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The Long Day Closes (#110 of 8)

Toronto International Film Festival 2015 Sunset Song and Son of Saul

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Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Sunset Song and Son of Saul

Dean MacKenzie

Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Sunset Song and Son of Saul

She rises from the fields, acres of grain flowing as far as the eye can see, like a mythical creature. Innocent and pure. Unaware of anything but the beauty that surrounds her—that, indeed, seems to emanate from her. This is Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn), the heroine of Terence Davies’s exquisite Sunset Song, which the writer-director adapted from Lewis Grassic Gibbons’s highly regarded 1932 novel of the same name. A staple of Scottish classrooms, the book details young Chris’s coming of age with her farming family in the fictional estate of Kinraddie circa the early 20th century. (It’s also the first part of a trilogy; the subsequent installments are 1933’s Cloud Howe and 1934’s Grey Granite.)

50 Essential LGBT Films

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50 Essential LGBT Films
50 Essential LGBT Films

You’ve sported a red equal sign on Facebook, watched Nancy Pelosi show Michele Bachmann her politically correct middle finger, and read some of those other lists that have compiled lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) films, hailing usual suspects like High Art and Brokeback Mountain as gay equivalents of Vertigo (oh, don’t Citizen Kane me; we’re talking regime upheaval here). Now, as you continue to celebrate the crushing of DOMA and Prop 8 (and toss some extra confetti for Pride Month while you’re at it), peruse Slant’s own list of LGBT movies you owe it to yourself to see. Curated by co-founder and film editor Ed Gonzalez, this 50-wide roster is a singular trove of queer-themed gems and classics, spanning the past eight decades and reflecting artists as diverse as Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. You won’t find The Birdcage among our ranks, but you will find Paul Morrissey’s Trash, Ira Sach’s The Delta, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy. Consider the list a hat tip to what’s shaped up to be a banner LGBT year, particularly on screen, with lesbian romance Blue Is the Warmest Color taking top honors at Cannes, and Xavier Dolan releasing the masterful Laurence Anyways, which also made our cut. R. Kurt Osenlund

A Lover’s Discourse: Terence Davies’s Films

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A Lover’s Discourse: Terence Davies’s Films
A Lover’s Discourse: Terence Davies’s Films

In a dark room, two women regard each other, the older one cloaked in shadow, the younger one better lit but turned away. The older is caring for her sick husband, wrapped up in bed sheets, while the younger thinks of killing herself due to the pangs of lost, despised love. “Sometimes it’s tough to judge when you’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea,” she says, a little bent over, to which her staunch, stiff counterpart snaps back: “A lot of rubbish is talked about love. You know what real love is? It’s wiping someone’s ass, or changing the sheets when they’ve wet themselves, and letting ’em keep their dignity so you can both go on. Suicide? No one’s worth it.”

The moment comes late in Terence Davies’s new film, The Deep Blue Sea, which opens theatrically tomorrow, and a sneak preview of which began the BAMcinématek’s retrospective of the British director’s nine-film career (next week, Film Forum will screen a new 35mm print of 1992’s gently gliding The Long Day Closes). This Deep Blue Sea scene, coming late into the story of a London woman struggling to move on post-WWII and post-love, in some ways sets the tone for all of Davies’s work.

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: ALPS and The Deep Blue Sea

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Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>ALPS</em> and <em>The Deep Blue Sea</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>ALPS</em> and <em>The Deep Blue Sea</em>

ALPS: A Golden Novak Djokavic, in recognition of otherworldly improvement in 2011, goes to Giorgos Lanthimos for ALPS, his follow-up to the wildly overpraised Dogtooth. This change for the better comes mainly as a result of Lanthimos’s willingness to treat his formidable visual prowess as a means for complicating his story, a reversal of the near identical match between form and content that rendered Dogtooth a numbingly efficient idea-delivery machine. It also helps that the ideas here, concerning not only grief, but the entire process of the cinema itself as a location for the projection and consumption of desires and the danger of these processes, are both richer and more specific than the powerfully vague critique of authoritarianism offered by Dogtooth. A number of the film’s detractors thus far have complained that Lanthimos’s expansion of the stylized deadpan of Dogtooth’s sealed unit into ALPS’s open world somehow makes the latter less believable, which seems roughly the equivalent to me of faulting The Band Wagon because it’s unlikely that a perfectly choreographed number can break out inside a barbershop.

"I Love Slobs": 2010 Year in Review

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“I Love Slobs”: 2010 Year in Review
“I Love Slobs”: 2010 Year in Review

I hate hotshots. According to the movies I got out to see, 2010 was yet another parade of hotshots behind the camera, emboldened by mastery of new, completely superfluous technologies (I don’t give a damn what camera you shot on—not if the mechanical, pre-determined results might as well have been captured on an old Mitchell 35mm camera) and agitated by market demands into ever more efficient, bottom-line modes of production (prediction: new Academy Award categories for Best Workflow and Fastest Turnaround). Many critics love hotshots. Hotshots appear to have their shit together. They may not tell stories in any truly memorable or honest way, but their speed, Tinkertoy complexity and relentlessness almost look like grace and agility when you’re desperate for a thrill. I love slobs. Movies with their greasy shirttail sticking out. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, not Kanye West. We have to stop rewarding slickness and boldness for their own sake. We have to re-learn the visual language and emotional acuity that all these hotshots are too business-adroit to be bothered with. Or else we’re doomed. Okay, this rundown of 2010 flicks emphasizes what I suspect the directors were up to. It’s still a director’s medium, you know, despite the growing sensation that “director” now means “savvy producer type with sparkling credit and advanced software skills.”