Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Spook Who Sat By The Door (1973) NYFF 2020


 I am behind in talking about The Spook That Sat By The Door.  When I found out a restoration was playing at the New York Film Festival I went to dig out my DVD and got lost in trying to actually find it. As a result I missed the play dates of the film.

The film is based on the book by Sam Greenlee and  it has been rattling cages for half a century. It is the story of a black CIA agent who takes what he learns about over throwing governments and destabilizing regimes and teaches it to other you black men so they can work to bring about change. The politics didn’t sit well with the studios.  It was pulled from theaters when United Artists freaked out at it’s overt political message and feared what the film could do. They later buried the film by putting in the vaults  under another name.

Ivan Dixon’s film is a stunner. While it is a time capsule of the time that it was made, it is also a celluloid scream that shows us how little we have moved since then. Dixon captured a moment and feeling that for a large portion of America is still echoing across the land.

That the film is still relevant is a extremely sad. We should be looking at the film as a something that we moved beyond. If you need to know how far we haven’t come consider Steve McQueen’s Small Axe Anthology, which deals with many of the same themes in Dixon’s half century old film. Filmmakers should not be making similar films decades apart.

The Spook Who Sat By The Door is a vital living masterpiece. It is a living  historical document and something you must see, especially if you are watching the Steve McQueen films at NYFF or later on Amazon

Aswang (2019) AAIFF 2020

 


Hard hitting look at what President Rodrigo Duterte  is doing in the Philippines is effecting the people in his country. I’ve been watching a lot of films on the madness, and still this film rocked me.  For give me but sitting and watching a bunch of unsupervised kids trying to get along because their parents are either dead or locked up because they are drug users is incredibly sad.

Duterte clearly doesn’t give a shit, which is so sad.  His country has become a killing field where small fish die and the drug kingpins remain untouched protected by money and connections. Listening to everyone talk it’s clear that everyone who has been touched by violence is afraid and that the police are essential seen as murderers. They are causing the disorder they are claiming to want to stop.

My heart broke.

If you’ve seen other films on the Philippines you will have no doubt seen some of this and some of the people  (Orly Fernandez the subject of the excellent THE MORTICIAN OF MANILA appears) however you have not seen it presented like this. This is a street level view of things and it is the most human, most real film on the subject I’ve seen.

An absolute must.

NYFF Shorts: Thoughts on sections 3 and 5

 More fleeting thoughts on the NYFF 2020 shorts collections....


Section 3 is called LETTERS FROM HOME  and it's a series of films that seem to want to connect places that we were and where we are through experimental means. Some of the films work better than others, but sadly only one of the films really stuck with me.  The final film EPISODES which is a series of loosely connected conversations between twenty somethings really stayed with me. It's not so much that the film is the most conventional of the group, rather it is the only one that actually feels like something more than a piece of art. This is the one film in the section that feels genuinely alive on its own terms and not a collection of sounds and images put together by the director. It also helps that the conversations seem natural and  real.

Section 5 is THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE and is collection of three films where the directors meditate on their work and life. It's a mixed bag


AN ARROW POINTING AT A HOLE has director Steve Reinke talking to the camera and discussing his work and ideas. Incredibly highbrow and in your face it seeks to examine how he sees the world. Reinke annoyed me more than engaged me and I tuned out quickly as he seemed to be trying much too hard to make his point. (I also hated that he was obviously reading everything he was saying)


SINGLE COPY is an interesting look at the life of the surviving twin who was once conjoined with his brother. If a film is supposed to make you think and feel this one does it in spades.


ONCE REMOVED using a slide show director Lawrence Abu Hamdan takes historian Bassel Abi Chahine through the his collection of artifacts charting his material related to the Lebanese Civil War...and his past life as a fighter during the war. Intriguing look at life, death and the notion of past lives. This is a one of a kind film that you fall into. Not only is it a wonderfully told tale but also a hell of a story.

Stealing Chaplin (2020) Festival of Cinema NYC 2020

Two dimwitted British con-men living in Las Vegas steal the body of Charlie Chaplin in the hope of getting enough money to payback the loan sharks the are in deep to. The trouble is things go horribly wrong and it looks like the pair may end up as dead as the body they have stolen.

This amusing mix of comedy, caper and crime will entertain the hell out of you if you let it. While never quite reaching the heights of say the Ocean's 11 films, STEALING CHAPLIN works because the cast is good and invested in what is going on. Sure our heroes are really morons but they are loveable and we like then enough that we don't want anything bad to happen to them. While never fully believable, the film is firmly in the low budget inde film world, we really don't care because we are fully invested in what happens.

I had a blast watching this film. This is the sort of film that back when we cold go to the movies I'd go to with my dad to get out of the house. It is also the sort of film we'd eat up when we ran across it on  cable (hey wait stop, that looks good)

STEALING CHAPLIN is a small gem of a film. It is a perfect film to take in at the Festival of Cinema NYC's drive in Friday night.

The Antenna (2020) hits virtual theater October 2

A new government directive has antennas for a new communication system installed across the city. At one apartment block the installation leads to a series of weird occurrences including the antenna oozing a thick black substance that bleeds through the building.

Full of slow building dread and an occasional wicked sense of humor, the commentary is very pointed about our obsession with screens, THE ANTENNA is a decidedly off beat horror/science fiction film. While the film  feels similar to other dystopian/1984 like films the film still manages to put its own spin on things thanks to a script which keeps us wondering what is going to happen next and what exactly is going on.

What I love about the film is it's visual sense. Yes it reminds us of other run down worlds we've seen in other films, but at the same time it manages to make it all seem new. Where exactly are we? It supposed to be Turkey but it could be anywhere. When is this taking place? It's not really clear and it pulls us in as we try to sort it all out. I was hooked and I couldn't look away.

If THE ANTENNA has any flaw it is the fact that the film is over long at 115 minutes. Yes the film is deliberately paced which helps it create it's own unique rhythms, but at the same time there is a point in the last hour  where it begins to feel long. I'm not sure what could be done to speed it up since this film is so deliberately put together, but at the sametime I lost a littlenthsiam for the film.

Regardless of my thoughts THE ANTENNA is worth a look for anyone who love dystopian science fiction.

THE ANTENNA hits Virtual theaters Friday and then VOD October 20

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: I Bury The Living

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Simone Barbes or Virtue (1980) NYFF 2020

 


Largely plotless three part film follows Simone who works at an adult movie theater over the course of an evening. It begins as Simone helps patrons into the theater while she banters with a co-worker. They are almost totally oblivious to the men who are coming and going. When the shift ends she heads off to meet her girlfriend who works at a lesbian club. As she heads out she has an encounter with a man prowling about.

A small scale confection I don’t think I had ever run across this film before it’s slot at the NYFF. I find it odd since while the film isn’t earthshaking it is an amusing little gem. While the film’s lack of a plot could have worked against it the film overcomes it by allowing the character to have the room to be and interact. The result is we are drawn into the film and we want to hang out with them.

Truthfully I had a blast. I had such a good time  watching this film I’m going to see about adding it to my collection because I want to revisit the film and the people in it.

Finding a film like this is what the New York Film festival is all about

Take Out Girl (2020) AAIFF 2020

 


In order to save her parents failing Chinese restaurant a young Chinese woman decides to piggyback drug deliveries on to her food deliveries. It all goes wrong.

As based on a true story this is a solid little drama about the things we do to survive and how that sometimes is the wrong thing to do. It clearly explains why people want to get the hell out of dodge at any cost.

