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Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2012: Our Little Differences

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Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2012: Our Little Differences

Located in the hotbed of European financial crisis, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival offers a lineup that’s predictably timely and overtly political. As the Greek parliament discusses the implementation of special economic measures, even the company responsible for providing the festival with electronic subtitles protests said measures by means of subversive inserts. The main competition is filled with movies about the ailing world of limited means and unjust distribution of wealth, and after the bizarre and derivative allegory of labor in Vahid Vakilifar’s Taboor and Amir Manor’s astutely titled Epilogue, which played like Michael Haneke’s Amour, only capitalism as a stand-in for death, the main competition now brings us Sylvie Michel-Casey’s Our Little Differences.

A master class in mise-en-scène precision, the movie tells that story of a well-off German gynecologist, Sebastian (William Koch), separated from his wife and currently taking care of his spoiled teenage son. Invited to appear as a pundit on a late-night TV show, Sebastian declares, “I look at birth and children as a source of joy,” unaware that the statement will get severely tested just the following day. It’s then that it turns out his son and his girlfriend have disappeared, along with the daughter of Jana (Bettina Stucky), the Bulgarian cleaning lady who works at Sebastian’s office and house. The paragon of slack-cutting parenting first denies there’s anything to worry about, only to slowly join Jana in her worried reaction and subsequent search.

As indicated by its title, the film is super-sensitive to class divisions, and Michel-Casey wastes no time dropping hints at Sebastian’s obliviousness to how the other half—namely Jana and her daughter—lives. “Will 50 euro be enough?” asks Sebastian in front of Jana before letting his son go to a party, a gesture as casual as greeting the cleaning lady in an unbuttoned shirt and boxer shorts, to her visible (to us, that is) discomfort. After Sebastian wishes her a good time, Jana asks herself for the definition of such in a lowered voice—just as she uncorks the bottle of a cleaning liquid to take care of Sebastian’s dirty dishes.

A shared concern for wayward offspring brings Sebastian and Jana together for the stretch of a single morning and an afternoon, with the predictable outpouring of mutual resentment arriving in due time. The confrontation reveals Sebastian’s moral blindness and Jana’s bitterness at being pushed down the social ladder by the fact of having been born on the wrong side of the iron curtain. “I was a teacher back in my country, you know!” she says to Sebastian during the film’s most blood-curdling moment, to which Sebastian responds with a barb that could only be uttered by someone lucky enough to deal only with first-world problems: “Why don’t you come back, then?”

Given its perfectly timed direction, fine script proportions, excellent acting, and clear affinity for showing a single event that ripples through the class structure at hand, Our Little Differences is rather Farhadian in nature. Not as deep in its insights, or wide in its scope, as A Separation, the film seems nevertheless inspired by Asghar Farhadi’s brand of careful, multi-layered social observation—and is as much structured around a disturbing absence as his prior About Elly. (It’s also worth noting that the director seems to be channeling the real-time strategies of the Romanian new wave, and it comes as no surprise to discover that the film was co-written by Razvan Radulescu, one of Tuesday, After Christmas’s screenwriters).

After all is said and done, the two lives at the center of the film go off on their separate tangents yet again. Sebastian drives into the distance in his fancy car and Jana is staring out of her tiny flat’s window. They both seem imprisoned—though Sebastian’s cell has the extra padding that only money can buy. As the end credits roll, the screen splits in half and extra footage provides a semi-explanation to what made Jana’s daughter do what she did and rebel against her mother’s will. The silent images suggest a life about to switch gears—whether to any avail, we will never know.

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival runs from November 2—11. For more information, click here.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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