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EPISODE 453: AFI FEST 2015 w/ Scott Nye

23 Nov

afi-fest-2015In this episode, Tyler and David are joined by Scott Nye to discuss the movies seen at this year’s AFI Fest, including:

45 YEARS
ANOMALISA
THE BIG SHORT
BLOOD OF MY BLOOD
CAROL
CHEVALIER
CHRONIC
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT
FIELD NIGGAS
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM
H.
THE LIAR
MACBETH
A MONSTER WITH A THOUSAND HEADS
EL MOVIMIENTO
MUSTANG
MY GOLDEN DAYS
NO HOME MOVIE
OUR LITTLE SISTER
RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN
SON OF SAUL
SONGS MY BROTHER TAUGHT ME
THE TREASURE
YOUTH

AFI FEST 2015: Length and Purpose, by Scott Nye

18 Nov

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Somewhere in the last ten years, certainly bolstered by the rise of digital cinema, the long take became something of a go-to move for festival films. If you’re really creating a film of serious intent, you’ll hold that shot until someone dies. Push it to the freaking limit, man. This also allowed filmmakers with rather thin premises to stretch them to feature length, if only barely. Suddenly the “slow cinema,” once was the province of bladder-busting masters like Tarkovsky, Tarr, Hou, and Antonioni got packed into a tight 90 minutes. The endurance test was over, but would the art remain?

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AFI FEST 2015: Son of Saul, by David Bax

17 Nov

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There are so many movies about the Holocaust that it can be tempting to develop a fatigue around the subject matter. But the enormity of the atrocity remains so incomprehensible that even another seven decades of stories couldn’t fill out a full picture of it. That’s especially true when films like László Nemes’ Son of Saul find interesting new ways to approach the topic, even if they don’t necessarily uncover new themes. The film is both an unflinching and disturbingly realistic account and also a bit of a formal experiment. With often powerful results, it mostly succeeds at both.

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AFI FEST 2015: Right Now, Wrong Then, by Scott Nye

17 Nov

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You’re not going to see the latest Hong Sang-soo movie – you’re going to see the latest installment of the Hong Sang-soo show. Releasing at least one film each year since 2008 (plus doubling up in 2013), his films stick to more or less the same tone, subject, aesthetic, and character types. If there’s a story about a film director with a weakness for drink who’s juggling a series of comically tragic relationships that start to all sound the same, Hong will find it. Probably by use of a zoom shot.

Even within such a firmly-established pattern, Right Now, Wrong Then has such a Hong Sang-soo premise that I’m actually surprised he’s never, to my knowledge, used it before. Jung Jae-young stars as Ham Chun-su, a successful film director, who hits it off with Yoon Hee-jung (Kim Min-hee), an aspiring painter, who admires him, at least for his reputation. They have quite a lot to drink, and the whole date quickly goes south. Then, after all is lost, the story restarts itself, with different beats in the same environs. For a filmmaker who’s been somewhat obsessed with repetition and slight variations, this set-up seems a long time coming.

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AFI FEST 2015: A Monster with a Thousand Heads, by David Bax

12 Nov

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Rodrigo Plá’s A Monster with a Thousand Heads is a very angry movie. Given that it’s about the insurance industry – which it would seem operates in Mexico much like it does here – rage is an exceedingly appropriate response, as anyone who’s had to navigate that bureaucracy can attest. Given how operatically frustrating it can be to do something as simple as change your primary care physician, a woman trying to get her dying husband’s treatment covered should be more than enough fodder for a feature film. Yet Monster doesn’t seek to do anything more than list its grievances, leaving anything more fertile in its story underdeveloped.

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AFI FEST 2015: Mustang, by David Bax

12 Nov

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Only a handful of reviews written in English exist of Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang at this point but, already, a comparison to The Virgin Suicides is beginning to feel like a perfunctory component. The association is an appropriate one but it is telling that we find commonalities – not just with a novel/film but with the American experience – in this tale of teenage girls living under drastic religious and familial oppression in provincial Turkey. The foreignness of the setting is taken over by the relatability of the human spirit and how it is just as likely to rise above as to be crushed in ways equally impressive. Ergüven’s blend of the familiar and the unfamiliar produces a potent concoction, both unique and universal.

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AFI FEST 2015: 45 Years, by Scott Nye

11 Nov

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People keep secrets from one another. You can know someone for decades – say, forty-five years, give or take – and still you won’t know everything. Some things are small, simple matters of differing perceptions which go unacknowledged and which generally don’t affect your day-to-day life together. Others become much larger. There’s a wealth of life experience that goes only partially explored. Maybe it’s difficult or painful to discuss, maybe it doesn’t seem relevant to the present; maybe you’ve just forgotten. Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years is an astounding exploration of the gulf that exists in such a relationship, and whether that can ever be mended.

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