Thursday, October 19, 2017
Based on Hillary jordan's novel, MUDBOUND follows the fortunes of two families living on a bare surviving cotton farm in Mississippi. When family members return changed from the Second World War the old ways of the world collide with new ideas brought on by the experience of battle.
While an old fashioned melodrama at it's heart, MUDBOUND has a great deal more on it's mind. A tightly plotted the film it is not content with easy answers. The film wants us to think about what we are seeing so it has set up characters and subplots in such a way that we are forced to think about what we are seeing. For example a good marriage is twined with a bad one (The McAllan's is failing) while the Jackson's is solid) and we get different shades of racism to ponder (The Grandfather is an outright racist, his married son is casually so, his other son was but has changed while wife seems to be free of hatred). Pretty much everyone is given an interior monologue or two which deepens our understanding of our characters and the themes.
One has to applaud director Dee Rees for making a film that improves the more you think of it. On the face of it and on the first time through the film plays like an old school melodrama, however after the film sits with you (and perhaps after some long discussions) you realize that there is more to the film than just a simple drama.
That reason the film overcomes it's melodramatic plotting is the amazing cast. They are wonderful from top to bottom with everyone, including Mary J Blige disappearing completely into their roles. If I must single anyone out it would be Rob Morgan as Hap Jackson. This is a heartfelt performance that not only should make him a superstar but may even get him Oscar gold.
I have to say that if MUDBOUND plays near you go see it on a big screen before you watch it on Netflix. The cinematography is truly amazing and seeing it on the small screen it will be lost. trust me, I had to step out of the film for a moment and when I returned I found I was stopped dead in my tracks as a the images overwhelmed me.
I like the film a great deal, and I like it more because it doesn't do what we expect. I like that while there are tragic turns the film ends on a hopeful note. I love that director Rees trusted her audience to handle all of the weighty things she was throwing at us. I also loved that she messed with me as a viewer and gave me several "ah ha" moments.
MUDBOUND has finished it's run at the New York Film Festival. It will hit Netflix and theater November 17 and is recommended.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
It has been a long time coming, but the suffering of Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army—the wianbu comfort women—are finally starting to be acknowledged by NGOs and documentary filmmakers. However, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Korean farm-boys pressed into hard (often even fatal) involuntary labor is still a story that remains largely untold (Battleship Island addresses the slave labor, but its principal characters are far from representative). Chung Byung-ho, a U.S.-trained Korean anthropologist and Yoshihiko Tonohiro, chief priest of the Ichijoji Buddhist temple joined forces to honor the memories and repatriate the remains of 155 Korean young men who perished while constructing the Uryu Dam in Hokkaido. David Plath documents their long-deferred homecoming in So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of War, which screens during the 2017 Margaret Mead Film Festival.
The area surrounding Lake Shumarinai has recorded some of Japan’s lowest temperatures ever, so you can imagine what the working conditions were like for the young Koreans, who were essentially slave laborers. The discovery of their remains was initially a matter of chance. Tonohiro and some colleagues had come to admire the dam, where they were approached by the caretaker of the local temple, which had storeroom full of memorial tablets. These tablets were a bit different, in that they were inscribed with the deceased’s native Korean name and their assigned Japanese name.
Tonohiro soon discovered the remnants of bodies still collectively buried at the former municipal graveyard. The priest began an effort to excavate and repatriate the remains, but the project really took shape when Chung started directing their efforts. Many Korean, Japanese, and Zainichi Korean-Japanese provided the labor, embracing the project’s spirit of healing. Yet, not quite everyone fully came on board. Japanese war crimes-deniers successfully manipulated the local bureaucracy to thwart a memorial, while North Koreans who participated in the excavations, were not allowed to continue to South Korea for the internment ceremony.
Since the mass graves were located on their ancestral lands, the indigenous Ainu people prepared special rituals for the reclamation process, which makes So Long Asleep an especially fitting selection for the Mead fest. The film is also relevant to students of comparative religion, because it captures Buddhist, Catholic, and Shamanistic ceremonies performed for the 155 repatriated remains.
