Regarding the films of Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi there is a certain reputation that precedes his work; one thinks of skillfully-crafted drama that is well thought out, that can be interpreted and misinterpreted depending on a particular point of view; and, that is what Farhadi delivers time and time again, like he does with his latest, The Salesman, thus reiterating himself as one of the finest purveyors of domestic drama working in cinema today.
A diptych on the inner lives of supporting characters, each afforded the lead in their own half of the film, is how writer/director Joyce Wong decides to explore the ups and downs of the people that usually occupy the margins of a film in her debut, Wexford Plaza. A series of interactions, both intimate and social, taking place within the vacant spaces of a strip mall tilting towards dereliction, of well-meaning intentions unraveling the frayed strands of two lives to differing degrees.
Up until this point in time, Criterion has been home to a scant number of African films, two to be precise, both of which come by way of the World Cinema Project - Ahmed El Maanouni’s Trances and Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki bouki. Their latest entry ups that number to three (obviously) and also marks the first entry for, who many consider, the most important name in African cinema, Ousmane Sembene. His film, Black Girl, which catapulted him into international recognition is too made available because of the work of the World Cinema Project.
An experiment in narrative storytelling, Joji Koyama and Tujiko Noriko’s Kuro sets out to rethink and/or reappropriate certain modes of storytelling within the cinematic landscape. Its experimentation is as refined as it is all-encompassing resulting in an intriguing film-viewing experience as the imagery and sounds of Kuro (almost) never exist within the same spatial reality, each specific aspect detailing different moments in time, concurrently as an overlay of past and present.
Withdrawn is a fitting title for Adrian Murray’s feature-length debut as nearly every aspect of the production appears to inhabit some form of withdrawal within its process. Granted, the title seems to directly refer to the specifics of the film’s narrative regarding a young man plotting to withdraw funds from someone else’s misplaced credit card, but it also extends itself outward, permeating every inch of the film’s fabric.
The world of cinema set-ups is chockablock with the familiar and the unique and in the case of Dim the Fluorescents, director Daniel Warth alongside co-writer Miles Barstead have pooled the two into a unique take of a familiar narrative. The familiar: focusing on the plight of the struggling artist; the unique: the struggling artists in this case bide their time by producing and performing elaborate demonstrations for companies and corporations.
Out of curiousity, I went ahead and broke down the titles that ended up securing a place on my year-end list. Of the 50 titles, 52% of them happened to theatrical offerings while the other 48% were viewed via the internet; websites like
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.
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.