TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT December 2020

film

Cassie da Costa

Cassie da Costa is a staff writer for Vanity Fair and a commissioning editor for the queer and feminist film journal Another Gaze.

Leilah Weinraub, Shakedown, 2018, digital video, color, sound, 70 minutes. Jazmyne.

1
SHAKEDOWN (Leilah Weinraub)

Finally available to stream (on Pornhub.com) after years of distribution roadblocks due to the documentary’s nudity, Weinraub’s film develops a new theory of entertainment and economics in its portrait of the eponymous Los Angeles lesbian strip club.

Claire Denis, Beau Travail, 1999, 35 mm transferred to 4K video, color, sound, 93 minutes. Galoup (Denis Lavant) and Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor).

2
BEAU TRAVAIL RERELEASE (Claire Denis)

It’s not really a title you can satisfyingly translate to English, and the film feels like that too. Janus’s restoration, supervised by cinematographer Agnès Godard, offers occasion to bathe in its blues and blister in its grains.

David Sallitt, Fourteen, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 94 minutes. Mara (Tallie Medel) and Jo Mitchel (Norma Kuhling).

3
FOURTEEN (Dan Sallitt)

Tallie Medel as Mara pierces you with a simultaneous sense of awe and guardedness as she loves a friend who needs more than she could ever give. Sallitt, through what seems like magic, breathes air into the domestic-drama form.

4
THE ASSISTANT (Kitty Green)

Degraded by a thousand cuts, Julia Garner’s Jane scrambles through a day (and night) in her coveted low-level job at a fictionalized version of Harvey Weinstein’s production company. Green reframes the oversimplified #MeToo narrative by showing how the entertainment industry’s various abuses are rooted in labor exploitation.

Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, Advocate, 2019, HD video, color and black-and-white, sound, 108 minutes. Lea Tsemel.

5
ADVOCATE (Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche)

There’s perhaps no one better situated to lay bare the violence and futility of the colonial court system than its most tireless public defender. Jones follows Jewish Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who fiercely represents Palestinian clients accused of terrorism.

6
EMPTY METAL (Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer)

Who’s going to hold the spirit of punk to its radical founding principles? Khalil and Sweitzer wager that it’s those being gentrified out of Bushwick who best understand its slippery counterculture—and what it might be good for.

Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems, 2019, 35 mm, color, sound, 135 minutes. Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) and Julia De Fiore (Julie Fox).

7
UNCUT GEMS (Josh and Benny Safdie)

It’s less of a ride and more of a search, if you’re bold enough to stay with it. The Safdies made a film of extreme and twisted optimism, which is, at least in the US, a self-sacrifice.

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet, 2019, 2K video, color, sound, 125 minutes. Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) and Anger (Aria Brooks).

8
HARRIET (Kasi Lemmons)

It’s easy to misunderstand it if you’re watching it not as a film but instead as a term paper. Lemmons succeeds where she explicitly avoids writing one. 

Brett Story, The Hottest August, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 95 minutes.

9
THE HOTTEST AUGUST (Brett Story)

Story uses art rather than polemic to capture the languor, corruption, and disappointment that live on in New York City and beyond—and even more, she makes you care.

10
ATLANTICS (Mati Diop)

The much-praised film is more than a clever staging of good ideas; it’s a romantic risk, a gradual drift toward what we can’t yet touch.

11
FIRST COW 
(Kelly Reichardt)

But wait, there’s more––

In the #11 video series, Artforum invites contributors to add one more thing to their 2020 Top 10 list. Below, Cassie da Costa on Kelly Reichardt's First Cow (2019), an anticapitalist parable of tender companionship and survival.