In terms of production values, So Long Asleep is pretty no-frills, but it captures some deeply moving moments. Frankly, it is surprising how much emotional kick this film has, since most of wartime laborers’ friends and family are now deceased. Yet, many young Korean and Japanese people recognized the enormity of their fate and became genuine surrogate mourners.
|Barbara Hannigan subject of two of Mathieu Amalric's films|
Amalric has directed more films than the 17 listed at IMDB. I say that with certainty since the films that played the New York Film Festival are not listed in his credits. While he is a very good director of fiction films, it is in his documentaries that he truly shines to the point it could, and should be argued that he is one of the finest documentary filmmakers working today
C’est presque au bout du monde (France, 2015, 16m)
Short film made at the request of the Paris Opera is a portrait of Barbara Hannigan warming up her voice and rehearsing for a performance. Stunningly shot the film is an almost too intimate portrait of an artist getting ready to give her best. It is a sensual experience as the marriage of word and music come together to create something tactile.
Zorn (2010-2017) (France, 2017, 54m)
Let me cut to the chase- this is one of the best films of the New York Film Festival and of 2017. It also may very well be one of the best music documentaries ever made - I'm talking top three or five.
Started as a project for TV this film spun out of control and has been, and still is, a work in progress. This is a portrait of musician John Zorn as shot by a close friend. There are no voice overs, no explanations, there is simply Zorn over the years performing, joking, laughing and watching with his friends and other musicians. Clearly shot on the fly by someone with whom Zorn trusts completely this is a documentary that is unlike any other. There is a level of ease and openness no other music documentary has ever had because no other music doc was shot like this, piece meal here and there when friends were just hanging out.
It will amaze and delight you even if you don't know Zorn's music simply because this is so inside as to make you feel like you were there.
I need to mention Amalric's use of editing. Watching the film you will quickly realize that his use of sound and image is unlike most things being done today. Working with editor Caroline Detournay he has made a film that stays in your eyes and ears long after the film has finished.
A masterpiece and one of the truly best music docs you will ever see.
(Now if he would only finish it)
Music Is Music (France, 2017, 21m)
Again working with Barbra Hannigan and editor Caroline Detournay, Amalric gives us a portrait of Hannigan as she is putting together her latest album, and the Girl Cray suite in particular.We watch as Hannigan conducts the orchestra and is prodded into singing along with her.
A more fully formed portrait of Hannigan, this is delightful piece that really takes us into the soul of the performer. It is a wonderful little film that makes you wish that this was longer and covered the making of the whole album.
And this is also a fantastic showing of Amalric as a manipulator of sound and image as he sucks us into becoming intimate with the woman at it's center.
Worth tracking down.
(This film is available on Hannigan's latest CD which comes with a DVD full of extras)
Below is the Q&A that followed the NYFF screening where Amararic, Hannigan and Detournay discuss the making of the films
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE AND THE INDIA CENTER FOUNDATION PRESENT THE SECOND EDITION OF INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE FILM FESTIVAL,
Festival to feature U.S. Premieres of The Brawler by Anurag Kashyap and Pahuna,produced by Priyanka Chopra
The opening night film is Dark Wind by Nila Madhab Panda, and the Festival closes with Prakash Kunte’s Cycle.
The opening night film is Dark Wind by Nila Madhab Panda, and the Festival closes with Prakash Kunte’s Cycle.
Three films are from the underrepresented northeast of India, and half of all the Festival’s films are directed by women.
NEW YORK, NY, October 17th, 2017 — After a successful launch in 2016, Museum of the Moving Image and The India Center Foundation present the second annual India Kaleidoscope Film Festival (IKFF), to take place from . India Kaleidoscope is a new festival that will present film lovers with a chance to immerse themselves in the unique sights and sounds that make up the Indian regional, independent film landscape. These films, which explore the most relevant and pressing topics facing the subcontinent, are being made by today’s most progressive filmmakers working in regional languages. This year, India Kaleidoscope will span seven different regional Indian languages and include new programming initiatives that bring independent regional Indian cinema to an even wider audience.
“The India Center Foundation is delighted to present India Kaleidoscope again with our friends and partners at MoMI,” said Priya Giri Desai, a Founding Director of The India Center Foundation. “It’s an honor to offer these cinematic works to the film-going community and to give exposure to new sights, sounds and languages from across the Indian subcontinent.”
MoMI Chief Curator David Schwartz said, “India Kaleidoscope, in just its second year, is already making a great impact as a showcase for the incredible diversity of Indian cinema, with its focus on artistic and independent films from the many regions of this sprawling, culturally rich country."
“Indian cinema today is independent and regional language cinema, and these films represent the best and most exciting work from the country. We are thrilled to present this eclectic and wholly original selection of films and filmmakers to the New York and U.S. audience,” said Sudeep Sharma, festival programmer.
