Film Forum’s Introductory Notes (by Roger Ebert) on A Tale of Springtime: Nothing very dramatic usually happens in a Rohmer film, or at least nothing loud and violent. The characters are usually too well-behaved and sometimes too distracted by their own problems to pay much attention to the plot Rohmer has thrust them into. That’s one of the pleasures of a film like this; we can recognize the rhythms of real life, in which personal drama sometimes has to wait while we attend to routine duties. There’s the sense in a Rohmer film that the characters are free to walk out, if they want to; they’re not on assignment to stick with the plot to the bitter end, as they are in a Hollywood film.
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: The provocative, brilliant, angry and irresistibly funny film by Radu Jude deals with the phenomenon of moral panic, exposing the accompanying hypocrisy, ignorance and authoritarian tendencies. What is “really” obscene here: the sight of people having sex with mutual consent and to their mutual satisfaction, or perhaps the poverty depicted here of a city devastated by wild capitalism and nationalist ideology? Who is perverse, the teacher or the self-proclaimed tribunal of staunchly indignant parents that has gathered at school to judge her? Filled with archival materials, Bad Luck… is a catalog of the true variants of pornography, whether political, religious, or class, shamelessly spreading under noble slogans. The real reasons for shame, Jude argues, can be found on our streets and in our own history books. (Małgorzata Sadowska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: Rohmerian in spirit, but bearing the expressive mark of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s style, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, consists of three short stories, each revolving around the theme of chance. …it is also a journey towards a growing feeling of uncanniness, because the film, which starts out like a classic morality tale, slowly moves towards fantasy, where a twist of fate takes on extraordinary features. …the scenes, shot mainly in interiors two actors each are phenomenal, nuanced portraits of relationships. Brilliant observations and a discreet sense of humor are accompanied by a sadness that makes Hamaguchi’s film a quiet sigh over wasted opportunities and our imperfection. (Małgorzata Sadowska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on The Girl and the Spider: An intricate web of hidden longing and veiled emotions is woven over the course of two days and one night when Lisa abandons her roommates and moves to her own apartment. The energy triggered by moving …puts everyone in a state of tension that travels like a cold sore from Lisa’s mouth to Mary’s. …Set almost entirely indoors, the film is structured like the eponymous spider’s web with perfect though fragile geometry. And the layouts of the new and old apartments can serve as maps used to decipher their tenants’ inner lives. Like a prism, they capture the things that people do when they think no one is watching. The viewers are also constantly surprised with dynamic, unexpected changes in viewpoints that clue the audience into secret details noticed by no one – save for the spider in the corner of the room.
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky: The sun lights up the streets, the soccer world championship is approaching, children chase footballs, street urchins wander to their favorite pubs, the leaves of lush trees rustle, and the foaming river whispers. Although What Do We See When We Look At the Sky comes close to the convention of magical realism, it ultimately eludes simple classifications. It is full of panache, but also tenderness, contemplation of what constitutes a specific, everyday reality, pulsating with life. The director meanders, releases the narrative, digresses only to return to the main plot. He focuses not so much on the events as on their images, always visually mesmerizing. It is a fairy tale film, but also a tribute to “filmmaking.” (Karolina Kosińska)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Stop-Zemlia: We meet the sensitive Masha who is part of a group of friends along with Yana and Senia. They experiment together, struggle with loneliness, problems with their parents, and first loves. …In her impressive debut, Ukrainian director Kataryna Gronostai, with warmth and sensitivity captures the moment in life when pain intertwines with hope and everything is so easy and so difficult at the same time. An authentic, almost documentary portrait of contemporary youth, who brought their experiences and language to the film during workshops preceding the shooting, combine here with a poetic touch. (Adam Kruk)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wood and Water: The prolonged absence forces the woman to take lonely walks around the city, which turn into a series of random meetings, conversations and fascinations. Jonas Bak blurs the lines between documentary and fiction; although he tells a fictional story, the film stars his mother, sisters and friends. The shooting coincided with Hong Kong’s groundswell of protests against the extradition bill, though politics take a back seat to Bak’s main vision. More important here is Anke’s inner journey: her transformation, which unfolds slowly, timidly, but ultimately allows her to open up to other people and start a new phase of life. (Jakub Demiańczuk)
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Luzzu: The film’s title is taken from the traditional Maltese coastal fishing boat. One of the local captains, Jesmark, continues his family fishing tradition, but is struggling with ever stronger competition. …Camilleri focuses attention on Jesmark’s drama, drawing a broader social and political background at the same time. The blame for the deteriorating fate of Maltese fishermen is not only on the black market, but also stringent EU legislation, progressive environmental degradation and the incipient climate catastrophe. Most of all, however, Luzzu is an emotional portrait of a man whose stable life begins to fall apart overnight. (Jakub Demiańczuk)
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on El Planeta: El Planeta is the wittily droll feature debut of New York–based Argentinian artist Amalia Ulman, …Here, she once again blurs fantasy and reality, starring opposite her actual mother, Ale Ulman, in a semi-autobiographical story of economic hardship that is also inspired by an infamous real-world mother–daughter pair of con artists. Charmingly loose and informal, this film paints a playful and disarming picture of life on the edges.
New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Death of a Virgin, and the Sin of Not Living: Excited, gilded by the afternoon sunlight, the boys step boldly, as if the world belonged to them. They don’t yet know that they belong to the world: it directs their path and the shape of their masculinity, prompts them with dialogues, and directs disappointing, humiliating rituals of passage. …Brought up in a patriarchal culture, young men have – against bold plans – limited opportunities, and the foundations of their power have long been rotten. Delicate beneath a chatty, cheerful surface, the debut of Lebanese director George Peter Barbari, successfully combines realism with poetry, and the gentle movements of the camera embrace the heroes in a gesture they would never have made themselves. (Małgorzata Sadowska)
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear at the 2021 Berlinale, this comic, determinedly offbeat provocation by eclectic Romanian New Wave auteur Radu Jude takes aim at everything from sexist double standards to Romania’s political system to cinema itself. Polemical and unashamedly audacious, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn throws cinema vérité, surreal satire and essay film into a blender to confront a world in which everyone is seemingly willing to cast the first stone.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?: As he follows the couple’s journey towards reunification, writer/director Alexandre Koberidze also takes viewers on a leisurely and wittily self-aware detour through daily life in the historic Georgian city of Kutaisi, whose human, canine and inanimate-object populations are in the grip of World Cup fever. Saturated in colour thanks to Faraz Fesharaki’s artful mix of 16mm and digital cinematography, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is an expansive, eloquent love letter to romance, to the mundane and the magical, and to the art of cinema itself.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: Once again foregrounding his female characters, the Japanese auteur weaves his vignettes so that they interconnect in odd, gently unpredictable ways, twisting and turning around chance connections, mirrored selves and unlikely romantic portals – as the director himself puts it, they are tales of “coincidence and imagination”. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is another ingenious exploration of modern love from a filmmaker fast becoming a contemporary master of the terrain.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on The Girl and the Spider: The second film in Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s loose trilogy about human togetherness follows their award-winning feature debut, The Strange Little Cat, in building a lingering claustrophobic tension hemmed in by four walls. As extended family members, neighbours, handymen and hangers-on pass in and out of the two flats, a palpable undercurrent of sexual desire and jealously fills the frame, and an increasingly chaotic whirl of ambiguity – underscored by Eugen Doga’s Gramofon waltz – threatens to tear it all apart. As a cinematic madrigal on the nature of impermanence, The Girl and the Spider is a unique work of taut, existential distinction.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Drive My Car: Based on the eponymous short story by Haruki Murakami, Hamaguchi’s Cannes Best Screenplay winner is a poignant, moody triumph that channels his previous films with its intimate focus on a slowly unfolding, ultimately reparative relationship between two seemingly mismatched people. Warm and observant, with a memorably vivid visual style that evokes Wong Kar-wai and a powerfully contained performance by Hidetoshi Nishijima as Yūsuke, Drive My Car is another unique and stunning drama from one of Japan’s master storytellers of modern relationships.
New Directors New Films 2020’s Introductory Notes on Boys State: Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope.
New Directors New Films 2020’s Introductory Notes on Anne at 13,000 Ft: Here, the nimble Canadian filmmaker forces viewers to dive headlong into the daily struggles of Anne, a young daycare worker in Toronto whose seemingly steady life gives way to increasing anxiety and recklessness, her unpredictable behavior coinciding with a burgeoning romance with a well-meaning guy (Matt Johnson) wholly unprepared for her quarter-life crisis. Like John Cassavetes, Radwanski risks putting us in close proximity with a character we may bristle at, but the result is a cleansing emotional experience that coaxes our compassion.
