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Locarno Film Festival 2018 Ray & Liz, M, & Menocchio

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Locarno Film Festival 2018: Ray & Liz, M, & Menocchio

Locarno Film Festival

Locarno Film Festival 2018: Ray & Liz, M, & Menocchio

During my brief stint at Locarno, I managed to catch 10 of the 15 films selected for this year’s international competition. My favorite was Ray & Liz, British artist Richard Billingham’s remarkably assured autobiographical debut feature. Billingham rose to prominence as a photographer with his 1996 monograph Ray’s a Laugh, inspired by his impoverished upbringing on the outskirts of Birmingham and lauded for its unflinching portraits of his alcoholic father and sedentary, heavily tattooed mother. With this film, he reaches further into the dark recesses of his childhood to deliver a richly evocative portrait of working-class life in the British Midlands.

Locarno Film Festival 2018 Genesis, Glaubenberg, & Too Late to Die Young

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Locarno Film Festival 2018: Genesis, Glaubenberg, & Too Late to Die Young

Locarno Film Festival

Locarno Film Festival 2018: Genesis, Glaubenberg, & Too Late to Die Young

Growing pains and burgeoning sexual identity take center stage in several titles duking it out for the Pardo d’Oro, or Golden Leopard, at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. Of these, Genesis, a multi-stranded meditation on the joy and misery of adolescence by Canadian writer-director Philippe Lesage, seems most likely to find an audience beyond the festival circuit. The film focuses largely on the relationship woes of a pair of privileged step-siblings living in suburban French Canada: Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin), a preppy, quick-witted class clown at an all-boys boarding school, secretly harboring feelings for his best friend, Nicolas (Jules Roy Sicotte), and Charlotte (Noée Abita), who feels she’s outgrown her noncommittal boyfriend, Maxime (Pier-Luc Funk), and sets off looking for love in all the wrong places.

56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

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56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

Thunderbird Releasing

56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

Today, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New York Film Festival announced its main slate of films for this year’s event. On July 18, the festival announced Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s first film since Gravity, as its centerpiece selection. Since then, Yorgos Lanthithos’s The Favourite was announced as the opening-night film and Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, about the last days of Vincent van Gogh and starring Willem Dafoe in the leading role, as the festival’s closer. Below is the full lineup of 30 films from 22 countries.

BAMcinemaFest 2018 Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life

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BAMcinemaFest 2018: Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life

Cinereach

BAMcinemaFest 2018: Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life

From King Kong to Beauty and the Beast, films have often grappled with romances between pretty women and males who, well, let’s say, fail to adhere to cultural standards of attractiveness. The latest is writer-director Aaron Schimberg’s meta Chained for Life, set behind the scenes of a campy horror flick featuring half a cast of what Tod Browning would have called freaks. The film’s leading man is Rosenthal, played by Adam Pearson (previously seen in Under the Skin), an English actor who has neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors to grow around nerves. Rosenthal’s leading lady is Mabel (Jess Weixler), a friendly and earnest actress without any such condition.

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Girls of the Sun, Dogman, & The Wild Pear Tree

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Cannes Film Review: Girls of the Sun, Dogman, & The Wild Pear Tree

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: Girls of the Sun, Dogman, & The Wild Pear Tree

Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun is a politically righteous and timely film, with a strong lead performance by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani as Bahar, the leader of an all-female peshmerga fighter battalion bravely fighting ISIS in Kurdistan. But the film also has the dramatic finesse of a sledgehammer: Its most emotionally charged moments buckle under the weight of a ceaseless and manipulative score, and its disorganized and distracting flashback structure tries to contextualize the horrors and humiliations endured by Bahar but does so at the expense of narrative momentum.

Look past the film’s baggy structure and clumsy dialogue and there’s a good deal of tough, spatially coherent action direction on display. As Husson is adept at crafting artfully abstracted images in isolated moments, it’s easy to imagine the more sturdy, brisk, and visually compelling film Girls of the Sun might have been had at least 40 minutes been shaved from its running time.