India Kaleidoscope Film Festival 2017 will screen eight feature films, seven of which will be U.S. or North American premieres. Most films will feature directors in person, and half of the directors are women. The Opening Night film is Dark Wind (Kadvi Hawa).
Other highlights include the U.S. premiere of The Brawler (Mukkabaaz) by acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap and Pahuna, a film produced by actress Priyanka Chopra (ABC’s Quantico). In an effort to expand IKFF to wider audiences, this year’s closing night screening will be held at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Theater in Manhattan. See below for full lineup. All films will be screened with English subtitles.
The IKFF 2017 programming committee includes Priya Giri Desai (The India Center Foundation), Ashok Sinha (The India Center Foundation), Priyadarshini Shanker (NYU Cinema Studies), Anupama Kapse (Loyola Marymount), Tristine Skyler (writer and producer), Ritesh Mehta (Film Independent) and Sudeep Sharma (film programmer); with additional programming support from Uma da Cunha and Christina Marouda (Museum of the Moving Image, IFFLA).
Tickets: Tickets for Opening Night are $30; all other tickets are $15 (with discounts for Museum members at select levels). This year, IKFF will also have festival passes.Tickets will go on sale at the following link, beginning : movingimage.us/
Location for most screenings: Museum of the Moving Image Summer M. Redstone Theater 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens, New York 11106 | Phone: 718-777-6800
Location for closing night screening: SAG-AFTRA Foundation Theater, 247 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019
FILMS AND SCHEDULE FOR IKFF 2017:
Don't miss our full program of features, shorts and events for the 6th edition happening in upstate NY this November!
Ithaca Fantastik returns with our Festival Favorite & Midnighters blocks, spotlight on Bill Lustig's BLUE UNDERGROUND, THE STRANGE COLORS OF GILLES VRANCKX art show and much, much more!
Check out the trailer for our retrospective spotlight on ITALIANO PSICHEDELIKO HERE!
Ithaca, NY, Oct. 17, 2017 – Ithaca Fantastik (IF) will unleash its sixth annual film festival Nov. 3–12 in Ithaca, NY. With little more than two weeks to go IF is announcing its full features and short film lineup. With 37 films from 20 countries, the IF team promises this year’s festival will be a Fantastik ride—so buckle up!
Playing to a full range of IF6’s retrospective theme—Italiano Psichedeliko—with a contemporary eye, Rupert Jones’s murder-mystery, KALEIDOSCOPE, mesmerizes with lush visuals and amazing performances from Sinead Matthews and Toby Jones. Rainer Sarnet’s NOVEMBER plunges vanguard film-lovers into a surrealist maelstrom of faith, witchcraft, and love, while German tale FREDDY/EDDY ushers in a doubled and troubled soul from the mind of Tini Tüllmann.
Any pure horror lovers in the room? Giddens Ko’s MON MON MON MONSTER blows minds with its thoughtful subtext on bullying dressed with gory violence. A Taiwanese echo to Haywoods’s PIN CUSHION, this film takes no prisoners. The same can be said about Gabriela Amaral’s FRIENDLY BEAST: What starts out as a classic social drama makes a sharp turn into more graphic territory demanding self-reflection. And for undead action, Robin Aubert’s LES AFFAMÉS—an art house Zombie film full of deep social commentary—is a brilliant homage to maestro George Romero’s ghoul metaphor.
Sometimes, real life is more Fantastik than fiction. Brad Abrahams’s documentary, LOVE AND SAUCERS, tells the improbable story of David Higgins’ intimate love for an alien and the art that followed. For sheer genre joy, Australian mockumentary TOP KNOT DETECTIVE is Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s madcap love letter to late-night Japanese television—from Lone Wolf and Cub and Mute Samurai to Message from Space and Space Sheriff Gavan.
IF completes this year’s smorgasbord with the crazies: Adolfo Kolmerer and William James’s SNOWFLAKE, the prodigal son of Pulp Fiction and Synecdoche NY, with producer Eric Sonnenburg here for the sceening; Thomas Berg and Frederik Waldeland’s super-weird, laugh-out-loud VAMPYR VIDAR; and Jimmy Henderson’s JAILBREAK with its roots in HK martial arts cinema, Jean Paul Ly’s choreography, dynamic camerawork, and the incisive power of a Tony Jaa elbow strike. These films will inspire guilty pleasure and deep love with their absolute audacity and inventiveness.