New Directors New Films 2020’s Introductory Notes on Dwelling the Fuchun Mountains: Taking its title from a renowned 14th Chinese scroll painting by Huang Gongwang, this debut feature from Gu Xiaogang is a panoramic evocation of one year in the life of a provincial family. In tribute to its artistic inspiration, the film often presents its action from a quiet distance, the camera lyrically moving across the frame as its central characters—the members of the sprawling Yu family, overseen by an aging matriarch (Du Hongjun), whose birthday celebration opens the film—deal with business and romantic entanglements, financial debts and work struggles. All the while the seasons inexorably change. Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains was shot over the course of two years, and is the first in a declared trilogy of films about life along the Yangtze River—a first-time filmmaker’s labor of love that’s as accomplished as it is ambitious.
New Directors New Films 2020’s Introductory Notes on The Killing of Two Lovers: An evocative and atmospheric transmission from wintry Utah, The Killing of Two Lovers is a compact, economical portrait of a husband and father trying to keep it together while seething with rage during a trial separation from his wife. An interior drama set mostly outside, on the vast, lonely street where David (a knockout Clayne Crawford) stays with his ailing father just a few doors up from his wife Niki (Sepideh Moafi) and their four kids, Machoian’s film compassionately depicts a family in crisis, while moving at the ominous pace of a thriller. A complex, brooding soundscape from Peter Albrechtsen that seems to emanate directly from the head of its disturbed protagonist, and a claustrophobic aspect ratio contribute to the powerful emotional register of this impressive new work of American independent cinema.
New Directors New Films 2020’s Introductory Notes on The Metamorphosis of Birds: A highly unorthodox documentary that has the feel of a precious heirloom, this impressionistic yet emotionally rich film finds Portuguese filmmaker Catarina Vasconcelos sifting through the memories and dreams of her ancestors. In prismatic images, richly shot on 16mm film, we get the sense of a family’s entire lineage, starting with her naval officer grandfather, Henrique, who married her grandmother, Beatriz, on her 21st birthday; he then spent extended periods at sea, leaving her with an expanding brood of children. This is the beginning of a generational saga, told in shards of memory and voiceover. The Metamorphosis of Birds achingly evokes the natural world—the changing seasons, the play of sunlight, the ever-flowing tides, and the plant and animal life—that counterbalances and nurtures human life cycles.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Xiao Wu: Abandoned by his friends and associates and stymied by the terrain shifting beneath him, the titular and somewhat nihilistic thief stumbles upon a chance at love—or at least a human connection—and finds himself confronted with the question: is this any way to live? Even in this early work, Jia’s unsurpassed attentiveness to the texture of quotidian life amid a society in flux is powerfully in evidence, presaging his current status as cinema’s great portraitist of the latter-day Chinese behemoth.
Roger Ebert on Smooth Talk: The movie is also uncanny in what it does with its last three shots. I watched them, and could not believe so much could be implied so simply. Leave the movie before it’s over, and you miss almost everything, because what Connie does at the very end of the film is necessary. It makes “Smooth Talk” the story of the process of life, instead of just a sad episode.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Mysterious Object at Noon: A camera crew travels the length of Thailand asking villagers to invent episodes in an ever-expanding story, which ends up incorporating witches, tigers, surprise doublings and impossible reversals. With each participant, Mysterious Object at Noon seems to take on a new unresolved tension. Celebrating equally the possibilities of storytelling and of documentary, it’s a work that’s grounded in a very specific region, but feels like it came from another planet.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on La Ciénaga: No one ever seems to go anywhere; parents and kids lay in bed, half-naked in communal sloth, but there are powerful undercurrents running beneath the seemingly languid country-house atmosphere. One of the all-time great debut films, La Ciénaga announced a daring new voice in Argentine cinema, and constituted a mesmerizing portrait—reminiscent of Buñuel—of the privileged class far gone in decay, unanchored from religion, nature, marital or blood ties.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Japón: Cinema of the 21st century found its heir to Andrei Tarkovsky with the emergence of Mexican master Carlos Reygadas who, perhaps more than any other major auteur of his generation, has devoted himself to wrestling with weighty metaphysical questions of sex, spirituality, mortality, and suffering. His quietly iconoclastic vision emerged fully formed with the cryptically titled Japón, in which a tormented man travels to a remote valley with a plan to commit suicide, only to find his will to live restored through his relationship with an older widow. Straying readily from its narrative path to chase down moments of visual and auditory transcendence, this sublime psychic journey is rich with aesthetic and philosophical revelations.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Unrelated: The 2007 debut from Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), visually detached yet emotionally cutting, established her immediately as an unusual artist with a place-specific approach to drama.
Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Corpo Celeste: Alice Rohrwacher’s extraordinarily impressive debut feature chronicles Marta’s private duel with the Church, carried out under the shadow of the physical changes coursing through her. Rohrwacher is not interested in pointing out heroes and villains, but instead in offering a perceptive look at how the once all-powerful Church has dealt with its waning influence.
Quad Cinema’s Introductory Notes on Ash is Purest White: Jia Zhangke’s oeuvre epitomizes many of the most vital aspects of contemporary Mainland Chinese filmmaking: acute sociopolitical awareness, impressive acting, and a sui generis approach to genre storytelling influenced by a rich yet fragmented cultural history. Ash is no different, subtly mapping the seismic effects of China’s post-socialist economy over the span of two decades.—Kyle Pletcher, front of house staff
Criterion Collection’s Introductory Notes on The Marriage of Maria Braun: Maria (Hanna Schygulla) marries Hermann Braun in the last days of World War II, only for him to go missing in the war. Alone, Maria puts to use her beauty and ambition in order to find prosperity during Germany’s “economic miracle” of the 1950s. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s biggest international box-office success, The Marriage of Maria Braun is a heartbreaking study of a woman picking herself up from the ruins of her own life, as well as a pointed metaphorical attack on a society determined to forget its past.
Roger Ebert’s 2005 Essay on The Marriage of Maria Braun: 1) Fassbinder’s world was one in which sex, ego and money drove his characters to cruelty, sadism and self-destruction. It is never difficult to discover what they want, or puzzling to see how they go about it. 2) …observe how they like to keep the camera moving, through elegant setups in which characters and locations are arranged so that the fluid visuals flow from long shots through closeups without cutting, often moving behind walls, peering through doors and windows, looking around posts, so that the characters seem jammed into the space around them. 3) Hanna Schygulla, who met Fassbinder in school and starred in 20 of his films, had an uncanny ability to float just out of range of analysis, as if she were not acting but getting her effects through dreamy murderous impulses — that despite the fact that every shot was precisely blocked and the dialogue has the precision and brutality of a play by Neil LaBute.
Derek Malcom’s 1999 Essay on The Marriage of Maria Braun: 1) He was half infatuated and half repelled by Hollywood, and the film’s form shows that. But it could never have been made in America, since it takes a highly political account of a period in German history and, on almost every frame, he stamps his sour opinion of the downside of that country’s post-war economic miracle. 2) In it, he allows us to identify with his heroine utterly, as she ruthlessly gets everything she wants in preparation for her reunion with her husband. But he does so for a purpose – to shock us into the realisation that Germany’s post-war prosperity was, like ours, based on a series of false premises, which eventually infected those who believed in it. 3) The miracle is that Fassbinder was able […] to direct Schygulla and the film so precisely. Apparently he even instructed her how to move her fingers. His movies are generally about the oppressor and the oppressed. But The Marriage Of Maria Braun was less about Hollywood’s familiar idea of the redeeming nature of love than the fact that love is often the worst oppressor of all. In Fassbinder’s own life, as in his art, that was certainly true.
MoMA’s Instroduction on The Wind Will Carry Us: While death hovers around the corner, Behzad gains perspectives on life and spirituality as he befriends the locals and experiences the majesty of nature. One of Abbas Kiarostami’s most celebrated works, The Wind Will Carry Us contemplates the profound questions of life through the observation of the simplest existence.
MoMA’s Instroduction on Gabbeh: As filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf observed their life, what began as a documentary project turned into something else—more surreal than real. A beautiful young woman named Gabbeh has seemingly leapt out of a rug depicting two small figures: a woman and a horseman. She finds herself in front of an old couple and begins to tell them about her lover, the horseman, whom she wants to marry but must wait for her father’s approval. Cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari captures all the vivid colors that brighten life in this wondrous fable about a woman’s desires.
Metrograph’s Introduction on Platform: Jia Zhangke’s intimate epic begins in and returns to the director’s hometown of Fenyang, Shanxi Province,
where it picks up with a theatre troupe first encountered in the late ‘70s, following them through changes in fashion over the course of a decade as they are scattered to the wind and finally return, along the way tracking the social shifts that accompany China’s move from the wake of the Cultural Revolution to the threshold of market capitalism. “It’s Pop Art as history.” – J. Hoberman
Slant’s Ed Gonzalez’s Review on Platform: You can feel the unrest in the air: Trains constantly leave and come into the community, but it’s as if no one rides on them; the tide is changing (Mao is dead and a Western, market-driven pop awareness is slowly seeping in), but no one seems to be going anywhere quick. Atop the cement platform that overlooks the city, a couple engages in a courtship repeatedly frustrated by unbending parents, defeated selves, and bitter surroundings (at one point, cement pillars make it difficult for them to share the same frame).
