Monday, September 15, 2014

TIFF 2014: The Round-Up



I returned from Toronto last night, and will put up a couple of posts later in the week on some of the films I was able to catch there. Meanwhile, here's an overall round-up.

Best-of-the-Fest:

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa, Portugal)
Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner, Austria)

Excellent:

Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia)

Strong:

The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)
Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)
National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, France/USA)
Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang, France/Taiwan)
Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Norway)
Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)
Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie, USA/France)
Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine)

Good, But I Had Some Reservations:

Phoenix (Christian Petzold, Germany)
Voila L'Enchainement (Claire Denis, France)
Timbuktu (Abderrehmane Sissako, Mali)
Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, France/Italy)
Natural Resistance (Jonathan Nossiter, Italy/France)

Interesting, But Didn't Work For Me:

Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, France)
Tales (Rakshan Banietemad, Iran)

Spellbinding But Category-Resistant:

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, France)

Disappointment of the Fest:

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Sweden)

Surprise of the Fest:

Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)

Cried Out for Immediate Rewatching:

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa, Portugal)
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)

Shamelessly Wowed by a Star Performance:

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
Viggo Mortensen in Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina)

Best Non-Star Performance:

Arielle Holmes in Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie, USA/France)
Lola Dueñas in Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium)

Film That Really Messed With My View of a Director I Thought I Knew:

Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, France)

Best Scene:

Opening: The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina)
Closing: Phoenix (Christian Petzold, Germany)

Best Q&A:

Matías Piñeiro
Lisandro Alonso and Viggo Mortensen
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Films I Most Regret Missing:

The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, UK)
Two Shots Fired (Martin Rejtman, Argentina)
La Sapienza (Eugène Green, France/Italy)
Letters to Max (Eric Baudelaire, France)


* * *

Recent Reading:

-- There's a brand new issue of the video essay journal [in]Transition, edited by Catherine Grant.

-- "Inside, Around and About Notorious," a chapter from Adrian Martin's 2006 PhD thesis, now available at 16:9. Also: two recent video essays by Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian: "Paratheatre Without Stages" (on Jacques Rivette's Out 1); and "Felicity Conditions: Seek and Hide" (on Fritz Lang's Secret Beyond the Door ...).

-- Tributes to Harun Farocki gathered by David Hudson.

-- Sight & Sound's "The Greatest Documentaries of All Time" poll.

-- An interview with Jean-Claude Carrière at Public Books.

-- A 60-page excerpt available on PDF from a recent book that collects global film manifestos, at Film Quarterly, via Neepa Majumdar.

-- "Phil Karlson Confidential" by Bill Krohn, at Kinoslang.

-- Erika Balsom on "cinema as a performing art," at Artforum.

-- Tony Zhou's 5-minute video, "A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film".

-- I re-read Alexis Tioseco's moving letter to Nika Bohinc after listening to Lisandro Alonso talk about how news of their death inspired him to begin working on his new film Jauja.

-- Recent blog discovery: The Mongrel Muse, run by Tanner Tafelski.

pic: Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2014).

22 Comments:

Blogger ZC said...

Thanks for the listing, Girish; I'll keep it in mind as some of these trickle my way! Sorry to hear that Eden was a disappointment.

I really, really, really wish I could see JLG's newest 3D stuff. Just a matter of time ...

September 15, 2014 9:28 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

... and space ;)

September 15, 2014 9:32 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Zach, I am embarrassed to admit how little I know about 3D technology--and how few films I've seen in this format--but I was blown away nevertheless by what he appeared to be doing with the format.

As for Eden, I enjoyed the music but found the film dramatically inert. But this was my first Hansen-Love, and maybe seeing her 3 previous films would recast this new one (I'm staying open) ...

September 15, 2014 9:35 AM  
Anonymous adrian said...

The new Roy Andersson a disappointment, after 7 years of me waiting ?!? I am shocked SHOCKED, Comrade !!

September 15, 2014 11:22 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Haha, I was shocked at my own response too! In fact I revisited both SECOND FLOOR and YOU, THE LIVING in preparation--and read your terrific Fandor piece as accompaniment.

The new one starts out strong, but then lost its hold on me in the second half. But I like Andersson enough to revisit the film with a fresh mind. Sometimes the overstimulated regimen of a film festival can play tricks on the cinephile's faculties ... I'm hoping that's the case here. I noticed that Blake Williams (with whom I share large swaths of cinema-going taste) liked it very much--which is very encouraging ...

September 15, 2014 11:32 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I will help publicize this in my next blog post, but here is a new website called "THE AUDIOVISUAL ESSAY: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies," edited by Catherine Grant, which is a *treasure* of resources on the subject. Love it!

September 15, 2014 11:51 AM  
Blogger Matthew Flanagan said...

