CONTENTS PAGE 3 EDITORIAL 4 ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD A faded Television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywoodâ€™s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
8 Non-Fiction Set in the Parisian publishing world, an editor and an author find themselves in over their heads, as they cope with a middle-age crisis, the changing industry and their wives.
12 BAIT Martin is a fisherman without a boat. His brother Steven having repurposed it as a tourist tripper with their childhood home now a get-away for London money. Martin is displaced to the estate above the harbour.
16 FILMFEST FOLLOWER London Film Festival 2019 Programme
22 FILMFEST FOLLOWER New York Film Festival 2019 Programme
32 POSTER Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
PHOTO CREDITS: COLUMBIA PICTURES: 1,4,6,7,32 CURZON ARTIFICIAL EYE:8,10,11 EARLY DAY FILMS:14,15
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank the following: Jake Garriock @ Curzon Artificial Eye Lydia Debus @ DDAPR
EDITORIAL WELCOME TO THE LATEST ISSUE OF MOVIES BY MILLS! LAST THURSDAY WE WERE AMONG OTHER JOURNALISTS WHO WERE AT THE ODEON LUXE LEICESTER SQUARE TO VIEW THE BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL LAUNCH. THE PROGRAMME FOR THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL WHICH WILL BE HELD ON OCTOBER 2ND – 13TH WHAT A PROGRAMME THAT WILL BE. We whet your appetite in the FilmFest Follower feature in this month’s issue. We also look at what was on offer at the New York Film Festival too. Our cover feature review is the 9th film from Quentin Tarantino – “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” This film is a gem for cinephiles and Tarantino’s most personal film and his career-best. Other reviews are “Non-Fiction” about the publishing in Paris and his battle to get his book published against the pressures of online publishing. There is also a review of an independent film shot in 16mm – “Bait”
Enjoy the read
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD Directed by Quentin Tarantino Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie. That was the best acting I’ve seen in my whole life. - Trudie Thank you - Rick Dalton This is Quentin Tarantino’s most personal film – a love affair with Los Angeles and a reflection on a dark period in Hollywood history in 1969, which is fabricated here to show his heartfelt reasoning to highlight an actress named Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, who is starstruck and is married to Roman Polanski and is pregnant with his child and meets a tragic death. Footage of the real Sharon Tate is seen in the sequence which has Margot Robbie playing Sharon Tate in a movie theatre watching Sharon in a scene with Dean Martin from “The Wrecking Crew” , and so we are watching Margot watching Margot, so there are three layers going on here. How did Margot Robbie go about playing Sharon? “Almost everything I know about her life; I didn’t know before. So, it was really from the beginning and I loved watching her films and reading the run-ups to the memories of her. She seemed truly like the most kind and generous and sweetest fun-loving person. It is evident in the way people spoke about her as this ‘light up the room and glowing kind of effect on people’s lives.” The title of “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is inspired by Tarantino’s favourite director Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time in The West” and “Once Upon A Time In America”. Other influences on him have been Sergio Corbucci’s “The Great Silence” and the French director Claude Lelouch. Here, Tarantino’s latest film is about Rick Dalton, (Leonardo Di Caprio) seeing his once high-rated career as a top TV Western star bite the dust. His best friend and stunt double: Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who according to rumour killed his ex-wife, has been blacklisted in the industry. Dalton owns a house on Cielo Drive in Benedict Dive, next to director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawieruchal and his pregnant wife Sharon 4
Tate (Margot Robbie) while Cliff Booth lives in a battered trailer behind a Drive-In.
Tarantino interweaves the relationship between his fictional characters with real ones. Charles Manson (Damion Herriman) and his wild followers murder plan is to target Polanski’s and Tate’s house. It is based on the original murder plan to kill Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son) whom Manson blamed for his singer/songwriter failure. It is Terry’s house that Polanski and Tate are renting. What makes this film such an impressive masterpiece are the steps of perfection, purposefulness and planning that Tarantino took to get the film made. Before he started shooting, he knew what music he wanted to play and, in this case, it was the sound of KHJ RADIO. It is the backdrop of the movie. It would have been the music he would have heard as a child growing up. They had KHJ Radio checks from that era pounding the whole time when they were out location scouting. Some of the songs that were popular in Los Angeles were not that popular in the rest of the country; he chose some of those. Also, the sound of the commercials which came on. It was played at a similar volume, and the deejays talking, that was part of the collage he wanted. He knew most of the songs he was going to use. You can listen to the music afterwards and it feels like re-watching the movie. The music weaves smoothly through the characters – it keeps 1969 alive. Summertime performed by Billy Stewart. MacArthur Park performed by Robert Goulet. Son Of A Lovin’ Man performed by Buchanan Brothers. Kentucky Woman performed by Neil Diamond. Out of Time performed by The Rolling Stones. You Keep Me Hanging On performed by Vanilla Fudge. Green Door performed by Leonardo Di Caprio. Can’t Turn You Loose by Otis Reading. And over the end credits: California Dreamin: performed by Jose Feliciano. Whatever you do, do not leave the cinema immediately the movie ends, as there is a great after credit sequence showing Leonardo Di Caprio in character as Rick Dalton doing a commercial for Red Apple cigarettes. It is an apt touch by Tarantino about the business of being an actor. When the film premiered at Cannes it received a 7-minute standing ovation. It made such an impact that a large number of people, including film executives, weren’t able to get in. Journalists queued for two hours before the film’s 4.30om., press screening. When the attendants came to the entrance barrier at the theatre at about 3.50pm to start admitting attendees, a round of applause went up. Yes, this is Tarantino’s most personal film and undoubtedly his best. Come Oscar Night, you can expect statuettes to be handed out to Tarantino, Di-Caprio, and an immensely talented young actress named Julia Butters who plays Trudi.
Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Manson (Damian Herriman) and Tarantino on the set of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood 6
Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and crew on set of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
Rick Dalton (Leonardo Di Caprio) in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
NON-FICTION Directed by Olivier Assayas Starring: Guillaume Canet, Juliette Binoche, Vincent Macaigne I read his manuscript. He wrote about his sordid affairs. - Alain Danielson A narrative that is about books is bound to be wordy and this is no exception and suggests that it might have been better presented as a play rather than a film. Set in the Parisian publishing world, an editor and an author find themselves in over their heads, as they cope with a middle-age crisis, the changing industry and their wives. Alain refuses to publish Leonard Spiegiel (Vincent Macaigne) newest book possibly because Leonard has a habit of disguising well known people in his characters, this time may be Selena, wife of Alain and lover of Leonard. After six years of this, do you not think Alain might know? Of course. The chatting that goes on becomes a little dog-eared after awhile, but it is essential to the movie because it leads up to Alain pivotal point of a digital revolution that is not just knocking at the publisher’s world door but is hammering at it. Somehow there appears, what in retrospect, looks like a gaping hole that is filled subjectively with algorithms predicting what people will like and what they already showing signs of choosing at the expense of selecting digital reading instead of books. Well, of course, it is already happening, and they are coexisting: e-books and hardbacks: Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Foyles. One of the delights of this film is the comedic moments of which there are many. Years after his first best-seller, Leonard’s writing career has faded, and he confesses: “My other books have been worst sellers. I don’t want to add more to the deforestation.” He submitted his latest manuscript to his friend and publisher Alain, who politely rejects it because he considers “more of the same”. Selena (Juliette Binoche) disagrees, but how much of that 8
is emotionally entangled with their ongoing affair is hard to judge. Unbeknown to Alain, Selena is cheating on him, Alain is cheating on Selena too, sleeping with Laure (Christina Theret), a digital strategist he’s hired to modernize the publishing company. It was very refreshing to see Guillaume Canet again, an actor who has the ability to slip his way into a role like putting on a pair of slippers. Here again, he makes the role of a man facing the changes that are inevitable in the publishing world his own. Canet adds “Non-Fiction to an impressive filmography which includes the action thriller “Tell No One” in which he starred and directed. What is totally believable about “Non-Fiction” is Alain’s publishing beliefs and where it is going or not and the feasibility of that. His repulsion and changes brought about a new generation feel tangible precisely because of Oliver Assayas, the film’s director, never mocks the youngsters challenging the establishment, but allows them ample time to formulate pertinent points which Alain, in his quixotic and nostalgic fight to safeguard the integrity of traditional publishing, is ill-prepared to fight. How do you argue for the sake of print books if their prices make them unaffordable to the masses? And how can you gloss away over the democratizing potential of an all-digital publishing world? In this film which is really a docu/drama which shows the continuing rift old and new trends in the publishing industry to conjure up a tale of societal changes and those caught between them. The prospect of sitting through endless dinner parties where affluent bourgeois debate the future of literature only to quietly backstab each other on a roundabout of extramarital liaisons may sound familiar particularly to the stereotyped character played by Juliette Binoche but it is at times a pleasurable ride, if rather nauseous at times.
UK Release Date October 18th
Leonard Spiegiel (Vincent Macaigne) in Non-Fiction
Alain (Guillaume Canet) in Non-Fiction
Selena (Juliette Binoche) and Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) in Non-Fiction
Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) and Laure (Christina Theret) in Non-Fiction
BAIT Directed by Mark Jenkin Starring: Edward Rowe, Mary Woodvine, Simon Shepherd You own the bloody street! I work in the harbour, I’m a bloody fisherman! - Martin Ward Martin Ward (Edward Rowe) is a fisherman without a boat, his brother Stephen having repurposed it as a tourist tripper. With their childhood home now a get-away for London money, Martin is displaced to the estate above the harbour. His presence is heralded by an angry voice and marching feet and his presence is long felt after he has gone.
“Bait” is a bold film that arouses the interest in experimental filmmaking by challenging the ways that are blocking one from producing their work and breaking them down to reach an audience that would never have a chance to see such a film. Cornishman Mark Jenkin shot his film with a Bolex cine-camera on 16mm film and developed it in a way to create ghostly images with scratches on the print. It is a brave thing to do, but unavoidably reminds you that you are watching a film. Martin is saving up to buy a new boat, but tries to fish without one, wading out into the surf with a net for sea bass, trying to catch lobster with a single pot, selling the meagre catch to local pubs and cafes. He feels humiliated to do this but has to swallow his pride. Meanwhile, Steven’s son is more interested in learning how to fish than tourist-pleasing which fails to motivate him. Jenkin shows a young woman throwing a white ball at the tourists’ cottage and, before the police arrive, we see a glimpse of the handcuffs that will be used. While the same white ball is superimposed on the moon; a cinematic touch to embed into the viewer’s mind.
There are other conspicuous juxtapositions that work well like two different scenes interleaved with different characters, in close-up, 12
yelling at each other. This underlines the reason to see the film, which keen cineastes will note well. There is another thing, besides the advantages of limiting the way you make a film and that is the allure of monochrome and this film had to be made that way but it also echoes all the films that run through the mind and call to be seen again and again – the cinematic classics. And even if “Bait” doesn’t totally win you over, it will undoubtedly inveigle you to take a trip down movie lane. Films about fishing and fisherman ran through my mind and not all were dramas. A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT is one of the best. Directed by Robert Redford. Starring: Brad Pitt. It is about two sons who are devoted to fly fishing, ALAMO BAY is a close to the best. Directed by Louis Malle. Starring: Amy Madigan and Ed Harris. A Vietnam veteran faces severe problems when Vietnamese immigrants move into the fishing industry in a Texas Bat town.