IF also shines a spotlight on BLUE UNDERGROUND, Bill Lustig's distribution company, with the 4K restoration of Gary Sherman’s DEATH LINE, a direct transfer from the camera negative—as close as you can get to a director’s true vision! Another new 4K transfer, Bob Clark’s DEAD BY NIGHT, offers a deep meditation on the effects of war …with a zombie trope. Gary Sherman and Bill Lustig will present these respective films to a yet-to-be-blown-away audience!
Along with this incredible lineup, IF is excited to present its 2017 art show: THE STRANGE COLORS OF GILLES VRANCKX featuring the work of the Belgian poster genius behind art for Amer, The Strange Colors of Your Body’s Tears, LET THE CORPSES TAN, and more. Vranckx will appear as an IF special guest at the show’s opening reception on Thursday, November 9.
Learn more at ithacafilmfestival.com and follow IF on twitter @IFantastikNY or Facebook and Instagram at Ithaca Fantastik.
About Ithaca Fantastik:
The Ithaca Fantastik festival is a 10 day film, art, and music festival beginning the first weekend of November in Ithaca, NY. Our mission is to bring the best of fantastic culture to Upstate NY by presenting a selection of the most anticipated international films, community organized concerts, and diverse art exhibitions.
Most films about teen bullying are horror movies, but this is something completely different. Probably the most mature and sophisticated film to address bullying since it became a high-profile media issue happens to be an anime adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s hit manga series. Any adult or reasonably empathetic teen will appreciate the drama and artistry of Naoko Yamada’s A Silent Voice, which opens this Friday in New York.
Shōya Ishida bitterly regrets his elementary school years. He was hardly the only student who bullied Shōko Nishimiya, a deaf girl, who briefly attended their school, but he would be the first to admit he was the worst offender. When things really got ugly he took the fall. As a way to save face, his classmates blamed him for everything and shunned ever since Nishimiya withdrew from their school. All but giving up on redemption, Ishida plans to commit suicide, but first he makes a final attempt to make amends with Nishimiya.
Much to her surprise, the remorseful Ishida has even learned sign language. It is an awkward meeting, but she does not completely give him the Heisman. Once Ishida convinces Yuzuru, Nishimiya’s tomboyish little sister and self-appointed gate-keeper of his honorable intentions, he starts to meet her often. However, communications problems and their mutual low self-esteem constantly sabotage the potential romance viewers are rooting for. Meanwhile, two additional former classmates re-enter the picture: Sahara, the only student who genuinely befriended Nishimiya and Ueno, the queen of the mean girls.
The way this group of students are constantly drawn back together might sound contrived, but life really seems to work that way. Regardless, Silent Voice is not a pat and predictable afterschool special. This is an emotionally sophisticated film that never lectures its audience. Frankly, there are several logical junctures where Voice could have started wrapping things up and letting its characters off their hooks, but instead the film just gets even messier.
One point that jumps out of Voice is just how much damage Ishida’s bullying does to his reputation and his self-image. For years, he has to live with being that guy. It definitely distinguishes the film from other more conventional anti-bullying films. Visually, it is also quite appealing, sort of representing a stylistic cross between the mostly realistic Your Name and the graceful pastels of Doukyusei. In fact, Yamada has a keen eye for visuals, incorporating a number of striking water motifs. Yet, more importantly, Ishida, Nishimiya, and many of their classmates are unusually complex and well-developed characters, who cannot be reduced to mere victim and tormentor stereotypes.
The plot of the film has writer Ishmael going through his paces some 21 years after his wife disappeared. He is happy with his new love and he frequently commiserates with his father in law about their shared loss. Then one day his wife returns throwing everyone's life into utter turmoil.
Beautifully made and perfectly acted film is like watching the best and most dramatic sequences from a drama which unfortunately never connects the scenes together. Huge portions of backstory are missing. While this was Desplechin's intention, at the post screening Q&A he said it's moments in Ismails life, it makes for a bumpy viewing experience since the moments at so close together as to kind of form a conventional drama.
The cast headed by Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg are sterling and are so good that you largely forgive the flaws and just ride the wave of excellent acting.
I really liked the film a great deal, as did many of the confused people around me at the festival. However we all just wished that the film tied it ll together enough that we loved the film instead of liked it.
(The difference between the Director's Cut and Theatrical release according to the director is that the director's cut contains the trip to Israel and the Theatrical doesn't)