I was glued to the film for it's entire running time. Once things were set in motion I was so hooked that I didn't want to get up and get a snack lest I missed something. Considering I was watching the film a streaming screener and I could stop the film that is saying a great deal.

If there is anything wrong with the film it lies with Hedy Wong. I'm not certain who made the choice, the idea of having her be restrained and often monotone in her delivery for much of the film works against things. Yes, we know it is a kind of shield against the world but at the same time it prevents us from truly connecting to the character the way we should.

Quibble aside this is a super little drama and it is recommended when it plays at AAIFF.

In Human Kind (2020) Festival of Cinema NYC 2020

 


A short film on human trafficking

A small gem of a film is the sort of thing we need in that this look at how people get sucked into human trafficking opens your eyes by telling us exactly happens with out flourishes. Told in a an unsensational, almost matter of fact style the film makes clear how these things happen. I love that we aren’t hit over the head with the histrionics that make it easy to dismiss. Too often the loud approach makes it so we tune out because it couldn’t happen to us.  But sadly I can, and this film explains why.

A sobering short that is worth a look.

See it when it plays at The Festival of Cinema NYC this weekend.

Mosley (2020) Festival of Cinema NYC 2020

Mosley is a thoriphant. That means he is a cross between a horse and ox, however they are very intelligent. Forced to act as a beast of burden, he and his family work the farm of a not very bright famer. When Mosley's son finds a cave with paintings of upright thoriphants with hands Mosley realizes that the stories they had once heard were upright and they weren't always animals. Not long after Mosley flees into the wilderness he meets several right thoriphants who take him on a journey to their city. However Mosley is being hunted by man tasked with bringing him back.

Kirby Atkins' two decade labor of love is amazing. A kick ass film it will move you to tears. This is not a by the numbers tale by any stretch of the imagination, with the result that we are moved much more deeply than most recent Disney or Pixar films. Sure it has some bumps but its hear is so big that you can't help but love it for what it is.

What it is is a grand adventure of one man trying to save his family. Told with beautiful images, perfect voices and a magnificent sense of daring do, MOSLEY is the kind of film they don't make any more. It's a myth made modern. It's perfectly modulate to delight, move and inspire its audience. This is story of growth and hope and exactly the sort of film we need right now.

Of course the fact that the thoiphants are treated as slaves results in a biting commentary on the current state of the world where racism is rampant. Atkins hammers home the point with use of Southern American voices for the humans. On some level it could be considered being a bit too much, especially since the humans we see are the very definition of dumb rednecks, but make no mistake this film will do much to change the minds of people over the next few decades.

Highly recommended the film plays Saturday at the Festival of Cinema NYC at their drive-in

URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN (2020) hits VOD today

This hour long portrait of the artist and her work is a stunner. I wasn't really interested in yet another artist doc but this film really knocked my socks off.

While the film hits all of the expected biographical notes (born in Germany to parents who were forced to work for the Nazis, displaced person camps and eventual move to America, ect...) the film scores in one big way and that is its ability to make Ursula's work a physical presence. Frequently focusing on not only the various pieces of work as well as their creation (we get to hear from her assistants who explain what they do) we get a very real sense of the pieces of art. The sculptures are not objects we see completed but we get up close and personal to them as they are being made. It's do in or face that we can small the cut wood and feel the sculptured lumber. It's an almost unreal that the film manages to create make us come out of the film as if we had been touching them all along.

This is a magnificent film that is a must for any art lover worth their salt.

URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN hits VOD today

Stay at Home Fest Bonus Film: One Body Too Many

Monday, September 28, 2020

Nate Hood on Xiao Wu [1997] ★★★★ NYFF 2020

 Long before he was one of the leading lights of modern Chinese cinema, Jia Zhangke was just a guy with a 16mm camera shooting movies in his hometown of Fenyang, a nowhere city in China’s landlocked northern regions hundreds of miles from Beijing. His early films were, as they still are now, slow and methodical—they’re embalmed with the same sense of urban decay as the run-down buildings and alleys his characters populate. They rarely contain traditional stories, instead languishing in brilliantly realized environments, casually following his characters as they scurry about like ants in an ant farm. 


Consider Xiao Wu, his feature debut he made for about $50,000 with a cast of non-professional actors. At 111 minutes, it’s the shortest of his early films and perhaps the most focused on a traditional narrative. The opening sees the eponymous young man climb aboard a bus, brazenly shirk the fare by lying that he’s a police officer, and picking the pocket of another passenger. This scene is probably the most narratively condensed in the entire film until the last ten minutes when Xiao is finally caught, imprisoned, and publicly humiliated by the police. These two sequences bookend Xiao’s detached, aimless wanderings through Feyang which only gradually reveal his inner feelings of insecure nihilism.

 For Xiao is a man left behind by the rapidly developing China around him. Though many of his friends and family began as petty criminals like him, they’ve almost all gone on to more lucrative and legitimate interests such as his brother whose wealth and success causes him to lose face whenever he visits. His attempts to ingratiate his way back into their lives fail miserably, and the only solace he can find is in the paid attentions of local call girls, one of whom he starts a relationship with until she drops him for somebody better. Indeed, so unmoored is Xiao in this world that he can’t even pay for emotional intimacy. 

As would become common in work, Jia’s protagonist is an embodiment of a distinctly Chinese everyman, one overlooked and abandoned for the sake of progress. Whether he’s window-shopping for fancy consumer electronics he knows he’ll never be able to afford or luxuriating in an empty public bathhouse while, presumably, the rest of the world hurries about its workday, he knows he’s forever incapable of benefiting from China’s economic flowering into a superpower.

GLOBEDOCS Starts this Thursday and runs until the 12th

The excellent Globedocs starts Thursday and runs until the 12th. This  is a documentary fest featuring discussions with journalists from the Boston Globe. It is a great collection of films and I will be dropping coverage through the festival.

In order to get you started  here are some links to the reviews of films we've already seen.

CODED BIAS

For more information on the fest and how to screen the films go here.

Eternal Beauty (2020)


ETERNAL BEAUTY is all about Sally Hawkins. Hawkins gives an Oscar worthy performance in small gem of a film about a woman struggling to deal with her schizophrenia. Pushed to the edge by her boyfriend running off with her best friend Hawkins navigates life’s ups and downs as best she can.

To be honest I went into the film because the film  starred Hawkins and David Thewlis. I had no idea what the film was I simply agreed to see it on the strength of the two stars.  Thewlis isn’t in it that much, which is fine since Hawkins gives one of her great performances, which is enough reason to see the film.

Based on one of director Craig Robert‘s relatives Hawkins’ Jane is a plucky woman who is doing the best she can. Hit with highs and lows she rides out the waves as best as she can. What I love about Hawkins is she makes us buy the mood shifts so that we willing laugh and cry at what is happening to her. Because she is unwilling to do anything other than go forward we can’t help but root for to find happiness.

I loved this film a great deal and it is a must for anyone who love Sally Hawkins or great characters.

Recommended.

Brief thoughts on My Mexican Bretzel (2020) NYFF 2020

 


Vivian Barrett's diary forms the narrative thread of a film created via found home movies.

Interesting restructuring of reality tells the story of a woman and her former flier husband. It blends together seamlessly to the point that we fully accept the events on screen as being the actual events. Watching the film I got lost into the story and never considered that it wasn't "real"

This is a wonderful  piece of movie magic.

One of the great surprises of the NYFF.