Other titles worth checking out if you have not already seen them: GONE FISHIN’ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN THE PERFECT STORM TOWED IN A HOLE THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA Directed by John Sturges. Starring Spencer Tracy. An old Cuban is broken-up when he hooks a gigantic fish that drags him out to sea. LOW & CLEAR JAWS The top of the top, which could only be expected from its director: Steven Spielberg.
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss. Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw The biggest star is the shark itself, which on sighting it allows Dreyfuss the memorable quote: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”. So, though “Bait” is not meant to be a blockbuster – it is still good in its own way. Go see it if you get the chance at your nearest arthouse cinema.
Martin (Edward Rowe) in Bait
Sandra Leigh (Mary Woodvine) & Tom Leigh (Simon Shepherd) in Bait 14
Martin (Edward Rowe) & Chloe (Wenna Kowalski) in Bait
Neil (Isaac Woodvine) in Bait
FILMFEST FOLLOWER BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2019 2nd to 13th OCTOBER
OPENING NIGHT GALA THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD DIRECTED BY AMANDO IANNUCCI STARRING: DEV PATEL, BEN WHISHAW, HUGH LAURIE, NIKKI AMULKA-BIRD
CLOSING NIGHT GALA THE IRISHMAN DIRECTED BY MARTIN SCORCESE STARRING: ROBERT DE NIRO, AL PACINO, JOE PESCI, HARVEY KEITEL
AMERICAN EXPRESS GALA KNIVES OUT DIRECTED BY RIAN JOHNSON STARRING: DANIEL CRAIG, CHRIS EVANS, ANA DE ARMAS, JAMIE LEE CURTIS
THE MAYOR OF LONDON’S GALA THE AERONAUTS DIRECTED BY TOM HARPER STARRING: EDDIE REDMAYNE, FELICITY JONES, HIMESH PATEL
BFI PATRONS’ GALA A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD DIRECTED BY MARIELLE HELLER STARRING: TOM HANKS, MATTHEW RHYS, SUSAN KELECHI
HEADLINE GALA GREED DIRECTED BY MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM STARRING: STEVE COOGAN, ISLA FISHER, DAVID MITCHELL
HOPE GAP DIRECTED BY WILLIAM NICHOLSON STARRING: ANNETTE BENING, BILL NIGHY
JOJO RABBIT DIRECTED BY TAIKA WAITITI STARRING: ROMAN GRIFFITH DAVIS, THOMSON MCKENZIE
LE MANS â€˜66 DIRECTED BY JAMES MANGOLD STARRING: MATT DAMON, CHRISTIAN BALE
AMERICAN AIRLINES GALA THE KING DIRECTED BY DAVID MICHOD STARRING: TIMOCHEE CHALAMET, JOEL EDGERTON, SEAN HARRIS
THE MAYFAIR HOTEL GALA MARRIAGE STORY DIRECTED BY NOAH BAUMBACH STARRING: SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ADAM DRIVER, LAURA DERN
FESTIVAL GALA EMA DIRECTED BY PABLO LARRAIN STARRING: MARIANNA D GIROLAMA, GAEL GARCIA BERGAL, PAOLA GIANNINI
FAMILY GALA ABOMINIBLE DIRECTED BY JILL CULTON STARRING: CHLOE BENNETT, TENZING NORGAY, TRAINOR
THRILL GALA BACURAU DIRECTED BY KIEBER MENDONCA STARRING: BARBARA COHEN, SONJA BRAGA, UDO KIER
LAUGH GALA THE DUDE IN ME DIRECTED BY HYO-JIN KANG STARRING: JIN-JOUNG JUNG, SUNG-WOONG PARK, MI-RAN RA
DARE GALA JUDY & PUNCH DIRECTED BY MIRRAH FOUKES STARRING: MIA WASIKOWSKA, DAMON HERRIMAN, TOM BUDGE
CULT GALA THE LIGHTHOUSE DIRECTED BY ROBERT EGGERS STARRING: WILLEM DAFOE, ROBERT PATTINSON, VALERIA KARAMAN
DEBATE GALA OFFICIAL SECRETS DIRECTED BY GAVIN HOOD STARRING: KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, MATT SMITH, RALPH FIENNES
LOVE GALA THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON DIRECTED BY MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, TYLER NILSON STARRING: SHAI LABEOUF, DAKOTA JOHNSON, ZACK GOTTSAGEN
JOURNEY GALA THE TWO POPES DIRECTED BY FERNANDO MEREILLES STARRING: ANTHONY HOPKINS, JONATHAN PRYCE 18
CREATE GALA WESTERN STARS DIRECTED BY THOM ZIMMY STARRING: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS BAD EDUCATION DIRECTED BY COREY FINLAY STARRING: HUGH JACKMAN, ALLISON JANNEY, RAY ROMANO
BLACKBIRD DIRECTED BY ROGER MICHELL STARRING: SUSAN SARANDON, KATE WINSLET, MIA WASIKOWKA
BOMBAY ROSE DIRECTED BY GITANJAIL RAO STARRING: CYLI VIVEK KHARE, AMIT DEONDI GARGI SHITOLE
THE CAVE DIRECTED BY FERAS FAYAD DOCUMENTARY
FIRST LOVE DIRECTED BY TAKASHI MILIKE STARRING: MASATAKA KUBOTA, NAO OMONI, SHOTA SOMETANI
GOSTA DIRECTED BY LUKAS MOODYSSON STARRING: VILHEIM BLOMGREN, MATTIAS SILVEIL, AMY DEASISMONT