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Winner Predictions

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Cannes Film Festival 2018: Winner Predictions
Cannes Film Festival 2018: Winner Predictions

Between Cate Blanchett being appointed to head the largely female jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and the much-publicized march of 82 women down the red carpet at the start of the festival (representing the mere 82 women directors in 71 years who’ve competed for the Palme d’Or), many have come to predict that one of the three female filmmakers in competition this year would take the top prize. This article won’t diverge from that prediction, and of the three possibilities, Alice Rohwacher’s Happy As Lazzaro still seems like the safest bet, even with reports coming in that Blanchett teared up at the world premiere of Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum.

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Lee Chang-dong’s Burning

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Cannes Film Review: Burning

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: Burning

South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong works slowly: In over 20 years, he’s directed just six films, each of which unfold patiently, sprawling out over two-plus hours and carefully tracking character development in narratives that occasionally proceed in real time. Lee tends to define his characters in relation to the specific temporal concepts that he structures his films around, such as the suicidal businessman from 2000’s Peppermint Candy, whose story is told in a reverse chronology, or the sixtysomething woman with encroaching Alzheimer’s disease in 2010’s Poetry, whose memories of the past slowly slip away. But Burning feels like the director’s most reflexive comment on the dramatic possibilities of his favored narrative form.

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Gaspar Noé’s Climax

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Cannes Film Review: Climax

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: Climax

French provocateur Gaspar Noé’s Climax has been met with enthusiasm at this year’s Cannes—even from those who usually have little tolerance for the psychedelic horror-core aesthetic he’s been dredging since at least 2002’s Irréversible. Maybe that’s because the film, at an eminently approachable 95 minutes, aspires to a relatively more structured iteration of Noé’s anarchic chaos. It even has a fairly straightforward concept: Twenty dancers—played by 19 non-actors plus Algerian actress and model Sofia Boutella—gather in a performance space, dance, chat cattily among each other, then drink some LSD-spiked punch and descend into raving, violent madness.

The conceit here is that even when Climax’s characters are subjected to the full-tilt crucible promised by the film’s premise, their bodies’ convulsions remain dance-like. But broad concerns like concept and conceit have never really been Noé’s problem, and neither really has his style—which has always incorporated some form of choreography, and used vivid colors and a restless camera with inarguably visceral impact. What Noé’s films have so rarely evinced—and what Climax mostly certainly lacks—is the skill, imagination, and intelligence to develop concepts and conceits, to connect them with ideas that could keep the director’s vision from wearing itself out.

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Yomeddine, Leto, & Sorry Angel

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Cannes Film Review: Yomeddine, Leto, & Sorry Angel

mk2 Films

Cannes Film Review: Yomeddine, Leto, & Sorry Angel

Egyptian-born NYU graduate Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine (or Judgment Day), the first debut feature to play in competition at the Cannes Film Festival since Son of Saul in 2015, is a different kind of exploitation film than László Nemes’s Oscar winner. It’s for anyone who’s ever looked at a person who suffered through a life-threatening illness and thought to themselves, “There should really be a quirky Sundance-style dramedy made about this.”

A road-trip movie for sympathy fascists, Yomeddine is built around non-actor Rady Gamal, a survivor of leprosy whom Shawky met while making a documentary short on a leper colony. Gamal plays Beshey, a junk collector and recent widower who, after linking up with a Nubian orphan boy, Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz), sets off to find the father who abandoned him as a child. The misfits get mixed up with thieves, religious fanatics, inept bureaucracies, apathetic police officers, and a trio of beggars with their own physical deformities, most of who serve to further stack the deck against them.

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival

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The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival

TCM Classic Film Festival

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival

At the risk of invoking the spirit of the perpetually weary Lili Von Shtupp from Blazing Saddles, long before I ever hopped the red line train to Hollywood Boulevard in anticipation of the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival last Thursday night, I had already been beset by a heavy sense of festival fatigue. Such bemoaning might seem misplaced coming from someone who attends exactly one festival a year—this one. But after a noticeable slump last year, in my energy and in the level of the festival’s programming overall, I had begun to worry that after eight TCMFFs in a row the dip in enthusiasm I’d registered last year might blossom into a full-on festival hangover before this year’s fun had even had a chance to begin. However, as news of the specifics of the festival began to trickle out, there became apparent a reason to suspect, if not outright hope, that 2018 might provide a tonic to address the comparatively flat spirits which earmarked the previous gathering.