1991-2000

James Benning – El Valley Centro (2000)

Quote:
Employing natural sound and contemplative proscenium shots, Benning skillfully composes a series of pure and majestic images that at once evoke a sense of nostalgic splendor as well as deliver a subtle, yet penetrating, political commentary. Benning tells the story of how water irrigates this valley and how the produce is carted away in boxcars for the nation’s consumption. He shows the lifestyle of a modest and growing rural community, whose concerns are often drowned out by the powerful railroads, oil companies and insurance conglomerates which own the farms and ranches and benefit from undocumented immigrant labor while insisting on imprisoning an American population of color. Read More »

Barbet Schroeder – La virgen de los sicarios AKA Our Lady of the Assassins (2000)

Quote:
A Colombian writer returns to his native Medellín to mourn his lost youth and, while he’s at it, pick up a new one. That, more or less, is the tale that Barbet Schroeder’s new movie has to tell. Schroeder has made some spicy pictures in his time, but this one feels lacklustre by comparison, and the two main performers-Anderson Ballesteros as the hustler and German Jaramillo as his aging mentor-tend to drift through their scenes, trying not to notice the hellfire around them. Whether they are genuinely ground down by the woes of the world or simply exhausted by years of casual sex is hard to work out; to be fair, few directors could make a film about moral anesthesia without sinking into glumness, and Schroeder does a pretty good job of insuring that no one in the audience will book a Colombian vacation in the near future. Read More »

Whit Stillman – Barcelona (1994)

Quote:
Before there was Woody Allen’s 2008 Vicky Cristina Barcelona, there was Whit Stillman’s far rawer, less warm and fuzzy Barcelona, released in 1994. Set in 1980s Barcelona, the film explores a period of particularly notable anti-American sentiment. While marketing/sales rep Ted Boynton (Taylor Nichols) does his best to keep a low profile while working abroad for his Chicago-based company, the unexpected arrival of his naval officer cousin, Fred Boynton (Chris Eigeman), throws a wrench into Ted’s plans for tranquil solitude. Read More »

Janusz Morgenstern – Zólty szalik AKA The Yellow Scarf (2000)

The Yellow Scarf is a film by Janusz Morgenstern from 2000. Janusz Gajos plays its protaganist, a man fighting with alcoholism, and is proof that television productions do not have to be worse than feature films.

The protagonist – a middle-aged man at the top of his career – does not have a name, nor a surname; he is a universal character, an everyman that everyone can identify with. On the Christmas Eve he consecutively meets with his employees, his ex-wife, his son and his present partner. His persistently prolonged rambling is meant to postpone the inevitable Christmas visit to his mother. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Glocken aus der Tiefe AKA Bells from the Deep (1993)

Quote:
Bells From The Deep is a fabulous look at the faith and superstitions of human beings living in Russia and Siberia. Herzog quietly observes his subjects and never appears obtrusive. The camera of Jorg Schmit-Reitwen (Heart of Glass, Kaspar Hauser) captures many incredible moments as Herzog and crew move from one subject to another with grace and wonder. Herzog never questions or dissects his subjects rituals or beliefs, rather observes and embraces them for all they are. Read More »

Edgardo Cozarinsky – Citizen Langlois (1994)

Citizen Langlois by Edgardo Cozarinsky is an essayistic documentary about Henri Langlois, founder and head of the Cinémathèque française until his death in 1977. I recently rewatched this along with Jacques Richard’s much longer documentary (which is also on the tracker –here–) and liked it even better than the time I saw it first at the Berlin festival some years ago.
The movie mostly consists of archive footage, showing Langlois, the musée du cinéma, collaborators and famous actors and directors. The events around the Affaire Langlois in 1968 take some time here, too, but Cozarinsky succeeds in finding a different angle to focus on Langlois and cinéphilia in general. Read More »

Shu Lea Cheang – I.K.U. (2000)

Quote:
Reiko is a sex robot programmed to accumulate sexual experience. She goes through seven body types to experiences a variety of couplings. She returns to the company to download her accumulated info and escape from their control. Read More »