Herb Alpert is...(2020) a must

I have no idea what to say except this film is an absolute blast. A loving tribute to the man and his life this is two hours with the man and his music.

Oh yea, at this point you’re wondering where the deep conversation about the film is. Where is the critical analysis? There is none. This is a film you either love with all your heart or you’re simply dead inside.. Alpert is a cool dude who makes great music and art anything else is irrelevant.

There is no deep dark secrets. There is no tales that will change his legacy, there is only a man and his friends and his family talking about his life while we listen to the music he made either as the leader of his own band or as a producer. And considering all the hits be was part of this is the soundtrack of the last 60 plus years.

Again this film is a blast- which is all you need to know- so buy a ticket and enjoy

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: Buck Rogers

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Asian American International FIlm Festival starts Thursday and runs until the 11th

The always excellent Asian American International Film Festival starts Thursday bringing its wonderful films to us. For over 40 year the festival has highlighted some of the best Asian American and Asian films around.  While they are not as big and flashy as some other festivals they have never failed to deliver the goods .In this age of Covid when so many festivals are faltering or needing to skip a year AAIFF has collected an excellent  group of films to share with you.

I know the films are excellent because I've seen a number of them. Some, like the list below we've covered previously. Others the festival  allowed me to see before hand. All are worth your time 

Because I've covered so many other fests I ran into some of the AAIFF selections previously. Here are the films I've covered:


This week I will be running a number of reviews closer to the start the festival.(Almost all the films are available to screen starting Thursday and all through the festival)

I was allowed access to two films playing AAIFF on the condition that I only briefly mention the films now and review them later on down the line when they get a full on release to theaters or VOD.

In MONSOON a Vietnamese man from England (he fled with his family when he was six) returns to the country of his birth in order  return his parents ashes. Along the way he contemplates his past and his future. Much deeper and satisfying than I just made it sound, MONSOON is a film of small moments and big characters. It is a film that will stay around in your head for days after you see it. It is recommended.

TWILIGHT'S KISS (aka SUK SUK) is about two older closeted gay men who meet and begin an affair in Hong Kong. It is a lovely little film about the perils of growing old and the realization that no matter how old we get we often are always struggling to be who we are inside. If you want to see a small gem it is recommended.

I now leave it up to you to go to the AAIFF website, search their film and special event list and buy some tickets. Trust me, it is all good so you won't be disappointed.

Nightcap 9/27/20 random bits on the future


If you think that the NYFF coverage has been crazy consider that the Festival of Cinema NYC, The Asian American International Film Festival and Globaldocs all start this week and I'll have coverage of all of them.... plus there are lots of new releases...
---
The Stay at Home Fest Bonus Films are stopping after the 2nd. 

I know a bunch of you have really been enjoying them, but the problem is it takes a lot of work to  go through material to find an interesting link or two, especially when I am trying to cover the heavy loads of festivals. 

I suspect that I will probably bring them back - once the current film festival avalanche ends.
---
Because Covid altered the way everyone is watching movies I don't think there will be an Unseen Film Awards this year...or at least as we've had done in past years. I don't think it will be possible to get a consensus of a best film of the year when so many people are not watching the same things.

I suspect that there will be something but at this point it is way too early to know what that is going to be.
---
There is a good chance in the next couple of weeks I may be stepping a way for a while. As in the past this will mean the new release and festival coverage will disappear while I am gone but you'll get some of the older film reviews that I have banked into next May.  

The reason this may happen is partly burn out, partly needing to take care of things in the real world and lastly covid's effect on the film industry. That last one is simply the realization that I'm covering a lot of things not because I want to but because it's just what is out there.I'm taking things I am only remotely interested in so you'll have a new film review to look at. The result is my writing is suffering, the pieces are getting shorter and I'm not happy.

Additionally I had an thunderbolt moment the other night when I put in for two festivals without looking at their slate and then started to put in for Chicago only to realize that I had seen the majority of the films at all three festivals- plus the fests were overlapping with each other. I was trying to commit to cover films I've covered... I stopped the application process for Chicago and I'll wing the other two as best I can assuming they let me cover them

Ultimately with many fests now being versions of other festivals because of Covid things simply aren't exciting the 3rd time through, and I find I'm taking things in the blind hope of good new material. I can't do that anymore.  I need to find a reason to keep this circus going.
.
However that's down the road and right now I have four festivals to cover....

On The Rocks (2020) NYFF 2020

 


In ON THE ROCKS Rashida Jones contemplates whether her husband is having an affair while hanging out with her dad, Bill Murray, and drinking. Nothing else really happens.

Amusing, but largely laugh free comedy, has no reason to exist other than watching Bill Murray be Bill Murray. Normally that is worth something, but in this case it is pointless because there is only the slimmest of threads on which to hang his antics on. In all seriousness the film has no plot just Jones getting nuts about whether her husband is having an affair with the result we keep waiting for something. Nothing does. There is so little here that when the denouncement finally comes we are left wondering if that’s it. It is and we wonder why we wasted 90 something minutes getting there. 

Sound and fury signifying nothing.

Seriously this film has no reason to exist. None.

And it has even less reason to be asking the audience for money. And lest you think that as a member of the press I shouldn't be saying anything since I get comped for many movies- this time I can say that because I paid to screen the film as part of the New York Film Festival. It as money poorly spent.

Did anyone actually see this exercise in emptiness before they booked it or did they, like I and several people I know, simply jump at the film which has (faint) echoes of Lost In Translation.

The film might have survived on Bill Murray’s charm but while he is a lead, he isn’t on screen enough to carry it.  The great Rashida Jones is completely wasted in a nothing role.  It is so underwritten that there is nothing for her to do but act as straight mans and mope. Seriously what does she do other than mope? Nothing that I can see.

What irks the hell out of me is that when I got to the end I thought I would take another quick look at the film again (or part of it) before the screening window closed. Popping the film on I started watching it and I instantly found my attitude toward things changed. Since I knew how it was going to go everything seemed even more pointless and vapid (like the Jenny Slate character Jones keeps meeting in the school hallway - why is she there?).  Worse I disconnected with the characters since they all seemed to be spoiled rich people who are nothing like the rest of us.

What a waste.

For Bill Murray fans only.

(and forget any Oscar talk for Murray. While he is playing a character he isn’t all that good)

Nomadland (2020) NYFF 2020


I want to say up front I think NOMADLAND is a very good film with a great central performance. Should it win anything other than a statue for Francis McDormand I will be shaking my head.

The plot of the film follows an older woman who is living out of her van. She is travels around the western part of the US working odd jobs and meeting people.

The film is a nice portrait of a part of life most of us don’t realize exists.  Unless we are living on the edge or sliding toward it we don’t realize that many simply can’t afford to live in a home. It’s a frightening thought, but it is a sad fact of life that kind of remains hidden because the people living like this are not on the streets in tents.

What keeps the film from being a truly great film is there is a preachy nature to the film. With the introduction of the life in your car guru the film shifted for me out of a straight drama and became more a polemic. The film started to explain things more than show them. Even when the film was showing us it still seemed like a lecture and a pep talk. I disconnected.

My other quibble with the film is with the casting of McDormand in the lead. As good as she is, expect an Oscar, I really think it should have been better with an unknown, or at least a less well known actress in the lead. Watching all the people around her I couldn’t help but marvel at how good everyone one is. They are stunning having a lived in quality to them.  McDormand on the other hand looks like a star slumming. While she projects inner strength she still feels like her boldest choice is not wearing any make up.

