A film about a Palestinian filmmaker leaving home, traveling to meet with producers, who don’t understand his film (“not Palestinian enough”), returning home. Includes a highly relatable bird scene. Don’t know if it meant much of anything but I get positive vibes from Suleiman’s scene composition and onscreen persona, need to watch more of these.

A pure info-dump doc – I took no pleasure in watching, though I instantly flagged the narrator as Jodie Foster. Very busy visuals, the audio chopped half to death. I noted one interview with especially yucky sound editing: Pamela Green… the movie’s own director! Just re-record! Motion graphics, desktop cinema stuff and zoom calls. I learned what I needed to know about Alice, anyway – she hired both Lois Weber and Louis Feuillade. She had her own studio until Edison’s patent racket drove the filmmaking world from NJ to CA. Studio fire, divorce, and investment problems all hit at once in 1918, ending her cinema career. Gotta give it up for the outstanding location scout sequence where they superimpose her films onto their present day locations, and good work weaving her post-career 1920s-40s correspondences with the filmmaker digging up a 1957 interview.

Then I attempted to enjoy some Alice Guy films…

Falling Leaves (1912)

String music by Tamar Muskal was far more engaging than the movie, a standard-looking drama with its one famous plot point, young girl tying leaves onto the trees after hearing her sister will be dead of consumption before the leaves have fallen. A passerby sees this behavior and announces the following.

Cupid and the Comet (1911)

A silly crossdressing comedy, everyone gesticulating wildly. The doc got its title from Alice Guy’s studio motto: “Be Natural” – but there’s none of that here.

The Consequences of Feminism (1906)

Comedy portraying a woke society where women hang out and drink and are sexual predators while the men iron and watch the children and make themselves pretty. Big modern music by Max Knoth, I liked it.

A Story Well Spun (1906)

Dude crawls into a barrel and a prankster pushes it downhill, causing much chaos. Later remade as 2000 Maniacs. Hope the editor got in trouble for leaving in those couple frames of the stagehand crouching behind the barrel.

On the Barricade (1907)

The barricade doesn’t hold for two seconds before the military run right over it and execute its constructors. Some kid who excitedly joined the battle claims he’s not a combatant, the soldiers let him go home, then he guiltily returns ands demands to be executed, but his mom protests and he’s spared a second time, how embarrassing. Somewhat shorter than the other movie I’ve seen about the Paris Commune.

Franz breaks up his marriage to Ben because he’s fallen for Adele. Ben starts going with Erwan, Franz wants to get to get Ben back while keeping Adele. Everyone gets sick of Franz’s shit and he ends up alone. A typical love triangle story, only set apart by the unusually hot leads and strong use of Franz’s nude thrusting ass and his ridiculous wardrobe.

The only screenshot I took was the music credits… which song was I looking for? Brendanowicz says it’s “the best designed/lit/composed/colored film I’ve seen all year, but I didn’t find it very interesting,” so maybe Laura Citarella should write a movie for Ira Sachs to shoot.

Shot (digitally) with major grain, in Savannah/Tybee. Natalie Portman comes to visit the scandal-couple to prep for a role, portraying criminal wife/mom Julianne Moore. Portman learns how to wear the makeup and do the lisping voice, and seduce Charles Melton, and that might be all she learned.

Heuermann’s second of three(?) Zorn movies contains some gems. Zorn credits Carl Stalling’s cartoon scores with teaching him new forms. He explains the rules of Cobra to its participants, which would’ve been useful for me to see a year ago. We sit in on a remaster of the Morricone album, and catch JZ’s enlightening interactions with the musicians during a rehearsal.

But the movie is also tediously about making the movie, about Claudia’s struggles to book an interview with Zorn, and questioning what the movie will be and how to piece it together, including footage of audience screenings of scenes we watched earlier. It returns to re-enactments of the director first hearing the Naked City record and getting into this kind of music, but these meta-elements feel like filler, because all we learn about Claudia is she likes Zorn’s music and is making a doc about him… two things that were pretty easily assumed going in.

Landlady aka Abstract White opened with a nice improv set, as we sat down in front at the Blue Note. Solid film, made by professionals, unlike certain other things we’ve seen this week. Fiction about a pregnant teen runaway hoping to become a movie star. Lead actress Camila wants to meet actual pregnant teens and have discussions to understand her character. In the second half of the movie the actually-pregnant kids take over and start playing the roles. Dominican Republic, all lower-class girls whose moms also got pregnant young and were hoping to break the cycle, but it’s established that all the local males are shits. Victoria’s second feature after It Runs in the Family, which she brought back to the fest this year along with a key influence, Makhmalbaf’s A Moment of Innocence.

The Onions opened, incongruously to the film, three goofy white guys playing bright pop songs. Movie starts with a way-zoomed-in cellphone video of a woman disrobing before a Mandela statue. Director’s family is from South Africa, grandma disparages Mandela for ending apartheid. Then we get educational segments on history of the black-only Transkei district, featuring excessively unedited news archives interviewing relentlessly optimistic Black kids and their parents on the eve of integration. Movie goes off the rails with two (not just one!) extended conversations between the filmmaker and her white friends about privilege and prejudice revealed by some minor personal interactions, the visual in these sections just subtitles over an annoyingly dark-grey screen with a couple lines visible on the edges.

Two sisters go out for a walk and the stars of the previous movie I watched walk by – it’s another day in the Hongverse.

Lee Hye-young is a former actress back in Korea and staying with her sister Cho Yun-hee (lead guy’s mom in Introduction‘s restaurant scene). She has a meeting with director Kwon Hae-hyo (Yourself and Yours) who wants to film a feature with her, but would settle for a short film, but would settle for sleeping with her. She tells him (before telling her sister) that she’s dying, has a few months, and he leaves her a bittersweet message the next morning (“What I promised yesterday can never happen.”). Elsewhere on the trip, she haunts the house where she used to live, reminiscing and coping (“I believe heaven is hiding in front of our faces”) and visiting the cafe run by her nephew (the star of Introduction).

Antoine Thirion in Cinema Scope:

In a body of work whose narrative scope seems to diminish a little more with each film, In Front of Your Face is still surprisingly laconic: its story unfolds over 24 hours and has barely ten scenes, one of which takes up a good third of the film … While the film’s deceptive structural simplicity seems to adopt its heroine’s fixation on presence and the present, things never cease quietly going off the rails.