… … Some critics have complained about the film’s lack of narrative vigor, forgetting that Jia’s point is that there’s very little for these people to live out. These are lives trapped in amber, trying to create a more complex narrative. Via startling long shots and temporal displacements, Jia truly evokes a community grasping hopelessly for something, anything to lift them up.
New York Times’ A.O. Scott’s Review on Platform: Slow and gradual also describe the director Jia Zhang Ke’s approach to storytelling. Social change is incremental, and rarely noticed by those living through it. Mr. Jia shows the commercialization of provincial Chinese culture largely through incidental details.
… … When they are outdoors, Mr. Jia photographs his characters from a distance. The lovers argue on the ancient battlements that surround their hometown or stand in vast, empty winter fields. Interior spaces are either dimly lighted or flooded with harsh white backlighting. While these techniques often create visually arresting images, they also keep us detached from the human dimensions and emotional resonance of the story. The film seems to invert conventional notions of foreground and background, as if the feelings and choices of individuals were incidental and the real interest lay in their changing cultural milieu.
… … The historical thesis is clear enough: bourgeois domesticity and consumer capitalism have replaced collectivism. We grasp this as a historical fact, but not as an experience. Or to put it another way, the characters in ”Platform” live through a lot of history, but the history — and the film itself — never really come alive.
Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Introduction on The Wonders: Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, Alice Rohrwacher’s vivid story of teenage yearning and confusion revolves around a beekeeping family in rural central Italy… … Hélène Louvart’s lensing combines a documentary attention to daily ritual with an evocative atmosphere of mystery to conjure a richly concrete world that is subject to the magical thinking of adolescence.
Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Introduction on La France: From time to time, these surprisingly sensitive, introspective men break out an assortment of homemade instruments and perform original songs written for the film by Benjamin Esdraffo and… … Exquisitely shot by Céline Bozon (the director’s sister), this unclassifiable hybrid of war movie and movie musical is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Introduction on The Strange Case of Angelica: Manoel de Oliveira’s sly, metaphysical romance—made when the famously resilient director was a mere 102 years old—is a mesmerizing, beyond-the-grave rumination on love, mortality, and the power of images… … The crisp chiaroscuro compositions of cinematographer Sabine Lancelin enhance the film’s otherworldly, unstuck-in-time aura.
Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Introduction on The Milk of Sorrow: Llosa and DP Natasha Braier capture the striking beauty of Lima’s outskirts, as well as a revelatory performance by Magaly Solier, with dignity and grace. Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival.
MoMA’s Introduction on Hanare goze Orin (Ballad of Orin): One of the most sublime color films ever made, Ballad of Orin follows the hardscrabble life of a wandering outcast goze (blind female musician) in early 20th-century Japan. Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa and director Masahiro Shinoda interviewed surviving goza of the time to capture “a sense of the ideal beauty that these blind women had inwardly visualized.”
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on First Reformed: Paul Schrader’s newest film, about a middle-aged pastor named Toller (Ethan Hawke, in a truly extraordinary performance) who is shocked out of his self-inflicted torment when he is called to minister to a troubled young environmental activist and his wife (Philip Ettinger and Amanda Seyfried), is as deeply personal as it is politically and spiritually urgent. The film also stars Cedric the Entertainer as the leader of the megachurch that oversees Toller’s 250-year-old landmarked structure and his ever-dwindling congregation. Schrader has created a potent cinematic experience, a carefully constructed, beautifully crafted communion with one lonely soul that allows us to gaze right into the eye of modern media- and money-fueled horror.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on Series Visconti: A Retrospective: A leader in the neorealismo movement who also worked with international stars like Burt Lancaster, Helmut Berger, Alain Delon, and Dirk Bogarde, Visconti produced an oeuvre of modest and humane dramas as well as decadent, sprawling historical spectacles. Deftly aware of the subtle and rich means of cinematic expression, he uniquely imposed the narrative customs of opera and the novel onto film, yet remained sharply attuned to the social and political climates of the 20th century.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on The Leopard: With fastidious attention to period detail, Visconti evokes a gilded world fading into oblivion, his camera gliding over baroque palazzos, magnificent banquets, and ornate ceremonies. It all culminates in a majestic, dusk-to-dawn ball sequence that is as poignant as it is breathtaking.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on Rocco and His Brothers: Visconti’s rich and expansive masterpiece has an emotional intensity and tragic grandeur matched by few other films. The director turned to Giovanni Testori, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky, and Arthur Miller for inspiration, … …. In one beautifully realized scene after another, we observe a tightly knit family coming apart, one frayed thread at a time. … … One of the defining films of its era, Rocco and His Brothers has been beautifully restored, and Giuseppe Rotunno’s black and white images are as pearly and lustrous today as they were always meant to be.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on White Nights: Visconti’s adaptation of a classic short story by Dostoevsky is a ravishing romantic reverie in incandescent black and white. Marcello Mastroianni is the lonely flâneur who meets and falls in love with a fragile young woman (Maria Schell) amidst the fog-shrouded night world of the Tuscan canal city of Livorno. The resulting tale of all-consuming love and loss is a swooning dream vision elevated to the nearly operatic by Visconti’s rapturously stylized direction.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s Introduction on Death in Venice: Opening with the otherworldly image of a steamship emerging ghostlike from inky blackness and closing with one of the most transcendent denouements in all of cinema, Visconti’s exquisite adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella is a piercing meditation on mortality, sexuality, beauty, and the longing for youth. … … Visconti’s painterly compositions enter the realm of the sublime thanks to the tension-swelling, never-resolving strains of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
Museum of the Moving Image’s Introduction on Le Bonheur: In Varda’s exquisitely colorful movie, a seemingly happy married carpenter takes a mistress. Though set in bucolic landscapes and filmed with a vividly stylized and vibrant palette, Le Bonheur is sharply analytical beneath its sunny exterior, as disturbing as it is beautiful. Describing the film, Varda said “I imagined a summer peach with its perfect colors, and inside there is a worm.”
BAM’s Introduction on Lynne Ramsay’s Retrospective Series: Through her complex layering of sound and visuals, transformative use of pop music, and knack for capturing lightning-in-a-bottle performances, Ramsay creates senses-shattering spectacles of hallucinatory beauty and raw psychological power.
New Directors New Films 2018’s Introduction on An Elephant Sitting Still: Sure to be remembered as a landmark in Chinese cinema, this intensely felt epic marks a career cut tragically short: its debut director Hu Bo took his own life last October, at the age of 29. The protagonist of this modern reworking of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts is teenage Wei Bu, who critically injures a school bully by accident. Over a single, eventful day, he crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and the bully’s older brother, all of them bearing their own individual burdens, and all drawn as if by gravity to the city of Manzhouli, where a mythical elephant is said to sit, indifferent to a cruel world. Full of moody close-ups and virtuosic tracking shots, An Elephant Sitting Still is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Wild Strawberries: Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is a treasure from the golden age of art-house cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim.
Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Persona: In the first of a series of legendary performances for Bergman, Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; an equally mesmerizing Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women perform a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference that would prove to be one of cinema’s most influential creations. Acted with astonishing nuance and shot in stark contrast and soft light by the great Sven Nykvist, Persona is a penetrating, dreamlike work of profound psychological depth.
Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Cries and Whispers: An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.
Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Scenes from a Marriage: Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring flawless performances, Ingmar Bergman’s emotional x-ray reveals the intense joys and pains of a complex relationship.
A.O.Scott’s Review on Western: Geopolitics and global economics are elements in the atmosphere, less themes of the movie than part of the air its inhabitants breathe. It’s worth noting that Maren Ade, whose “Toni Erdmann” is also about a German expatriate in a Balkan country, is credited as a producer of “Western.” (Ms. Grisebach was a script consultant on “Toni Erdmann.”) Both films combine highly specific individual narratives with sharp, critical scrutiny of the way the world is organized now — the imbalances of power and autonomy that inevitably, though not always predictably, influence the ways people behave toward one another.
New York Times’ Bosley Crowther on The Virgin Spring: In all of this representation, Mr. Bergman has achieved a tremendous sense of mental heaviness, primeval passion and physical power. … …Each character may be a representation of some contemporary element in the world. But we rather feel Mr. Bergman has here given us nothing more than a literal, very harsh, very vivid and occasionally touching statement of a moral. When water springs from the earth beneath the dead child, after the father has repented his wrong, the simple — almost naïve — conception is resolved in a miracle.
