Raya Martin & Mark Peranson – La última película (2013)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

In this documentary within a narrative-and vice versa-a grandiose filmmaker (Alex Ross Perry) arrives in the Yucatán to scout locations for his new movie, a production that will involve exposing the last extant celluloid film stock on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse. Instead, he finds himself waylaid by the formal schizophrenia of the film in which he himself is a character. Simultaneously a tribute to and a critique of The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper’s seminal obliteration of the boundary separating life and cinema), La última película engages with the impending death of celluloid through a veritable cyclone of film and video formats, genres, modes, and methods. Martin and Peranson have created an unclassifiable work that mirrors the contortions and leaps of the medium’s history and present. An Art of the Real 2014 selection. A M’Aidez Films release (C) Lincoln Center Continue reading

Eugène Green – La Sapienza (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
Named for the famous seventeenth-century Roman church Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, which was designed by the legendary architect (and Bernini rival) Francesco Borromini, LA SAPIENZA echoes Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia in its tale of Alexandre Schmid (Fabrizio Rongione), a brilliant architect who, plagued by doubts and loss of inspiration, embarks on a quest of artistic and spiritual renewal guided by his study of Borromini. His wife Aliénor (Christelle Prot), similarly troubled by the crassness of contemporary society – as well as the couple’s lack of communication and passion – decides to accompany him. In Stresa, a chance encounter with adolescent siblings Goffredo (who is about to commence his own architectural studies) and his fragile sister Lavinia upends the couple’s plans. As Borromini’s spirit and the vertiginous splendour of his structures spin a mysterious web among them, within the course of a few days the foursome experiences a series of life-altering revelations. Continue reading

Jean-Marie Straub – La madre (2012)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

The texts in Cesare Pavese’s “Dialoghi con leucò” have a stake in the old and the new alike. It is the lively tension, the bridge between myth and modernity of these texts that deeply touches us and which as a new experience so wonderfully permeates this film by Jean-Marie Straub. Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of LA MADRE is the complete transparency and darkness that is revealed at the same time. Continue reading

Chinlin Hsieh – Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis

In 1982 a small group of Taiwanese filmmakers reinvented Asian cinema, among them, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang. Travelling from Europe to Latin America to Asia, Flowers of Taipei sets out to assess the global influence of Taiwan New Cinema.

Taiwan – tropical Pacific island devoid of tourists; former plastic manufacturing powerhouse turned technology hub in just 20 years; not a fully-fledged country for the United Nations, yet the sole Chinese territory with a vibrant democracy.

In 1982, under severe martial law, amid the stormy climate of pre-democratization, a small group of Taiwanese filmmakers set out on a daring journey to discover their own identity, and in the process to reinvent Asian cinema. Unintentionally, these gutsy youngsters managed to offset the cheap-labor image of ‘Made in Taiwan’ by bestowing a cultural identity on their beloved homeland. Taiwan New Cinema not only inaugurated modern cinema in the Chinese world, it also secured itself a firm place on the world map of contemporary filmmaking. Continue reading

Jennifer M. Bean, Anupama Kapse, Laura Horak – Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (2014)

In this cross-cultural history of narrative cinema and media from the 1910s to the 1930s, leading and emergent scholars explore the transnational crossings and exchanges that occurred in early cinema between the two world wars. Drawing on film archives from around the world, this volume advances the premise that silent cinema freely crossed national borders and linguistic thresholds in ways that became far less possible after the emergence of sound. These essays address important questions about the uneven forces–geographic, economic, political, psychological, textual, and experiential–that underscore a non-linear approach to film history. The “messiness” of film history, as demonstrated here, opens a new realm of inquiry into unexpected political, social, and aesthetic crossings of silent cinema. Continue reading

Ben Safdie & Joshua Safdie – Heaven Knows What (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Based on the experiences of Arielle Holmes — a homeless teenager with a ferocious Jersey accent — the film stars Holmes as Harley, a fictionalized version of herself: a heroin-hooked panhandler unable to get either the junk or her wicked boyfriend Ilya (wan Hollywood star Caleb Landry Jones, startlingly unrecognizable) out of her system. Locked into the relentlessly repetitive cycle of the addict’s life — the never-ending search to score, the squabbles with dealers and fellow junkies, the violence ever ready to erupt as either farce or tragedy — she is still driven by a strange (and surely self-destructive) desire for beauty, the explosive moments of rapture that puncture the drabness of her existence. Continue reading