The Best Films of 2019

Before I get to what I consider the highlight of this post, my annotated and ranked choices for the ten best world premieres of 2019, I first would like to survey the previous twelve months in US new releases. I am very pleased to report that twenty-two of the first twenty-five films (noted prior to my… Learn More

Winter Light: Hong Sang-soo's Hotel by the River (2018)

The narrated opening credits of Hong Sang-soo’s Hotel by the River (2018), the writer-director’s twenty-third feature since he made his first in 1996, and the fifth to premiere in the span of less than nineteen months, makes mention of the fact that the film was shot between January 29 and February 14, 2018. Though this… Learn More

The Present-Tense Period Film: Viewing Christian Petzold’s Transit (2018)

One of the most conceptually exhilarating and intellectually stimulating films in ages, Christian Petzold’s Transit (2018) adapts Anna Seghers 1944 novel of the same name, transposing the German author’s French-set source material to modern-day Marseille. Well, only sort of. Yes, Transit basically takes place ‘today,’ with the contemporary police vehicles and migrant-crisis thematic to match—but there… Learn More

Museum Films’ Best Films of 2018

Below are my top ten world premieres of 2018, each with short capsule descriptions, plus eleven runners-up and my favorite belatedly viewed 2017 premieres. I am also including five additional 2017 festival favorites, which screened for this first time in the Noble Theater in 2018. I am including these as insight into which films I… Learn More

Reports on Today’s Youth: Jacques Becker's Postwar Trilogy

Made during a four-year period of recovery following the end of the Second World War, director Jacques Becker’s (1906-1960) postwar “Youth” trilogy of Antoine and Antoinette (1947), Rendezvous in July (1949), and Édouard and Caroline (1951) represents one of the most important bridges between pre-World War II realist French cinema and the artistically seismic nouvelle vague (or French New Wave) that emerged… Learn More

The Camera as a Body Cast: On Radu Jude’s Scarred Hearts

A masterful recent work of the Romanian New Wave—a film movement, born in 2005, which shows no signs of creative exhaustion—Radu Jude’s Scarred Hearts (Inimi cicatrizate, 2016) transports us to the Black Sea coast in the summer, fall and winter of 1937, in that moment after Hitler ascended to power in Germany, and before the National Legionary… Learn More

Exiled in Myself: “L’enfant Secret” (1979) & The Autobiographical Cinema of Philippe Garrel

In 1979, French filmmaker Philippe Garrel (b.: 1948) turned to a new form of autobiography. Following the political and cultural upheavals of the May ’68 protests, which he filmed in the recently discovered Actua 1 (1968), and a decade spent with legendary Velvet Underground collaborator and Warhol superstar, Nico, Garrel embarked on the new, more memoiristic mode… Learn More

“The Other Side of Hope” & Museum Films’ Best of 2017

Few films were more of their moment this year—in the very best sense as it engaged critically with a global human tragedy, and did not simply reflect the rancid spirit of our times—than was Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope (2017; screening December 15-17 at OKCMOA). The second of the Finnish director’s “port cities” series,… Learn More

Dispatches from the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival: Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc & The Killing of a Sacred Deer + Festival Recap

It’s the middle of summer, 1425, and on a sandy stretch of land beneath the Bleu de France sky, a young Joan of Arc wrestles with her vocation–and her country’s fate–amidst a never ending, off-screen war with the English. Written and directed by Bruno Dumont, mid-career maestro of Li’l Quinquin (2014) and Slack Bay (2016), which both successfully… Learn More