Metrograph’s Introduction on On the Beach at Night Alone: Another chapter in one of the most exciting bodies of work in the making today, On the Beach at Night Alone combines simplicity of expression and complexity of design in the effortless manner that has endeared the South Korean auteur to audiences around the world. Kim Minhee (Right Now, Wrong Then) stars in both halves of this bittersweet, bifurcated story of romantic distress and booze-fueled self-laceration, moving between her character’s retreat in Hamburg and her hometown of coastal Gangneung. Formally frisky while full of heavy-hearted home truths, this is Hong at his beguiling best.
Film Forum’s Introduction on Au Hasard Balthazar: A little donkey is suckled by its mother, then baptized “Balthazar;” a girl and boy say goodbye at the end of summer: a vision of paradise. Years pass and the now-teenaged Marie (Anne Wiazemsky, later Godard’s wife and star, and today a celebrated author) finds herself drifting into more and more destructive situations, including involvement with a local juvenile delinquent; while Balthazar moves from owner to owner, some kind, some cruel, some drunkenly careless. But as critic J. Hoberman pointed out, “this is the story of a donkey in somewhat the way that Moby Dick is about a whale.” God, as ever in the work of legendary filmmaker Bresson, is in the details: the elliptical editing, with its abrupt cuts, off-screen space, and as much focus on the hands of the non-pro cast as on their faces; sound design alternating between classical music and natural sounds; the accumulation of cruelties endured by Marie and Balthazar; and the religious symbolism, from baptism to martyrdom – with the silent Balthazar transformed into a patient, long-suffering saint (“the most sublime cinematic passage I know.” – Hoberman). In a body of work known for its purity and transcendence, Balthazar is perhaps the most wrenching of Bresson’s visions, voted 19 in the 2002 BFI Sight & Sound critics and filmmakers poll of all-time great films.
NYFF55’s Introduction on On the Beach at Night Alone: Hong Sang-soo’s movies have always invited autobiographical readings, and his 19th feature is perhaps his most achingly personal film yet, a steel-nerved, clear-eyed response to the tabloid frenzy that erupted in South Korea over his relationship with actress Kim Min-hee. The film begins in Hamburg, where actress Young-hee (played by Kim herself, who won the Best Actress prize at Berlin for this role) is hiding out after the revelation of her affair with a married filmmaker. Back in Korea, a series of encounters shed light on Young-hee’s volatile state, as she slips in and out of melancholic reflection and dreams. Centered on Kim’s astonishingly layered performance, On the Beach at Night Alone is the work of a master mining new emotional depths.
NYFF55’s Introduction on Lover for a Day: Lover for a Day is an exquisite meditation on love and fidelity that recalls Garrel’s previous NYFF selections Jealousy (NYFF 2013) and In the Shadow of Women (NYFF 2015). After a painful breakup, heartbroken Jeanne (Esther Garrel) moves back in with her university professor father, Gilles (Eric Caravaca), to discover that he lives with optimistic, life-loving student Ariane (newcomer Louise Chevillotte), who is the same age as Jeanne. An unusual triangular relationship emerges as both girls seek the favor of Gilles, as daughter or lover, while developing their own friendship, finding common ground despite their differences. Gorgeously shot in grainy black and white by Renato Berta (Au revoir les enfants), Lover for a Day perfectly illustrates Garrel’s poetic exploration of relationships and desire.
NYFF55’s Introduction on Call Me By Your Name: A story of summer love unlike any other, the sensual new film from the director of I Am Love, set in 1983, charts the slowly ripening romance between Elio (Timothée Chalamet), an American teen on the verge of discovering himself, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), the handsome older grad student whom his professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) has invited to their vacation home in Northern Italy. Adapted from the wistful novel by André Aciman, Call Me by Your Name is Guadagnino’s most exquisitely rendered, visually restrained film, capturing with eloquence the confusion and longing of youth, anchored by a remarkable, star-making performance by Chalamet, always a nervy bundle of swagger and insecurity, contrasting with Hammer’s stoicism.
NYFF55’s Introduction on Spoor: Janina Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat) is a vigorous former engineer, part-time teacher, and animal activist, living in a near wilderness on the Polish-Czech border, where hunting is the favored year-round sport of the corrupt men who rule the region. When a series of hunters die mysteriously, Janina wonders if the animals are taking revenge, which doesn’t stop the police from coming after her. A brilliant, passionate director, Agnieszka Holland—who like Janina comes from a generation that learned to fight authoritarianism by any means necessary—forges a sprawling, wildly beautiful, emotionally enveloping film that earns its vision of utopia. It’s at once a phantasmagorical murder mystery, a tender, late-blooming love story, and a resistance and rescue thriller.
Metrograph’s Introduction on The Makioka Sisters: Among the greatest Japanese films of the 1980s, Kon Ichikawa’s wistful adaptation of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s novel about the four daughters of a prosperous Osaka family in decline, set in the before-the-storm year of 1938, is a movie marked by moments of unspoken longing and overpowering beauty (a parade of gorgeous kimono fabrics, a viewing of the spring cherry blossoms) born forth on an anachronistic-yet-somehow-perfect synth score. At once a touching requiem for both the prewar era and classic Japanese cinema.
Metrograph’s Introduction on Tokyo Story: One of the greatest of all Japanese motion pictures. Ozu’s style, now completely refined, utterly economical, creates a film that is unforgettable because it is so right, so true, and also because it demands so much from its audience. Evasions of any sort are rare in an Ozu picture, but here there are none at all. Two generations, a simple story that allows all the characters to change places, a pervading delineation of high summer, and the deceptive simplicity of the film’s style—all these combine to create a picture so Japanese and at the same time so personal, and hence so universal that it becomes a masterpiece. — Donald Richie
Introduction of Film Society Lincoln Center Series Illuminating Moonlight: With the ravishing, unforgettable Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has established himself as one of today’s major voices in independent American filmmaking. This series brings together Jenkins’s two features (including his ripe-for-rediscovery debut, Medicine for Melancholy) with a selection of films that informed the making of his latest, handpicked by the director himself. These major works of queer, black, and international art cinema are, like Moonlight, rich, stylistically sensual, and compassionate portraits of outsiders. Taken together, the films in this series serve to contextualize Jenkins’s work and offer insight into the making of a modern masterpiece.
Introduction of Film Society Lincoln Center film Raging Bull: Robert De Niro’s Method dedication was taken to new levels with the story of Jake La Motta, a self-destructive boxer whose violence and temper made and broke his career. Coming off 1978’s Vietnam War saga The Deer Hunter, De Niro altered his physique twice during the making of Raging Bull: first, to the lean muscle of a professional boxer 15 years his junior; and second, to the 50-pounds-heavier La Motta of the late 1950s, a nightclub owner and nearly unrecognizable transformation of his former self. Beyond the physical, De Niro infuses the raging bull with animalistic rage, a man of mantras aching with pain, weakness, jealousy, and ambition—perhaps the actor’s finest performance. Winner of the Best Actor Academy Award.
Program notes by Durga Chew-Bose (Metrograph Series: Too Much and Not the Mood): Nothing has influenced my writing more than how I watch movies—how I’ve always watched movies. Sometimes the same ones, over and over. I’ll forget the plot of a film, but remember, for instance, how an actor slumps in her chair or folds her arms to convey disinterest. For whatever reason I’ll watch a film, new-to-me yet heralded as a masterwork, and mostly be charmed by how the lead tosses fries in his mouth or how the booths in a pivotal diner scene are an unlikely shade of green.
