Early this summer (or late spring), an original birthday gift took us for the first time to the renown Karlovy Vary International Film Fest in the Czech Republic. And this is what we saw:
The Eagle Huntress
by Otto Bell | USA | 2016 * * * * * Thirteen-year-old Aisholpan has just one wish – to become an eagle huntress, thereby continuing the family tradition. In order to fulfill her dream she must overcome one remaining fundamental obstacle: falconry is usually the purview of men. Tinged with a touch of fairy tale, this Sundance audience favorite is set in the breathtaking mountains of Mongolia and is all the more unbelievable for being a true story.
One Week And One Day
by Asaph Polonsky | Israel | 2016 * * * * * In contrast to dramas focusing on protagonists who succumb to an illness, here the main characters are people who must come to terms with such a tragedy – an aging couple who have lost their only son. Initially, carrying on seems impossible but humorous moments crop up at even the toughest of times, making it thinkable to take the first step toward regaining their equilibrium.
Death By Death
by Xavier Seron | Belgium, France | 2016 * * * * * Michel is the prototype of the outsider. On top of that he’s an inveterate hypochondriac obsessed with visions of death. And why wouldn’t he be, when he’s pathologically dependent on his self-centered mother, a woman who endured cancer and will speak of nothing else. This markedly stylized work serves up a litany of wild and absurd situations with sophisticated humor.
United States Of Love
by Tomasz Wasilewski | Poland, Sweden | 2016 * * * * * The advent of the 1990s brought fundamental social change and a wealth of new possibilities. The film’s four heroines of different ages long for fulfilment in their lives and want to be part of that change. Created by one of the most distinctive artists working in Poland, the picture is dominated by exquisitely captured moments of searing, wretched desire for love and intimacy, and also by precise lensing from Oleg Mutu. Silver Bear for Best Script at this year’s Berlinale.
by Jim Jarmusch | USA | 2016 * * * * * Paterson is both a bus driver and a poet. He lives with his wife in the town of Paterson, once celebrated, now forgotten. The seven days, during which Jarmusch’s poetic film follows the rhythms of the couple’s life, unfold simply through the director’s gentle humor and his observation of the minute details that make up Paterson’s internal world.
My blog, my public diary: Here is a list of movies I saw this year at the local filmfest and my level of enjoyment of each.
by Stephen Dunn | Canada | 2015 * * * * * Oscar has an enjoyable childhood – until his parents separate and he witnesses an assault on a gay fellow student. Years later, Oscar still has a hard time with his own sexuality, fleeing into his own dream worlds – falling in love with handsome Wilder at work. In his directing debut, Stephen Dunn combines dream and reality in an eclectic mix, featuring Isabella Rossellini as the voice of Oscar’s talking hamster Buffy. Premiered in Toronto, where it took Best Canadian Film.
by Kleber Mendonça Filho | Brazil, France | 2016 * * * * * Clara (magnificent: Sônia Braga) has lived in the “Aquarius” for years, an upscale 1940s condo in Recife. By now, she’s the last resident: All the other apartments have been bought up by a real estate developer, only Clara refuses to leave the place where she spent her life. This is the place she survived breast cancer and the whole tumultuous history of her country. She wants to avoid being expelled from her memories of affairs, relationships and loss. But she hasn’t counted on the developers’ criminal energy and the corruption of city hall.
by Bentley Dean & Martin Butler | Australia, Vanuatu | 2015 * * * * * TANNA is set in the South Pacific where Wawa, a young girl from one of the last traditional tribes, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an intertribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal. The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them. They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for and performed by the people of Yakel in Vanuatu.
Blood Of My Blood
by Marco Bellocchio | France, Italy, Switzerland | 2015 * * * * * A monastery in Norther Italian town of Bobbio (where director Marco Bellocchio was born) at the time of the inquisition: A soldier comes to find out why his twin brother took his life. It seems he had relations with a nun they claim is possessed by the devil. The present day: A Russian oligarch wants to buy the property of the monastery to build a luxury hotel on. But he doesn’t realize the present owner is a vampire… Marco Bellocchio’s latest film is a surreal, hypnotic and unique combination of music and imagery, which won the FIPRESCI Award at Venice last year.
We already reached half of the year and my best of list is still lacking. But here are a few nice recommendations released in the last couple of months.
The Hope Six Demolition Project
by PJ Harvey * * * * *
"Harvey went out into the world and here reports her encounters in abrasively straightforward fashion. Some might deem the lack of personal perspective an oversight. Yet in keeping herself at one remove, Harvey lets the inner truth of her experiences shine more brightly. To spend time with this record is to peer over her shoulder as she casts aside the familiar and embraces the strange and unknowable. It is, by those standards, an exhilarating affair – a political album whose most daring gesture is its refusal to evangelise or furnish easy comforts." — Ed Power, The Quietus
Anspieltipp: ▶︎ The Wheel
by Anohni * * * * *
"Protest songs tend unwittingly to have a kernel of optimism that blunts their critique, regardless of how shrill, eloquent, or concerned their singers are: As bad as things may be, protest is directed at some exterior target, therefore preserving one’s own moral clarity as a virtue and source of redemption. Not so with Hopelessness. The nature of the evil that haunts the album (and, arguably, the planet) is universal, shared, and dyed in our wool as humans rather than a flaw in any particular individual. If these days are apocalyptic, it would be false solace to believe we’ll face judgment one by one."— Antichristian, Tiny Mix Tapes
Anspieltipp: ▶︎ Drone Bomb Me (Yes, it's Naomi Campbell.)
by Julianna Barwick * * * * *
"The voice may be the original instrument, as the groundbreaking experimental singer Joan La Barbara put it, but in Julianna Barwick's music, the voice itself isn't necessarily a point of origin. Layering and looping her often-wordless singing into hypnotic and otherworldly configurations, she enters her songs as though slipping into a stream. The music, she seems to say, precedes us, and it will outlast us; we don't so much carry songs as allow ourselves to be carried along by them, swept up in their current for a little while."— Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork
Anspieltipp: ▶︎ Nebula