Nitpicks aside, NONADLAND is very good and worth a look.

Stay AT Home Fest Bonus FIlms: Random movie bits







Saturday, September 26, 2020

City Hall (2020) NYFF 2020

 


Frederick Wiseman’s City Hall is another marathon examination of an institution, in this case the City Hall of Boston Massachusetts.

Running a couple of minutes past four and a half hours the film follows the city’s mayor and the people who work in the building and use its services.  Even for someone like myself who is a civil servant in his day job it was an eye opening experience.

I find it really hard to critique Wiseman’s films. It’s not that they are bad, it is more how do you critique life.  You really can’t. Especially since Wiseman doesn’t interview anyone he simply sets his cameras and lets them observe. I find that all you can do is really discuss whether or not something is interesting. You could also discuss whether or not the reality Wiseman is presenting us is honestly the way it is.  I mean how much editing was done in each sequence? I’m not going to speculate.

While I found that some sequences ran a bit longer than they needed to, I found this to be one of Wiseman’s more interesting films. Who would have known that municipal meetings could be this interesting? Additionally it helps that the Mayor is such a character. Watching him go through his paces is quite entertaining. You completely understand how he got elected.

With City Hall Wiseman continues to delight me as a filmmaker. While I am not a full on Wiseman fan, I do like many of his films. Actually what really is amazing is that as he  goes on I am finding that the work he is doing is getting better and better,  Where years ago I would find his films a mixed affair,  I realize that the last four or five films have been so good that I would seriously consider picking up copies for my collection.

Currently playing the New York Film Festival City Hall is recommended

John Waters Programs SALO and CLIMAX as Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In for The New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival not only had John Waters do the poster for the festival they asked him to program a drive in pairing from hell. It's going to play in a drive in the Bronx (details here) and it full of art house exploitation films. Its a pairing that is not for all audiences, or even most audiences. What follows is a repost of my review of Pasolini's SALO from 2013. And my thoughts on Gaspar Noe's CLIMAX which I recently caught up with on Amazon Prime

SALO
Everyone fixates on the steamed chocolate but Pasolini’s film is more than that. Yes it’s a difficult catalog of cruelty but there is something more to it. If you want to be sure of it consider that the film is still be talked about forty years on. Yes on some level the film can be compared to women in prison film, but outside of the exploitation crowd who seriously discusses those? Well yes some of us do, but they don’t cross over to a wider audience.

Pasolini’s film is based on a book by the Marquis de Sade but reset into the 120 day period toward the end of the Second World War when Mussolini was out of power and the Salo government ruled the country. It tells the story of the a group of rulers who go insane and indulge their every twisted whim until the populace revolt and kill them.

As I said at the start the film is a catalog of increasing nasty set pieces of abuse. The film is alternately boring and horrifying. I’ve seen the film any number of times and I’ve been troubled by it each time. On some level the film can be easily dismissed much like films like say the Ilsa films starring Dyane Thorne. Some of the political posturing is trite and the violence is over the top and aimed to simply shock, but at the same time Pasolini is working on a deeper level. He is making us complicit in the events on screen. We may not be taking part but we are witnessing and the longer we stay the more complicit we are. It’s as if Pasolini is trying to find out how long will we watch these terrible things. Apparently as long as he shows them to us.

He is also giving a warning that while people will, for a while kowtow to those in power this is a point where they will hit back.

I don’t particularly like the film, I don’t know if you can, and I think we should probably worry about anyone who does. It is a film I admire a great deal.

I first saw the film because I had to see if the film was a horrifying as I first heard. In a weird way I was disappointed (and to be honest, I still am). Sure there were atrocities on screen but outside of that the film really is boring. I finished the film and pretty much dismissed it as an art film of the most pretentious sort. Then something happened, I started to revisit the film now and again, and eventually picked up the Criterion edition. It’s not that I particularly like the film, rather the film makes me to think and ponder things. I’m engaged with the film on more than the visceral or emotional level, it’s a film that gets my mind going. I’ll come across something and it will trigger something that will make me want to take another run by the film.

The film is not for all audiences, or even the majority of audiences, but for those who can handle dark graphic places and don’t mind pretentious art films mixed with Grand Guigol blood and poo I think you might want to give the film a go. I have no idea what you’ll think, however many years on I’m still trying to figure out what I think, but its worth a shot.

CLIMAX
Gaspar Now continues his slide into boredom with a film with more pretentious bullshit then anything substantive.

The plot has a bunch of dancers going to an abandoned school (or a couple of room there in). After they dance for about an hour the LSD that was in their wine kicks in and everyone goes crazy.

A pure form over content mess is full of deliberately staged sequences, dull overhead shots and lots of dancing. It's a film where Noe is hiding the emptiness of his plot and themes with "look ma ain't I great" wizardry. Yea some of the shots are cool and the music kicks serious ass but the rest of this is really boring. 

Why are we watching this? I don't know. I only think I was there because the director said it important to be there. I think he is wrong. There is nothing here, worse anything that Noe had to say he had said before and better.

Forgive me but Noe has been in a slide since he burst on the  stage. I STAND ALONE was a wake up call. IRREVERSIBLE is arguably his best film. His segment in REDISTRICTED is stupid. ENTER THE VOID is an intriguing idea that just goes on way too long. LOVE is dull porno that exists just for bad 3D sex and now  CLIMAX which is useless.

Noe is of very little interest to me now. He is like the pretentious artists I used to come in contact with when my brother was part of various artists associations. These are the people who would do things like spray painting a beer cooler with a can of paint and then sell it to stupid people for  several hundred dollars because they needed rent money and knew they had suckers on the line. Noe is the artist and anyone giving him money or paying to watch his film are suckers.

Not worth your time or money- even for free.

Stay AT Home Fest Bonus Films: weird





Friday, September 25, 2020

NIGHTSTREAM ANNOUNCES FULL PROGRAM

 The Collaborative Virtual Festival From Boston Underground, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, Overlook, and Popcorn Frights 

Festival to run October 8-11th, with select films available until the 14th

World Premiere of Sarah Paulson Led Thriller RUN to Open, Quentin Dupieux’s MANDIBLES to Close, as well as Featured Conversations with CANDYMAN director Nia DaCosta, Mary Harron on the 20th Anniversary of AMERICAN PSYCHO, and Dinner With The Masters Of Horror Hosted by Festival Honoree Mick Garris Alongside Iconic Guests Headlining Impressive Events Slate

Highlights include the World Premiere of Ryûhei Kitamura’s THE DOORMAN starring Ruby Rose, a spotlight on Indonesian Horror feat. the Intl. Premiere of Timo Tjahjanto’s MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU TOO, and events hosted by Peaches Christ, A QUIET PLACE’s Beck/Woods, and directing duo Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson

http://nightstream.org/

September 24, 2020 // -- NIGHTSTREAM is thrilled to unveil its program of films and special events set to take place virtually next month. Formed as a banner uniting five US genre festivals — Boston Underground, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, Overlook, and Popcorn Frights — who have all been affected by COVID-19, the initiative was first announced last month and will have scheduled programming from October 8-11th, with films available to view on the Eventive platform until the 14th. 