- Tue (1/2) to Thu (1/5): Tampopo (12:30, 6:00); Cameraperson (10:20)
- Thu (1/5): Silent Night (3:30)
- Fri (1/6): The Portrait of a Lady (4:00); After the Storm (7:00)
- Sun (1/8): Cameraperson (4:30); The Portrait of a Lady (5:00); Silent Night (8:00)
- All days and nights: Lion
年度最佳纪录片的有力候选《持摄像机的人》（2016, 102 min, 7.6, 8.9）在 IFC 中心热映，本片作者就是一位纪录片专家，克斯汀·约翰逊作为摄像师参与过多部纪录片的拍摄，早期包括《华氏911》这一部罕见的作为非虚构类作品摘得戛纳金棕榈奖的佳作，前年的奥斯卡最佳纪录片——讲述爱德华·斯诺登故事的——《第四公民》，她则是主摄影师。这一次，她亲自上阵，作为导演从“局内人”的视角，讲述镜头背后故事与真实之间的微妙关系，是又一部“电影人拍什么是电影”的好片。
林肯中心以今年的最受好评的独立电影《月光男孩》为由头，邀请该片导演巴里·詹金斯择选出他自己的电影清单，作为《月光男孩》的副本。这个清单里的电影都极具个人风格，它们来自不同的国家，不同时期（港台的两位文艺片“大腕”王家卫和侯孝贤也在列），不过或多或少都触及到同一个母题：离群的，不受关注的局外人。除了上述大师的作品（《春光乍泄》《最好的时光》）之外，来自墨西哥导演卡洛斯·雷加达斯的2007年戛纳评审团奖得主《寂静之光》（2007, 136 min, 7.3, 7.4）也十分值得关注。
林肯中心同时在上映的还有日本大师伊丹十三的名作《蒲公英》（1985, 114 min, 7.9, 8.3），这部电影设置在一家拉面馆中，在美食的大背景下讲述爱的故事，是一部积极向上的励志喜剧。
河岸另一边的 Museum of Moving Image 在跨年期间藏着不少“硬货”，马丁·斯科塞斯的回顾展（第一部分）刚刚结束，另两个系列 Curator’s Choice 和 First Look 2017 足以看出展方的用心，在后一个系列的独挑大梁的是日本导演是枝裕和的最新作品《比海更深》（2016, 117 min, 7.7, 8.6），这部去年戛纳的参展作品目前只在各大电影节里出现过，美国大规模上线要等到三月中旬，因此这是为数不多的另一次“窥其真相”的机会。是枝裕和作品的主题有一定的重复性，近年来的《步履不停》《如父如子》包括去年的《海街日记》，都是同一个外壳下一类主题的不同变式，这部《比海更深》也不例外。真正喜欢这位导演的观众，想必是不会看厌的。
纽约独立影院新锐 Metrograph 轰轰烈烈的张曼玉回顾展终于告一段落，影院的“开张大礼包” Welcome to Metrograph: A to Z 还在继续，这里面储藏了各种各样风格难以归类和定义的小众电影，是猎奇和“查漏补缺”的好地方。本周末上场的除了阿涅斯·瓦尔达和保罗·托马斯·安德森之外，还有一部女导演简·坎皮恩（《钢琴课》的导演）的作品《淑女本色》（1996, 144 min, 6.3, 7.1），本片最吸引人的地方其实是它的原作，它改编自20世纪最伟大的小说家之一亨利·詹姆斯的长篇作品《一位贵妇的画像》，出演的包括妮可·基德曼和约翰·马尔科维奇这样的“大咖”，还有时年仅22岁的克里斯蒂安·贝尔。
既然提到了妮可·基德曼，在大院线正在上映的影片里自然也找得到她。新人导演加斯·戴维斯的处女作《雄狮》（2016, 118 min, 7.9, 7.4），妮可是其中的女二号，她也凭借本片出现在了本年度金球奖的提名名单中。值得一提的是在这部不知名导演的首部作品中，演员阵容出奇得强大，妮可之外，女一号是《卡罗尔》中的鲁妮·玛拉，男二号戴夫·帕特尔我们也不会陌生——《贫民窟的百万富翁》的主角马利克。电影本身也受到了肯定，成功登上金球奖最佳剧情片的提名榜单。
2016年夏天的纽约电影基本被西村的两大影院 Film Forum 和 IFC Center 包揽着，后者有横跨一整个季节的费里尼回顾展，前者在老电影上毫不示弱，祭出了“一张票看两场”的大招，美其名曰，好莱坞的“黄金时期”就是这么干的（通常是一部A级片，也就是当时的大片，搭上一部B级片）。今天点开网站，IFC 又即将要分周推出基耶洛夫斯基的《十诫》，横跨五个星期。林肯中心曾在2014年10月的 White Light Festival 上用一周末的三天时间一口气放完了这十部可能是电影史上最棒的短片，当时只有幸看了前六部，大呼过瘾。时隔两年我们才等来了又一次放映，好事多磨。
《十诫》（1989, 55 min per episode, 9.1, 9.0）的放映自然要拜 Criterion Collection 的功劳，在最新的推出名单中我们赫然发现了它的名字，影片简介说这是 “one of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in visual storytelling … … [It] focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland, whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face emotional dilemmas that are at once deeply personal and universally human … … [and] arrestingly explores the unknowable forces that shape our lives. ” Criterion 的 DVD 和蓝光版本要到9月26号才正式发售，而纽约的影迷们，从下周末开始就可以在大荧幕上先睹为快了。
IFC 中心的费里尼全集将告尾声，这个系列是影院传统的保留项目 Weekend Classics 的一部分，只留给每周末上午还能早起的电影爱好者们。七月开篇的第一场是《甜蜜的生活》，而九月底收尾的则是《城市女郎》，最重量级的《八部半》（1963, 138 min, 8.1, 8.4）则毫无悬念地被安排在了 Labor Day Weekend。
有趣的是，在离 IFC 中心不远处 Film Forum 正如火如荼展映的 “Return of the Double Feature” 里面，我们找不到费里尼的名字，的确，好莱坞的黄金时代是希区柯克，黑泽明，波兰斯基，罗伯特·奥特曼，卡罗尔·里德和卓别林们的。长长的放映名单里其实也不乏欧洲人的身影，虽然想要找到安东尼奥尼和伯格曼之流的确有些困难，但我们依然有：戈达尔，阿伦·雷奈，雅克·德米，（同为意大利人的）德西卡，当然，让人有些意外的，是路易斯·布努埃尔。西班牙大师的晚期作品实际上已经敲开了美国市场和好莱坞的大门，他的倒数第三和第一部作品，《资产阶级的审慎魅力》（1972, 102 min, 8.0, 8.3）和《朦胧的欲望》（1977, 102 min, 8.0, 8.3），更是为他赢得了奥斯卡提名（前者最终获奖）。Film Forum 也很老实，他们给布努埃尔选映的正是这两部。
- Tue: That Obscure Object of Desire (6:35); The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (8:45)
- Sat & Sun: 8 1/2 (11:00); Decalog Parts 1&2 (11:20, 1:45, 4:20, 7:00, 9:35)
Michael Atkinson (The Village Voice) on Voyage to Italy: Always interested in the mystery zone between documentary and fiction, even when the “reality” in question was his own marriage, Rossellini shoots his anti-drama with impassive mobility, always maintaining a distance but constantly reframing, insisting that “real” environments impede on the characters’ perspectives. It’s a movie you have to hold on to as it wanders—it will not grab on to you—and it was loathed upon its original release, except by the Cahiers du cinéma gang. (Italian critics wowed by Fellini’s La Strada, released the same day, called for Rossellini’s retirement.) Laying the brickwork for Antonioni’s existential parables a few years to come, Voyage to Italy is close to watching actual strangers suffer loneliness despite being together. It can leave an aching bruise, but only if you’re paying attention.
Stanley Kubrick on Decalogue: The Ten Commandments: I am always reluctant to single out some particular feature of the work of a major filmmaker because it tends inevitably to simplify and reduce the work. But in this book of screenplays by Krzysztof Kieslowski and his co-author, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, it should not be out of place to observe that they have the very rare ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them. By making their points through the dramatic action of the story they gain the added power of allowing the audience to discover what’s really going on rather than being told. They do this with such dazzling skill, you never see the ideas coming and don’t realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.
Film Society of Lincoln Center on Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales: In 1950, the French publisher Gallimard rejected a manuscript of a short story collection called Moral Tales, submitted by a thirty-year-old writer. In the early sixties, the writer in question—now an influential critic and a late-flowering movie director—resolved to adapt the stories for the screen, each inspired by F. W. Murnau’sSunrise, in which a man, committed to one woman, is tempted by another. The resulting series, which took a decade to complete, established Eric Rohmer’s international filmmaking reputation. Thrillingly intelligent portraits of self-centered, articulate, often foolish men and the women they belittle, idolize, stalk, and long for, staged with offhand visual imagination and full of electrifying, high-stakes verbal showdowns, the six Moral Tales represented an entirely new way of handling male-female relationships on screen.
None of the tales are chiding or moralizing (“It would be nonsense to believe that I am proposing a moral of some kind,” Rohmer once said of them), but they all show a distinctive willingness to expose their characters’ insecurities and pretentions—to put their male heroes through punishing educations. Taken together, these films are a kind of proving ground for Rohmer and his collaborators, including the producer Barbet Schroeder, the cinematographer Néstor Almendros, and the many vital, intellectually driven actors who found in them the space to develop new ways of playing out their characters’ debates and indecisions. They still remain the films most associated with Rohmer, and most representative of his many contradictory traits as a filmmaker: strict and yet playful, conservative and sensual, reticent but always ready to judge.
Anthony Lane (The New Yorker)’s script on Mustang: The film will be of most use, perhaps, to anyone who is teaching “Pride and Prejudice” to a bunch of teen-agers. They will relish the scenes in which the five sisters, showing slightly more initiative than the Bennet girls, escape to watch a soccer match, from which all male spectators have been banned. The question that Ergüven puts, in the context of modern Turkey, is one that Jane Austen might have recognized: How, as a young woman, can you preserve not just your modesty but also your freedom of spirit and the play of your wits, when the purpose of your being, as laid down in social laws, resides in the finding of a man? How much of you remains, in that transaction? A fear of the answer shines most clearly, and most fiercely, in the eyes of a child—of Lale, who sees the future surging toward her, like the waves at the start of the film. She is the heroine of this bright and busy movie. She will not be drowned.
