Like all of Martel's films, Zama thwarts any expectations of familiar narrative structure, clearly defined character relationships, and a circumscribed border separating realism from fantasy. There are many ways in which Zama, Martel's first feature in nine years, represents a departure for the Argentine writer-director: it is her first literary adaptation, her first period film, her first film with a male protagonist, her first film in which widescreen compositions largely emphasize verticality instead of horizontality, and her first feature to be set outside of her native province of Salta. "
Watching Lee's much anticipated new movie Burning, his first feature in eight years and one of his bleakest yet, you come away feeling seduced, not punished. Like all his best work, this film—in barest outline a love triangle, liberally adapted from "Barn Burning," a short story by Haruki Murakami from 1983—is as interested in negotiating our emotional distance from his protagonists as it is in all of the bad luck that befalls them. "
First Reformed marks a considerable turning point, a film à thèse about the struggle for grace and faith in our modern world of hyperreality and despair, especially when the various stopgaps offered by society—organized religion, political institutions, ecological activism—seem variously counterfeit. A breathtaking, taut work possessed of an otherworldly meditative stillness, it feels at once hauntingly out of time and haltingly urgent. "
Whether watching it on screens mammoth or minuscule, viewers of Roma are invited to feel the weight of experience through sound and image design. And Cuarón has somehow managed, almost miraculously, to make what could have been a far queasier film, dedicated to the domestic worker who helped raise him, feel like a gesture of love rather than guilt. "
Western is a compassionately unsparing dissection of masculinity and the dynamics of all-male groups by a woman filmmaker. Its relationship to the western genre is multifaceted, from the wildly majestic landscapes to the ambivalent, sometimes hostile and sometimes tenderly curious relationships between outsiders and natives, arrogant modernity and traditional community. "
Kore-eda, a consummate examiner of the socially estranged and marginalized—who has cited the cinema of Ken Loach and Mikio Naruse as dominant reference points—remains ceaselessly curious about the emotions and motivations of the displaced. In Shoplifters, Kore-eda's sociological examinations coalesce in the form of an idiosyncratic family portrait, inspired by news stories of people illegally receiving their parents' pensions long after they had passed on. "
Shuffling through the affairs of a luminous Juliette Binoche—the consummated, ended, teased, pursued, and frustrated alike—Claire Denis’s comedy also captures the contours of life as experienced, leaving no class, age, or female-ambition stone unturned. Let the Sunshine In’s bold structural choices and fractured editing are a stunning reflection of the way romantic obsession can warp reality, both in real time and in memory. "
The encounter between talents who came up through the censorious studio era and the new tell-it-like-it-is permissiveness gave us some of the most extraordinary films of the 1970s—Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, or Huston's own Fat City (both 1972)—and The Other Side of the Wind is both a comment on and artistic expression of this same unbuttoning: Welles is letting his freak flag fly. "
Happy as Lazzaro—Rohrwacher’s third and best feature to date—is the fable of an angelic boy, a holy fool, who travels unchanged from the countryside to the city, from not-so-ancient times to the present, and witnesses the perpetuation of marginality, moral corruption, and the exploitation of those in need by the powers that be. "
Ross's film is a documentary truly unlike any other, pursuing a durational commitment to place (Hale County, Alabama) and subject (Quincy Bryant and Daniel Collins along with their families and friends) yet representing it fragmentally; rejecting traditional narrative structure but replacing it with his own rigorous formalism, with moments that progress relationally, metaphorically, intuitively, aesthetically. "
The organically connected worlds in Riley's Afro-Surrealist film are particular to a singular place, Oakland, California—"The Town" as locals call it—that is proudly and distinctly not San Francisco, New York, or L.A. Riley expresses in interviews his desire for a theatrical experience that seems in line with his love for community, and his film meets a growing yearning among audiences everywhere. "
If Beale Street Could Talk reaches further back to Murnau and Borzage, with actors who are their own light sources, the whole film attuned to the textures and unfair rules of a dangerous place, all in lucid balance with big, bold essences of earthly emotion. What all of that means is that If Beale Street Could Talk borrows a great artist's playbook that virtually anyone else would get wrong and proceeds for two hours to put every single foot right. "
The Rider dramatizes the way in which a narrow and restrictive notion of masculinity—one fearful of showing any weakness or vulnerability—becomes instilled in young men. We witness this in Brady’s interactions with other men—mainly friends and his father—all of whom participate in quietly policing male behavior. "
Joel and Ethan Coen’s gallery of reprobates here are quite the opposite of what we would traditionally refer to as a hero: feckless, loveless, aimless, murderous, weak-willed, greedy, or pathetic, and it’s unlikely that any of them could have sustained a feature-length narrative without delivering viewers directly to the exits. But what makes the Coens’ gambit work so brilliantly is that these discrete tales of the banal and the cursed accumulate into a single, unified work that is much stronger, stranger, and sadder than initially seems possible. "
Very rare are the movie depictions of restaurant work that evoke the mental and emotional dissonance required to get through an eight-hour shift. Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls—which takes place predominantly within a topsy-turvy 24-hour period, as the manager of a T&A sports bar juggles the concerns of every needy patron and employee—portrays precisely that odd mix of knowing self-abjection and bubbling, flirtatious confidence present in real-life restaurant workers. "
Extraordinarily, Ramsay’s film is not about people; instead it uses them and their bodies to explore American systems of power, and the abuse that develops within. The political, monetary, and sexual forces that cause people to act are on display here, as are the physical consequences of said actions, with all emotion and psychology removed. "
In Wiseman's visit with Small-Town America—on its face one of his most straightforward endeavors—an unnerving sensation of obsolescence, or even a kind of decadent oblivion, crops up again and again, and perhaps did not emerge from nowhere. Monrovia, Indiana is constituted primarily from one rural town’s public spaces and their implicit sense of potential—council meetings, churches, fairs, kaffeeklatsches. Innocent enough, but along the way it poses some indelicate but sincere, pressing questions about American identity today, and the gap between what it is and how it perceives itself, and between the present and the past. "
Personal Problems is among those rare, quietly unassuming avant-garde works that takes the trouble to be genuinely entertaining while pushing formal and textual boundaries. Based on a treatment written by Ishmael Reed—the canonical Neo-Hoodooist novelist, playwright, poet, and icon of the Black Arts Movement—the script of this experimental soap opera evolved through rehearsals and improvisation by actors Vertamae Grosvenor (author of Vibration Cooking and an actress in Daughters of the Dust), Walter Cotton (playwright of New York City Is Closed and an actor in Cotton Comes to Harlem), and Jim Wright (a veteran of 1930s race films). "
In all of his films Yorgos Lanthimos has found a pitch of stylization all his own. The exuberant embrace of excess, vituperation, and venom here reminds one of Restoration Comedy, which Anne’s predecessor, her uncle Charles II, made possible by reopening the theaters that had been closed down by the Puritans. In reacting to the years of repression, dramatists embraced immorality along with explicit sexual language, mocked propriety and impropriety alike. Such juxtapositions of incongruities seem perfectly suited to Lanthimos. "
From scene to scene, Lee meticulously manipulates the real history of Ron Stallworth, the police in America, and the Klan. The result is that BlacKkKlansman is a deeply entertaining and conventionally appealing movie that loses none of Lee’s signature political punch. It is as appropriate for malls and multiplexes as it was for the Cannes Film Festival, where it received the Grand Prix from Cate Blanchett’s jury. "