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Locarno Film Festival 2017 Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

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Locarno Film Festival 2017: Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

Locarno Film Festival

Locarno Film Festival 2017: Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

Albert Serra's recent The Death of Louis XIV feels like a fictional cousin to Mrs. Fang, winner of the Golden Leopard at this year's Locarno Film Festival, as Wang Bing's latest similarly maps out the process by which the glow of a human life is dimmed. Mrs. Fang, a sixtysomething former farmer from rural southeast China, has been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years. Wang visits her modest family home on two separate occasions: in 2015, when she's already unable to speak or leave her bed and her family discusses her funeral, and a year later, in the days before her death. Throughout these visits, Wang employs his by-now familiar mode of calm, unadorned observation, moving smoothly between the conversations conducted around Mrs. Fang's bed, forays outside the cramped home to follow discussions on the street and villagers on fishing trips, and tight close-ups of Mrs. Fang's face on the pillow—the latter of which suffused with an intimacy so intense that it makes the surroundings disappear and time stand still for a while, despite their only making up a comparatively small part of the film.

Locarno Film Festival 2017 Cocote, Prototype, A Skin So Soft, & Milla

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Locarno Film Festival 2017: Cocote, Prototype, A Skin So Soft, & Milla

Cinémadefacto

Locarno Film Festival 2017: Cocote, Prototype, A Skin So Soft, & Milla

The first days of the Locarno Film Festival were dominated by a heat so intense that it took great effort to focus on the challenging cinema for which the Swiss festival is renowned and not just on staying hydrated and fleeing to the next air-conditioned space. But as the warmth receded and proper concentration returned, several titles that screened on the opening weekend emerged from the fug as some of the most intriguing films of the year.

Unlike in Switzerland, the sweltering heat of the Dominican Republic inspires fervor, even hysteria—as in Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’s Cocote, which opened the festival’s experimentally minded Signs of Life section, which this year became a competitive section for the first time and opened its doors to films of all lengths. Much like the filmmaker’s Santa Teresa and Other Stories, a very loose adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, Cocote proceeds by inserting enough flights of fancy into an established narrative that its through line often becomes thrillingly blurred. While this film’s plot doesn’t draw on any preexisting material, it does feel broadly archetypical, telling the story of how Alberto (Vicente Santos), a gardener working at a wealthy estate in Santo Domingo, returns to his home village following the death of his father at the hands of a local bigwig. Alberto’s smart attire and newfound respectability mark him as a prodigal son for his mother and sisters, who expect him both to take part in a nine-day burial ritual and avenge his father, neither of which are in keeping with his sense of urban rationality and poise.

Cocote Exclusive Trailer: Grappling with Religion in Dominican-Set Drama

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Cocote Exclusive Trailer: Grappling with Religion in Dominican-Set Drama

Luxbox

Cocote Exclusive Trailer: Grappling with Religion in Dominican-Set Drama

A co-production between the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Germany, Cocote, Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias’s Cocote concerns an evangelical gardener, Alberto (played by Vicente Santos), who returns to his hometown in the Dominican Republic to attend his father’s funeral. In order to mourn his paterfamilias, who was killed by an influential man, Alberto must take part in religious celebrations that are contrary to his will and beliefs.

Luca Guadagnino’s Gay Love Story Call Me by Your Game Gets First Trailer

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Luca Guadagnino’s Gay Love Story Call Me by Your Game Gets First Trailer

Sony Pictures Classics

Luca Guadagnino’s Gay Love Story Call Me by Your Game Gets First Trailer

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming Call Me by Your Name, adapted by James Ivory from a novel by André Aciman, first earned plaudits at its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Less than a month later, at Berlinale, our correspondent on the scene praised the film for the way that Guadagnino funnels the romanticism of the film through an intimate character-based perspective. Call Me by Your Name, which has already been pegged as an Oscar contender, tells the story of the verbally and physically charged relationship that develops between a 17-year-old boy, Elio (Timothée Chalamet), and the older Oliver (Armie Hammer), the new assistant to Elio’s archaeologist father (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Jerusalem Film Festival 2017 Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

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Jerusalem Film Festival 2017: Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

Jerusalem Film Festival

Jerusalem Film Festival 2017: Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

Jerusalem is a city of beige and tan, a vast barren sprawl that is, despite the brutal heat and muted colors, quite beautiful. Its odd mix of orthodoxy and modernity pair like sand and cement to create something singular and undeterrable. There’s a kind of delirious, heat stroke-induced grandeur to its aesthetic uniformity, the caramel-colored homes enclosing you and the occasional swaths of trees providing much sought-after shelter from the sun, the tan and green recalling the colors of Israeli military uniforms. All of the buildings are finished with Jerusalem Stone (which is mostly made up of limestone) to marry the new to the old, to transcend date and age. A parched and pale sky settles over sun-baked façades stacked upon sandy expanses. Feet wrapped in leather sandals slap against the sidewalk and air conditioners spittle from above. “Drink water,” everyone advises. At its apogee, the sun abuses unrepentantly, with cruel omnipotence, yet people persist and keep going where they’re going, water bottles in hand. They are stubborn.