Museum of the Moving Image’s script on Theo Angelopoulos: Greece’s most prominent film director of the post-1968 era, Theo Angelopoulos (1935–2012) was a master cinema stylist. His investigations into history and politics, tyranny and resistance, and spiritual anomie and emotional devastation place him on equal footing with filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Wim Wenders. When he emerged on the world scene in the 1970s, with a distinctive style marked by carefully choreographed compositions and tracking shots, he epitomized the great tradition of international art cinema at the end of the twentieth century.
BFI’s script on Peeping Tom: ‘All this filming isn’t healthy,’ says a character in Peeping Tom; a sentiment echoed by the savage reaction of film critics at the time of the film’s release. Powell dressed his meditation on the seductive power and destructiveness of cinema in the clothes of a horror film, albeit one which shows sympathy for a man who records the act of killing. Much has been written about Peeping Tom, but the film’s mysterious power renews with each viewing and it remains one of the masterpieces of British cinema.
Metrograph’s script on Vivre Sa Vie: “He doesn’t analyze. He shows.” —Susan Sontag. An untouchable masterpiece, shot with cool precision and artful solemnity. It features Anna Karina in her most iconic role, as Nana Kleinfrankenheim, and was advertised by JLG himself as “a film on prostitution about a pretty Paris shopgirl who sells her body but keeps her soul while going through a series of adventures that allow her to experience all possible deep human emotions.” The film includes one of the most memorable images of the New Wave: Karina’s teary movie theater commune with The Passion of Joan of Arc’s Maria Falconetti.
Richard Brody (The New Yorker)’s script on A Brighter Summer Day: In the nearly four-hour span of this vast Proustian memory piece, from 1991, Edward Yang meticulously delineates the anguish of young people in Taipei in 1959 and the gang violence that pervades their lives. The story, which begins with young Xiao Si’r, a wayward student who gets caught sneaking into a movie studio, opens out into a dazzling multigenerational array of characters, as well as a panoply of trenchant themes—including the paranoia of the Taiwanese military state, the woes of refugees from the mainland, the bitter memories of wartime Japanese occupation, the encroachment of American popular culture (the plot pivots on concerts by local boys covering doo-wop and Elvis), and the cinema itself, as Ming, the girl with whom Si’r is obsessed, gets herself a screen test at the studio. Yang’s methods bring a melancholy tenderness to his recollections. He films intricately staged action in long takes of a rueful, contemplative reserve. As in Proust, the closely observed objects—an American tape recorder, a radio from China, a Japanese sword, a flashlight stolen from the movie studio—bring the past back to life. In Mandarin, Shanghainese, and Taiwanese.
A.O.Scott (New York Times)’s script on A Brighter Summer Day: The English title of “A Brighter Summer Day,” Edward Yang’s chronicle of disaffected youth in Taiwan in 1960, comes from “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” which was a hit for Elvis Presley that year. One of the teenagers in this sprawling, melancholy and surpassingly beautiful film sings in a rock ’n’ roll band, and he tries, phonetically and with the help of a friend’s sister who studies English, to decode the song’s haunting, enigmatic lyrics. American pop music is a tendril from the outside world that has penetrated this claustrophobic, hectic island, and it expresses the universal longings and the specific frustrations that dominate the lives of Mr. Yang’s characters. The film, at bottom a true crime story about a murder, seethes with the spirit of confused, ardent rebellion that you also find in Hollywood movies from the 1950s and early ’60s, like “East of Eden” or “Rebel Without a Cause.” Focused mainly on the restlessness of a group of young men, “A Brighter Summer Day” also belongs to a tradition that stretches from “I Vitelloni” to “Mean Streets” and beyond. But this film, completed in 1991 and only now receiving a proper American release (thanks to restoration efforts by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation and the adventurous programming of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), is much more than the sum of its references and associations. Colored by Mr. Yang’s memories of the world he grew up in, it is one of those movies that, by slow accretion of detail and bold dramatic vision, disclose the structure and feeling of an entire world.
Museum of Moving Images’ script on Nashville: Robert Altman’s crowning achievement is arguably the most innovative American masterpiece since Citizen Kane. It is a teeming, exhilarating, multi-character vision of life in the 1970s that channels the splintered reality of America. It is Owen Gleiberman’s favorite film—because it remains, in his words, “the movie of our time.”
千呼万唤始出来。借 Criterion Collection 把《牯岭街少年杀人事件》（1991, 237 min, 8.3, 8.6）纳入收藏的东风，瞩目已久的大荧幕放映将于本周末在 BAM Rose Cinema 举行。IMDb 的影片题图也早早地更换成了 Criteion 的封面。将近四个小时长的电影放映场次不会多，除了周日有下午和晚上两场之外，其余三天就只是单场放映。台湾导演中，属蔡明亮在纽约的荧幕上最为活跃，侯孝贤侯导借新片也在近两年赚足了人气，唯杨德昌，在印象中似乎从未有他的片子在纽约亮相，这次的机会实在是千载难逢。
这个周末能和 BAM 掰一掰手腕的是 IFC，美国女导演凯莉·雷查德的单片回顾系列“RIVER OF GRASS and Its Sources” 精选了她本人十分喜爱的几部老电影，其中包括泰伦斯·马力克的《不毛之地》（1973, 94 min, 7.9, 7.8）和“法国新浪潮”的开山之作《筋疲力尽》（1960, 90 min, 8.0, 8.4）。戈达尔是各大电影院的常客了，每一年几乎都会有他的回顾系列（此时此刻伦敦 BFI 的就还没结束），而泰伦斯·马力克，这位哈佛哲学系毕业，曾经摘得金棕榈和金熊奖的美国导演，也是各院线品质的保证。IFC 的介绍页面引用了 Time Out 杂志的影评人约书亚·罗斯科夫在2013年的一片篇短评，里面说，“Whatever you think you need to do this week, make some time to settle into a seat at Film Forum and be beguiled. We start in a 1950s South Dakota suburb, … , Badlands is the American myth of freedom and violence; it doesn’t get old because it remains what we are.” 在介绍语里面直接点名道姓地提及几个 block 之外的竞争对手的名字也是相当大度。这部电影是导演的处女作，也是1973年纽约电影节的闭幕影片。
而约书亚评论里提到的 Film Forum 这周在干嘛呢？他们还在放《晚春》（1949, 108 min, 8.3, 8.7），而且声称是这周四就会下线。不管怎样，这是纽约各大 art house 影院的惯例了，每年这个时节，小津的这部佳作都会在某个角落迎着我们。只是今年稍微不一样的在于，在 Late Spring 之后，我们有一个 Brighter Summer Day （注：《牯岭街少年》的英文名）。
- Thu: Late Spring (5:10, 7:30, 9:50)
- Fri: A Brighter Summer Day (2:00)
- Sat: A Brighter Summer Day (2:00); Badlands (5:45, 9:40)
- Sun: A Brighter Summer Day (2:00; 7:00); Breathless (5:45, 9:35)
- Mon: A Brighter Summer Day (7:00)
- Sun: Late Autumn (11:00); Autumn Sonata (4;30, 6:45, 9:00);
- Mon: Murder on the Oriental Express (5:00, 8:00);
- Tue: Taxi Tehran (7:30); Shoeshine (9:30);
- Thu: The Birds (8:00).
