The 12th incarnation of Film Comment magazine’s festival “of handpicked lineup of the coming soon and the never-coming-back, the rare and the rediscovered, the unclassifiable and the underrated” started yesterday, February 17th and runs through March 1st, at Walter Reade Theatre in NYC. The festival consists of 31 films ranging from brand new titles from the likes of David Wain, Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine) and older films from Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ingmar Bergman and Mike Leigh. Not to mention, a tribute to Ken Russell, screening his 1980s head-trip Altered States in 35mm.
directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, GREECE, 2011
The film’s title is the name of a secret society consisting of four members: a hospital night nurse (Aggeliki Papoulia, the older sister in Dogtooth), a gym coach, a gymnast, and the group’s leader, a paramedic. The Alps offer a unique service: the recently bereaved can hire them for a few hours a week to act as surrogates for deceased loved ones—by wearing their clothes, adopting their mannerisms and way of speaking, etc.—in order to help them adjust to their loss. I am quickly becoming a huge fan of Greek cinema and cannot wait to see Lanthimos’s newest film.
directed by Morten Tyldum, NORWAY, 2011
A twisty, fast-paced thriller (adapted from Jo Nesbø’s crackling novel) that unexpectedly changes gears and gets tough around the halfway mark. Slick, charming corporate recruitment specialist Roger (Aksel Hennie in a breakout performance) leads a double life as an art thief—mainly in order to support the standard of living to which his art-dealer trophy wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) has become accustomed. Headhunters is a directorial tour de force that heralds the arrival of an exciting new talent—and it’ll will keep you guessing all the way to its finale. It’s odd that I am able to say this, but I am a fan of Aksel Hennie, I thoroughly enjoyed him in Hawaii, Oslo and A Somewhat Gentle Man.
MAN AT SEA
directed by Constantine Giannaris, GREECE, 2011
An ocean tanker picks up a boatload of refugees in the Mediterranean, much to the displeasure of the crew’s employers, only to find itself unable to locate a country willing to take them in. Alex (Antonis Karistinos), the ship’s captain, meets with hostility wherever he calls, and meanwhile his crew are becoming increasingly discontented. Again, Greek cinema, keep up the good work.
directed by Kenneth Lonergan, USA, 2011
The story of self-involved teenager Lisa’s emotional turmoil after witnessing (and perhaps in some way causing) the death of a pedestrian hit by a bus, Margaret was shot in 2005, and then spent years in the editing room as writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) battled with producers and the film’s eventual distributor, Fox Searchlight, over its running time. Margaret was 20th on Film Comment‘s Best Films of 2011 poll, with a cast that includes Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo.
directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, FRANCE, 2011
A compelling and tightly directed thriller about a team of elite counter-terrorism hostage negotiators who attempt to resolve a standoff between political separatists and the French military in the Pacific island of New Caledonia. Based on a controversial real-life incident from 1988 little known outside of France, the film begins in the aftermath of a brutal jungle firefight and backtracks to the dispatching of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group team under the leadership of Capt. Philippe Legorjus, effectively played by director Kassovitz. It’s nice to see Kassovitz back in top form (i.e. La Haine), instead of the dreck that he is probably more known for in U.S. (i.e. Gothika and Babylon A.D.) Sorry the trailer doesn’t have english subtitles.
Rebellion by azmovies
directed by Damir Lukacevic, GERMANY, 2010
Taking its cue from John Frankenheimer’s 1966 film Seconds, and adding a post-colonial spin to its near-future setup, Transfer gives new meaning to the concept of timesharing—if you substitute living bodies for apartments. This is a very interesting idea and by the trailer, it seems to be a well executed, interesting idea. One that I will probably get to see in 2016 or so, or maybe never.
directed by David Wain, USA, 2012
Meet George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), a typically overextended, stressed-out Manhattan couple. When George is downsized out of his job, they find themselves with only one option: to move in with George’s obnoxious brother (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. But en route, they stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community (emphasis on “commune”) populated by a cast of eccentric characters who look at life through a different prism. Paul Rudd, David Wain, Alan Alda, Ken Marino and Ray Liotta, count me in.
For a full lineup and information, check out the Film Comment Selects webpage. All movie descriptions also from the Film Comment Selects website.