The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

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The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked
The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

There’s an engimatic quality to the role of Christopher Nolan in the current filmmaking landscape, and one that stands apart from the fact that his films so often court ambiguity with explicit intent. From the Russian-nesting-doll antics of Inception to the magicians-as-filmmakers commentary of The Prestige, Nolan’s ambition within the realm of big-budget, broad audience spectacle is comparable to the likes of few. Among those, James Cameron comes to mind, and now Nolan joins the Avatar director with his own film about interplanetary travel, the logical next step for a filmmaker so concerned with world-building, literal and otherwise. Looking back at his work thus far, what emerges—apart from his obsession with identity, reality, community, and obsession itself—is an artist who, heedless of his own shortcomings, is intent on challenging himself, a quality that salvages and even inverts a great many of his otherwise pedestrian choices. One suspects that this is an artist still in his pupa stage, and one is also fearful that the near-unanimous praise heaped upon his work since his breakout hit, Memento, will only serve to keep him there. To wit, his latest film, Dunkirk, employs the kind of chronology-bending antics that epitomize Memento and Inception. Rob Humanick
 

Olhar de Cinema Film Festival 2017 Rey, Soldado, Tonsler Park, All the Cities of the North, A Quiet Dream, & More

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Olhar de Cinema Film Festival 2017: Rey, Soldado, Tonsler Park, All the Cities of the North, A Quiet Dream, & More

Diluvio

Olhar de Cinema Film Festival 2017: Rey, Soldado, Tonsler Park, All the Cities of the North, A Quiet Dream, & More

The Olhar de Cinema film festival, which has taken place since 2012 in Curitiba, Brazil, takes its name from the Portuguese word that means “to watch.” It’s practically a motto. The festival consists of two venues in two different shopping malls that are less than one block apart from each other. As such, directors, organizers, programmers, critics, and audiences from all over the world are constantly crossing paths, sparking conversations about the programmed films and the world of cinema at large. Like Locarno, this is a festival that doesn’t aim at the stars or glamour, and so the air around the venues is often filled with lively conversations—in Portuguese, English, and Spanish—about filmmakers who are destined for great futures.

Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, with Robert Pattinson, Gets New Trailer and Poster

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Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, with Robert Pattinson, Gets New Trailer and Poster

A24

Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, with Robert Pattinson, Gets New Trailer and Poster

We were among the first to see Joshua and Ben Safdie’s Good Time when it premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. One of our critics on the scene described it as one of the brother filmmakers’ harrowing odysseys of the marginalized, and later pegged Robert Pattinson to win the festival’s best actor prize (which ended up going to Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here). The plot of the film spins out from a bank heist that—as they are prone to do—goes wrong. Pattinson stars as Connie, the heist’s mastermind who’s hell bent on busting out his mentally handicapped brother, Nick (Ben Safdie), from Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens. According to our critic: “If this premise sounds like typical genre fare, the Safdies get that and they deliver: Good Time is an action-packed, neon-streaked rush, all elaborate scenarios, racing against time, and police in hot pursuit.”

This Used to Be My Playground Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own

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This Used to Be My Playground: Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own
This Used to Be My Playground: Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own

Light and airy, with only the faintest whiff of pathos or self-importance, A League of Their Own offers a refreshingly buoyant vision of America’s favorite pastime. Unburdened by the grandiose mythologizing of movies like The Natural and Field of Dreams, the film regards baseball with a breezy, wide-eyed innocence that captures the uniquely languid joy of the sport.

Working from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, director Penny Marshall casts the Rockford Peaches—a founding team in the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)—as a ragtag ensemble filled with stock comic types, including Rosie O’Donnell as a brassy New Yawk broad and Madonna as an incorrigible floozy. The performances tend toward broad caricature, particularly Tom Hanks’s at times gratingly over-the-top turn as the team’s perpetually apoplectic manager, Jimmy Dugan. All shouting, spitting, and drunken ass-grabbing, Jimmy is a cartoonish parody of American masculinity that anticipates Hanks’s similarly out-sized but more delicately modulated voice work in Toy Story a few years later.

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

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The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

Focus Features

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

There’s a routine of complaints traditionally leveled at Sofia Coppola. Beyond the faux pas of being born rich, she’s been drawn as more of a choreographer of tableaux than a storyteller. Critics have bemoaned her visions of character interiority signaled by dreamy music cues and symmetrical framing over wordy dialogues or dredged-up performances from her stars, who are inevitably blonde and beautiful. Particularly since Lost in Translation’s reverse-xenophobia meet-cute, Coppola has alternated between accusations of flaunting her privilege and hosannas for being honest about it.

But if The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and (perhaps more debatably) Somewhere girded themselves against these considerations by putting their own haute-bourgeois blinkeredness front and center, the terrain is far murkier in Coppola’s The Beguiled. This is a filmmaker obsessed with feminine beauty and ephemeral tragedy of time’s passage—so just how boilerplate is her Civil War-era chamber piece supposed to be?