From the Chicago Reader (September 17, 1999). I’ve been dying to see this film again, but I’ll never be rich enough to rent or buy it from the Video Data Bank. Who is? — J.R.
This 1998 Caspar Stracke feature is one of the rare experimental films in 35-millimeter, and though I could preview it only on video, it kept me fascinated even in that format. Stracke describes it as moving in a circle with neither a beginning nor an end; in the version I saw, the credits come in the middle. A lecture on the philosophical and psychoanalytic implications of the invention of the telephone by theorist Avital Ronell eventually turns into a story in black and white about a woman who has a lotus blossom growing in her left lung; at different times this film comes across as documentary, essay, performance art, and silent throwback (complete with intertitles and irises), and the capabilities and rhetoric associated with both computers and VCRs play a part in the continuously shifting and evolving discourse. Stracke will be present at the screening. Kino-Eye Cinema at Cinema Borealis, 1550 N. Milwaukee, Friday, September 17, 8:00, 773-293-1447. — Jonathan Rosenbaum
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Note: I saw Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot too late for inclusion, but would have placed it in or near the top ten if I had seen it earlier.
1. 24 Frames (Kiarostami)
2. Twin Peaks: The Return (Lynch)
3. Let the Sun Shine In (Denis)
4. Downsizing (Payne)
5. Barbs, Wastelands (Marta Mateus)
6. Mudbound (Rees)
7. Phantom Thread (Anderson)
8. Faces Places (Varda & JR)
9. Lady Bird (Gerwig)
10. Marjorie Prime (Almereyda)
11. Ava (Foroughi)
12. The Shape of Water (del Toro)
13. The Meyerowitz Brothers (New & Selected) (Baumbach)
14. Paradise (Konchalovsky)
15. The Lost City of Z (Gray)
16. The Motive (Cuena)
17. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Wiseman)
18. Boom for Real (Driver)
19. Golden Years (Téchiné)
20. Professor Marsten and the Wonder Women (Robinson)… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (October 1, 2000). MUBI has offered this film in the past. — J.R.
Scripted and directed by Ko I-Chen — a member of the Taiwanese new wave best known as an actor outside of Taiwan, particularly for his role in Edward Yang’s Taipei Story — this exciting 1997 feature, Lan yue, consists of five 20-minute reels designed to be shown in any order, so that 120 versions of the film are possible. (Ko wrote all five scripts simultaneously, on different colored sheets of paper.) In most respects this is a conventional, even commercial narrative feature, which makes for what I like most about it — it demands the viewer’s creative participation at the same time that it pretends to satisfy all the usual expectations. All five reels feature more or less the same characters and settings — including a young woman, a writer, a film producer, and a restaurant owner, all of whom live in Taipei and belong to the same circle — but in each reel the woman is involved with one of two men. One can construct a continuous narrative by positing some reels as flashbacks, as flash-forwards, or as events that transpire in a parallel universe.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (February 1, 1992). — J.R.
A dirgelike Hungarian thriller by Gyorgy Feher about the search for a serial killer whose victims are little girls. The striking visual style (high-contrast black-and-white cinematography by Miklos Gurban) and creepy pacing tend to dominate the plot so thoroughly that I found myself tuning the narrative out and not being terribly worried about what I was missing. While the slow-as-molasses dialogue delivery and camera movements superficially suggest Tarkovsky (or, closer to home, Bela Tarr’s Damnation), Feher’s script and mise en scene are considerably more mannerist — employed more to conjure an atmosphere than to convey a particular vision or a distinctive moral universe. The closest American equivalent to this sort of exercise might be Rumble Fish: sumptuous visuals that impart more filigree than substance (1990). (JR)
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