PRINT December 2014


James Quandt

Jean-Luc Godard, Adieu au langage (Goodbye to Language), 2014, 3-D digital video, color, sound, 70 minutes. Woman at book stand (Marie Ruchat).

1 GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (Jean-Luc Godard) Godard’s thrilling valediction bids farewell to the word and the world, its 3-D effects evoking both the antic (GoPro) and the antique (stereoscope).

2 AMOUR FOU (Jessica Hausner) One of the great films about the nature of love, Hausner’s precisionist chronicle of the suicide pact between Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel draws on the paintings of Vermeer and Marie-Denise Villers and brilliantly employs lieder by Mozart and Beethoven—the most telling use of period performance since Straub-Huillet’s 1968 Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach.

3 HORSE MONEY (Pedro Costa) The Portuguese director’s ghostly codicil to his Fontainhas trilogy transpires in the catacombs of memory.

4 DAS SPEKTRUM EUROPAS (Cristi Puiu) In this minatory bedroom farce, Puiu’s contribution to the anthology film The Bridges of Sarajevo, two shots and two actors suffice to conjure a century of nationalistic catastrophe, as a woman’s bedtime reading of Hermann Keyserling’s 1928 vituperation of southeastern Europe sparks her husband’s own xenophobic tirade.

5 HILL OF FREEDOM (Hong Sang-soo) The latest of the director’s time-twisting comedies of social discomfort and linguistic disarticulation turns a Seoul guest-house into a refuge for hapless interlopers.

Pedro Costa, Cavalo dinheiro (Horse Money), 2014, digital video, color, sound, 104 minutes. Vitalina Varela.

6 JAUJA (Lisandro Alonso) The coda to the Argentinian auteur’s perplexing western plays as if the Resnais of Life Is a Bed of Roses had suddenly hijacked an absurdist version of The Searchers.

7 THE TRIBE (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy) The debut film of the year, from the Ukraine, Slaboshpytskiy’s grim account of a young deaf-mute’s descent into thugdom hews to the tropes of “slow cinema” but achieves great force and originality by refusing to use a single spoken word or to subtitle its copious sign language.

8 TIMBUKTU (Abderrahmane Sissako) Grace and restraint might appear inapt for a portrait of jihadist terror, but Sissako’s account of the imposition of sharia law in his home country of Mali, despite many tonal lapses (especially the mad shamaness), achieves its power through temperance.

9 ABOVE AND BELOW THE MINHOCÃO (Mark Lewis) Lewis’s recent digital videos (shown at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto) combine the gravity-defying camerawork of Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba, the rigorous landscape portraiture of Snow’s La région centrale, and, here, the paranoid enigmas of Coppola’s The Conversation.

10 AUGUST WINDS (Gabriel Mascaro) This luxuriant Brazilian tale of sex and death amid the coconut trees opens as a tattoo-obsessed young woman, supine in a fishing skiff, douses her body with Coca-Cola as she listens to the Lewd’s “Kill Yourself.” The pause refreshes, but not for long.

James Quandt, Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto, is the editor of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Wallflower Press, 2009) and Robert Bresson (Revised) (University of Indiana Press, 2012).