Very satisfying twist surrounded by a bunch of strangeness I’m still figuring out. Daniel Kaluuya underplaying as the stoic cowboy, while sister Keke Palmer and everyone else around him is so animated. Keith David (The Thing) is their dad who dies from a quarter in the brain. Brandon Perea is the Fry’s Guy who’s somehow allowed to keep coming over. Steven Yuen the neighboring child-star monkey-survivor who accidentally turns his amusement park into a suicide cult. Michael Wincott (talkative bounty hunter in Dead Man) the cinematographer they hire to document the alien. Nobody knows who played the TMZ Guy, or why he’s in the movie at all. The main hope is this starts a trend of movie characters wearing vintage 1990’s alt-rock t-shirts.

Favorite article: Walter Chaw in Film Freak Central, locating each Jordan Peele movie along “the Shyamalan self-delusion timeline.”

It’s the fourth annual* Locorazo Festival, formerly known as LNKarno, a reprise of Locarno’s lineup from five or six years ago, viewed alone at home during this year’s in-person festival.

LNKarno-week viewings linked in green, regular blue links are films I’d seen previously, unlinked are films of interest that I haven’t watched yet.

Main Competition:

The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro)
Gemini (Aaron Katz)
Good Luck (Ben Russell)
Madame Hyde (Serge Bozon)
The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues)
Good Manners (Juliana Rojas & Marco Dutra)
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson)
La Telenovela Errante (Raúl Ruiz & Valéria Sarmiento)
Bangkok Nites (Katsuya Tomita)
Correspondências (Rita Azevedo Gomes)
By the Time It Gets Dark (Anocha Suwichakornpong)
Scarred Hearts (Radu Jude)
Mister Universo (Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel)
9 Doigts (F.J. Ossang)
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch)
A Skin So Soft (Denis Côté)
Winter Brothers (Hlynur Pálmason)

Filmmakers of the Present (first and second features)

Withered Green (Mohammed Hammad)
Those Who Are Fine (Cyril Schäublin)
Person to Person (Dustin Guy Defa)
The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani)
3/4 (Ilian Metev)
Distant Constellation (Shevaun Mizrahi)
Destruction Babies (Tetsuya Mariko)
El Futuro Perfecto (Nele Wohlatz)
This Time Tomorrow (Lina Rodríguez)
Dark Skull (Kiro Russo)
Le Fort des Fous (Narimane Mari)
Milla (Valerie Massadian)

Critics’ Week (documentary section organized by a swiss film journalist group)

Communion (Anna Zamecka)
Monk of the Sea (Rafal Skalski)
The Family (Rok Biček)
Las Cinéphilas (Maria Alvarez)

Piazza Grande (open air screenings, out of competition)

Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Atomic Blonde (David Leitch)
Good Time (Ben & Joshua Safdie)
I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur)
Let the Corpses Tan (Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)
Sicilia! (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter)
Into the Forest (Gilles Marchand)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
Moka (Frédéric Mermoud)
The Tunnel (Kim Seong-hun)
The Girl With All The Gifts (Colm McCarthy)
Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Maria Schrader)
Chien (Samuel Benchetrit)
Tomorrow and Thereafter (Noémie Lvovsky)

Signs of Life (new forms and innovation)

Beduino (Júlio Bressane)
All the Cities of the North (Dane Komljen)
Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
Cocote (Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias)
Ouroboros (Basma Alsharif)
Ascent (Fiona Tan)
Pow Wow (Robinson Devor)
The Sun, The Sun Blinded Me (Anka & Wilhelm Sasnal)
In Praise of Nothing (Boris Mitic)
Panoptic (Rana Eid)
Phantasiesätze (Dane Komljen)
Surbiles (Giovanni Columbu)
The Dead Nation (Radu Jude)

Fuori Concorso (non-competitive, features by established filmmakers)

The Reagan Show (Pacho Velez & Sierra Pettengill)
A Young Girl In Her Nineties (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi & Yann Coridian)
Where Is Rocky II? (Pierre Bismuth)
July Tales (Guillaume Brac)
Rise & Fall of a Small Film Company (Jean-Luc Godard)
Prototype (Blake Williams)

Shorts:

Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski)
Plus Ultra (Helena Girón & Samuel M. Delgado)
Cilaos (Camilo Restrepo)
Among the Black Waves (Anna Budanova)
Indefinite Pitch (James N. Kienitz Wilkins)
The Hedonists (Jia Zhang-ke)
The Hunchback (Ben Rivers & Gabriel Abrantes)
Wasteland no. 1: Ardent, Verdant (Jodie Mack)
A Brief History of Princess X (Gabriel Abrantes)
A Train Arrives at the Station (Thom Andersen)
Edge of Alchemy (Stacey Steers)
Arrière-saison (Jean-Claude Rousseau)
Per una rosa (Marco Bellocchio)
Si loin, si proche (Jean-Claude Rousseau)
Rhapsody (Constance Meyer)

Scaffold (2017 Kazik Radwanski)

Good shallow-focus construction scenes. We see full people at a distance, but our two primary scaffold-workers and the homeowner are only seen around their waists, no faces. A cellphone and a flowerpot are dropped.


Cilaos (2016 Camilo Restrepo)

Per her mother’s dying wish, a woman goes to Cilaos to find her deadbeat dad and make him pay. When she arrives, he’s apparently dead, so she becomes him. And this is a musical, songs written by the performers, shot in simple long-take setups with sharp lighting.


La Bouche (2017 Camilo Restrepo)

A sequel? The dad is again known as The Mouth but this time he’s being told his daughter is dead and that he should get up and take revenge. People sing and drum and dance at him, La Bouche never speaks but finally he drums upon the red devil. Also a side conversation between a doomed tree and a chainsaw.


Plus Ultra (2017 Samuel Delgado & Helena Girón)

Ambient decayed mummy shot on decayed film, made me flashback to Begotten but not in a bad way. Then guys carrying something through the jungle. When they sleep a handful of fruit-munching robed women appear. Then I guess something mysterious happens… whatever the movie’s intention, it’s not to give us an adventure story.


Indefinite Pitch (2016 James N. Kienitz Wilkins)

The director/narrator pitches a film about Berlin (New Hampshire) on the soundtrack, the image is stills of black and white patterns, looks like icy water from a distance, or a soapy window (turns out it’s the polluted river of his hometown). The pace of the stills speeds up, as does the voice of the narrator, getting higher pitched (ah I get it, “pitch”) as he admits his initial pitch was based on a Jean Arthur movie set in Berlin, and he admits he’s never seen this movie or been to the town. “Pitch” the substance also comes up, and pitch as an angle. The narration ties different histories together, roaming New England, discussing fires and drugs and the nature of cinema. This is all surprisingly good except for one scene in the middle when the soundtrack becomes a blaring siren for a while – no thanks for that.

Wilkins was on my radar due to (what else?) Cinema Scope, where Dan Sullivan said:

Seemingly resistant to the idea of carving out a single position for himself and maintaining it for very long, the prolific Wilkins has launched one of the more strikingly frenetic investigations into the life of the mind and the lives of artists, race, money, and technology in recent cinema, playfully and thoughtfully posing tough questions about the features of the contemporary world we tend to take for granted.


The Hunchback (2016 Gabriel Abrantes & Ben Rivers)

“Welcome to Historical Works, where you are history.” Narrator advertises supplements that help you experience “obsolete human feelings,” and Timmy’s holophone tells him his character is a medieval hunchback. Arthouse Brainscan murder-mystery, as the present-day participants are interviewed to discover how Hunchback Timmy died (“a head just doesn’t come off that easy, and that’s when I realized something was wrong”), tracing how the body got passed around by everyone in town. What is the deal with the standing goat there at the end? I’m worried about the goat. Lead actor Carloto Cotta is a Miguel Gomes regular, therefore he appeared in a different irreverent Arabian Nights the year before.


Among the Black Waves (2016 Anna Budanova)

A fisherman sees hot nude selkies cavorting on the shore and steals one’s skin to keep her imprisoned in human form. At first she tries to drown herself but he retrieves her with his net, and she stays with him. Eventually their daughter finds the skin and mom escapes. Wordless animation.


The Hedonists (2016 Jia Zhang-Ke)

Another movie about miners – the shorts programs tend to bring everything together – the boss even says “Good Luck” when they all get fired. Big camera moves, abrupt scene changes, loud period music. Three laid-off guys go in search of work, as a bodyguards and actors. I think it’s a comedy? Alternate title: Jia Got a Drone


A Brief History of Princess X (2016, Gabriel Abrantes)

Not sure how I felt about The Hunchback, I rewatched one of my favorite shorts, which tells the story of one of my favorite artworks, and it’s still perfect.