KRABI, 2562 DIRECTED BY BEN RIVERS STARRING: STEPHUN WATTANAJINDA, ARAK AMORNSUPASIRI
ARCHIVE SPECIAL PRESENTATION LOVE, LIFE AND LAUGHTER DIRECTED BY GEORGE PEARSON STARRING: BETTY BALFOUR, HARRY JONAS, FRANK STANMORE
BFI FLARE PRESENTATION PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE DIRECTED BY CELINE SCIAMMA STARRING: NOEMIE MERIANT, ADELE HAENEL, VALERIA GOLINO 19
OFFICIAL COMPETITION FANNY LYE DELIVER’D DIRECTED BY THOMAS CLAY STARRING: MAXINE PEAKE, CHARLES DANCE, FREDDIE FOX
HONEY BOY DIRECTED BY ANNA HAR’EL STARRING: SHIA LABEOUF, LUCAS HEDGES, NOAH JUPE
LINGUA FRANCA DIRECTED BY ISABEL SANDOVAL STARRING: ISABEL SANDOVAL, EAMON FARREN, LYNN COHEN
LA LLORONA DIRECTED BY JAYRO BUSTAMANTE STARRING: MARIA MERCEDES COROY, SABRINA DE LA HOZ
MOFFIE DIRECTED BY OLIVER HERMANUS STARRING: KAI LUKE BRUMMER, RYAN DE VILLIERS, MATTHEW VEY
MONOS DIRECTED BY ALEJANDRO LANDES STARRING: JULIANNE NICHOLSON, MOISES ARIES, SOFIA BUENAVENTURA
THE OTHER LAMB DIRECTED BY MAIGORZATA SZUUMOWSKA STARRING: RAFFEY CASSIDY, MICHAEL HUISMAN, DENISE GOUGH
THE PERFECT CANDIDATE DIRECTED HAIFAA A MANSOUR STARRING: MIA ALZAHRANI, DHAY, KHALID ABDULRAHIM
ROSE PLAYS JULIE DIRECTED BY MOLLROY STARRING: ANN SKELLY, ORIA BRADY, ADRIAN GILLIEN
SAINT MAUD DIRECTED BY ROSE GLASS STARRING: MORFYDD CLARK, JENNIFER EHIE 20
DEBATE BY THE GRACE OF GOD DIRECTED BY FRANCOIS OZON STARRING: MELVIL POUPAUCI, DENIS MENOCHET, SWANN ARLAUD
THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM DOCUMENTARY DRIECTED BY DANIEL GORDON
CITIZEN K DOCUMENTARY DIRECTED BY ALEX GIBNEY
CLEMENCY DIRECTED BY CHINONYE CHUKWU
COUNTY LINES DIRECTED BY HENRY BLAKE STARRING: CONRAD KHAN, ASHLEY MADEKWE, HARRIS DICKINSON
DESRANCIS DIRECTED BY APOLINE TRACRE STARRING: JIMMY JEAN-LOUIS, NAOMI NEMLIN, EVALYNE ILY
THE GIRL WITH A BRACELET DIRECTED BY STEPHANNE DEMOUSSTIER STARRING: MELISSA GUERS, CHIARA MASTROIANNI, ANAIS DEMOUSTIER
A HIDDEN LIFE DIRECTED TERRENCE MALICK STARRING: AUGUST DIEHI, VALERIA PACHNER, MATTHIAS SCHOENAERTS
HOPE FROZEN DIRECTED BY PAILIN WEIDEL DOCUMENTARY
LUCE DIRECTED BY JULIUS ONAH STARRING: NAOMI WATTS, OCTAVIA SPENCER
LYN-LUCY DIRECTED BY FYZAL BOULIFA STARRING: ROXANNE SCIRIMSHAW, NICHOLA BURLEY, KACEY AINSWORTH 21
57th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL September 27th to October 13th 2019
Films & Descriptions Opening Night The Irishman Director. Martin Scorsese, USA World Premiere The Irishman is a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity. Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, it is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon. The roster of talent behind and in front of the camera is astonishing, and at the core of The Irishman are four great artists collectively hitting a new peak: Joe Pesci as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Al Pacino as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as their right-hand man, Frank Sheeran, each working in the closest harmony imaginable with the film’s incomparable creator, Martin Scorsese. A Netflix release.
Centerpiece Marriage Story Director. Noah Baumbach, USA, 136m Noah Baumbach’s new film is about the rapid tangling and gradual untangling of impetuosity, resentment, and abiding love between a married couple negotiating their divorce and the custody of their son. Adam Driver is Charlie, a 100-percent New York experimental theater director; Scarlett Johansson is Nicole, his principal actress and soon-to-be L.A.-based ex-wife. Their “amicable” breakup devolves, one painful rash response and hostile counter-response at a time, into a legal battlefield, led on Nicole’s side by Laura Dern and on Charlie’s side by “nice” Alan Alda and “not-so-nice” Ray Liotta. What is so remarkable about Marriage Story is its frank understanding of the emotional fluctuations between Charlie and Nicole: they are both short -sighted, both occasionally petty, both vindictive, and both loving. The film is as harrowing as it is hilarious as it is deeply moving. With Merritt Wever and Julie Hagerty as Nicole’s sister and mom, and Azhy Robertson as their beloved son, Henry. A Netflix release.
