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Cannes Lineup Includes New Films by Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard, and More

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Cannes Lineup Includes New Films by Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard, and More
Cannes Lineup Includes New Films by Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard, and More

This morning, the lineup for the 71st Cannes Film Festival was revealed. Among the most high-profile titles to make the cut: David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, Spike Lee’s BlacKKKlansman, Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, and Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Livre d’Image. As previously announced, Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, also in competition, will kick off the festival on May 8, and Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story will screen out of competition on May 15, 10 days before the film hits U.S. theaters. (The Director’s Fortnight and Critics Week selections will be announced at a later date.) Only 18 titles were announced to be competing for the prestigious Palm d’Or, and as that number is usually in the low 20s, it’s likely that more titles will be added to the official lineup in the upcoming weeks.

True/False Film Fest 2018 Khalik Allah’s Black Mother

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True/False Film Fest 2018: Khalik Allah’s Black Mother

Cinereach

True/False Film Fest 2018: Khalik Allah’s Black Mother

Because of its conveniently contained setting (Columbia, Missouri, home to the state’s largest university) and its independent ethic (a willful disregard for awards, promotional parties, industry dealing, and the atmosphere of corporatized networking that comes with all of this), the True/False Film Fest is regarded as a haven for both fans and creators of documentaries. It’s an unusually democratized event, and it celebrates the community of volunteers and musicians that help the event proceed so smoothly with as much fervor as it does the films and filmmakers that it hosts.

The warmth with which Columbia welcomes its many hundreds of annual attendees remains beguiling, but one of the amusingly dissonant things about True/False is that however much it feels like the city exists simply to host this event, an entire world carries on in and around it. On weekend nights, bars and sidewalks teem with ebullient undergrads, dangerously underdressed for their ambling from one party to the next. The fleeting world of the festival and the ongoing life of the town commingle and collide in fascinating ways; one undergrad stopped a group of us in the street at 1:30 am explicitly to recommend the charming 1972 pop-rock doodle “Magnet” by the band NRBQ. True/False is an idyll, but it’s just one of many ecosystems carrying on in Columbia on this particular weekend.

Dubai International Film Festival 2017 A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

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Dubai International Film Festival 2017: A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

Wild Bunch

Dubai International Film Festival 2017: A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

Even if this paradox applies to a great many film festivals, the notion of flying halfway across the planet to sit in a dark room and watch movies is especially pronounced in Dubai, where little is more than a few decades old, island formations are exploded to resemble Qu’ranic verses, and office buildings look like spaceships retired into the ground at 90-degree angles.

On December 6, a short drive from the canyons of high-rises making up the city-state’s turbocapitalist business district, elites and journalists assembled at the Souk Madinat—a beachside network of malls, restaurants, and luxury hotels connected by artificial seawater canals—for the opening night of the 14th Dubai International Film Festival. Tributes were tendered first to both Patrick Stewart and Cate Blanchett before the kickoff of Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, about a bigoted U.S. cavalry officer (Christian Bale) tasked with escorting a Cheyenne war chief named Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) from New Mexico to his original territory in Montana.

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

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Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Forager Films

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Watching Australian director Jennifer Peedom’s Mountain one morning at the sixth annual Los Cabos International Film Festival, I was struck by the fullness of the auditorium and by the prominence of children in the audience. Peedom’s film is an essayistic documentary about humankind’s relationship with mountains all over the world, with tender, ruefully poetic narration (spoken by Willem Dafoe) that emphasizes how our appreciation of nature can morph into an urge to conquer it, rendering the wild another of the controlled habitats from which we seek refuge. Mountain isn’t what Americans would designate a “children’s film,” as we have a habit of parking young ones in front of whatever A.D.D.-afflicted cartoon happens to be topping the box office at any given moment. It was gratifying to see such a varied audience turn out for Mountain, imparting hope as to the communal possibilities of cinema in the 21st century. Of course, many of the children were whispering and running around the theater, seemingly bored with the film in front of them, but at least they evinced some effort and curiosity.

AFI Fest 2017 Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

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AFI Fest 2017: Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

Kino Lorber

AFI Fest 2017: Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

For Let the Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani trade the giallo stylings of Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears for a wild heaping of spaghetti-western psychedelia. The married French filmmakers may be fixating on a new genre, but their deliriously abstract and meta approach to their craft remains intact. In fact, the shift in genre focus only gives them new objects and landscapes with which to play their formalist games.

