TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT December 2019

film

J. Hoberman

J. Hoberman is a recovering film critic. 

Sergei Loznitsa, Gosudarstvennyye Pokhorony (State Funeral), 2019, 2K video, color and black-and-white, sound, 135 minutes.

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STATE FUNERAL (Sergei Loznitsa) 

The official footage documenting the pageantry around Joseph Stalin’s death—reorchestrated here by Loznitsa—is a totalitarian spectacle that, in its interplay of leader and mass, is a sort of found Triumph of the Will starring a “dead god” (Loznitsa’s phrase) in a carnation-red coffin. The Trial (2018), another Loznitsa film, might serve as a prologue—long-lost footage from an early show trial that was evidently shot for an audience of one still-living god.

Pietro Marcello, Martin Eden, 2019, 16 mm transferred to 2K video, color, sound, 126 minutes. Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) and Elena Orsini (Jessica Cressy).

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MARTIN EDEN (Pietro Marcello)

Bursting with ideas, Marcello’s brilliantly disjunctive adaptation of Jack London’s quasi-autobiographical novel about an uneducated sailor’s stubborn self-reinvention as a freelance writer is a mad, brawny character study as well as a cheerfully anachronistic meditation on Italian political history.

Nadav Lapid, Synonyms, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 123 minutes. Yoav (Tom Mercier), Emile (Quentin Dolmaire), and Caroline (Louise Chevillotte).

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SYNONYMS (Nadav Lapid)

An artful act of cinematic aggression by the director of Policeman (2011) and The Kindergarten Teacher (2014) places a supremely alienated Israeli expat in France—or maybe inside a French movie—with hilarious, troubling, and continuously surprising results.

Ken Jacobs, The Sky Socialist: Environs and Out-Takes, 2019, 8 mm transferred to digital video, color, silent, 85 minutes.

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THE SKY SOCIALIST: ENVIRONS AND OUT-TAKES_ (Ken Jacobs)

Originally shot in 8 mm, these newly released outtakes from the great film artist’s mid-’60s paean to a vanishing Lower Manhattan neighborhood in the throes of urban renewal—if not wholesale destruction—are a pulverized city symphony and an archaeological trove.

5
“JORDAN BELSON: PAINTINGS 1950–1965” (Matthew Marks Gallery, New York)

The acme of post-Tibetan hippie modernism, Belson’s movies took on heightened thereness for being shown in the context of his no less fastidious, Electric Kool-Aid–minimalist mandalas, most of them never before publicly exhibited.

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48 WAR MOVIES
 (Christian Marclay)

The exact opposite of Belson’s installation, Marclay’s concentric simultaneous projection is an optical circus and an audio headbanger. The rectangular vortex is as compulsively watchable as The Clock, 2010, but its pinball-rhythm cacophony is far harder on the eye-brain.

7
“TEN DOCUMENTARY SHORTS BY VITTORIO DE SETA” (New York Film Festival)

Hyper-Neorealism. Made in the 1950s, in color, sometimes wide-screen, and mainly in Southern Italy, De Seta’s “timeless” docs on the lives of working people provide a luminous postscript to the movement that shook the film world.

Mary Harron, Charlie Says, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 111 minutes. Charles Manson (Matt Smith) and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón).

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CHARLIE SAYS (Mary Harron)

Gotta admit that, despite its flaws, I enjoyed Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood. However, Charlie Says is the Manson movie that, in focusing on the cult’s hypnotized members, truly speaks to our moment.

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CLIMAX_ (Gaspar Noé)

A vigorous dance rehearsal segues into an LSD-fueled orgy of bad behavior and crazy disinhibition. Cine provocateur Noé’s latest outrage is not just a technical tour de force but also a resonant exercise in visceral moral philosophy: Why do we watch, and just what do we want to see (or unsee)?

10
OLIVIA
(Jacqueline Audry)

An altogether more stately dance of love and repression, all but unknown here before its recent revival, this 1951 film reintroduces a long-dead director—a pal of Sartre and de Beauvoir’s with a pronounced interest in Second Sex themes who, disdained by the New Wave, is long overdue for reevaluation.