Closing Night Motherless Brooklyn Director. Edward Norton, USA, 144m In an unusually bold adaptation, writer-director-producer Edward Norton has transplanted the main character of Jonathan Lethem’s best-selling novel Motherless Brooklyn from modern Brooklyn into an entirely new, richly woven neo-noir narrative, reset in 1950s New York. Emotionally shattered by a botched job, Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective with Tourette syndrome, finds himself drawn into a multilayered conspiracy that expands to encompass the city’s ever-growing racial divide and the devious personal and political machinations of a Robert Moses–like master builder, played by Alec Baldwin. Featuring a rigorously controlled star turn by Norton and outstanding additional supporting performances by Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Mann, and Cherry Jones, plus a haunting soundtrack (featuring a score by Daniel Pemberton, with orchestration by Wynton Marsalis, and an original song by Thom Yorke), Motherless Brooklyn is the kind of movie Hollywood almost never makes anymore, and a complexly conceived, robust evocation of a bygone era of New York that speaks to our present moment. A Warner Bros. Picture.
Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story Director. Mati Diop, France/Senegal/Belgium, 105m U.S. Premiere Building on the promise—and then some—of her acclaimed shorts, Mati Diop has fashioned an extraordinary drama that skirts the line between realism and fantasy, romance and horror, and which, in its crystalline empathy, humanity, and political outrage, confirms the arrival of a major talent. Set in Senegal, the birth country of her legendary director uncle, Djibril Diop Mambéty, the film initially follows the blossoming love between young construction worker Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), who’s being exploited by his rich boss, and Ada (Mama Sané), about to enter into an unwanted arranged marriage with a wealthier man. Souleiman and his fed-up coworkers soon disappear during an attempt to migrate to Spain in a pirogue, yet somehow his presence is still quite literally felt in Dakar. Transmuting a global crisis into a ghostly tale of possession, the gripping, hallucinatory Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story was the winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A Netflix release.
Bacurau Director. Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, Brazil, 130m U.S. Premiere A vibrant, richly diverse backcountry Brazilian town finds its sundappled day-to-day disturbed when its inhabitants become the targets of a group of marauding, wealthy tourists. The perpetrators of this Most Dangerous Game–esque class warfare, however, may have met their match in the fed-up, resourceful denizens of little Bacurau. Those who remember Kleber Mendonça Filho’s wonderful NYFF54 crowdpleaser Aquarius starring Sonia Braga—who appears here in a memorable supporting role—might be surprised by the new terrain and occasional ultraviolence of his latest, codirected with his longtime production designer Juliano Dornelles. Yet this wild shape-shifter shares with that film the exhilaration of witnessing society’s forgotten and marginalized standing up for themselves by any means necessary. With references to the fearless genre works of John Carpenter, George Miller, and Sergio Leone, Bacurau, winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is a vividly angry power-to-the-people fable like no other. A Kino Lorber release.
Beanpole Director. Kantemir Balagov, Russia, 130m In immediate post-WWII Leningrad, two women, Iya and Masha (astonishing newcomers Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina), intensely bonded after fighting side by side as anti-aircraft gunners, attempt to readjust to a haunted world. As the film begins, Iya, long and slender and towering over everyone—hence the film’s title—works as a nurse in a shell-shocked hospital, presiding over traumatized soldiers. A shocking accident brings them closer and also seals their fates. The 27-year-old Russian director Kantemir Balagov—whose debut feature Closeness caused a stir at Cannes and the New Directors/New Films festival just last year—won Un Certain Regard’s Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for this richly burnished, occasionally harrowing rendering of the persistent scars of war.
Fire Will Come Director. Oliver Laxe, Spain/France/Luxembourg, 85m U.S. Premiere The beauties and terrors of nature—human and otherwise—drive this extraordinary, elemental new film from Oliver Laxe, in which the verdant Galician landscape becomes the setting for forceful internal and external dramas. After making films abroad for years, interrogating the line between filmmaker and subject in such locales as Tangiers (You Are All Captains) and Morocco (Mimosas), Laxe returns to the rustic village in northwest Spain where his grandparents were born to tell the story of Amador (Amador Arias), who has recently served time in prison for arson and has come home to live with his elderly mother, Benedicta (Benedicta Sanchez)—both played brilliantly by nonprofessional actors. Laxe follows Amador’s day-to-day readjustment, immersing the viewer in the deep eucalyptus forests and vast countryside of northwest Spain, building to an astonishing climax fueled by an uncontrollable fury.
First Cow Director. Kelly Reichardt, U.S., 121m Kelly Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early 19th-century way of life. A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. From this simple premise Reichardt constructs an interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph Old Joy in its sensitive depiction of male friendship, yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own. Reichardt shows her distinct talent for depicting the peculiar rhythms of daily living and ability to capture the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America. An A24 release.
A Girl Missing Director. Koji Fukada, Japan, 111m U.S. Premiere Director Koji Fukada and star Mariko Tsutsui have created one of the most memorable, enigmatic movie protagonists in years in this compelling and beautifully humane drama. Middle-aged Ichiko works as a private nurse in a small town for a family, functioning as caregiver for the entirely female clan’s elderly matriarch, and befriending the two teenage daughters; when one of the girls disappears, Ichiko gets caught up in the resulting media sensation in increasingly surprising and devastating ways. Fukada keeps the story tightly focused on Ichiko’s perspective, illustrating with patience and compassion the different forms of trauma that can be created by one event, and—in keeping with the themes of his internationally acclaimed Harmonium—how easily and frighteningly a life can spiral out of control.
