Hong Sang-soo is often accused of making the same film over and over again; a man and a woman meet, have awkward conversations, drink soju, and life goes on. It’s by turns tiresome and winsome, because Hong’s films are often centered around profound ruminations on a sense of self and human relationships, wrapped up and delivered with a soft charm and humour that permeates each film to its core. In Right Now, Wrong Then, he literally makes the same movie twice, and in the process, he both acknowledges and dismantles his critics’ objections.
Festival du Nouveau Cinema
Presented in the FNC Lab section, that features experimental and more minimalistic films, Tsai Ming Lang’s Xi You- Journey to the West is a beautiful and stylistic piece on Lee Kang Sheng and his very slow walk that he films in different spaces. In Ming Lang’s words: “In 2011, Lee Kang Sheng walked very slowly on the stage during my play called Only you. His performance was so perfect that I decided to film it”. Xi You is Tsai Ming Lang’s latest film out of his six “Walker” film series that seek to document the particular walk. It takes place in the city of Marseille, France.
Evolution of a Criminal is Darius Clark Monroe’s first film. Produced by Spike Lee, who happened was Darius’ film teacher, it won the Special Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. A recent graduate from the NYU Film School, as we learn at the end of his film, Darius undergoes the original project of documenting his own life, and what happened to him, which not your ordinary teenage years. In 1997, at 16 year old, Darius Clark Monroe robbed a Bank of America and stole a huge amount of money along with two accomplices and friends. Following that, in what his prosecutors called a “lucky” sentence he spent 5 years in prison to be released only at 22, thus spending among the most formative years of his life in jail.
There is a certain simplicity in Alain Guiraudie’s L’inconnu du lac (Stranger by the Lake) not seen in many films these days. However, that is not to say this is a simple film; it happens to run deep with emotion, stimulation, and humor. The story is set in what appears to be the early 1990s in the south of France, where local men gather around a crystalline lake to swim, sunbathe in the nude, and cruise. Starring Pierre Deladonchamps as Franck, a sensitive and curious young man; and Christophe Paou as Michel, a seductively dangerous stranger, the film is suspenseful, sexy, and smart, not to mention beautifully shot.
Tsai Ming-Liang has built a reputation for himself as one of the foremost artists of contemporary cinema. His work is often lauded for its challenging ideas, careful pacing, and incredible compositional sense. His newest film Stray Dogs (rumoured to be his last) is about an alcoholic father and his two children struggling to survive in Taipei. Blending stark realism with elements of fantasy and absurdity, there is little doubt that this is one of the most unique films of the year, offering a singular vision of the world.
In this outrageous action opus from writer/director Sion Sono, an ambitious young film director Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa) gets caught in the middle of a bloody Yakuza war sparked by the vengeful wife of a powerful crime boss who is sent to prison after massacring several of her husband’s rivals. The plot is so convoluted, your head will spin when trying to piece it all together. In short, it bounces back and forth between Mitsuko (Fumi Nakaido), a former child star and the daughter of the kingpin, and a group of independent, but talented guerrilla filmmakers who call themselves the FUCK Bombers.
Borne out of the current economic crisis, Bluebird is set in an obscure and isolated logging town in Maine. Coated in snow that seems to be barely ever cleared, there is a lingering fear that the mill will close and the town will fade even deeper into the past. Lost in the rituals of daily life, it is only through accidental tragedy that a true sense of malaise and hopelessness comes rising from below the surface.