Beginning with the sound of gunshots as paint splatters on a canvas, Cattet and Forzani announce their intent to elevate style above all else. What follows is a deliriously gleeful, rapid-fire montage of sound and image: extreme close-ups of burning cigars that threaten to set fire to the very image of the film, landscapes refracted through sunglasses or the flames of a lighter, the crackling of meat roasting over a fire, and enough creaking leather to make Kenneth Anger blush. Let the Corpses Tan is driven by sensory overload—its formal elements pieced together in rhythmic crescendos designed to titillate not with sex or violence, but through sheer cinematic inventiveness.

AFI Fest 2017 Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

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AFI Fest 2017: Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

The Hamilton Film Group

AFI Fest 2017: Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

Director Matthew Porterfield’s Sollers Point follows Keith (McCaul Lombardi), a low-level drug dealer serving the last week of his nine-month home detention after a short prison stint. He’s stuck sharing a rundown one-story ranch house with his pestering father, Carol (Jim Belushi), in a predominantly white, lower-class corner of Baltimore. Graffiti and artwork cover Keith’s bedroom walls—relics from a past when his artistic prowess hinted at a career and distracted him from the rough, drug-dealing crowds he eventually fell in with. Though Keith is ostensibly free once he gets his ankle bracelet taken off, the economically depressed neighborhood that he wanders through for the remainder of the film offers much of the same hopelessness and lack of opportunity that stymied him in prison.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

For anyone who’s read Edouard Louis’s 2014 novel The End of Eddy, a gut-wrenching account of growing up poor and gay in rural France, Reinventing Marvin will feel like a botched job. That’s mostly because the book is so delicately diaristic, having been written by Louis when he was just 19, and before he shot into literary superstardom. Writer-director Anne Fontaine bypasses any attempt at faithfulness to her source material, cutting it into a million pieces and re-assembling the work like a postmodern collage.

As much as Fontaine’s cinematic histrionics are beautiful to watch, like a Frankesteinian feast for the eyes, it’s as if the soul of Louis’s work has been diluted by the filmmaker’s need to reinvent not Marvin, but the literary lineage that makes the project so striking in the first place. Because of the film’s playing with temporality and style, the simplicity and linearity of Louis’s prose is lost. We’re certainly not allowed to spend enough time with the film’s Marvin, played by the eerily melancholic Jules Porier, and ache with him—the kind of identification that The End of Eddy made possible.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

Sony Pictures Classics

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

We tend to think of the family as a space for love and the child as representative of the new. Loveless exposes families to be, instead, havens of hatred and the child as nothing but a fresh container for an ancient history of gloom. Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin), soon to be divorced but still living under the same roof, repeat the same emotional indifference that was passed on to them by their parents. But their son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), stages an intervention in their genealogical tree of horrors by fleeing their home. No one seems to have ever wanted him—and it’s only when he goes missing that he seems to merit parental attention. Not that he ceases to be a nuisance ready to be shipped to a boarding school followed by a military career, which is what Zhenya desires, but because now the adults have to respond to societal demands of his whereabouts.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

For anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, society exchanges three fundamental things: words, women, and goods. Writer-director Annemarie Jacir explores those very objects of exchange in the most delicate of ways throughout Wajib. Although Amal (Maria Zreik) is getting married, neither her wedding nor the film itself is really about her. Both are about the men—her father, Shadi (Saleh Bakri), and her brother, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri)—in charge of making the delivery of the goods: that is, the woman, her gown, and the invitations for the ceremony. Abu Shadi has returned home to Nazareth from Italy specially for the occasion, and the expatriate’s homecoming serves as an opportunity for all sorts of words to be exchanged between father and son—namely those that have been bottled up for so long, or at least since Shadi and Amal’s mother left them to pursue a love story in America.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

A24

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

Though written and directed by Andrew Haigh, Lean on Pete belongs to young actor Charlie Plummer from start to finish. Plummer plays Charley, a poverty-stricken, motherless 15-year-old who moves to Portland, Oregon with his father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), and takes a summer job working with a horse trainer, Del (Steve Buscemi). The boy’s life is built around abandonment and tragedy but also a relentless hunger for affection—human or equine. He’s immediately taken with the most passive of Del’s horses, Lean on Pete, who’s described by his grizzled trainer as “a pussy.” From then on, a child-animal bond is formed where child-adult ones have been consistently broken, the horse’s increasing incompetence to race working as a kind of guarantee against abandoning the boy, because that which can’t run can’t run away.