PRINT December 2018


James Quandt

Wang Bing, Dead Souls, 2018, HD video, color, sound, 506 minutes.

DEAD SOULS (Wang Bing) Wang’s epic eight-hour-long documentary about the Maoist reeducation camps of the 1950s collects the clandestine testimony of survivors in a heroic act of historical witness.

Jean-Luc Godard, Le livre d’image (The Image Book), 2018, HD video, color, sound, 84 minutes.

2 THE IMAGE BOOK (Jean-Luc Godard) A surging requiem for a world addicted to its own annihilation.

Marcello Pagliero, Un homme marche dans la ville (A Man Walks in the City), 1950, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 85 minutes. Production still.

UN HOMME MARCHE DANS LA VILLE (1950) (Marcello Pagliero) The revelation of the mini-retrospective dedicated to the Italian-French auteur Pagliero at II Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, this neorealist noir set in Le Havre deserves classic status.

Thomas Bayrle, Superstars, 1993, digital video, color, sound, 9 minutes.

THOMAS BAYRLE (New Museum, New York) The films and videos of the German Pop artist transmute his trademark “super-form” serialism into works of careening wit and beauty.

Mariano Llinás, La flor (The Flower), 2018, digital video, color, sound, 807 minutes.

THE MANET AND RAVEL SEQUENCES FROM LA FLOR (Mariano Llinás) In a film-fleuve that repeatedly bursts its banks—exhilaration turns to exasperation as its fourteen-hour span arrives at its last two episodes—the sequence in which several Manet paintings are superimposed over Parisian locales and the one in which a Ravel piano concerto accompanies soulful documentary footage of the film’s quartet of formidable actresses provide something akin to bliss.

ELEGANT BEAST (1962) (Yuzo Kawashima) The dazzling 4K restoration of this merciless satire of postwar Japanese materialism—a full-on family freak-out shot in Scope and set almost entirely in one cramped apartment—should encourage a full-scale retrospective of Kawashima’s brilliant work.

BURNING (Lee Chang-dong) Lee transposes Haruki Murakami’s 1992 short story “Barn Burning” from Tokyo to Korea and greatly amplifies, to potent effect, the premise of class tension.

THE LOAD (Ognjen Glavonić) In a year of many impressive debuts, Serbian director Glavonić’s first feature proved the most masterful in its clenched, elliptical portrait of a truck driver ferrying an unidentified consignment cross-country during the Kosovo war.

AYKA (Sergey Dvortsevoy) This intense tranche of Moscow miserabilism owes too much to the Dardenne brothers’ close-quarters aesthetic, but the performance of Samal Yeslyamova as the eponymous undocumented immigrant, on the run from officials, loan sharks, landlords, and the maternity ward where she has abandoned her baby, is searing.

10 O CADERNO NEGRO (Valeria Sarmiento) The ghost of director Raúl Ruiz hovers over his widow’s delectable eighteenth-century tale of interlocking patrimonial enigmas; like Ruiz’s sprawling Mysteries of Lisbon (2010), the film is based on a novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, but is more restrained in both mode and mass.

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