The poet is dead; long live the poet

1. At first sight Paterson seems to be a film dedicated to simply tell a story, in its somewhat peculiar way. There’s enough dramatic adherence to not alienate a recently re-captivated audience, despite the conversion being fruit of one of the director’s weakest films – Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). In this new fiction film (simultaneously, the director also released the documentary Gimme Danger), these traditional narrative devices are put on display, as seductive baits to a spectator the film knows very well, and who, … Read more The poet is dead; long live the poet

The other is dead; long live the other

1. A lot of the action in The Unknown Girl takes place in a clinic that, unlike a hospital, functions as a mediator that takes care of the basic health needs of the local residents, or refers them to more specialized treatment elsewhere. It’s the kind of structure that benefits from a bigger intimacy between the physician and their patients, relying on a combination between allopathy and social attention – a service which is also often used as a ladder for more qualified and better paid positions.  … Read more The other is dead; long live the other

The symbolic is dead, long live the symbolic

1. Cristi Puiu’s Sieranevada starts with an awkwardly composed shot of an SUV carelessly parked in the middle of the street. Lary (Mimi Brănescu) gets off and goes inside a building, leaving his idling vehicle for a minute or so. The camera doesn’t follow him, left behind with the car, blocking traffic. The shot goes on for a few beats too many, in keeping with the realist observational paradigm of the recent Romanian wave in world cinema, which has in Puiu one of its household … Read more The symbolic is dead, long live the symbolic

The word is dead; long live the word

1. There are three moments in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women that speak volumes about its own central dilemma. The first one happens right at the beginning, in the first of the three short individual stories that comprise the film: Laura (Laura Dern), a lawyer who’s been trying to convince her client (Jared Harris) that he’s not entitled to what seems to be a fair compensation from a previously settled lawsuit, expresses her discomfort after seeing him promptly agree when a male lawyer tells him the … Read more The word is dead; long live the word

The desire for the West

  Despite the variety of its international credentials, Britain-based Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari’s feature debut starts from a context of place and time specific enough to be clearly stated in the film’s opening title cards: the Iran-Iraq war which, lasting from 1980 to 1988, became the longest running war in the 20th century. The movie, however, starts not in the actual battlefield, but in the more unbalanced battle one can fight in a non-democratic government’s office, where Shideh (Narges Rashidi) asks for another chance to … Read more The desire for the West

The trace and the frame

Illustrators and writers share one same source of angst: staring at the blank page. While in cinema blank is the overabundance of (luminous) information – an element that’s at the core of films as distinct as Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966), Philippe Garrel’s Le Revelateur (1968) and Frank Darabont’s The Mist (2007) – in both writing and drawing blank is what comes before creation. It is from the blank page, here blown up as film screen, that Alê Abreu starts in The Boy and the World, and this fabricated impression that … Read more The trace and the frame

Shadow play

One characteristic that has remained remarkably constant in Philippe Garrel’s work is his predilection for setting his films in a gap, an interval between two people’s very distinct experiences of the same relationship. In movies as different as The Birth of Love (1993), The Inner Scar (1972) and the recent Jealousy (2013), Garrel has channeled a lot of his creative energy through the seemingly endless possibilities of this fundamental disagreement. The reason for such fertility is because the soil of this no (wo)man’s land is … Read more Shadow play

In Jackson Heights, by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2015)

* 53rd New York Film Festival All of this will go by Fabio Andrade “And darling, it’s not Easy to spot But all of this will go Darling, sometimes These things take time But all of this will go” All of This Will Go, Guided by Voices In recent years, Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries have been defined first and foremost by a very precise sense of place, with clearly established spatial boundaries that are often exposed in the titles of the films. What results from this voluntary … Read more In Jackson Heights, by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2015)

Mountains May Depart (Shan he gu ren), by Jia Zhang-ke (China/France/Japan)

* 53rd New York Film Festival Power to the people by Fabio Andrade Mountains May Depart starts with a pretty memorable sequence of Jia Zhang-ke’s staple actress Zhao Tao at the center of a tableau, leading a group dancing to the Pet Shop Boys’ 1993 hit “Go West”. The use of music is a trademark in Jia Zhang-ke’s cinema, and the bodies electrified by the incessant beat of the opening sequence more specifically recall the end of his beautiful 2010 documentary, I Wish I Knew, … Read more Mountains May Depart (Shan he gu ren), by Jia Zhang-ke (China/France/Japan)

Carol, by Todd Haynes (USA, 2015)

* 53rd New York Film Festival Through a rain drop-covered glass by Fabio Andrade There’s a key motif in Carol that comes every now and again as a portal to the moment of trauma, to the snapshot that one sees even when their eyelids are shut (this self-inflicted darkness that allows the same bright image to print and print again, 24 times every second, in loop, and that haunts every latecomer who can’t help but carry a movie theater inside their skull). This portal is in fact … Read more Carol, by Todd Haynes (USA, 2015)