I Was at Home, But… Director. Angela Schanelec, Germany, 105m U.S. Premiere Though she’s been an essential voice in contemporary German cinema since the ’90s, Angela Schanelec is poised to find wider international audiences with I Was at Home, But…,which won her the Best Director prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. An elliptical yet emotionally lucid variation on the domestic drama, her latest film intricately navigates the psychological contours of a Berlin family in crisis: Astrid—played with barely concealed fury by Maren Eggert—is trying to hold herself and her fragile teenage son and young daughter together following the death of their father two years earlier. Yet as in all her films, Schanelec develops her story and characters in highly unexpected ways, shooting in exquisite, fragmented tableaux and leaving much to the viewer’s imagination, hinting at a spiritual grace lurking beneath the unsettled surface of every scene. A Cinema Guild release.
Liberté Director. Albert Serra, France/Portugal/Spain, 132m U.S. Premiere For the bold of imagination, not the faint of heart, the latest work from Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV) is easily his most provocative yet. In the 18th century, somewhere deep in a forest clearing, a group of bewigged libertines engage in a series of pansexual games of pain, torture, humiliation, and other dissolute, Sadean pleasures, attempting to reach some form of erotic nirvana, though rarely ever appearing to truly enjoy themselves. Serra’s truly radical film, set over the course of one night, is at once an aesthetic and sonic pleasure—every composition is a thing of eerily lit perfection, its soundtrack the chirps and rustles of the nighttime forest—and an unsparing depiction of the human drive for corporeal cruelty and sexual release. As its title suggests, Liberté is a film about the meaning of freedom, in both sex and in art.
Martin Eden Director. Pietro Marcello, Italy, 129m U.S. Premiere For the past fifteen years, Pietro Marcello has been working at the vanguard of Italian cinema, creating films that straddle the line between documentary and fiction, but which play off both a 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century neorealism in their class-conscious focus on wanderers and transients. Marcello’s most straightforwardly fictional feature to date, Martin Eden is set in a provocatively unspecified moment in Italy’s history yet was adapted from a 1909 novel by American author Jack London. Martin (played by the marvelously committed Luca Marinelli) is a dissatisfied prole with artistic aspirations who hopes that his dreams of becoming a writer will help him rise above his station and marry a wealthy young university student (Jessica Cressy); the twinned dissatisfactions of working-class toil and bourgeois success lead to political reawakening and destructive anxiety. Martin Eden is an enveloping, superbly mounted bildungsroman.
The Moneychanger Director. Federico Veiroj, Uruguay, 97m U.S. Premiere Leading light of contemporary Uruguayan cinema Federico Veiroj (A Useful Life) specializes in complexly drawn protagonists struggling amidst the specters of professional and personal failures. His new film, based on the 1979 novella Así habló el cambista by fellow countryman Juan Enrique Gruber, is his most ambitious, political, and forceful yet. Set largely in Montevideo, The Moneychanger stars Daniel Hendler in a tightly coiled performance of comical discomfort as Humberto Brause, who takes advantage of Uruguay’s poor economy by specializing in offshore money laundering. Spanning the fifties to the seventies, the film follows Humberto as he gets increasingly in over his head with multiple shady book-cooking schemes throughout South America, leading to an ultimate life-or-death decision.
Oh Mercy! Director. Arnaud Desplechin, France, 119m North American Premiere In a change of pace from such recent kaleidoscopic knockouts as My Golden Years (NYFF53) and Ismael’s Ghosts (NYFF55), Arnaud Desplechin shows a different and no less impressive side of his mastery with this taut policier, based on a true murder case. The scene of the crime is Roubaix, the city in Northern France where Desplechin was born and where he’s set many of his films. Here, during a somber Christmas season, a middle-aged, French-Algerian detective is investigating the fatal strangulation of a poor, elderly woman in her apartment, with suspicion falling on her next-door neighbors, two young white women with a complicated interpersonal bond. Desplechin turns what might have been a lurid thriller into a work of engrossing psychological portraiture and socioeconomic inquiry that pays exquisite attention to the nuances of each remarkable performance, including Roschdy Zem as police captain Douad, and Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier as the suspects.
Pain and Glory Director. Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 113m Pedro Almodóvar cuts straight to the heart with his intensely personal latest, which finds the great Spanish filmmaker tapping into new reservoirs of introspection and emotional warmth. Antonio Banderas deservedly won the Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his miraculous, internalized portrayal of Salvador Mallo, a director not too subtly modeled on Almodóvar himself, whose growing health problems—including tinnitus, migraines, and spinal pain—and creative block have initiated a midlife reckoning. Moving in and out of time, evoking Salvador’s childhood in the sixties (featuring Penélope Cruz as his doting mother); his years of triumph in the eighties; and present-day Madrid, where he navigates new artistic challenges, Pain and Glory is both a moving summative statement on a career and an indication of more brilliant things to come. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Parasite Director. Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 132m In Bong Joon-ho’s exhilarating new film, a threadbare family of four struggling to make ends meet gradually hatches a scheme to work for, and as a result infiltrate, the wealthy household of an entrepreneur, his seemingly frivolous wife, and their troubled kids. How they go about doing this—and how their best-laid plans spiral out to destruction and madness—constitutes one of the wildest, scariest, and most unexpectedly affecting movies in years, a portrayal of contemporary class resentment that deservedly won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. As with all of this South Korean filmmaker’s best works, Parasiteis both rollicking and ruminative in its depiction of the extremes to which human beings push themselves in a world of unending, unbridgeable economic inequality. A NEON release.
