Film Comment Selects 2012
The 12th edition of Film Comment magazine’s essential, eclectic festival brings you a handpicked lineup of the coming soon and the never-coming-back, the rare and the rediscovered, the unclassifiable and the underrated, the sacred and the profane, the cute and the creepy, the tough and the tender, the naked and the dead—you get the idea. Reeled in (geddit?!!) by the magazine’s editors on their travels around the festival circuit and following tips from trusty correspondents around the world (hi Olaf!), this 31-film salute to cinephilia of all stripes has something for everyone: future shock, modern crisis, edgy thrills, films maudits, psychodrama freak-outs, high art, low brow, the strange and the sweet, the silly and the serious, and, along with the special appearances and intros, we’ve got a very special trick up our sleeve, courtesy of film critic J. Hoberman. (And about the dead: this year we have memorial tributes to two art-film heroes.) So come and hang out with James Franco! The Russians are coming… and the Greeks are here! The old masters rub shoulders with the young turks. And you? You get to sit back and watch.
Programmed by Gavin Smith and the editors of Film Comment.
The 12th edition of Film Comment magazine’s crucial and eclectic festival brings you a handpicked lineup of the coming-soon and the never-coming-back, the rare and the rediscovered, the unclassifiable and the underrated, the sacred and the profane, the cute and the creepy, the tough and the tender, the naked and the dead—you get the idea.
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
The BBC essay filmmaker behind 2007’s The Power of Nightmares is back with a new three-part work on mankind’s dependency on computer technology. Compulsive viewing.
Chantal Akerman updates the first novel by Joseph Conrad from the late 1890s to the 1950s, and uses it as a springboard for an examination of the bankruptcy of colonialism through the struggle between a European father and Malaysian mother for possession of their daughter.
Ken Russell, the late master of freak-out fantasia, directed this 1980 head-trip. A fearless scientist attempts to plumb the unborn soul of mankind, using a sensory-deprivation tank and a mysterious drug. Russell delves into Jessup’s subjective states, merging psychedelic special effects, hyperreal dream sequences, and a dazzling, blasphemous take on Christian symbolism.
Based on a novel by Nabokov, scripted by Tom Stoppard, and starring Dirk Bogarde, Fassbinder’s first English-language film, a black comedy about a chocolate manufacturer plotting the perfect murder, is a must-see for all, not just Fassbinder completists.
Face to Face
Liv Ullmann is front and center in this underseen Bergman film, playing a disturbed psychiatrist who has an affair with a fellow doctor (Erland Josephson), only to succumb to a nervous breakdown seemingly triggered by haunting memories from her past.
A version of the German legend in which a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge.
The Forgiveness of Blood
Director Joshua Marston, stars Tristan Halilaj, Refet Abazi, and Sindi Lacej, and co-writer Andamion Murataj in person!
In his long-awaited follow-up to 2004’s Maria Full of Grace, director Joshua Marston focuses on a modern-day blood feud in a rural village in Northern Albania. Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.
A slick, charming corporate recruitment specialist leads a double life as an art thief in this twisty and fast-paced thriller that heralds the arrival of an exciting new directorial talent—and will keep you guessing all the way to its finale.
Land Passion War of the Dead Christ Worlds
Special Event! J. Hoberman in person!
Based on 25 years of stunt projections and class presentations at NYU and Cooper Union, it’s Doomsday USA, starring Asia Argento, Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Dennis Hopper, and the mind of Mel “Mad Max” Gibson. With subtitles!
The Film Society’s 2012 Gala honoree Catherine Deneuve and Yves Montand co-star in this unlikely, lightning-paced screwball farce set in Venezuela, restored and presented in the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s “Classics” section.
Life Is Sweet
In Memoriam: Bingham Ray.
A rare chance to see Mike Leigh’s breakthrough film in the U.S., unavailable here on DVD. Presented in memory of the late Bingham Ray, the man responsible for this film’s U.S. distribution, as the first release of his fledgling company October Films.
Man at Sea
A tale of the transnational now in which characters rarely speak in their native tongues and everybody’s an alien. An ocean tanker picks up a boatload of refugees in the Mediterranean, only to find itself unable to locate a country willing to take them in.
Director Kenneth Lonergan and cast members in person!
The film maudit of last year and in some critics’ estimation, one of the best, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s years-in-the-works second feature is a fascinating and often wrenching drama of moral crisis in post 9/11 New York.
Director Eric Atlan in person!
A woman checks into a deserted hotel and finds herself unable to leave her room in this crepuscular trance film that takes inspiration from Bergman’s Persona and Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., but casts an uncanny spell that’s all its own.
My Crasy Life
Winner of a special jury prize at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, the concluding chapter in Gorin’s SoCal trilogy finds the filmmaker intrepidly venturing into the world of the West Side Sons of Samoa, a Long Beach street gang.
My Own Private River
Director James Franco in person! Music by Michael Stipe! Pre-reception for ticket holders 8-9pm!
Actor-director James Franco creates a dreamlike portrait of actor River Phoenix and his iconic character in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, combining footage from the original film and unused outtakes.
Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii
October 1971: the prog gods give a spectacular concert to an audience of ghosts on the volcanically desolate stage of a Roman amphitheater.
Poto and Cabengo
A compelling and tightly directed thriller about a team of elite counter-terrorism hostage negotiators who attempt to resolve a standoff between political separatists and the French military in the Pacific island of New Caledonia.
David Wain’s inspired third feature turns Hollywood’s pious, “be yourself” genre deservedly on its ear with the cheerfully irreverent tale of two disillusioned energy-drink salesmen (Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott) serving out a community service sentence in a youth mentoring program
Gorin’s unclassifiable second American feature begins as an affectionate group portrait of devoted model-train hobbyists in the San Diego suburb of Pacific Beach (filmed in lustrous black and white), detours through the painting studio of artist-critic Manny Farber (at work on two of his bustling, crowded canvases), and pauses for ruminations on Thelonius Monk, William Wellman, and Howard Hawks—yet somehow, wonderfully, feels all of a piece. The subjects are all miniaturists of a sort, and so too is Gorin, treating us here to another lyrical, inimitable vision of his shoebox America.
Directors Laura Lau and Chris Kentis in person for Q&A after February 25 screening!
In this perfectly executed real-time thriller from the directors of Open Water, Elizabeth Olsen finds herself trapped inside the dilapidated cabin her family is readying for sale. With no contact to the outside world and no way out, panic turns to terror.
Director Sara Driver in person for Q&A!
A beguiling and enigmatic nocturnal adventure set in New York’s no-man’s land, at the intersection of SoHo, Chinatown, and Tribeca, Sara Driver’s first feature begins in mundane daily life but imperceptibly drifts into the dreamlike realm of the trance film.
Arguably the most disturbing, least sensationalistic serial killer movie since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, director Justin Kurzel’s stark, enormously accomplished debut feature recounts the horrifying crimes discovered in Snowtown, Australia in 1999, where police found dismembered bodies rotting in barrels.
An elderly, not-all-there Afghan war veteran known as “the major” feeds the murder victims of cops and mobsters into an apartment building furnace while working on an epic historical novel in the latest nihilistic crime drama from Russian provocateur Alexei Balabanov (Cargo 200).
In the year 2020, a Russian oligarch, his wife, a handsome TV host, and a champion equestrian fly together from Moscow to Central Asia in search of a modern-day fountain of youth... only to discover that eternal life has its downside.
In this post-colonial spin on John Frankenheimer’s Seconds, the Menzana Corporation offers its elderly, white German clientele the chance to live new lives inside the bodies of young African refugees who willingly lend out their corporeal residences for 20 hours a day.
David Wain, Alan Alda, Paul Rudd, Kerri Kenney, and Ken Marino will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A!
When on-the-go Manhattanite George (Paul Rudd) is downsized out of his job, he and wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston) hit the road for Atlanta, detouring en route at a modern-day commune where free living reigns. From the director of Wet Hot American Summer.
We Have a Pope
In Nanni Moretti’s latest comedy, Michel Piccoli plays a newly elected Pope who gets cold feet and is put under the care of a shrink (Moretti).
A non-exploitative, matter-of-fact study of the world’s oldest profession, Austrian documentarian Michael Glawogger’s film travels from Thailand to Bangladesh to Mexico, allowing the harsh realities and professional hazards of the trade to speak for themselves.
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