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AFI Fest 2016: Malgre la nuit, by Scott Nye

2 Dec


There’s been some discussion over the past several years about the relative value of miserablism in cinema, specifically art-house cinema. And there’s probably something to the notion that some filmmakers use horrifying scenarios lazily, not really considering the implications of unrelenting violence and misery but simply using their presence to suggest depth or importance. Of course, the other side of this is that Donald Trump was elected president days before I saw Malgré la nuit, and sometimes the world does feel as hopeless as that which is depicted here. Sometimes, a deep-dive into the world of snuff pornography through the lens of whispered conversations and desperate cries feels about right. Doubly so when it’s as masterfully, breathtakingly executed as Philippe Grandrieux achieves here.


AFI Fest 2016: Yourself and Yours / Crosscurrent, by Scott Nye

27 Nov


Hong Sang-soo’s last several films have focused on schematic narratives designed to ensure repetition – the same story told slightly differently three times (In Another Country), the pages of a letter are mixed up and the story is told out of order (Hill of Freedom), or a slight tweak of conversational approach causes a chance meeting to branch off in very different directions (Right Now, Wrong Then). The set-up for his latest, Yourself and Yours, suggests much of the same, but represents instead a distinct breaking point for Hong. While the sudden emergence of a woman (Lee Yoo-young) who looks exactly like Youngsoo’s (Kim Joo-hyuk) ex does draw in its share of repetitions and variations on a theme, Hong heightens the sense of purgatory that pervades many of his films. His characters seem truly unable to escape their obsessions, their regret, and their curiosity. His bitter irony turns to near-melodrama, as Youngsoo slowly gives into his inability to understand Minjung and what he did to make her leave.

AFI Fest 2016: Always Shine, by Scott Nye

21 Nov


When Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni died on the same day, comparisons between the two titans of midcentury cinema were inevitable. In response to claims that Antonioni’s influence was wider, that, in Michael Atkinson’s words, “no one seems to want to be the new Bergman.” Glenn Kenny retorted, “That’s partly because nobody can be the new Bergman. And not just for the obvious reason.” He went on the cite Bergman’s rich education in religion, literature, and theatre, which is inextricable from the power of his cinema. “Today’s young filmmaker’s aren’t, for the most part, as polyglot. For a lot of them all the culture they’ve got is film… To emulate Bergman, you’ve got to know what he knew, and knowing that, go on to be yourself.”