photo: Cold Eyes, Zip Cinema
Cold Eyes (2013)
An adaptation of Nai-Hoi Yau’s Hong Kong crime thriller Eye in the Sky, South Korean directors Ui-seok Jo and Byung-seo Kim portray the chaos and collusions of a high tech surveillance team, operating in the bustling cityscape of Seoul in their attempt to locate the crimes coordinated by one man. Filled with a richness of detail that avoids being overworked, the merits of this dazzling film lie in its stylistic continuity as much as its strongly formed screenplay. This is one of the most exciting and thought-provoking films in its genre.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Director Chantal Akerman’s magnum opus presents three days in the crushingly empty life of the titular character, a widowed single mother in 1970s Brussels who supports her son through sex work. Delphine Seyrig gives an incredible performance, maintaining a blank mask throughout. The film is over three hours long and mostly set in one small location, made up of long, static shots of a very lonely woman diligently peeling potatoes in near silence. Nothing this intense could ever be called boring. It’s an uncomfortably claustrophobic and suffocating experience.
My Sweet Pepper Land (2013)
Set in Kurdistan and subverting the traditional western with aplomb, My Sweet Pepper Land follows a resistance fighter after the fall of Saddam Hussein. In Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish, it is a glimpse at a part of the world we rarely get the chance to explore in the West. What it is shows is that there might just be a future for the modern western.
The Strange Little Cat (2013)
Roman Zürchner’s debut feature sounds rather lofty: not only was it loosely inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis but it was also conceived during a seminar with legendary Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr. Thankfully, though, this is anything but pretentious, depicting a chaotic Saturday afternoon in one family’s Berlin apartment. The camera remains static for almost the whole of the movie’s short 72 minute running time, focusing on the circular repetitions of everyday life. There are also some fantastic shots of the eponymous little Kätzchen who purrs away and ends up eating a moth.
Mistaken for Strangers (2013)
The lead singer from the National has a brother. His brother, Tom, is indifferent about the National. Invited on tour to be a roadie, he ends up making a documentary about his experience. The film is hilarious, stacked with potential sound bites but it’s also sensitive, weird and not necessarily what you might expect. The whole thing is sound tracked by High Violet and newest album Trouble Will Find Me, which offer a perfectly cinematic and wistful tone to the story. I went to see a film about The National and I left with a warm fuzzy feeling. A bloodbuzz.
Computer Chess (2013)
This quirkily little indie film from Texas has been getting rave reviews on the festival circuit and we can see why. It’s a mumblecore extravaganza pitting man vs machine in an epic weekend contest, turning the Super 8 camera on a computer chess tournament in the mid eighties. At its best, Computer Chess is like a Tim and Eric sketch gone oh so sweetly right. Great job.
Expedition to the End of the World (2013)
In typical Scandinavian existentialist flair, Daniel Dencik’s travelogue-come-adventure film documents the exploration of the unknown corners of Greenland by geologists, marine biologists, archeologists and artists. Dencik’s sweeping shots of indeterminable beauty complement the films probing inquiry into the self-seeking reverence between man and nature.
Closing Gala: Final Cut, Ladies and Gentlemen (2012)
Described as perhaps the greatest film about film ever made, György Pálfi’s Final Cut is the product of three years in the editing room. Combining over a century of recycled cinema clips to create a sort of master narrative, the film takes the typical boy meets girl story to whole new levels. On the outside it all sounds a little gimmicky and yes it’s quite heteronormative but from Woody Allen to Kubrick to Kurosawa, this is way more than just film enthusiast trivia.