Good Bye

01/29/2012

Iran / 2011 / Farsi

Directed by Mohammad Rasoulof

With Leyla Zareh, Fereshteh Sadreorafai, Shahab Hoseini

Still from 'Good Bye'Noora is an Iranian woman gradually and resolutely chipping away at the concentric walls surrounding her. As the obstacles pile up, revealed one at a time, she attempts to restack the sum total of a system that is stacked against her. A debarred lawyer with dangerous connections to human rights activists, she moves through a somber Tehran of art-nouveau buildings and spartan offices, bathed in nauseating clarity, as she tries to obtain visas for her and her husband, a journalist who has been targeted for censure in the past and is hiding in some undisclosed place. While the rules of her trip abroad (arranged for the purpose of a speaking engagement) are predetermined in detail, there is no doubt that she does not mean to follow it with a return to her country. Read the rest of this entry »

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January 21st, 2012

Light Licks: By the Waters of Babylon: I WANT TO PAINT IT BLACK

For their monthly series ‘Light Reading,’ ArtsEmerson brought together, on January 21st, selections from the New York Film Festival’s ‘Views From the Avant Garde’ and the Toronto Film Festival’s ‘Wavelengths’ from 2011. This was their second year doing such a screening, and while the lag-time for the Boston appearance of films picked for such illustrious categories is always lamentable (particularly considering the number of local filmmakers included), the opportunity to see both in one place more than makes up for that. The very title of NYFF’s series is quite pleasing, using the words ‘avant garde’ (being at the front line) to also connote a looking out at the world, to far-off vistas, while also being rooted in a particular historical moment. With several of the films selected, that was literally the contiguous strand connecting them. While one reviewer of the NYFF’s lineup last year found the growing tendency in avant garde film toward ethnography to be disturbing and problematic, most of the films here seem highly engaged with, if not entirely hung up on, questions of representation when it comes to including people and cultures. The two big themes that seemed the most present in the night’s selections are: reaching epiphanies in a foreign place, and attempting to maintain the photographic properties inherent in filmmaking while transitioning to digital. Read the rest of this entry »

Gosho

A Book by Arthur Nolletti, Jr.

University of Indiana Press, 2005.

Hands-down the definitive English text about Japanese filmmaker Heinosuke Gosho (and really the only work in English to take a comprehensive look at his nearly fifty-year career in movies), Arthur Nolletti, Jr.’s Laughter Through Tears is a book that is at once dense with precise and valuable observations, and at the same time lighthearted, breathable, and perfectly navigable as such an exhaustive surveying should strive to be. Its author locates an essential kernel – not a theme so much as a tone – in each of the director’s existing films, a bittersweet coalescence of pain and joy that make them special. This can be found through a wide range of films that span different genres, topics, and styles. Primarily, but not exclusively, focusing on the everyday lives of ordinary people, Gosho sought out the beauty hidden within sad situations, as well as the sadness to be found beneath life’s pleasures. Read the rest of this entry »

Agrarian Utopia

01/08/2012

Thailand / 2009 / Thai

Directed by Uruphong Raksasad

With Prayad Jumma, Somnuek Mungmeung, Sai Jumma

Still from 'Agrarian Utopia'A young family man, a Thai peasant named Mungmeung, relates to his friend his financial troubles. “It’s easy to get loans,” he sighs despondently. “But paying them back is another story.” Indeed, he is the ideal candidate for those who give out the loans – he has a family, no resources to pay back with any expedience, only his work to offer – the type who can easily be locked into debt for life. The other man offers a plot of his own land that the family can use and share in the harvest, loan-free. So Mungmeung, his family, and his brother and his family, default and move onto their new plot to start anew. Read the rest of this entry »

Poland / 1961 / Polish & Latin

Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz

With Lucyna Winnicka, Mieczyslaw Voit, Anna Ciepielewska

Still from 'Mother Joan of the Angels'A priest lies on the floor, face down, motionless. After a few minutes he rises, having finished prostrating himself before god for the moment. Father Suryn does this habitually; perhaps he has had an impure thought, or an impatient urge, or a nagging desire that needed banishment. This meek and pious man has come to this place – it may be a village, a scattered rural settlement, or a vast nothingness – to help the nuns of an isolated convent rid themselves of demonic possession that has caught on among them like a wildfire in the past six months. Their mother superior, Joan (like the Maid of Orléans, or the female pope of legend) is the worst-afflicted, as her body acts as a sounding-box for the voices of demons. Read the rest of this entry »