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Arnaud Desplechin Retrospective at Lincoln Center

My Golden Days

From March 11th through March 17th, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will be presenting a comprehensive retrospective of the films of Arnaud Desplechin, one of the most exciting and remarkable of contemporary filmmakers, whose extraordinary body of work includes such impressive achievements as: La Sentinelle, his fascinating and enigmatic first feature (regrettably screening in a digital format); My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, arguably his masterpiece (alas, also being screened in digital); and the absorbing Kings and Queen, one of his finest accomplishments.

The series is being launched to celebrate the release of the director’s beautiful new feature, the autobiographical My Golden Days, which will open at the Film Society on March 18th, and will be shown in a sneak preview on March 15th followed by Q&A with Desplechin (He will also be appearing on the 18th and the 19th).

My Golden Days revisits the character of Paul Dédalus, the fascinating protagonist of My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, reprised here by the outstanding Mathieu Amalric, an axiom for this filmmaker. A compelling tale of adolescent love, the film centers on the young Dédalus, convincingly played by the attractive Quentin Dolmaire, and the object of his passion, lusciously incarnated by Lou Roy-Lecollinet. Desplechin’s early work featured a controlled style but he plumbed a thrillingly manic, messier mode in such works as Kings and Queen and A Christmas Tale; My Golden Days is less formally original although it is unusually moving in effect and will surely prove to be one of the more memorable films of the year.
My Golden Days is a Magnolia Pictures release.
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Rendez-Vous with Fatima at Lincoln Center

The perennially popular Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, now in its 21st edition, will be returning to the Film Society of Lincoln Center on March 3rd and running through the 13th, featuring new works by such celebrated directors as Jacques Audiard, Emmanuel Finkiel, Danielle Arbid, and, above all, the incomparable Otar Iosseliani.

What is certain to be one of the strongest works in the series—as well as of the year—is the extraordinary Fatima by the superb, woefully underappreciated Philippe Faucon, several of whose previous features have been presented by the Film Society. The director’s beautiful debut feature, the 1990 L’Amour, which screened in the New Directors, New Films festival, had a musical, Bressonian style but he had developed a more lyrical mode by the time of his exquisite 1995 Muriel fait le désespoir de ses parents, screened in an earlier incarnation of Rendez-vous, programmed by Jean-Michel Frodon, then editor of Cahiers du Cinèma (Frodon had also programmed the director’s Sabine from 1993 in Rendezvous).
By the 2000 Samia, also screened in Rendez-vous, Faucon’s style had become its most purely Rossellinian, as well as evincing a deepened interest in Arab characters, both qualities of which can be seen in his new feature, based on the experiences and writings of the North African writer Fatima Elayoub, who emigrated from Morocco to Paris and supported her two daughters by working as a cleaning lady. The director is especially well-served by a large non-professional but astonishing cast. Fatima is an immensely moving work and should not be missed.
Fatima screens on Friday, March 4 at 2pm and on Sunday, March 13 at 4pm.

Film Society of Lincoln Center Sings a "Sunset Song"

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s yearly series, Film Comment Selects, now in its 16th iteration and running from February 17th through the 24th, has consistently been the strongest selection at this august institution of new works, barring the New York Film Festival. As in previous incarnations, this year’s edition features new films by many of the most outstanding filmmakers in the world now working. The current highlights include: the latest by veteran Italian director Marco Bellochio; Benoît Jacquot’s new version of Octave Mirbeau’s classic 1900 novel, Diary of a Chambermaid, previously adapted by both Jean Renoir and Luis Buñuel; and new features by the experimental Philippe Grandrieux as well as Aleksei German, Jr. Retrospective programs include spotlights devoted to controversial Polish director, Andrzej Żuławski — regrettably all in DCP — and to the underrated Charles Bronson, with  two features screening in 35-millimeter. A 1984 featurette directed by Ray Davies of the Kinks is also on the slate along with the wonderful musical, Golden Eighties, the closing night selection, by the recently deceased titan Chantal Akerman, both also presented in 35-millimeter.

The opening night film is certain to prove one of the most remarkable of the series: Sunset Song, the latest opus by the extraordinary Terence Davies, is a translation to the screen of the esteemed novel — a Bildungsroman about a young woman in rural Scotland in the period before and during the first World War — by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, a major figure of the Scottish Renaissance. While his first several films — through the beautiful The Long Day Closes —were autobiographical, the director has since embarked upon a series of remarkable adaptations from literary sources, perhaps most impressively in his magnificent version of Edith Wharton’s novel, The House of Mirth, which was notable in that he seemed to be at the furthest remove from his signature style that I’ve seen.
From the first moments of Sunset Song, one finds oneself, despite the unfamiliar setting, fully immersed in Davies’s distinctive world, with the filmmaker’s trademark slow tracking-shots and musical interludes alongside other characteristic formal and thematic motifs — for example, the figure of the protagonist’s monstrous father, here brilliantly embodied by the outstanding Peter Mullan. The total effect is both mesmerizing and deeply moving, The director gets the most out of his unfamiliar cast and evinces a complete mastery of the digital format. The final third or so of the film had the impression of diffuseness relative to the stunning first portion, but on one viewing this assessment can only be provisional and future screenings may prove this to be one of Davies’s finest achievements.

Romanian Film Series 10th Entry at Film Society

Aliyah Dada

The Film Society of Lincoln Center will be showcasing its tenth edition of Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema, co-presented with the Romanian Film Initiative, from December 2nd through the 7th at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St, NY, NY). The emergence of such remarkable directors as Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu and Cornelius Porumboiu (whose latest film, The Treasure, screens on Saturday, December 5th) has thrust Romania into the spotlight that Taiwan, Iran, and South Korea, for example, have emerged into, in recent decades.

This series is a welcome opportunity to see some of the best films that have emerged from the current milieu, as well as providing an opportunity to encounter work by neglected figures of the past — the current program will include a retrospective of veteran director Mircea Daneliuc, who will be appearing in person for a Q&A following the screening of his 1993 feature, Intimate Bed, presented in DCP at the Walter Reade on Wednesday December 2nd at 7pm, the Opening Night selection.

aferimThe director Radu Muntean is another significant personage in Romania’s New Wave; his latest feature, the excellent and disquieting, One Floor Below, portrays the quotidian world of a middle-aged man — sensitively played in a masterful performance by Teodor Corban — who withholds crucial information from the police concerning a murder investigation. Shot in an episodic, neorealist style and featuring superb naturalistic performances, this film eschews classical construction with a minimal reliance on close-ups, even if it resists the formal austerity often found in the work of his contemporaries. One Floor Below is notable for the ambiguity and open-endedness of its story’s presentation: the characters’ motivations are not explained and the viewer is encouraged to form his own conclusions about the events that transpire. The film screens at the Walter Reade on Thursday, December 3rd at 9pm and on Friday, December 4th at 4:30pm.
Radu Jude is another figure connected to the New Wave having been an assistant to Puiu and his new feature is the Closing Night selection, the extraordinary Aferim!, a caustic portrait of feudal Romania in 1835 about the mission of a sententious constable — played, in another bravura performance, by Corban — and his son to retrieve an escaped Gypsy slave, is even more unsettling than One Floor Below. Handsomely photographed in monochromatic widescreen, this is another work in a quasi-neorealist mode not very dissimilar to Muntean’s filmin its approach to storytelling and displays many of the same merits, such as impressive acting and a pointed ambiguity. Aferim! screens at the Walter Reade on Monday, December 7th at 8:30pm.
Making Waves: New Romanina Cinema
December 2 - 7, 2015
Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater
165 W. 65th St.
New York, NY 10023


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