Hidden (2020, Jafar Panahi)

Meta-remake of Panahi’s Three Faces. Camera 1 is a dash-mounted phone, Camera 2 is held by his daughter Solmaz in the back seat. A woman they know has asked them to help convince a girl with an incredible singing voice to join a theater group, but the girl’s mom won’t let her leave the house and keeps her hidden behind a sheet.

Where Are You, Jafar Panahi (2016, Jafar Panahi)

The most heated I’ve seen Panahi, who rants about the government preventing him from making dramas about social issues and saying they force him to turn the camera on himself. Majid Barzegar in the car, I assume they’re talking about his film A Very Ordinary Citizen, from which Panahi’s cowriting credit was removed. The reason for the drive is to visit Kiarostami’s grave, but Panahi doesn’t get out of the car, sends Barzegar alone with the flowers.

Letter From Your Far-Off Country (2020, Suneil Sanzgiri)

Writing, culture, politics in India… stock footage and mothlighting and history. Some things I haven’t seen before: rotating 3D models within a film frame with sprocket holes, seamless blending of different techs and formats. I got lost in the names and events, but it’s a cool and dense piece.

At Home But Not At Home (2020, Suneil Sanzgiri)

More history, Goa vs. Portugal. Full of scenes from classic films. Titles printed in the center of screen give translation or context or philosophy. Good music in both of these.

Vever (2018, Deborah Stratman)

This fits in surprisingly well with the previous few, with philosophical titles in center screen and big music. Color film from 1975 Guatemala, a phone interview with the cinematographer. This turned out to be a mix of some big-time artists – footage and interview by Barbara Hammer, text/audio by Maya Deren, drawings and music by Teiji Ito.

Sycorax (2021, Patino & Pineiro)

They sit in a public square, “casting” their Tempest from the townsfolk passing by, but no Witch Sycorax is found so they hold tryouts… 14 women and we watch the whole thing. Another collaboration – theater and trees, featuring some really nice nature crossfades and very green fern branches.

No Archive Can Restore You (2020, Onyeka Igwe)

Either these are outtakes from A So-Called Archive or Igwe has found another abandoned, termite-infested media library. “Commerce, gentlemen – commerce brought us to Africa.” Slow roving camera, the audio is sounds that might’ve once filled the spaces.

Colin Farrell is oscar-nominated for Banshees, and I think we should give Colin 3 or 4 oscars, but Yang is also very beautiful in this (Justin Min of nothing else). Colin lives with Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim) and their girl Mika, and unfortunately Yang was an out-of-warranty refurb technosapien and unfixable, so he’s being donated to research, which, if these things are so proprietary-secretive, should be against the license agreement. Colin tries to understand Yang’s chosen memories and discovers his hang-out buddy, clone Haley Lu Richardson. A major Lily Chou Chou reference, for some reason, and Yang had a Pentax camera if that’s anything. A weepy movie: “His existence mattered – and not just to us.”

The monos are a bunch of commando kids entrusted by a larger organization with the care of kidnapped English native speaker “La Doctora” (Julianne Nicholson of Blonde). The monos are armed, with military training, but they’re also horny fuckup kids, who immediately/accidentally kill the cow they’ve borrowed from the townsfolk, and repeatedly let the Doctora escape. She kills one of them, one suicides, one manages to escape. Movie opens promisingly with a blindfolded soccer game and some Beau Travail moves, and stays watchable throughout, even if it never really goes anywhere. The music is nuts, in a good way, from Under the Skin composer Mica Levi. A Sundance premiere, which makes sense, since it reminded me (but in a kinda good way?) of Mayday.

An hour before seeing this I learned that an NC-17 version played Sundance, but decided a missing shot or two of Skarsgard’s penis and busted face wouldn’t keep me from the theatrical experience. The Movieland’s dirty screens act similarly to 35mm film grain in helping digitally composited shots look more natural. Great title design, decent Tim Hecker score. Despite the title, we never get to see the pool. I hope he was referencing Michael Snow in some early shots… even if not, it made me think about Snow, which is always a good thing. The color-washed orgy montage a highlight. Which version/clone of Skarsgaard survives to ditch his flight in favor of the abandoned resort? What is the real motivation for the Mia Goth-led group leading him through these ordeals? Is it all a dream or a drug trip? Doesn’t matter!

Beautiful right from the start, every scene a marvel. Gorgeous lighting, precise framing, the real deal This kind of discovery is the whole point of Rotterdance… oh, did I mention that it’s Rotterdance? I started it kinda late and am writing it up even later, but we spent a week or two watching movies that played recent editions of Sundance and Rotterdam fests. The Cathedral played both after premiering in Venice, and this one came to Rotterdam after Cannes.

“A gangster on the run sacrifices everything for his family and a woman he meets while on the lam,” sure, let’s leave it at that. He’ll (probably) star in Wong’s Blossoms movie/series/whatever. The girl helping him and the cop chasing him costarred in Diao’s Black Coal, Thin Ice.

Flatly factual narrator, feeling very director-filming-his-childhood. At age 13 the kid develops an interest in filmmaking, imagine that. The frame not always completely still, I noticed a couple of slow zoomouts. Shooting floors and walls and tablecloths seems to excite Ricky – also the light playing on the carpets, but Terence Davies he ain’t.

Early celebration with excited father:

Richard meets Lydia in 1986 (he played the President in Dark Phoenix and Officer Krupke in West Side Story, and she was just in the new Top Gun). Richard fights over money with Lydia’s dad Nick. I forget which grandma is which – Josephine stays a few months with Pianist Robert, and Claire dies before our main couple breaks up in 1997. Lydia meets Peter and has a deaf second child, Richard marries Judy, a Trinidadian who scams him. Jesse is going to Chicago after high school, and will presumably be making short films in The Souvenir Cathedral Part II.

Later celebration with terrible ventriloquist:

Richard Burton, more intensely sad than I’ve ever seen him, is a spymaster-turned-spy, quitting British intelligence and hanging out with cute librarian Claire Bloom (The Haunting), but actually getting coached by Smiley (“just continue to be embittered, continue to drink”) in the hopes of being picked up by the Germans.

Took me a while to realize that they’d crossed into Germany. It’s established that Burton is fluent in German, but nobody speaks German in the movie, and even accents are rare… they simply keep speaking English, asking the viewer to imagine that it’s German. On the other side, the East Germans all act like they know Burton’s whole deal, but they’re plotting against each other and Burton intends to inflame their rivalry. Oskar “Jules” Werner is the black leather cap-wearing ambitious second in command to 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse star Peter van Eyck. As power and loyalties shift, I’m not sure that even Burton knows if the plot has gone off the rails, but apparently free and victorious at the end, he gets himself killed over the girl, leaving Smiley (Rupert Davies) and Control (Cyril Cusack, pathetic husband in Gone to Earth) needing to find a new sad drunken spy.

The artistic life of Bowie. Good interview bits, ok visuals – Morgen’s free-association clips of computer graphics and classic film clips don’t usually work for me (the Sparks doc was more coherent). Surprisingly the interview segments were better than the concerts, and both have horrible lighting.