone presses right up into the face of the prisoner, relishing in the manâs suffering, and we get the sense that the escalation of violence may have never come to pass in quite this way were it not for the spontaneous idea to turn it into a video meme. Later, the recording gets shown to a hooting crowd of Novorossiya sympathizers at an absurdly overemphatic wedding celebration, assimilating smoothly into the atmosphere of nationalist fervor.
Donbass is fueled by such collisions between the grave and the comic, a tonal oscillation mastered by Loznitsa in his documentaries and carried over here to support a vision of a society cracking under the weight of its own inconsistencies, corruption and mob mentalities. Less tightly structured than Loznitsaâs preceding fiction work, the film adopts the immersive observation of films like Maidan and Victory Day with a more active, roving camera but a similar degree of durational endurance. In one scene, Loznitsa even seamlessly integrates an extended use of documentary language into a longer fictional setup when his camera descends into a cramped and overcrowded bomb shelter, where a local host, lit by a camera-mounted source, walks us through the destitution of those living inside. As with the later street scene, the dreariness is eventually spiked by a dash of absurdism, but the counterpunch isnât intended to lighten the mood so much as further disorient, ultimately giving Donbass an unnerving precarity that must come somewhat near the feeling on the ground.
If these two films, content as they are to revel in ambivalence, seek to grasp the experience of the now in all its bewilderment, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognarâs American Factory takes a more committed stance on an issue thatâs equally topical. Fuyao Glass America, an outgrowth of a global glass manufacturer owned by a Chinese billionaire, opened in Moraine, Ohio in the shell of a shuddered General Motors plant toward the beginning of the decade, persisted financially for years while pursuing its awkward goal of unifying Chinese and American work cultures, and then inevitably ran up against controversy in 2017 when safety concerns and low wages encouraged the local employees to vote to unionize.
American Factory charts this entire compelling history with surprising comprehensiveness: When a late scene plays out as an illicit audio recording from an employee over a black screen, it stands out for being one of the only instances when the filmmakers donât appear to have unencumbered access. But this sprawl has its downsides. Though briskly edited and tonally varied, Reichert and Bognarâs documentary skims over the surface of some of its most fascinating threads while in pursuit of a rousing decade-long tale.
The American workers depicted in the film, disgruntled by their diminished earnings and recalling a recent past with less bureaucratic oversight, too often blend into one undistinguished mass of Midwestern homeliness, and the few individuals who do get singled out for attentionâa woman living in her relativeâs basement and a rancher who befriends one particular Chinese co-workerâoften get neglected for long stretches of time. The Chinese are perhaps even less differentiated, their insistence on dogged work ethic and company allegiance repeatedly emphasized almost to the point of xenophobia. That Fuyao chairman Cao Dewang, who weaves through the film as an amusingly oblivious villain for its majority, eventually gets a moment to fondly reminisce on Chinaâs pre-industrial past and contemplate his own complicity in the countryâs shift to globalized capitalism comes across as penance for the filmâs occasional treatment of foreigners as misguided corporate drones.
What American Factory ultimately amounts to, however, isnât an exploration of culture clash or a penetrating depiction of rust belt dejection, but rather a rallying cry for worker solidarity (in America, if not across the globe), a message it pulls off resoundingly in the final hour. Reichert and Bognar smartly detail all the insidious ways in which corporate messengers mischaracterize unionizing as a threat to individual liberty, and the populist filmmaking vernacular they employ as the union vote nearsâfluid crosscutting between different intersecting narratives, plenty of emotional close-ups, a score of almost Spielbergian grandiosityâgives the documentary a genuine shot at trafficking radical politics to a relatively wide audience. If itâs any indication of future success, American Factory was one of the most well-attended screenings I went to during my time in Baltimore, but itâs a testament to the Maryland Film Festivalâs outreach that healthy crowds congregated throughout the weekend. Though modest and inviting, this yearâs selections exhibit a scope and ambition that should continue to draw adventurous filmgoers for years to come.
The Maryland Film Festival ran from May 8â12.
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