Iman’s daughter little sister is getting married and it’s up to the eldest to find an uncle willing to attend the wedding, while the bride-to-be acts moody and annoyed. Iman is also dealing with early menopause symptoms, and has a pet turtle who only exists to fulfill an on-its-back helplessness visual metaphor. Plodding 66-minute movie containing powerfully condensed disappointment.

A grand opening shot, pulling back from a mountain view to reveal the drone music as diegetic, walking with a marching band from overlooking ruins to a street that dead-ends into a canyon. The drummer steps forward and says he used to live here, and his entire neighborhood is now in the pit.

We’re in a Serbian mining company – typical-Ben follow-cam through their workplace and into the crowded high-speed de-elevator to an underground mining city. Long takes of long drills into rock walls intercut with b/w miner screen tests, and interviews about their hopes and dreams (answer: not much of either).

Admittedly a really good transition between the halves, joined by a graphic and the sound of a metal detector, a different kind of drone for a different kind of mining. From 20 guys working in the dark underground, we move to Suriname and 3 guys working on the surface in daylight. Wavery handheld late-night conversations with the men and their women, worries about killings at another site, more hopes and dreams, more screen tests. At least it ends with a song (no dance party).

Presumably the champions of this whole endurance test were Mai 68 Proletariat Cinema people who love anything involving miners. This doesn’t apply to the Cinema Scope Gang, who champion things for inscrutable reasons… Phil Coldiron’s analysis of Russell’s exploded ethnography is convincing, when I can follow it:

Like Frampton, Russell has elaborated a conception of film that approaches a particular limit or model: thought itself, with its infinite capacity for expansion. And like Frampton, this project has necessitated a sustained engagement with both the material of film and with that grand technology whose shadow film continues to toil in, namely language.

Russell captures the rhythms by which the plan of capital is expressed and enforced. In working on the level of the workers’ experience, he mirrors the image that the factory is always already producing of itself and offers it for reflection.

Ensemble movie of intersecting characters around NYC, packs plenty into under 90 minutes. I might’ve mixed up a couple of actors, but… Buddy Duress gets beaten up for attempting to scam record collector Bene Coopersmith… whose roommate George Sample III is in trouble for instructing his computer guy Benny Safdie to publish revenge porn of his recently-ex-girlfriend Marsha Stephanie Blake. Clockmaker Philip Baker Hall unwittingly holds material evidence that widow Michaela Watkins murdered her husband, and cub reporter Abbi Jacobson embarrassedly tries to get the dirt on that case, egged on by her slimy metalhead boss Michael Cera. Short-haired teen Tavi Gevinson hangs out with best friend Olivia Luccardi (who has a boyfriend) speaking pretentiously and acting like she definitely doesn’t want a boyfriend. Movie ends with a dance party, as all movies should.

Also: Isiah Whitlock Jr.:

Hell yeah, Unwound:

The filmmaker likes light and shadow, and inserting grainy digital stills between scenes. I only would’ve made it 20 minutes in I was watching fest screeners, but then I would’ve missed the scuba photography.

A lot of pissing and sleeping in this movie! Breaking into derelict apartments? Building a useful neighborhood from the remnants of the abandoned city. The hushed, hypnotized narrator shows up irregularly, telling us stuff related to the sleepy, casual goings-on. Sometimes we see the filmmaking equipment. Sounds carry on from previous scenes. Some philosophical content made me chuckle, the movie not worth taking seriously.

On Letterboxd: In the City in the Rain by The 6ths feat. Lou Barlow

Self-consciously arty/stagey flick, part of the Brisseau canon of horny old frenchmen filming in their apartments. Cut from a sleeping couple to their “dreams” on 4:3 b/w lo-gauge film, my second movie in a row to do that. Shots and setups take their time, but there’s no apparent story so it’s not like we have anywhere else to be. Opens with a camera roaming a film set peeping through a keyhole-shaped mask, and easily tops that in the scene where an electric train-mounted camera drives beneath a nude woman. Seems to devolve at the end, with a break for a misogyny mass murder montage, getting really into being eaten by gators and strangling blondes. Overall more engaging than my previous Bressane, seems to bode well.

Star actress Zoë Kravitz is shot dead at her home and her assistant Lola Kirke seems to have been set up. This has my favorite aspect of Katz’s Cold Weather – normal people pretending to be detectives. The celebrity aspect and introduction of actual detective John Cho derail some of its pleasures, but some of the neon-electric mood stuff sticks.

On Letterboxd: Guided by Voices “Strumpet Eye” (sorry)

Reminder that Mati Diop was in the last movie I watched: