The Nothing Factory is a serious look at the role of work today, in particular for those sifting through the wreckage of capitalism. The presence of a shadowy character on the fringes—a kind of labor theorist or crisis-chasing agitator—allows for some pointed Marxist musings, and the three-hour running time contains manifold surprises and pleasures, notably a few bursts of self-reflexive song-and-dance and the loveliest of nods to Straub-Huillet’s Sicilia!. "
As a comedic canvas, A Gentle Creature reliably surprises, bringing its own special energy to a Russian tradition of grotesque social panoramas (à la Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God or Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s 4)… Loznitsa concludes with a vision of Russia sleeping through waking catastrophe and encountering only more nightmares, revealing that the film hasn’t just been skating by on horrors; the pain is real. "
Streetscapes [Dialogue] reenacts six days of psychoanalysis that Emigholz underwent in Uruguay; Emigholz’s onscreen surrogate (John Erdman) diligently walks a trauma specialist (Argentinean experimental filmmaker Jonathan Perel) through a lifetime’s worth of musings, melancholies, anecdotes, and aesthetic reflections . . . The talk is so dense with insights—into both Emigholz’s art and, to borrow a phrase from his onetime intellectual hero Adorno, the damaged life—and it comes at you so fast, you’ll be convinced you could benefit from further treatment. "
Instead of distancing the viewer from the drama, the film’s bifurcated structure and Massadian’s casually radical approach to time—the narrative is more than once breached by unexpected conflations of music and memory—yield a strikingly tangible sense of accumulated experience, forming a beautifully symmetrical whole. "
Over the course of fewer than 20 black-and-white 16mm shots, some brief and others up to 10 minutes long, Tonsler Park shows a series of African-American volunteers at the park’s polling center as they hand out ballots and work the room during the 2016 presidential election… Matters the movie can’t help evoking—the history of voter suppression and racial segregation in the South, the park’s own history, and the outcome of the election itself—keep ceding priority for the viewer to the movements of these workers on a shift. "
Yet Wang Bing is after something completely different: following a long series of fairly harrowing, extended static shots of the woman, her mouth frequently agape, her lips stretched back from her teeth, as she stares vacantly in our general direction (is she aware of the camera?), the filmmaker goes into different territory, somehow more and less tangible than a portrait of dying. "
Narimane Mari’s approach to cinema is straightforward yet ingenious: we cannot speak of the past without speaking about memory. And memory, for Mari, is an active intervention, an opportunity not just to recall the facts and events but also to reshape them. This dialectic is in play in Mari’s Le Fort des Fous (“Madmen’s Fort”), a meditation on Algeria’s violent colonialist past and on today’s generalized, global strife. "
Illian Metev’s 3/4 (Three Quarters) hinges on the absence of a partner and the rewards of perseverance…Working with cinematographer Julian Atanassov and acting as his own editor, Metev confidently arranges this modest narrative around inventive compositions and the suggestive use of offscreen space. "
A very tough new film from Barbet Schroeder [and] the third and final installment in what the director is now calling his Trilogy of Evil, beginning all the way back in 1974 with Idi Amin Dada. The Venerable W is a fascinating portrait of Ashin Wirathu, a nationally renowned Buddhist monk in Myanmar who gently preaches incendiary rhetoric against the ‘Rohingya’ Muslim minority and has unarguably incited slaughter. Schroeder and his brilliant editor Nelly Quettier (who has cut the majority of Claire Denis’s films and the majority of Leos Carax’s) build their damning portrait one gradation at a time. "
Golden Exits explores the fragility of the house-of-cards lives built by these loosely tethered, childless adults—women in well-worn patterns of merciless self-analysis, men who get an illicit thrill from testing the breaking points of their fidelity…It’s a movie of things unspoken and desires suppressed, but happily free of self-effacing style, dignifying these non-happenings with a treatment worthy of high melodrama. "
Starring Tip Top’s Isabelle Huppert (winner of the prize for Best Actress at Locarno) as Mrs. Géquil, a long-suffering physics teacher at a technical school for underserved high schoolers, most of them immigrants, Mrs. Hyde examines urgent social issues through a dual prism of literature and levity…her daytime struggles become the fuel for a series of nocturnal flights of fiery comeuppance that playfully merge the fatalistic with the fantastic. "
Clearly relishing the stylistic leeway afforded by the genre—the film’s prismatic color palette and exaggerated decoupage provide enough aesthetic pleasures to make one mourn yet again the absence of one of cinema’s great stylists—Ruiz takes as fanciful an approach to the film’s visual design as he does its object of critique. "
Life and Nothing More is the Florida-set story of a mother-son relationship, about a teenage boy going through problems at home and at school, and his mother, who keeps their household together through a series of diner jobs while dealing with the attentions of a fond but potentially troublesome suitor. Very much a kitchen-sink drama—the family kitchen is the dramatic hub for much of the film—shot in a more or less documentary style and featuring terrific performances by nonprofessionals, the film takes a no-frills dramatic approach that could be roughly located on a Cassavetes-Dardennes spectrum, and uses it to intensely revealing and moving effect. "
Focusing on the bodies of the miners as they navigate extreme environments with matter-of-fact vigor, Russell frames the differences and the common points between two communities linked by manual labor, capitalism, and the demands of globalized trade. In patient, dream-like strides, Russell’s Super 16mm camera intrepidly follows the miners into the cold depths of the Serbian copper reserves and through the mud-choked expanses of the Suriname jungle, presenting a mirrored, intimate account of two environments whose contrasts only reinforce the reciprocal nature of an increasingly global enterprise. "