Film Comment Presents Portrait of a Lady on Fire Director. Céline Sciamma, France, 121m On the cusp of the 19th century, young painter Marianne travels to a rugged, rocky island off the coast of Brittany. Here, she has been commissioned to create a wedding portrait of the wealthy yet freespirited Héloise, whose hand in marriage has been promised to a man she’s never met. Resentful of the forced union, Héloise at first refuses to be painted, yet a growing bond—at first emotional and then erotic—develops between the women, exquisitely etched by Noémie Merlant as the artist and Adèle Haenel as her initially reluctant muse. With a visual precision as delicate as that of Merlant’s Marianne—whose patient acts of creation are lovingly dwelt upon—Céline Sciamma classically builds her double portrait from tentative romance to melodramatic rapture to a quietly devastating ending, all while subverting the traditional story of an artist and “his” muse. Winner of the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A NEON release.
Saturday Fiction Director. Lou Ye, China, 125m U.S. Premiere The incomparable Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern) gives a mesmerizing, take-no-prisoners performance in Saturday Fiction, a slow-burn spy thriller set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai on the cusp of World War II. She plays acclaimed actress Jean Yu, who has returned to Shanghai from China after a long absence. Jean Yu is in rehearsals for a play to be directed by a former lover (Mark Chao), but she seems to have ulterior motives, functioning as a double agent and gathering intelligence for the Allies, including the fateful realization of Japan’s imminent attack on Pearl Harbor. Shooting in evocative black-and-white, director Lou Ye (Spring Fever) has created here a gripping thriller that builds to a nerve-wracking climax, and which never loses sight of the human beings caught up in the gears of history.
Sibyl Director. Justine Triet, France/Belgium, 100m U.S. Premiere Past and present collide in an increasingly complicated and highly entertaining fashion in Justine Triet’s intricate study of the professional and personal masks we wear as we perform our daily lives. Psychotherapist Sybil (Virginie Efira) abruptly decides to leave her practice to restart her writing career—only to find herself increasingly embroiled in the life of a desperate new patient: Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a movie star dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic affair with her costar, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel), while trying to finish a film shoot under the watchful eye of a demanding director (Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller, splendidly high-strung), who happens to be Igor’s wife. Sybil, negotiating her own past demons, makes the fateful decision to use Margot’s experiences as inspiration for her book, as boundaries of propriety fall one after another. As she proved in her previous film In Bed with Victoria, which also starred the magnificently expressive Efira, Triet is a master at creating heroines of intense complexity, and of maintaining a tricky balance between volatile drama and sly comedy.
Synonyms Director. Nadav Lapid, France/Israel/Germany, 123m U.S. Premiere In his lacerating third feature, director Nadav Lapid’s camera races to keep up with the adventures of peripatetic Yoav (Tom Mercier), a disillusioned Israeli who has absconded to Paris following his military training. Having disavowed Hebrew, he devotes himself to learning the intricacies of the French language, falls into an emotional and intellectual triangle with a wealthy bohemian couple (Quentin Dolmaire and Louise Chevillotte), and frequently finds himself objectified, both politically and sexually. A powerful expression of the impossibility of escaping one’s roots, Synonyms is, even after the unforgettable Policeman (NYFF48) and The Kindergarten Teacher, Lapid’s boldest and most haunting work yet, a film about language and physicality, masculinity and nationhood. A Kino Lorber release.
To the Ends of the Earth Director. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan, 120m U.S. Premiere For more than two decades, Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been at the artistic forefront of Japanese cinema, bending the form to his own singular, internalized rhythms in such films as Cure, Pulse, and Tokyo Sonata (NYFF46). His latest is no exception, an unexpected narrative following Yoko (former J-pop idol Atsuko Maeda), a television host whose trip to Uzbekistan to shoot an episode of her reality travel show begins to dissolve her chipper persona, revealing the paranoia and dislocation beneath. Filled with absurdly humorous set pieces, and climaxing with a cathartic burst unprecedented in Kurosawa’s oeuvre, To the Ends of the Earth is both an entertaining tale of culture clash and a penetrating depiction of a young woman’s alienation and anxiety that pushes the director’s craft into new, mysterious, and enormously emotional realms.
The Traitor Director. Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 145m U.S. Premiere Since the galvanizing burst of his unforgettable debut feature Fists in the Pocket (NYFF3), Marco Bellocchio has remained an Italian auteur of rigor and fury, representing social unrest in stories that range from the intimate to the epochal. In his 80th year, he has returned with one of his most compelling films. Pierfrancesco Favino commands the screen throughout this decades-spanning true-life narrative as Tommaso Buscetta, the mafia boss turned informant who helped take down a large swath of organized crime leaders in Sicily in the eighties. In one fully realized, impressively staged scene after another, including the notorious Maxi Trial, overseen by Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi), Bellocchio interrogates received ideas about loyalty that so many other movies of this genre use to romanticize their characters. This is a very different kind of mafia drama, one that has the structure of a procedural but coasts on the waves of psychological portraiture. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Varda by Agnès Director. Agnès Varda, France, 115m When Agnès Varda died earlier this year at age 90, the world lost one of its most inspirational cinematic radicals. From her neorealisttinged 1954 feature debut La Pointe Courte to her New Wave treasures Cléo from 5 to 7 and Le Bonheur to her inquiries into those on society’s outskirts like Vagabond (NYFF23), The Gleaners and I (NYFF38), and the 2017 Oscar nominee Faces Places (NYFF55), she made enduring films that were both forthrightly political and gratifyingly mercurial, and which toggled between fiction and documentary decades before it was more commonplace in art cinema. In what would be her final work, partially constructed of onstage interviews and lectures, interspersed with a wealth of clips and archival footage, Varda guides us through her career, from her movies to her remarkable still photography to the delightful and creative installation work. It’s a fitting farewell to a filmmaker, told in her own words.