IFC Center 放映小津？这种搭配确实很罕见，但是不知不觉，从六月中旬起长达十五周的周末专场就要落下帷幕了。这个系列从《父亲在世时》开始，到本周由《秋日和》收场，和小津中后期的作品一样，继续讲述嫁女的故事。在纽约，一个导演能陪伴你一整个夏天是件很幸福的事，去年在BAM 玫瑰剧院有布努埃尔压阵，模糊记得前年夏天也是小津在Film Forum 有过一个跨时很长的专场。这种机会虽然每年都有，但能够有实力踏上这个舞台的导演其实也就那么几个。周日午间11点场，IFC，小津安二郎的《秋日和》（1960, 128 min, 8.3, 8.5）为2015的夏天告别。
与此同时，意大利新现实主义大师德西卡会在Film Forum 陪伴大家，这个系列已经过半，名作《偷自行车的人》《风烛泪》《意大利式结婚》已经收场，导演的处女作《擦鞋童》（1946, 93 min, 7.9, 8.5）在下周二三还会有放映，新现实主义另一部代表作《屋顶》仅有一场，排在整个系列的倒数第二天（10/7）。
本年度柏林金熊奖得主，被禁的伊朗导演贾法·帕纳西自编自导自演的作品《出租车》（2014, 82 min, 7.5, 8.1）将在下周二首次同纽约观众见面。这是一场点映，在BAM 玫瑰剧院，真正的全面上线要等到下周末。这部电影很特别，导演本人坐在车内，扮演一名出租车司机，而影片记录的则是他与各个乘客的谈话，是记录当今伊朗社会生态的一部真诚读本。
说到BAM，他们家在过去的几个星期主打瑞典女影星英格丽·褒曼（也作英格丽·伯格曼）的专场，这个系列只剩下三部作品，但仍不乏重量级影片，（周日）由两位瑞典伯格曼姓氏的伟大影人合作的作品《秋日奏鸣曲》（1978, 99 min, 8.3, 8.6），以及（周一）著名悬疑片《东方快车谋杀案》（1974, 128 min, 7.3, 8.3）。英格丽本人在这两部作品中均荣膺奥斯卡提名，并一次获奖。《秋日奏鸣曲》的经典之处在于，这是英格玛·伯格曼和英格丽·伯格曼第一次也是唯一一次合作。
最后要预告的是City Cinema Village East 的希区柯克系列，我印象中这个名为“Hitchcocktober” 是个一年一度的活动，至于是不是每年都放一样的电影就无从考证了。每周四晚上八点，影院将会播放一部希胖子的代表作。本周10月1号首先登场的是《群鸟》（1963, 119 min, 7.8, 8.1）。本片的编剧之一是法国女作家达夫妮·杜穆里埃（当然她也是原著作者），如果听着耳熟的话，没错，她正是另一部更为有名的悬疑小说《蝴蝶梦》的作者（《蝴蝶梦》也由希区柯克搬上了荧幕，并最终获得奥斯卡最佳影片）。
三月也就是春天。春天也许正是看法国电影的好时候。林肯中心和布鲁克林的BAM玫瑰影院会于本周末开始推出法国的新片展映，名为“Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015”，翻译过来就是，“我和法国电影有个约会”，好春天的名字。林肯中心是主会场，放映的名单也更长，其中有一部分会在两家影院同时播出，美女导演梅拉尼·罗兰的新作《呼吸》（2014, 91 min 7.0, 6.8）便是其中之一，而她本人也将出席两场Q&A互动。看了照片才知道，其实这位“导演”本事演员出身，昆汀的大作《无耻混蛋》里的女主角便来自于她。同样是一部以女同为题材的电影，影片介绍把这部作品与《阿黛尔的生活》作比，说道：
Breathe echoes Blue Is the Warmest Color in broad strokes but paints its own striking portrait of youthful ardor and codependency.
同样是讲女人（们），Film Forum 则将目光瞄向一对母女，纪录片大师梅索斯兄弟的大作《灰色花园》（1975, 100 min, 7.7, 8.3）将于本周五开始为期一周的展映。起初看到这幅海报，还以为是阿涅斯·瓦尔达的《拾穗人》。不过与“新浪潮祖母”的那部作品相类似，在这里真实与电影之间的模糊界线再一次被深刻而生动地剖析。
还有一部讲述女性的新片不容忽视，以色列的艾尔卡贝兹兄妹于去年戛纳电影节推出，并荣膺今年金球奖最佳外语片提名的《诉讼》（2014, 115 min, 7.9, 8.1），会在林肯广场和Quad 影院开始放映。影片着笔的依旧是在中东电影中非常流行的宗教和道德、法律之间冲突，有一点像《一次别离》，只不过把场景换在了以色列，以及那里的婚姻法。
Wrapping up season. 最特别的一种等待，叫做姗姗来迟。在各家媒体为2014的电影话评总结的时候，你会发现榜单上的有那么些个名字，看着很眼熟，却不记得是否看过。没错，这些影片的档期都被排在了一年里最末尾的位置。早在红五月戛纳时节就名扬大江南北的金棕榈奖作品，土耳其导演锡兰的《冬眠》（2014, 196 min, 8.8, 8.2），于本周五在Lincoln Plaza Cinema 揭开神秘的面纱。这部电影并不在早前的纽约电影节当中；而MoMA 曾在10月底举办过一次锡兰的全回顾展，导演本人也亲临现场，但当时的纽约首映也是一票难求。所以，与去年同获金棕榈奖的《阿黛尔的故事》受到的礼遇相比，这一次我们等的时间确实足够长。
《冬眠》前脚赶到，戛纳最佳编剧获奖得主，俄罗斯导演萨金塞夫的《利维坦》（2014, 140 min, 8.1, 8.3）便后脚跟来——本片将在圣诞节当天于Film Forum 掀开帷幕。有意思的是，这一天也是讲述暗杀朝鲜领袖的《The Interview》的计划上映时间（当然现在由于众所周知的原因已经被迫推迟）。这部影片，从名字本身，到导演的国籍背景，都带着浓厚的政治意味，结合上近半个月以来原油价格和金融市场的动荡，在这个时候观看本片，也许恰是一个好时候。本作品还入选了上周刚出炉的金球奖最佳外语片提名，将与《艾达》《游客》等已经在北美上映多时的作品共同角逐该奖项。
说到姗姗来迟，美国本土出品的作品里面也有这么一位，那便是保罗·托马斯·安德森以L.A. 为剧情蓝本的《性本恶》（2014, 148 min, 8.1, 8.5），本片改编自美国小说家托马斯·品钦的同名作品，在本周大规模公映之前，热身活动可谓是十分活跃：不仅早在九月就跻身纽约电影节的Central Piece （去年获得此席位的是后来大杀四方的《为奴十二载》）；而在十一月底，BAM Rose 还专门为此推出了名为“Sunshine Noir” 的系列展映，一举囊括21部以L.A. 犯罪为题材的影片——当然，这个组成自然是20片绿叶，1朵红花。
贯穿这个冬天，美国著名的剧情片导演罗伯特·奥特曼的全回顾展不声不息地在MoMA 进行。本周末，他最有名的一部作品——向美国国庆200周年的献礼之作《纳什维尔》（1975, 159 min, 7.8, 8.1）和另一部颇具文艺范和实验性的作品《三女性》（1977, 124 min, 7.9, 7.9）将登台亮相，也是一次不可多得的进一步了解这位导演的好机会。值得一提的是，上述保罗·托马斯·安德森的偶像，正是罗伯特·奥特曼。
- Mon & Tue: National Gallery (7:50); Sacrifice (8:00);
- Thu: Tess (3:00);
- Wed – Sat : Batman Returns (11:55);
十一月底，感恩节周末，商业大片停歇调整，独立院线也没有什么重磅炸弹推出，留下来的观影选项还确实是准备给有耐心的人。MoMA 在上周末刚放映完长达325分钟的《女性瘾者》导演剪辑版，而本周惹人关注的也全不外乎是至少两个小时以上的长片。其中两部将于本周二告结—— Film Forum 的3小时纪录片《国家美术馆》（2014, 180 min, 7.5, 7.5），精心讲述伦敦国家美术馆里琳琅画幅的“前世今生”；BAM Rose 则继续其对塔可夫斯基的喜爱，特映他的最后一部作品《牺牲》（1986, 142 min, 8.1, 8.8），也接近两个半小时，足够磨练人的耐性和不打盹的能力。林肯中心在法斯宾德回顾展结束之后，搬出另一位德国人——蛇蝎美人娜塔莎·金斯基来压阵，短短一个周末的回顾展只展出她早期的作品，其中自然少不了与两位大导演的合作：（前情人）波兰斯基的《苔丝》（1979, 186 min, 7.3, 8.0），和维姆·文德斯的《德州巴黎》。
一部《鸟人》不仅让我们重新认识了迈克尔·基顿，还无形之中提醒我们，《蝙蝠侠》系列不只是诺兰的专利，早在八九十年代就有风靡一时的各种版本。这不，这部由蒂姆·波顿执导，如今的鸟人迈克尔·基顿主演的《蝙蝠侠归来》（1992, 126 min, 7.0, 7.1）又重新进入了我们的视野。Landmark Sunshine 把感恩节假期期间的零点午夜场留给了这部作品。
经历了一整个四月的死寂沉沉之后，各大院线终于从五月中旬开始恢复了生气，纷纷拿出自己手里颇有分量的作品来与观众分享。扛着大旗的依然是曼岛上的林肯中心与皇后区的Museum of Moving Image：分别长达近一个月之久的法斯宾德和沟口健二回顾展，其力度之大、取片之全都是近十多年来而未有过的（林肯中心称法斯宾德展是 “the largest in New York City in over a decade”，而MoMI则 “pleased to present the most extensive Mizoguchi retrospective and the first New York retrospective in nearly 20 years”。无论如何，都应在五月时节抽出一个下午（晚上）的时间，去亲临现场感受一下这两位大师的作品。
法斯宾德回顾展将分两部分进行，五月中到六月初为第一部分，重量级的影片包括《恐惧吞噬灵魂》和《世界旦夕之间》（都将与5.25登场）；今年晚些时候（十一月）为第二部分，想必会有其另一部代表作《玛丽娅布劳恩的婚姻》。而与5.16首日晚间出场的《四季商人》（1971, 88min, 7.5, 8.0），则是本次回顾展中放映次数最多的一部作品。
沟口健二的专场已经过去了一个星期，《雨月物语》早已作为首场在第一天便已上映，《山椒大夫》《故乡之歌》也于上周末亮相完毕，《残菊物语》则是本周末的重头戏。而剩下的作品中，也就仅有《西鹤一代女》（1952, 133min, 8.0, 8.3）稍有名气了。
此外，MoMI还将在下周日特别放映安东尼奥尼的《放大》（1966, 111min, 7.7, 8.4），配合一本关于Vanessa Redgrave（该片的女主角）传记的签售活动。
5.16除了是林肯中心法斯宾德展的首日之外，还是MoMA “An Auteurist History of Film Reprise, Part 2” 的第一天。这个影展作为常规 “An Auteurist History of Film” 系列（只在工作日的下午放映，因此很少有机会去看）的补充，挑选出几部精选作品，集中在工作日晚间和周末放映，弥补观众的遗憾。可以说对于影史爱好者来说，MoMA的这个系列就像一座图书馆一样，取之不尽，用之不竭。从5.16到6.3这短短的半个月之间，我们将有机会饱览上个世纪六十年代的精品。
下周末的三天里，平均每一天都将有一部重量级作品出场。伯格曼的奥斯卡最佳外语片《处女泉》（1960, 89min, 8.1, 8.3），夏布罗尔的柏林金熊奖作品，“新浪潮”代表作之一的《表兄弟》（1959, 112min, 7.9, 7.4）和日本导演敕使河原宏的嘎纳评审团大奖作品《沙丘之女》（1964, 123min, 8.3, 8.3），个个来头不小，却又风格迥异，在评论界获誉无数，同时也是在市面上极少有机会能一睹其风采的（尤其是后两部）。想想整座纽约城，也就只有MoMA有如此气魄能一口气拿出多部这种级别的作品做单场放映的了。
May 16 (Fri): The Life of Oharu (7:00); The Virgin Spring (8:00); The Merchant of Four Seasons (9:20)
May 17 (Sat): Les Cousins (1:30); The Merchant of Four Seasons (2:30); Woman in the Dunes (8:00)
May 18 (Sun): Blow-up (2:00); The Merchant of Four Seasons (4:45).
