Day one of my festival got off to a good start with two good films and one great one with plenty of time left over to catch up with friends and colleagues from around the country (mostly NYC, if truth be told).
l is the latest film from Argentine director Lisandro Alonso
, who also made Los Muerto
s. The film follows a laborer on a freighter who receives permission to visit his aging mother when his ship docks in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in South America. The film is shot in a very minimalist style allowing Alonso to dwell on every tick and twitch (and gulp of vodka) by lead Juan Fernandez in order to convey his loneliness and dread of returning home. Once there, he is essentially treated like an outcast but the reaction of the handful of locals is subtle. He sees his daughter and leaves her with a small amount of money. The film is understated in both style and story, to the point that we're not quite sure exactly what has happened in the characters' collective past and for me to say more would give away too much of what plot there is.
I can't say what my colleagues' catch phrase is for Andreas Dresen
's Cloud 9
in a family newspaper. A woman in her mid-60s begins to have an affair with a man she meets after doing some garment alteration for him. Dresen depicts their unfolding love affair in an uncommonly graphic manner for love scenes featuring characters beyond their 30s. The woman can't stop seeing her new love but she is also burdened by the guilt of hurting her husband of 30 years. The film is refreshing in that it does focus on older characters – far too rare in film. The film is shot in a very intimate, minimal, hand-held style that nicely complements the content.
The best film of my day (and I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be the best of my festival) is Claire Denis
's 35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum)
. The film centers on a working class father and adult daughter who live together and who rely on each other for comfort. Both are the objects of the attention of two people that live in the same apartment building. I could go on and on about the film but with time an issue I'll focus on one interlude in bar with all of the main characters. The four characters are on their way to a concert but when their car breaks down are forced to seek shelter from the rain in a bar that remains open after hours just for them and another couple. The characters drink and dance and exchange glances that speak volumes. As in past films like Beau Travail
and Friday Night
, Denis and cinematographer Agnes Godard celebrate the characters' bodies and interacting physicality. With (The Commodores') Night Shift
playing on the soundtrack and Godard's camera swirling around the beautiful actors it makes for an intoxicating scene. I ran into a colleague later in the evening and we both agreed it gave us goose bumps it was so beautiful. That's the reaction I hope to have at least once a festival and it happened on the first day.
- Dave Filipi
, Curator, Film/Video