The virtual festival will open with the world premiere of Hulu’s hotly-anticipated thriller RUN, starring Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) and Kiera Allen and directed by Aneesh Chaganty, who helmed the breakout Sundance hit SEARCHING and close with the North American Premiere of MANDIBLES, the latest from Quentin Dupieux, the French filmmaker responsible for singular features such as RUBBER and DEERSKIN. The four-day festival includes a line-up of feature films selected by all five festival programming teams, alongside eighteen distinct short blocks and an impressive slate of events, panels, and masterclasses headlined by conversations with filmmakers Nia DaCosta on CANDYMAN and Mary Harron for the 20th anniversary of AMERICAN PSYCHO, as well as Beck/Woods, the screenwriting team behind A QUIET PLACE. Celebrated horror filmmaker Mick Garris will be recognized as festival honoree and host a very special Dinner With The Masters Of Horror event with guests that include Joe Dante, Mike Flanagan, John Landis, Ernest Dickerson, and more.

All proceeds from NIGHTSTREAM will be shared with the filmmakers and artists involved, donated to charities and businesses locally owned and operated in each festival’s home city, and help the founding festivals recoup losses incurred by COVID-19.

The festival will feature seven World Premieres, nine North American Premieres, and seven U.S. Premieres, alongside 164 short films and a spotlight on Indonesian Horror with a companion panel hosted by Sam Zimmerman, director of programming for Shudder. Highlights include the world premiere of Ryûhei Kitamura’s THE DOORMAN starring Ruby Rose, who will appear for a post screening Q&A, as well as the world premieres of Jesse Blanchard’s FRANK & ZED, Nicholas Payne Santos’ IT CUTS DEEP, Devereux Milburn’s HONEYDEW, Jake Mahaffy’s REUNION and Terence Krey’s AN UNQUIET GRAVE.

NIGHTSTREAM will bring the spirit of festivals to your screen with its exciting off-film programming, including a one-time-only event hosted by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, the directing duo behind beloved genre hits THE ENDLESS and SPRING, who will share an intimate and engaging look at their never-before-seen early work, joined by special guest Issa Lopez (TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID). The fest will also feature iconic drag performer and horror expert Peaches Christ who will offer a deep-dive into campy horror history, in addition to hosting a glamorously blood-drenched festival party. Plus, every night will have a unique happy-hour social in Evening Rituals Presented by IFC Midnight, with a parade of hosts that include Elijah Wood beaming in virtually from their homes, and with a new delicious cocktail to share.

Access to film screenings will be geo-locked to the US with ticket bundles on sale on the website ($65 for 5 features or short film programs and $99 with 10 features or short film programs, both bundles come with unlimited access to events and panels, while event-only badges will be made available worldwide ($25) and a virtual festival social hub will be freely accessible to all. To order a badge, visit: https://nightstream.eventive.org/passes/buy 

FEATURE FILMS

Indie Memphis Announces Preliminary Slate for the 2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival, October 21st-29th Online and Outdoors

 (September 25, 2020 | Memphis, TN) Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., is pleased to announce the full slate of films for its 2020 incarnation, spanning from October 21st - October 29th, 2020. Adjusting to the changing landscape, this year’s festival will be “Online and Outdoors” as film lovers from all over the world will participate in the virtual screenings and events. The 2020 festival will screen over 230 feature films, shorts, and music videos, with most screenings followed by filmmaker Q&As. Memphis audiences will also enjoy in-person screenings at the Drive-In and outdoor lawns.

This year’s festival will give focus to BIPOC and women filmmakers. This year, especially, there is a focus on politics, but with a myriad of approaches to what that means and how someone can engage. There are films about aging, weed legalization, electoral politics, activism, unhoused LGBQT+ youth,  and more. In this difficult moment, the festival seeks to reflect the community and the world, with a wide range of filmmakers tackling themes that matter to their communities. 

More talks and events will be announced in weeks to come, including Indie Talks and new events for the digital edition of the festival. Festival Artistic Director Miriam Bale says, “We hope to bring people together, in person and online, and provide inspiration and an outlet. In order to counter Screen Burnout, we’ll be offering a series of what we call ‘Groundings’ throughout the digital festival, including a meditative film called ‘A Still Place’ by festival alumnus Christopher Yogi.”

This year also marks the final year that Executive Director Ryan Watt will be at the festival. Watt says of stepping down from his role, "This year is a truly unique festival experience to keep our audience safe and entertained while online and outdoors. My sixth and final festival at the helm is bittersweet, I'll be soaking in every bit of the incredible program our team has assembled."

The festival also features many film premieres including the World Premiere of Trimiko Melancon’s documentary What Do You Have to Lose?, which explores the history of race in America and the U.S. Premiere of Anthony Banua-Simon’s documentary Cane Fire, which examines the past and present of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. This year’s Opening Night film will be Memphis-born Lynne Sachs’ celebrated documentary A Film About a Father Who, comprised of 35 years of footage that Sachs’ captured of her father as she attempts to uncover his secretive past.

In addition, the festival features a host of festival favorites including Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s Freeland, starring Krisha Fairchild (Krisha) as an aging pot farmer facing extinction and Emma Seligman’s culture clash comedy Shiva Baby. The Retrospective section will include a new restoration of Joyce Chopra’s Smooth Talk in Laura Dern’s breakout role, and classic titles such as Sidney Lumet’s The Wiz starring Diana Ross and the Richard Pryor comedy Car Wash, in tribute to filmmaker Joel Schumacher, who died earlier this year and wrote both films. 

Passes to the public are available on the Indie Memphis website here and new programming additions will be announced in the coming weeks leading up to the festival!  

2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival Slate

Films Are Alphabetical by Section

Mangrove (2020) NYFF 2020


MANGROVE is Steve McQueen's portrait of Frank Crichlow who opened The Mangrove cafe in Notting Hill in London. The police didn't like a black owner business and constantly raided it and harassed the owner and it's patrons for no reason other than their skin color.  When a rally was held in support of the cafe  and against the police, the cops waded in and arrests were made. The 9 people put on trial...

For the second time at this year's New York Film Festival Steve McQueen hits one out of the ballpark with a true story that is still echoing today. Very much a film of the moment MANGROVE says volumes about the state of the world today. If you don't see the parallels then there is something seriously wrong with you. 

Unlike many of his earlier films McQueen allows the emotion to flow through the film to fantastic effect. Where in many of his films McQueen kept us at a distance, here like in this film's sister LOVERS ROCK the director used a real feeling for the people on screen  to draw us in and connect with. The result is this becomes a film we love and want to watch again instead of just respect and give lip service to (I mean do you really want to watch SHAME again?)

I love that we see the human toll of the trial. For example we watch how Crichlow waivers in continuing his fight. At another point  we watch as a normally loving couple fight about taking care of their child and we see the nerves fraying. 

If there is anything remotely amiss with the film  it is a kind of limitation with the medium. In compressing the constant raids down to rapid series of events the horrific police are made slightly cartoonish. The evil that these men represent is not a cartoon and McQueen never intends it to be, however because we only see it in a concentrated form so it could seem slightly overdone. Make no mistake racism of this sort if far from cartoony and much more insidious

Regardless of my quibble MANGROVE is a great film. Even if it wasn't of the moment it's a hell of a film on it's own terms and an absolute must.

NYFF 2020 Shorts: Section 4: THERE ARE WORLDS THEY HAVE NOT TOLD YOU OF

 Section 4: THERE ARE WORLDS THEY HAVE NOT TOLD YOU OF is a wonderful collection of short films. Where most of the other sections I've run across attempt to create a sense of place or a head space these films actually succeed by using a seeming science fiction or fantasy bend to things and making it so we slip into things more easily. Hands down the best group so far and it is highly recommended.