'I re-read Alexis Tioseco's moving letter to Nika Bohinc after listening to Lisandro Alonso talk about how news of their death inspired him to begin working on his new film Jauja.'

Thanks for sharing this, Girish!

Of the above films I guess I'm most looking forward to seeing Horse Money and Phoenix. Not surprised to hear about the Roy Andersson, don't even get me started on that guy... :)

September 15, 2014 12:35 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Matthew, I missed the Costa Q&A (I saw a later screening), but I heard it was great. If you can, I would urge you to see Horse Money twice on the big screen. I've seen nearly all of his previous work multiple times, and I was still not prepared for how new and challenging and full of feeling it was ...

September 15, 2014 12:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Also: I've loved Petzold's last three films--JERICHOW, BEATS BEING DEAD, BARBARA--but had problems with PHOENIX. The beginning and the end are strong; it's the middle that's the problem. :-) But the film was divisive, and I know lots of people whose judgment I respect who loved it ...

September 15, 2014 12:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew Flanagan said...

I think Petzold's working at the top of his game atm, for me those last three have been his best since Wolfsburg and Toter Mann, and prob my faves all in all.

re: Horse Money, yup, no doubt that's the way to go! It's playing at LFF but I won't be able to make it, hopefully it won't prove too difficult to see after that. I'm intrigued to see how widely it'll be theatrically distributed, Colossal Youth did make it here eventually for a very limited release after a couple of years; hopefully it bodes well that the rest of his work is so much easier to source on DVD (etc) by now too.

September 15, 2014 1:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I've not been able to get my hands on those two, Matthew: I hope they will surface on DVD with English subs someday. I find STATE I'M IN, GHOSTS and YELLA to be intriguing and seductive films--but all problematic. Of what I've seen, JERICHOW is the one I like best.

I had the good fortune to meet and have a beer with Dana Linssen at the festival this year. She did a long interview with Petzold; I hope it appears online.

BTW, the festival also did a tribute screening to Farocki (IN COMPARISON) and I heard that Petzold turned up to introduce it.

September 15, 2014 1:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew Flanagan said...

I still have subbed dvds of those two Petzolds on my hd, email me an address and I'd be happy to post them to you!

September 15, 2014 1:28 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Matthew!
I love the Internet. :-)

September 15, 2014 1:36 PM  
Blogger Tanner Tafelski said...

Thanks for the listing, Girish. It's an honor to be in one of your link round-ups.

I'm glad to see that you like Horse Money. It's one of the films I'm most looking forward to at the NYFF.

September 15, 2014 5:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tanner, the pleasure's mine: I am glad to discover your blog!

September 15, 2014 7:48 PM  
Blogger Ehsan Khoshbakht said...

Thanks for listing your favorites, Girish. I'm glad that I can see most of them, from next week, at LFF.

September 16, 2014 7:05 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah, that's great: I look forward to your impressions of the films, Ehsan.

September 16, 2014 7:07 AM  
Blogger Michael Guillen said...

Always so great to have your feedback on the Fall-Winter bumper crop of films, Girish. Thank you. I'm especially happy that you enjoyed Two Days, One Night as much as I did: a narrative perfectly suited to these sad times when far too many are suffering the ignobility of work (or lack thereof). So jealous that you've seen the new Alonso!

September 17, 2014 3:03 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Michael. Good to hear from you! You and I are on the same page with the Dardennes film: what affected me most was that this film (which they had been thinking about and developing for 10 years) appears at this specific moment. It is a film (as much as or even more than the Costa) that feels truly contemporary and tied to the present moment.

September 18, 2014 8:52 AM  
Anonymous charro said...

Check this out, non fiction cinema from Peru and Bolivia in Oakland:

http://blackholecinema.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/andean-garde-experimental-documentation-in-the-andes-1963-2014/

September 19, 2014 1:49 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Caught up with the first two episodes of P'tit Quinquin yesterday evening (in France, the film is being shown as twice two episodes on Arte, which are then available to view for a week on its website), and it's certainly something new.
I'm wondering how the experience of seeing it in one go as a film differs from seeing it like this. Did the programmers keep the credit sequence every time? The structure seems both easier and harder to detect if it's seen as episodes: the overall narrative arc may remain (for the moment) more obscure, but episodes mirror each other more (I'm betting, for example, that that song will be heard twice more; either that or another song will be heard twice). I wonder how the temporality of it unfolds over four hours rather than twice two, and what Dumont considers the optimal way of seeing the film.

September 22, 2014 5:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Nathan, there were no opening credits to the film version, but each of the four sections opens, simply, with a section title: "The Human Beast", "The Heart of Evil", etc. All the other credits appear at the end of the film.

Your guess is right: the song ("Cause I Knew"--what a tenacious earworm!) makes an appearance in each section.

Here is an interesting interview with Dumont about QUINQUIN.

September 23, 2014 8:32 AM  

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