Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:52 am 
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New Directors/New Films, presented jointly by and at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, runs from March 15-26 this year. Here are comments and recommendations followed by an index to my reviews of all 29 films of the series.

There were two powerful documentaries about African American experience. Yance Ford's Strong Island is a searing personal memoir of how the murder of a family member 23 years ago tore apart their lives and deepened their cynicism. Jonathan Olshevskii is a white still photographer who came to shoot the North Philly rap studio of Christopher Rainey, known, as is the film, as Quest - and spent years shooting the whole remarkable family. A story of love, heart, and sharing in the community in ways that transcend poverty.

Otherwise if there were no absolutely great films, there were a number of good ones, some rich in blending the personal and the political and some full of poetry and emotion.

Several with gay content include 4 Days in France/Jours de France (Jérôme Reybaud 2016), the whimsical "fugue" of a boyfriend across France from his Parisian lover full of odd encounters and poetry; and Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman) about a hunky but badly confused Brooklyn teenager acting macho with his posse by day and cruising sex sites by night hooking up with older gay men.

Set in a not too dissimilar poor greater New York milieu is Geremy Jasper's Patti Cake$, the US indie hit of the fest, about a feisty white fat girl struggling to become a rapper. But I am not a fan of this Sundance film and it doesn't need my hyping. I'd rather recommend documentary filmmaker Joshua Weinstein's feature debut Menashe, the touching Orthodox Jewish drama of a bereaved dad struggling to be a mensch and regain custody of his young son. Menashe has some of the fest's most authentic emotion.

At the opposite extreme is William Oldroyd's elegant and shocking period drama of a killer female, Lady Macbeth, based on an 1860's Russian novella. Wicked!

Otherwise, there were some more exotic films that had poetry and beauty, three of them in particular. Dumans and Uchoa's Arábia is a novelistic, dreamy exploration of a lonely working-class life over a decade wandering all over Brazil. Also from South America is Nele Wohlatz's whimsical, though-provoking The Future Perfect, about a young Chinese girl learning Spanish and through it exploring a new life in Buenos Aires. From Cambodia comes the beautiful, dreamy, hypnotic coming-of-age film from Davy Chou, Diamond Island. This is a film drunk with the visual.

I can also recommend Zhang Daiei's Summer Is Gone, a black-and-white coming-of-age tale set in Inner Mangolia in the early Nineties that bears comparison withf both Edward Yang and Jia Zhang-ke; and the fast-moving, bright-colored political drug thriller about Mali, Wùlu (Dauda Coulibaly). Some will be fascinated by the artful meandering of another exotic tale blending the personal and the political, Depak Rauniyar's White Sun.


Here are Links to my reviews of all the films of the series:
4 Days in France/Jours de France (Jérôme Reybaud 2016)
Albüm (Mehmet Can Mertoglu 2016)
Arábia (João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa 2017)
Autumn, Autumn/Chuncheon, Chuncheon (Jang Woo-jin 2017)
Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman 2017) Centerpiece Film
By the Time It Gets Dark/Dao khanong (Anocha Suwichakornpong 2016)
Boundaries/Pays (Chloé Robichaud 2016)
Challenge, The (Yuri Ancarani 2016)
Diamond Island (Davy Chou 2016)
Dreamed Path, The/Der Traumhafte Weg (Angela Schanelec 2016)
Future Perfect, The/El Futuro Perfecto (Nele Wohlatz 2016)
Giant, The/Jätten (Johannes Nyholm 2016)
Happiness Academy/Bonheur académie (Kaori Kinoshita & Alain Della Negra 2017)
Happy Times Will Come Soon/I tempi felici verranno presto (Alessandro Comodin 2016)
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd 2016)
Last Family, The/Ostatnia Rodzina (Jan P. Matuszynski 2106)
Last of Us, The/Akhar Wahid Fina 2016)
Menashe (Joshoa Z. Weinstein 2016)
My Happy Family/Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi ((Naa Ekvtimiishvili, Simon Gross 2017)
Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper 2017) Opening Night Film
Pendular (Julia Murat 2017)
Person to Person (Dustin Guy Defa 2017) Closing Night
Quest (Jonathan Olshefski 2016)
Sexy Durga (Sanal Kumar Sasidharan 2017)
Strong Island (Yance Ford 2017)
Summer Is Gone/Ba yue (Zhang Dalei 2016)
White Sun/Seto Surya (Depak Rauniyar 2016)
Wound, The (John Trengove 2017)
Wùlu (Daouda Coulibaly 2016)

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