LABOR OF LOVE has stroboscopic images colliding with a narrative that takes us somewhere else other than here. I suspect the trippy flashing images create a unique headspace. (If flashing images effect you stay away)


LOOK THEN BELOW is by Ben Rivers. I am not a huge fan of Rivers however this science fiction tale drops us into another world we are ready to explore from the first frame.


FIGURE MINUS FACT's mixing of sound and image didn't really work for me. It all seemed too random.


WHILE CURSED BY SPECTERS at first didn't work for me and then suddenly is clicked with its images  of emptiness married to to the sound of life just off the frame. It's a heady exercise that is a small gem.


IN THE AIR TONIGHT is a reimagining of the Phil Collins song into a story about Collins. Its a goofy doodle that some how works because we really can't believe  it's working.

LX 2048 (2020)

In a dystopian future a father with a heart condition has to fight to stay alive and the clone that is set to take his place

Okay science fiction drama about virtual reality and the future of mankind. It is a mix of a lot of ideas that never quite blend together, largely because the world never feels integrated. It feels like pieces and not a whole It also kind of feels a bit cheap as if the choices were made to hide a low budget.

While the plot is never bad it never really feels like it has it's own point of view. Much like the physical world it has a lot of ideas that feel like they were borrowed from other films. Perhaps this might have worked in a slightly shorter film, but LX 2048's run time of just under two hours is a bit much. There are lulls that test our patience.

While never really bad, it never really rises above just being ok. With the result that I can only suggest this might be worth trying for dystopian scifi fans. All others need not apply

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film 25 unsolved mysteries in almost four hours

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Night Of The Kings (2020) NYFF 2020

 


Night of Kings is the first of the New York Main Slate Films that feels like it belongs on the Main Slate. An arresting tale that puts New Yorkers (and audiences) in a place they never had been before. It engages us on various levels and makes us go WOW at the sheer audacity of what we are seeing.  While it may not be perfect it is a cinematic meal that knocks our socks off.

The premise has a young man being brought to a prison. He is raw meat and the prison is essentially the wild west where the guards let the  prisoners govern themselves. The head man inside is dying and he knows his days are numbered. He has plans for the young man who he declares is the new “Roman” or storyteller.  The young man will have to entertain everyone.  What the Roman isn’t told, at least not right away, is that if he ends his story before morning they prisoners will kill him. Desperate to stay alive he begins to spin out the tale of his friend Zama, a notorious crime lord who was just killed.

What follows is pure magic. This is a tale about stories and survival and life that spins out in so many different ways. This is a film that uses every type of storytelling device it can muster to suck us in and drag us along. Because the film essentially blends stories, recreations and reality with song and dance (the prisoners will spontaneous move or chant in response to the tale)  I’m guessing this is going to be something that ends up on the stage.  I was amazed at every turn.

While I don’t think the film is perfect, I think it get s a bit too mystical toward the end, I still think this is a glorious piece of filmmaking. This is the sort of film that I go to the movies for…and in truth this is the sort of film that I go specifically to the New York Film Festival for.  Getting to see earthshaking, eye opening films like Night of Kings is why NYFF remain relevant and why it is a festival I return to every year.

Highly recommended.

The Human Voice (2020) NYFF 2020


The Human Voice should be called Tour de Tilda because it’s a 30 minute masterclass in acting by Tilda Swinton.  Kenji Fujishima says that i was wrong and that it should also be called Tour de Almodóvar because of his technical virtuosity- and he is dead on point , but I am going to stay with the alliteration of Tour de Tilda.

The film is an adaption of Jean Cocteau’s  play of the same name about a woman on the phone with her lover who is leaving her for another woman. Largely set in a apartment created on a sound stage we watch as Swinton waits for her lover’s call…and then we watch as she tries to extend the call.  It is a film of rolling emotions that anyone who has ever been in love and dumped can relate to.

Almodóvar has made a true work of art. The look of everything is perfect. The camera moves and shifts into and out of “reality are as masterful as you will ever see.  Look for this film to be in the hunt for an Oscar.

Speaking of Oscar- Swinton’s performance is such that I’m guessing were it a feature it too would be in the Oscar hunt. It’s real and raw and moving and very very funny in the right mixture.

I had a blast.

One of the treasures of the NYFF.

STUMP THE GUESSER and THERE ARE NOT 36 WAYS OF SHOWING A MAN GETTING ON A HORSE (2020) NYFF 2020

 


STUMP THE GUESSER 

The latest Guy Maddin film is a collaboration with Evan Johnson and Gaen Johnson and concerns a carnival guesser who has things go sideways. Its a strange Massin movie that is strange out there and more than a little disturbing (Disprove heredity and marry my sister). If you're a Maddin fan you are going to eat this up.


THERE ARE NOT THIRTY SIX WAYS OF SHOWING A MAN GETTING ON A HORSE

Two part film is a mixed bag. The first half of the film is a collection of clips from Raoul Walsh films connected by various themes such as getting on a horse. The second part is an essay about  film professor trying to remember information for a lecture.

Mixed bag film has an over long first half  that tempers our reaction to the second. Because the endless clips of the first half has us searching for some sort of connection and point (I'm not sure there really is despite being told there is) it takes a little bit for us to fall into the second's intriguing tale. Watching the second spin out I was intrigued by the seeming shaggy dog tale that links up memory, numbers and how we connect up things that aren't always meant to be connected. 

Worth a look more for the second half than the first (especially at NYFF where you get the Guy Maddin film)

Stay At Home Fest Bonus: Lady in The Morgue

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The best film festival I covered this year- Cabane A Sang has a TV Show

 Yesterday I found out that Cabane A Sang has a TV show highlighting the best horror shorts. Knowing Frank and the festival programmers this is going to be must watch TV. Details below.



MONTREAL, 22nd of September 2020 /Cabane a Sang/ - Starting on the 30th of September, La Cabane a Sang will air on french Canadian horror TV station FRISSONS TV. La Cabane a Sang, a spin-off of the Montreal based film festival by the same name, is hosted by Frank Appache and his loyal sidekick Martin Richard, curating a variety of short horror films and genre satires. Each uniquely themed episode will offer interviews with the creators of the films being showcased. You can expect locally-based films from around Quebec, as well as Canada, the USA, and a multitude of other countries. The adrenaline-fueled show will be sure to feed the viewer's nostalgia with its 90s late-night television vibes.

To view the trailer, please click here

About Frank Appache

Independent filmmaker and director for nearly 10 years, Frank Appache has discovered film making thanks to a work reinsertion program. Since then, his films have traveled the globe while some of his comedy skits have been featured on American television. He is also a regular at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Passionate about all genre cinema released on VHS format, Frank plays particular attention to the over the top sensationalism of the 70s exploitation cinema, the aesthetics of 80s horror cinema, and 90s television. These influences can be felt both visually and narratively through his work.

About Frissons TV

FRISSONS TV is a specialized Francophone channel with content entirely dedicated to genre cinema where vampires, werewolves, zombies, alien invasion, monsters, serial killers, demons, and killer creatures come together for an uninterrupted 24/7 programming, sure to please any horror hound.

