Film

  • Mixed Messages

    “HAVE YOU HEARD OF ‘AFROFUTURISM’?” responds the young artist, when her photographer asks why she’s hanging that ridiculous arrangement of electrical sockets over her painted face. “It’s this thing…it’s really big right now…and white people really like it for some reason.”

    With the international premiere of this brief, bold, and hilarious artworld satire, This One Went to Market?, 2017, from Nairobi-based filmmaker Jim Chuchu’s brilliant new webseries “We Need Prayers,” 2017–, produced together with the ten-member strong Nest Collective, the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam was launched

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  • Lazy Sunday

    APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL ONCE JOKED in an interview that he made films for his audience to fall asleep to. Well, perhaps it was more like a half-joke. The director’s SleepCinemaHotel (2018), one of the highlights of this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam, puts this idea into practice. Installed in the Zaal Staal of the city’s Postillion Convention Center WTC, the twenty beds on platforms of varying heights could be booked by guests for an overnight stay to take in the 120-hour-long film—featuring footage Apichatpong compiled from the archives of the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam

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  • Final Cut

    ONE OF THE WORLD’S most prolific filmmakers, the late, great Raúl Ruiz is on view again at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which is presenting part two of the retrospective it began in December 2016, one of the highlights of the year. This round offers such rarities as The Insomniac on the Bridge (1985), The Blind Owl (1987), Comedy of Innocence (2000), and Mammame (1986)—a film record of Jean-Claude Gallotta’s nine-person dance performance. It also includes Night Across the Street (2012), Ruiz’s final film, and a weeklong run of Time Regained (1999), his adaptation of Proust’s In Search of

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  • A River Runs Through It

    “WHY THE HELL IS GREGG ARAKI HANGING OUT WITH A BUNCH OF GROSS JOCKS ANYWAY?” This might be the natural question to ask after watching the director responsible for evil treats such as The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997)—not to mention the ghoulish Mysterious Skin (2004)—direct an episode of Riverdale, the CW’s 2017 reactivation of the Archie comic-book mythology as supposedly dark teen drama. With Araki’s freakier impulses tamed to meet the demands of network television, his explosive presence can be hard to detect. Nobody is smoking; nobody is a goofy homosexual hot for oblivion played

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  • Dark Comedy

    THIS YEAR is the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman. It is being celebrated with a retrospective at Film Forum in New York and multiple events throughout the year at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley—a wonderful opportunity for film buffs to acquaint or reacquaint themselves with one of the giants of film history. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1950s, Bergman wrote screenplays and directed more than a dozen movies. But after the international success of the elegant comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)—the source of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music—followed

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  • Dear You

    HOW LUXURIOUS TO BE ALONE in a theater for a double-bill screening of two love-rhymes-with-hideous-car-wreck films at Spectacle Theater. French director and actor Emmanuelle Bercot’s Backstage (2005) and German director and writer Eckhart Schmidt’s Der Fan (1982) suggest that fandom, like a diamond, is forever. In each, the center of gravity is a younger girl pining for an older pop star, seeing her idol as the physical embodiment of the love that she longs for—at least as a one-way ticket out of banality.

    Horror makes a major of the minor, an opera out of suggestion, and treats fantasy as

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  • Valeska Grisebach’s Western

    IN THE VERY FIRST SHOT of Western, a German/Bulgarian production written and directed by Valeska Grisebach and released this month, a tall, lanky, casually dressed man crosses a street, walks toward the camera, and enters a building. The shot, like the man, seems nondescript—typical, in fact, of the film’s unfussy demeanor and in keeping with its working-class atmosphere. It’s representative of a style and a territory that this director blends with uncanny skill. Like the work of Argentinean filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, Grisebach’s films are few and far between, but each leaves an indelible

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  • Point of No Return

    I.

    INTERVIEWER: Is Laura Palmer really dead?

    DAVID LYNCH: Ummm. [Thirteen-second pause.] I’m pretty sure.

    —Lynch on CBC Radio, 1990

    LAURA WAS DEAD, but her problems kept hanging around. It was as if they hadn’t buried her deep enough, to quote from her best friend’s scream by Laura’s grave in the Twin Peaks, Washington, cemetery where her body, unwrapped from plastic, had been inhumed six days earlier in 1989. One problem was the body itself. Another was the family, where odds are made. As for the rest, they were the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, the only thing worth writing

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  • Journey to the East

    MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI ARRIVED IN CHINA IN MAY OF 1972, about seven hundred years after Marco Polo and a few months after Richard Milhous Nixon. The People’s Republic of China, established in 1949, was then coming out of more than a decade-long period of almost total diplomatic estrangement, the thaw overseen by premier Zhou Enlai with the permission of the sick, senescent, and increasingly erratic Mao Zedong after the official close of the morally and materially catastrophic Cultural Revolution. During the preceding period of isolation, precious few images of China had been seen abroad, and so

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  • Readers and Writers

    DOCUMENTARIES AND MOVIES that trouble the line between fiction and nonfiction have become increasingly present at film festivals. And as was true of the avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s, which embraced everything from psychodramas and diary films to lyric flights and reflections on the medium, no one word or phrase encompasses the varieties of nonfiction cinema. Yet the strongest entries in both nonfiction and the avant-garde at this year’s First Look series overshadow the few narrative films included.

    Some might consider docudrama the best word to describe Pawel Lozinski’s You Have No Idea

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  • Tailor Swift

    HOW TO DESCRIBE Paul Thomas Anderson’s magnificently daft Phantom Thread, a movie as precise as it is delirious. To borrow from Stanley Cavell, it’s a comedy of courtship, marriage, and remarriage. Comedy, however, may be too clear-cut a designation for this story about the intimate life of a couple from first attraction to a precarious arrangement of power, for which no one would write a lifetime warranty. Beyond the dazzling performances of Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville; the swooping and/or oddly angled luminous 35-mm cinematography by Anderson himself; and the almost

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  • Aftermaths and Undergrounds

    IN 2001, MARTHA ROSLER coined the term “post-documentary” to describe the unusual status of “social documentary photography in the postmodern world”—a moment in which the form’s claims to transparency, objectivity, and authenticity were everywhere under scrutiny. It’s a scenario that’s familiar enough sixteen years later: Suspicion of media in general and images in particular is widespread to the point of numbing banality, and yet no less dizzying. With endless hand-wringing over “fake news” and the politics of distraction, the little cinematic category we call “documentary” and its “

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