拉斯·冯·提尔，阿伦诺夫斯基，大卫·林奇，这一串名单下来，恐怕很难还会有哪一个周末的阵容可以与之媲美。这三个名字，虽说有些以偏概全，但这也足以称得上是当今影坛最具创造力和感官冲击力的导演代表群。还是 Museum of Moving Image 的“cinematic vitality”一词概括得好，直切要害，这三位导演的风格，既不是好莱坞商业片那般圆油，也不是欧洲文艺片那般干涩，更不是我们熟知的东亚电影那般温雅；他们就是以他们的名字命名的那种风格本身。
丹麦人拉斯·冯·提尔的新作《女性瘾者》（2013, 118min, 7.5, 8.0）近期已开始在美国陆续上映，两部中的第一部本周五登陆纽约Landmark Sunshine Cinema。当然了，从名字也不难看出这是一部“十八禁”电影。Museum of Moving Image 本周末开始阿伦诺夫斯基回顾展，为其新作《诺亚方舟》暖场，其中涵盖了《梦之安魂曲》《黑天鹅》《摔角手》等名作，当然值得一提的是阿伦导演的处女作《死亡密码》（1998, 84min, 7.5, 7.6），一部当年仅以16mm做拷贝却又摘得圣丹斯最佳导演的小成本电影。IFC 中心的周末午夜场本周上演大卫·林奇的处女作《橡皮头》（1977, 85min, 7.4, 8.1），有意思的是该片是林奇导演唯一一部入选Criterion Collection的作品，但只能在Hulu上播放，没有dvd版本。
本周作为为配角的将是意大利钻石级导演赛尔乔·拉翁内的经典西部片《西部往事》（1968, 175min, 8.7, 8.6），以及同在BAM 玫瑰剧院上演的《阿尔及尔之战》（1966, 121min, 8.2, 8.4），这两部电影均为BAM “The Music of Morricone” 小系列的选片。此外，今年奥斯卡提名作品，来自柬埔寨的电影《残缺影像》（2013, 92min, 7.5, 7.8）也将从本周三开始在Film Forum 上映，本片以独特的玩偶形式讲述了这个东南亚国家的一段苦难史。
- Fri: The Battle of Algiers (2:00, 7:00)
- Fri & Sat: Eraserhead (12:00a)
- Sat: Once Upon a Time in the West (2:00, 5:30, 9:15); Pi (4:30);
- Starting Fri: Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (whole day)
- Starting Wed: The Missing Picture (1:00, 3:15, 5:45, 7:45, 9:45)
- Wed: Letter from an Unknown Woman (7:00)
- Thu: Mean Streets (4:30; 7:00; 9:30)
- Fri: Raging Bull (2:00; 4:40; 9:45); The Third Man (7:00); Days of Heaven (9:30)
- Sat: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1:30); Raging Bull (7:00; 9:45)
- All time: The Grand Budapest Hotel
如果把伍迪·艾伦暂且比作纽约街角跃动的音符，那么马丁·斯科塞斯才是纽约真正的魂。本周中开始，BAM 玫瑰剧院将推出一期特别的“side by side”双导演系列——“Under the Influence: Scorsese/ Walsh”。老马丁久负盛名的黑帮电影，如《穷陋街巷》（1973, 112min, 7.5, 7.6），《愤怒的公牛》（1980, 129min, 8.3, 8.4）等，其实是深受上世纪二三十年代的美国导演Raoul Walsh影响，如《穷陋街巷》来自一部叫做《Regeneration》的作品——描写纽约街头移民生活景象的头几部影片之一；而响当当的《愤怒的公牛》里面搏击的场面，则是源于Walsh另一部作品《Gentleman Jim》。如果有机会能够真正”side by side”地品评这些出自两个不同的年代却又情境相通的电影，相信会别有一番收获。
MoMA 的奥地利专题系列仍在进行中。本周惹人关注的有德国导演马克斯·奥尔菲斯的《一封陌生女人的来信》（1948, 86min, 8.0, 7.8），当然这部作品由于出自奥地利作家茨威格的短篇小说而更显得亮眼许多。此外，女主角也是一大看点——奥斯卡影后，同时也是另一部文学改编电影《Rebecca》的女主演琼·方丹。
英国导演卡罗尔·里德的作品《第三人》（1949, 93min, 8.4, 8.1）也是讲述发生在维也纳的故事。本片荣膺当年嘎纳电影节评审团奖和1951年奥斯卡最佳摄影奖，电影奇才奥逊·威尔斯也在其中有着短暂而精彩的出演。
此外，Rubin Museum of Art 周五晚间的“歌舞场”系列本周迎来美国导演泰伦斯·马力克的《天堂之日》（1978, 94min, 8.0, 7.7），同样是一部同时获得嘎纳奖项（最佳导演）和奥斯卡最佳摄影的作品。而在主流院线上，韦斯·安德森的新作《布达佩斯大饭店》（2014, 99min, 8.4, 8.5）也格外引人注目，本片是今年二月新鲜出炉的柏林银熊奖得主，应该也是目前市面上唯一一部在映的柏林影展获奖作品。
不知与情人节有什么关联，BAM Rose在这两个星期将会颁出一个名为“Vengeance is Hers”的系列，长达十部作品，以荧幕上（某一种）令人过目难忘的女角色为主线串成——女性在复仇。以下是BAM网站上的简介：
From screwball proto-feminism to witchy gothic horror to cerebral auteurist classics, this series gathers some of cinema’s most unforgettable heroines and anti-heroines as they seize control and take no prisoners.
回到电影本身，本周令人关注的有二：芬兰导演阿基·考里斯马基《火柴厂女工》（1990, 68min, 7.7, 8.3）和日本导演新藤兼人《黑猫》（1968, 99min, 7.8, 7.8）。尤其前者，是数得上的芬兰电影佳作，在两个月前林肯中心“Ozu and His Aftelives”的系列里，该片也曾被挑选出来放映过。
Film Forum 是新浪潮“左岸”与“手册”两派的主战场。本周的前四天，戈达尔柏林金熊奖作品《阿尔法城》（1965, 99min, 7.3, 7.5）压阵，而阿伦·雷奈的《我爱你，我爱你》（1968, 91min, 7.5, 7.3）将在周五情人节上映迎头赶上。这两部作品大致都处在“新浪潮”晚期（甚至都不归属于“新浪潮”），两位导演的的风格也相继定型——必然少了早期时候的张扬和锋芒，但是对自身电影语言的信心和坚持，显然是更多了。网站上对《阿尔法城》如此介绍：
Godard creates an eerie sense of sci-fi alienation with striking b&w shooting — sans artificial light — by the great Raoul Coutard on the all-location-shot wintry streets of Paris ’65.