The channel is available to subscribers of Bell, Videotron, Shaw, Cogeco, and several independent distributors in Quebec and the rest of Canada. FRISSONS TV can be included in your current package at no additional cost. The channel is also offered a la carte. For more details, visit the channel's website at www.frissonstv.com/sabonner

Full Lineup Announced! - 43rd Asian American International Film Festival

 SEPTEMBER 22, 2020, NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Presented by Asian CineVision, the 43rd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF43) is announcing their full lineup, which in addition to the previously announced feature films includes 14 short film blocks and over 16 workshops, masterclasses, and special events. Tickets can be purchased or reserved at https://www.aaiff.org/

Every day of the festival will feature over 3 hours of live-streamed panels, Q&As, and performances, all accessible as pay-as-you-wish programs. Highlights include a conversation with director Andrew Ahn and the cast of DRIVEWAYS, and a Filipino Filmmaker Roundtable to kick-off Filipino American History Month. The festival also introduces a two-part conversational series on the urgent issue of anti-racism in storytelling - Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness and Online Activism Campaigns. The complete lineup of events is available at https://www.aaiff.org/events/. 

Two special events celebrating the various forms of storytelling make a return this year. Music Night Out interweaves musical performances and our official music video selection to highlight the collaboration of API musicians and filmmakers, while Comedy Night offers performances by top API stand-up and sketch comedians.

JURORS 

Our nine jury prize award winners will be determined by a lineup of leading industry professionals, including actor/producer Sung Kang (FAST AND FURIOUS), actress Rosalind Chao (STAR TREK, MULAN), director/writer Jeff Chan (PLUS ONE), producer Karin Chien (dGenerate Films), filmmaker Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), filmmaker PJ Raval (CALL HER GANDA), editor Faroukh Virani (HUNTERS), actress and host Sherry Cola (GOOD TROUBLE), actor/producer Vinny Chhibber (THE RED LINE), Third World Newsreel Executive Director and filmmaker JT Takagi (AMERICAN MASTERS), Bravo Digital Media EVP Lisa Hsia, director/producer Smriti Mundhra (INDIAN MATCHMAKING), Universal Kids coordinatorSam Cheung, screenwriter Jay Vaida (THE HARDY BOYS), producer Cecilia Mejia (YELLOW ROSE), filmmaker/visual artist Maggie Jung, Goldthread Editor Gavin Huang, actor/YouTuber Mike Bow (THE MAZE RUNNER), writer/director Kevin Lau (WESTWORLD), actor Chase Tang (JUPITER’S LEGACY), CAPE Executive Director Michelle Sugihara, musician Bohan Phoenix, rapper and activist Jason Chu, director Marie Jamora (FAMILY STYLE), and The Song Collective. 

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 

72 HOUR SHOOTOUT TOP TEN SELECTION 

Directed by Asian American Film Lab - U.S., South Korea - English 

The 72 Hour Film Shootout is a worldwide competition in which filmmakers have 72 hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film. The projects in the Top Ten Selection are based on the theme “Going Viral” and the mystery prop “Toilet Paper.”

CUNY SHORTS SHOWCASE 

NEWFEST’S NEW YORK LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL FILM LINE-UP

NEWFEST’S NEW YORK LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL FILM LINE-UP FOR 32nd ANNUAL EDITION - RUNNING OCTOBER 16-27, 2020The festival will showcase New York, US and World Premieres of more than 120 films and episodic series from 29 countries

Highlights include:

Opening Night: NYC premiere of Francis Lee’s AMMONITE, with Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet presenting Lee with the inaugural World Queer Visionary Award

Closing Night: NYC virtual premiere of Faraz Shariat’s 2020 Teddy Award-winning film NO HARD FEELINGS  

Special sneak preview of Academy Award-winner Alan Ball’s UNCLE FRANK

Spotlight screenings of celebrated French auteur François Ozon’s romantic drama SUMMER OF 85, as well as THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, RURANGI, SHIVA BABY, KELET, AHEAD OF THE CURVE and KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY 

World premiere screening of NORA HIGHLAND, shot entirely during the pandemic

Festival Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKlJ9cc-orQ

NEW YORK, NY (September 23, 2020) - NewFest, New York’s leading LGBTQ film and media organization and one of the world's most respected LGBTQ film festivals, has announced its full line-up for The New York LGBTQ Film Festival’s 32nd year. The festival will kick off with the New York City premiere of Francis Lee’s highly anticipated AMMONITE starring Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet and Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan. Winslet will also present Lee with the festival’s inaugural World Queer Visionary Award ahead of the special drive-in screening, taking place at the Queens Drive-In at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The festival will close with the virtual New York premiere of Faraz Shariat’s Teddy Award-winner NO HARD FEELINGS. The announcement was made today by NewFest’s Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. 

The 32nd edition of The New York LGBTQ Film Festival will take place October 16-27, 2020, with more than 120 new films accessible to ticket holders nationwide via NewFest’s on-demand platform. Individual tickets and all-access passes are on sale now at newfest.org.

The first-ever virtual edition of NewFest will include a robust lineup of panels and conversations surrounding LGBTQ+ topics, in addition to its regular programming of new features and short film premieres, and will incorporate virtual live events as well as select drive-in screenings. Introductions to the films will be shot in front of historic LGBTQ sites, community organizations and queer-owned businesses throughout New York City. 

“With the Presidential election right around the corner and a Supreme Court seat now open, it is more urgent than ever that queer stories be told and celebrated,” said Executive Director David Hatkoff. “We have created an 11-day event that will meet and speak to this moment, delivering a thought-provoking, inspiring and joyful look at the LGBTQ community and the unique challenges it faces, while also paying homage to the incredible queer legacy that exists in NYC. We can’t wait for audiences around the country to view these incredible films, and hopefully be inspired to raise their own voices in pride and protest on November 3rd and beyond.”

“Featuring the newest work from leading international auteurs, Academy Award winners, and emerging LGBTQ filmmakers premiering their work for the first time, this year’s line-up channels themes that inform our community and society at large while confronting the edges of democracy and celebrating our strong history of LGBTQ ancestry that broke barriers before,” said Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “By highlighting portraits of hometown heroes and unsung global icons, celebrating the clear fact that All Black Lives Matter, standing up for the visibility of our LGBTQ siblings around the world, and encouraging intergenerational dialogue within our community, our 32nd annual program will raise human spirits by uplifting our diversity of voices.”

The full program for the festival’s 32nd edition includes three drive-in screenings, 24 narrative features in competition, 14 documentary features in competition, three full-season episodics, one global episodic showcase, and 10 shorts program screenings, including a specially-curated shorts program for LGBTQ-identified high school students in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. 

Among the 41 features playing the festival, all are New York City premieres, with one world premiere (NORA HIGHLAND), one international premiere (THE FLASHPOINT), two US premieres (ALWAYS AMBER and DATING AMBER) and one sneak preview (UNCLE FRANK).

This year at NewFest, 63% of films are directed by women and non-binary filmmakers, and 76% of content is about and/or by underrepresented voices (women, people of color, trans, bi and differently abled).

Highlights announced today by the festival include a special sneak drive-in preview of Academy Award winner Alan Ball’s road trip comedy UNCLE FRANK, which follows a teenage girl and her gay uncle who take a road trip back to their hometown. The film, which had its world premiere at Sundance this year, stars Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi and Steve Zahn.

Each night of the Festival will feature a Spotlight film. Spotlight Films include french auteur François Ozon’s drama SUMMER OF 85, a sexy summer romance about two teenage boys who meet on the coast of Normandy, and New Zealand filmmaker Max Currie’s RURANGI, in which a trans activist returns to his hometown to reconnect with his roots and estranged father. Other Spotlight films include topical time-loop drama THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, New Zealand trans drama RURANGI, recent Toronto (TIFF 2020) favorite SHIVA BABY, hometown hero doc KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY, stunning supermodel portrait KELET and celebratory lesbian documentary AHEAD OF THE CURVE. NewFest will not screen a Spotlight film on the evening of Thursday October 22 to encourage viewership of the Presidential debate. 