Vitalina Varela Director. Pedro Costa, Portugal, 124m U.S. Premiere Portuguese director Pedro Costa has continually returned in his films to the Fontainhas neighborhood, a shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon that’s home to largely immigrant communities. Not merely a chronicler of the poor and dispossessed, Costa renders onscreen characters that exist somewhere between real and fictional, the living and the dead. His latest, a film of deeply concentrated beauty, stars nonprofessional actor Vitalina Varela in a truly remarkable performance. Reprising and expanding upon her haunted supporting role from Costa’s Horse Money (NYFF52), she plays a Cape Verdean woman who has come to Fontainhas for her husband’s funeral after being separated from him for decades due to economic circumstance, and despite her alienation begins to establish a new life there. The grief of the present and the ghosts of the past commingle in Costa’s ravishing chiaroscuro compositions, a film of shadow and whisper that might be the director’s most visually extraordinary work. A Grasshopper Film release.
Wasp Network Director. Olivier Assayas, France/Spain/Brazil, 127m U.S. Premiere Olivier Assayas brings his customary style and urgency to an unexpected subject in this epic chronicle of a small group of Cuban defectors in Miami who in the early nineties established a spy web to infiltrate anti-Castroist terrorist groups carrying out violent attacks on Cuban soil. Amidst a dazzling ensemble that includes Gael García Bernal, Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, and Leonardo Sbaraglia, Assayas mostly centers on the saga of network member René Gonzalez (Édgar Ramírez, star of Assayas’s Carlos, NYFF48) and his wife Olga (Penélope Cruz, in a superb performance of complex emotional transparency), who for many years is kept in the dark about René’s double life in America. Inspired by Fernando Morais’s meticulously researched book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War, Wasp Network is a nuanced, gripping thriller from one of the world’s most adventurous, globe-hopping filmmakers, told with journalistic detail and vivid sympathy for those Cubans in exile who sought liberation back home while being targeted by the U.S. government.
The Whistlers Director. Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 98m In a delightful twist, leading Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu, whose inventive comedies such as Police, Adjective (NYFF47) and The Treasure (NYFF53) have for more than a decade brought deadpan charm and political perceptiveness to his country’s cinematic renaissance, has made his first all-out genre film—a clever, swift, and elegant neo-noir with a wonderfully off-kilter central conceit. Easily corruptible Bucharest police detective Cristi—played by the eternally stoic Vlad Ivanov—arrives on the mist-enshrouded Canary Island of La Gomera, where he learns a clandestine, tribal language, improbably made entirely out of whistling; this form of hidden communication will keep his superiors off his trail as he becomes increasingly embroiled in a convoluted gangster scheme involving a stash of Euros hidden in a mattress and a sultry femme fatale named, of course, Gilda. Porumboiu’s take on the crime drama furthers his explorations of the intricacies and limitations of language, but is also his most playful, even exuberant, film. A Magnolia Pictures release.
The Wild Goose Lake Director. Diao Yinan, China/France, 112m U.S. Premiere Chinese director Diao Yinan’s much anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough noir Black Coal, Thin Ice is an altogether more colorful crime drama. A formalist gangster thriller drenched in reds and blues, though imbued with a melancholic tone that speaks to contemporary China’s vast economic disparities, the elegantly down-and-dirty The Wild Goose Lake, set in the nooks and crannies of densely populated Wuhan, follows the desperate attempts of small-time mob boss Zhou Zenong (the charismatic Hu Ge) to stay alive after he mistakenly kills a cop and a dead-or-alive reward is put on his head. The filmmaker proves his action bona fides in a series of stylized set pieces and violent shocks—including a showstopper on a stolen motorbike— simultaneously devising a romance between Zhou and a mysterious young woman (Gwei Lun-mei) who’s out to either help or betray him. Diao deftly keeps multiple characters and chronologies spinning, all the while creating an atmosphere thick with eroticism and danger. A Film Movement release. 30
Young Ahmed Director. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium, 84m North American Premiere The Dardenne Brothers won this year’s Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for this brave new work, another intimate portrayal-infurious-motion of a protagonist in crisis. The filmmakers’ radical empathy alights on a Muslim teenager (extraordinary first-time actor Idir Ben Addi) in a small Belgian town who is being gradually radicalized into extremism despite the desperate protestations of his single mother (Claire Bodson), and who winds up hatching a murderous plot targeting his beloved teacher (Myriem Akheddiou). Taking a serious view of a difficult issue—the effect of fanaticism on the body and soul—the Dardennes here remind viewers why they continue to be at the center of 21st-century cinema.
Zombi Child Director. Bertrand Bonello, France, 103m U.S. Premiere After giving multiple shots to the arm of contemporary French cinema with such audacious films as House of Tolerance, Saint Laurent (NYFF52), and Nocturama, Bertrand Bonello injects urgency and history into the well-worn walking-dead genre with this unconventional plunge into horror-fantasy. Bonello moves fluidly between 1962 Haiti, where a young man known as Clairvius Narcisse (Mackenson Bijou), made into a zombie by his resentful brother, ends up working as a slave in the sugar cane fields, and a contemporary Paris girls’ boarding school, where a white teenage girl (Louise Labèque) befriends Clairvius’s direct descendant (Wislanda Louimat), who was orphaned in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. These two disparate strands ultimately come together in a film that evokes Jacques Tourneur more than George Romero, and feverishly dissolves boundaries of time and space as it questions colonialist mythmaking. A Film Movement release.
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A Magazine for Discerning Cinemagoers and Filmmakers. In This Issue: Reviews. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Non-Fiction, Bait. Film Fest Fo...
Published on Sep 1, 2019
A Magazine for Discerning Cinemagoers and Filmmakers. In This Issue: Reviews. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Non-Fiction, Bait. Film Fest Fo...