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.