Additional highlights include the International Premiere of THE FLASHPOINT, a galvanizing documentary that examines political polarization and the rise of right-wing homophobia in Poland through public art and the symbolic meaning of the rainbow, and a special one-night virtual screening event for NORA HIGHLAND, a feature based on the play with the same name, shot entirely on computers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The screening of NORA HIGHLAND, which explores the casting process surrounding an iconic and seminal gay character in a new Broadway revival, will be followed by a Q&A with director Ryan Spahn and actor Michael Urie. 

The Festival will also host a special 25th Legacy Anniversary screening for Kino Lorber’s BLOODSISTERS: LEATHER, DYKES, AND SADOMASOCHISM, the iconic documentary about the San Francisco leather scene, which had its New York Premiere at NewFest back in 1995. 

 Individual tickets for virtual films ($12 regular, $10 for members) and drive-in tickets (starting at $45 per car) are now on sale for purchase on www.newfest.org, with all-access virtual passes starting at $95. For more information, to purchase tickets/passes, or to become a member, go to www.newfest.org.

NewFest is presented by WarnerMedia, and would like to thank Signature Sponsors Hyundai and Ogilvy; Premier Sponsors Amazon Studios and Netflix; Major Sponsor Gilead; and Supporting Sponsors Amida Care, Comcast NBCUniversal, Wolfe Video, and Barefoot Wine.

NewFest is grateful to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the New York City Council, and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) for their generous support of our programs.

The full 2020 lineup selections are as follows:

Push (2019) opens Friday


Push will make you physically ill. An exploration of the housing markets across the globe it shows how the real estate market is causing a crisis in housing by making it nigh impossible for anyone to either own a home or even rent an apartment. The film looks at why this has happened, what is doing to society and how it can be stopped.

I don’t know what to say but this film had me staring at the screen talking to no one I particular. Living in a town where the real estate firms are constantly trying to drive the market higher (A house in your town just sold for millions, why not sell your home for millions too?) I am watching what is happening first hand. I’ve seen the families being driven out and the death of communities (most of my home town’s business district is owned/occupied by the local bank because they are the only one who can pay the rents). I’ve witnessed the creation of dead zones as mega ritzy apartments have been built where no one lives because no one can afford the rent. Seeing it on screen my heart was broken.

This is a great film that lays it all out and probably make you angry enough to try and do something.

Highly recommended.

Brief thoughts on We Are One (2020) hits virtual theaters Friday


Excellent documentary looks at the world wide marches against the Iraq War that took place on February 13th 2003. The film explains how the war happened, why and what happened afterward.

Full of great talking heads, many of whom are unexpected (John LaCarre, Danny Glover and Mark Rylance) this film gives us a fantastic look back when we were not yet mired in seemingly never ending wars. One of the  great things is that the film simply lays everything out in a way that engages us and makes us know why the marches happened and how they changed the world. In all honesty the way this film explains things is to be applauded, more so considering the number of films I've seen recently that simply can't lay the proper groundwork to make us truly understand.

This is a great film and a must see

The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror (1967/2020)

“Something Started Must Be Finished”

Begun and abandoned in 1967 by Raul Ruiz it was picked up and finished five decades later by other hands after the great director died. The result is a time capsule new film that feels like one made when it started.

The film concerns the story of a professor whose life goes strange after his wife commits suicide and his dreams seem intrude on reality.

Looking and feeling like an inde film from the late 1960’s (say Night of the Living Dead anyone?) the film is very much a product of it’s time. Watching it was kind of like comfort food in that I haven’t seen many films like this in a long while.

Taking the film on it’s own terms it’s an interesting doodle. I don’t know why Ruiz abandoned the film. Forgive me for not running that down, it didn’t seem important to me. What it feel like is a cinematic napkin sketch from a great artist. It feels like it’s a bunch of things that he was playing with rather than a finished film. You can feel how bits ended up in other places.

For fans of a Ruiz the film is a must. For everyone else it’s worth a look, especially if you like films with a bend toward the art house.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Films: Ed Wood Double Feature

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Time (2020) NYFF 2020

 


Twenty one years ago Fox Rich dropped her husband off to commit a robbery. He was caught and sentenced to 60 years with out the possibility of parole. Over the next to plus decades Fox fought to get him released.

This is a really good documentary. Blending footage shot by Fox for her husband documenting her and their children's lives, with new material directo Garrett Bradley has fashioned an amazing film. A lovely and loving portrait of one woman and her struggle to free the person she loves this is a film that will move you on many different levels.

What I love about the film is that it brings home the problems with sentencing  people to insanely long terms.  We see the cost levied by those terms on people who had nothing to do with the crime. Should this family be forced to have a to survive with out it's patriarch for six decades? No. Its a sobering and humanizing story.

Best of all this film that hung with me. Days after seeing the film it is still haunting me.

Recommended.

TIME is playing the NYFF and hits theaters October 9th before hitting Amazon Prime

Her Socialst Smile (2020) NYFF 2020

This is an examination of Helen Keller and her thoughts on socialist matters. It focuses largely on the speeches she gave on the subject.

This is a more a pointer than a full on review. I’m doing this because how you react to the film is going to be tied entirely to the presentation. The presentation is a combination of narration and some related images combined with a great deal of the text of Keller’s speeches put on screen for us to read. The text is mostly white text on a black background.

Personally I am intrigued with the film and it’s subject, but I’m not a fan of the presentation. I honestly turned the film off about half way in thinking that this is something I need to revisit another time- though what I really am hoping for is a better presentation of the subject.

If you feel like reading a film for 90 minutes this is worth a shot, all others are going to find this to be a noble miss.

In The Mood For Love (2000) NYFF 2020

Wong Kar Wai's visually stunning romance follows two people as they grow closer and closer as they hash out whether their spouses are having an affair.

Forget it, the film doesn't do what you expect. It doesn't act like you expect, its a film that is ultimately unique and unto itself...its a love story where the lovers really never do anything but talk.

I really like this film. It was my first trip into the realm of Wong Kar Wai and it came at the insistence of Eden who really liked the film. She was right to insist that I see the film since its a film that really helped me break down my expectations about what films should do. I should mention that I had to try to watch this film for the first time on DVD and was annoyed by it's refusal to do anything other than what it was doing.Why aren't these people getting together, why is the film framed the way it is , why is there an occasional insistence on form over content? I didn't know and was fighting it at every turn. Then I talked to Eden who told be to let all my expectations go and just watch the film. Let it be and I would be surprised.

I did and I was.

In it's way this is one of the most romantic films you'll ever see. Why is it that the unrequited or unacted upon romances are the sexiest? My guess would be is that you get to have all of the slow burn and chances to show interest with out all of the smarmy kissy kissy stuff.

For me this is one of those movies where I keep thinking this is the sort of emotion I'd want to feel in my relationship. Its a damn near perfect romance.

In the special features of the Criterion DVD are several deleted scenes, one of which is a sequence which was set many years after the fact where our two near lovers meet again. Its a great sequence, but when it's done you'll be very happy that they left it out of the film. It's not that the sequence is bad, its quite good, it's just that the sequence radically alters everything that happened before and makes a great film an okay one.

As it stands now this is a great film. If you want a real romance with real people give this film a shot, it will amaze you.