Yesterday saw the release of my standout male performances from 2016 and today marks the release of the standout female performances. I think it’s safe to say that the overall standout in all of 2016 would have to be Isabelle Huppert in
Interestingly enough, 52% (13 out of 25) of these titles that comprise the first half of my year-end list came by way of various internet outlets. The most of which (6) were viewed via NoBudge.com; while Mubi, FestivalScope and personal Vimeo
Like always, there are a number of performances missing from my year-end list due to the fact that I have not seen said performances. Performances such as Mahershala Ali in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight or Casey Affleck in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, to
There were a bevy of short films in the year 2016; so many that the majority of them would have tied in various spots on my Top 50 Films of the Year, so I have assembled those shorts here, culled from a diverse selection of online offerings (Filmmaker Magazine, NoBudge, Booooooom, Kinet.Media, Vimeo, and Mubi). Plenty more to be found in my Top 50.
Available today is a new short film from writer/director Christopher Jason Bell, the man responsible for one of my favorites from last year, The Winds That Scatter. Decidedly far more comedic-leaning than his feature, the short
Williams has confidence in the thought that the waiting is the worst part and with this in mind, he draws out instances of heightened vulnerability to anxiety-ridden levels of unease. Something is bound to happen, it is just a matter of when and how; that suspense happens to be the cornerstone of the film’s success. A success that is accomplished through its meticulous construction and the confidence of said construction. It also helps that the film benefits from the performances of its two leads - Roscoe and Marx - alongside the cinematography of Chris Messina in his capturing of the seemingly-innocent landscape.
For most audiences outside of Spain, the name Jose Luis Berlanga remains relatively unknown as do his films. That is until now, thanks to the Criterion Collection, because October 25th marked the first time a Berlanga film has been made available, on Blu-ray, in the US. Long considered one of (if not) Spain’s greatest directors, the Criterion Collection is hoping to transfer that reverence and popularity stateside with the release of his seventh film, The Executioner.
An expired visa begets an uncertain future in Iva Gocheva’s Sunday, an exploration of the principles that constitute ‘home’ for our Bulgarian visitor, Eleonora Ivanova. What makes it so and why? Probing questions asked in interview, the recorded audio of which is detached from the visual aspect of the event, transposed to the activities of the interviewee basking in the possibly dying days of American residence.
Nothing like the dynamics of a dysfunctional family to provide for a plethora of opportunities regarding drama and/or comedy (or, more so, some combination of the two that usually runs in the vein of dark humor) in cinema; a familiar setting, due to its universality and its possibilities, and also the topic of writer/director Zach Clark’s Little Sister (co-written with frequent collaborator, Melodie Sisk), which provides itself plenty of chances to plumb the depths of familial dysfunction for drama and the personality quirks for comedy. However, the inclusion of an in-training nun as the protagonist skewers that familiarity and the expectations that come along with it.
A while back I covered Dipso, directed by Theodore Collatos, as a part of my Unsung Indies feature and, just yesterday, his newest feature - Tormenting the Hen - was spotlighted as our Kickstart Sunday pick for this week. I recently had the chance to partake in a bit of discussion with Collatos about his newest film, working with his longtime collaborator Matt Shaw and more.
It is remarkable, given the duration of Silk Tatters,“NEC SPE NEC METU”: Brigadoon (14 minutes), the sensory density Telaroli is able to achieve by layering sequence upon sequence from films previous on top of each other while their disembodied audios make entrances languidly and random. It can a bit overwhelming at times yet continuously mesmerizing, but even in the distorted imagery downpours there does appear to be some semblance of order operating underneath.
There are a number of aspects to the feature-length debut of Albert Birney and Jon Moses that can be seen (and should be seen) as impressive achievements in the realm of DIY creativity and execution; so many, in fact, that deciding upon the most crucial of these executions in terms of rendering the film an overall success is an impossible task as all of these imaginative facets are integral to the film’s overall charm and allure. The handmade sets, the creature costumes, the original music, the animation techniques, among others all coalesce into one of the more singular films to surface in the past decade (or so); one overloaded with imagination and fantasy.
Even though, most of the categorical aspects of the films differ in one way or another there does reside a main thread through all five of the films; there is a darkness within them, each one containing some pessimistic-slanted vision of the world (the grade of which varies but slanted still). We are ushered through a dystopian landscape where sleep isn’t the cousin of death but it’s identical twin to the audio of the incarcerated to the end of the world onto a demented game show incorrectly titled Everybody Dies! (because white kids get cookies while black kids get shoved into the abyss) before finally settling into the interpretive dance of motherhood downsides.
Khawaja and Puca have constructed a dense work, disheveled in its themes and structure seemingly about everything and nothing in particular all at the same time, and yet they have also created a work that is concurrently lightweight given its tone and sense of humor, a jovial jumble of carefree attitudes that cover the surface of a penetrating look at the therapeutic ability of creative expression and the fortifying nature of collaborative relationships.
As far as I can tell there is no easily distinguishable through-line of theme, no thought provocation, and/or contemplation prompts that necessitate a film of this structure outside of the potential it possesses as an inspiration for future avant-garde filmmakers; showing that the production of experimental cinema is always within reach, it is just as simple as filming some friends, some still-life and sporadically manipulating some images.