11 great recent films.

Pina

by Wim Wenders

Perhaps the best film of these times. It embodies what good cinema should look like today: perfect use of dimensions, space, music, performance, story…I would even dare to say that it’s Wim Wender’s best film.

Certified Copy

by Abbas Kiarostami

The film I wish I had directed. Kiarostami manages to layer each shot successfully into a sublime experience of reflections and dialogue that explores in depth both the darkest and most honest side of the human heart. Truly beautiful.

A Separation

by Asghar Farhadi

The title says it all, a separation of a family, a separation of friends, a separation by understandings and misunderstandings. This Iranian film might be in Persian but the story is universal. An intense drama with a weight that feels like is never lifted.

Red State

by Kevin Smith

Underrated. Kevin Smith’s best film since his 1994 debut “Clerks” yet a completely different kind of “Kevin Smith flick”. Funny, thrilling and full of wonderful twists.

Melancholia

by Lars Von Trier

Von Trier’s most pessimistic film, but at the same time it is his “lightest” film. Heavenly disturbing.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

by Werner Herzog

A nostalgic view on the story of human beings. Herzog takes us into a journey deep into the abyss of man’s dreams. A story about a forgotten past. Chilling and beautiful.

Tiny Furniture

by Lena Dunham

A coming of age, post-graduate comedy like you have never seen before. The originality is outstanding. It’s funny, smart and wonderfully photographed, Lena Dunham shows us a reality of TriBeCa youths without falling into the stereotype of the young collage New York type. Dunham currently directs, writes and produces her own HBO series based on the film.

Le Havre

by Aki Kaurismäki

A masterpiece. If you don’t speak French you could still understand the story due to a sublime precision in visual storytelling. The hard lighting, pale colors and old 1970s texture of the interior scenery reminds one of the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder or the late films of Luis Buñuel. Kaurismäki tells a very relevant story that clashes between the reality of contemporary France and an old France now lost in the works of Jean-Pierre Melville or Louis Malle. A sweet and warm comedy that everyone should see.

Jane Eyre

by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Based on the classic novel of the same name, this romantic drama set in late nineteenth-century England combines the Romantic period style with contemporary cinematography that makes it truly a real pleasure to look at.

The Tree of Life

by Terrence Malick

An extremely ambitious project, many have compared it to Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” but I like to call it the optimistic version of Von Trier’s “Melancholia”. A warmhearted yarn to the lost world of childhood and a existential statement on the universality of birth and death.

Drive

by Nicolas Winding Refn

A neo-noir thriller about a lonesome Hollywood stunt driver like you’ve never seen before; It’s certainly not the greatest film of the year yet it remains very underrated among critics. The right balance between commercial and a tribute to art-house cinema without actually becoming an art film. Worth a watch nonetheless.

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The Connection: junkies, jazz and the desperation within

In this 1962 black and white  faux documentary (based on Jack Gelber’s play) experimental filmmaker Shirley Clark tells the story of a vérité documentary filmmaker Jim Dunn (William Redfield) who tries to portray a day in the life of eight junkies who impatiently wait for their drug dealer “Cowboy”(Carl Lee). As the day unfolds, we witness the interaction of these broken souls within a bleak and gloomy apartment somewhere possibly in New York. There is constant mocking of each other, existential monologues, spontaneous breaks into wonderful jam sessions and odd situations that can only turn into some disturbing intoxicated nightmare.While Jim desperately tries to portray something beyond his drug-addicted subjects, the annoyed junkies try to tell him to seek no further, that he can’t really understand the madness. Jim is so unattached with this world of jazz and junk that it’s only after Cowboy the drug dealer arrives, Jim finally gets high himself to realize the mistake of his film. All he needed was some kind of a path to guide him, a substance, a fix, a connection. But the film is not only centered on Jim, it evenly divides out protagonism among every single character in the film. From the jazz musicians to the crawling cockroach on the wall. Not a single detail is ignored. At one point the camera points out a sign on the wall on top of the bathroom (where the junkies go to take their daily fix) that reads: “Hell or Heaven, what road will you take?”. The camera moves constantly around the apartment often swinging off the subjects. It’s shot in stunning black and white with a vérité quality that really makes you wonder how much of the principal photography is actually improvised and how much is actually staged. The same exact thing applies to the acting; the beatnik slang and mumbling makes it a little hard to understand what the actors are saying sometimes even comprehensible. The film ends with and feels like a heroin overdose. A hidden gem of American cinema, “The Connection” won the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 1961, was heavenly censured and criticized for its vulgar language and depiction of drug-use and has been recently restored by UCLA’s film school archives and re-released nation-wide and soon world wide. A really beautiful film and a pleasure to watch.

It’s currently playing in the IFC center in New York.