Claire Denis

Originally published at tobecontd.com.

The Strange Little Cat (2013)

This article was originally published at 2013 AFI Fest.

Frederick Wiseman: Reasoned Arguments

Originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Jia Zhangke: Confronting the Darkness

Originally published at Mubi.

Catherine Breillat: Material Desires

Originally published at Mubi.

To the Wonder (Malick, 2012)

This essay was originally published at Mubi.

Three Sisters (2012)

Wang introduced Three Sisters as “a simple film” that “might be too long.” I appreciate his humility (a hallmark of his filmmaking, too), but I think he’s wrong on both counts. There’s nothing simple about this precise assemblage of footage collected during several visits to the girls’ remote farming village, and the length of the film is, in fact, essential to its success.

TIFF 2012 – Day 6

Dormant Beauty (Bellocchio), Something in the Air (Assayas), Berberian Sound Studio (Strickland), Nights with Theodore (Betbeder), and The Last Time I Saw Macao (Rodrigues and Guerra da Mata).

TIFF 2012 – Day 5

The Master (Anderson), Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica (Gomes), Birds (Abrantes), and Viola (Piñeiro).

Nicolas Rey: differently, molussia

Originally published at Senses of Cinema.

TIFF 2012 – Day 4

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami), Far from Vietnam, Tower (Radwanski), and August and After (Dorsky).

TIFF 2012 – Day 3

Gebo and the Shadow (de Oliveira), differently, Molussia (Rey), and Night Across the Street (Ruiz).

TIFF 2012 – Day 2

Barbara (Petzold), Mekong Hotel (Apitchatpong), Big in Vietnam (Diop), Sightseers (Wheatley), Student (Omirbayev), and Wavelengths 1.

TIFF 2012 – Day 1

In Another Country (Hong), Laurence Anyways (Dolan), Argo (Affleck), and Tabu (Gomes).

Anticipating TIFF 2012

My goal in Toronto each year is pretty simple. I typically see about 30 films at the fest, and if I choose the right 30 then for the next twelve months I get to participate in the larger critical conversation about contemporary world cinema, despite living in a midsized city in East Tennessee.

Nostalgia, Chaos, and Moments of Ecstasy: The 36th Toronto International Film Festival

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Chantal Akerman: Madwomen (and Men) in the Jungle

Originally published at Mubi.

Jose Luis Guerin: Rediscovering the Quotidian

Originally published at Mubi.

2010 TIFF Schedule

Because seeing 30+ films in a week is a perfectly sensible thing to do. List includes highly-anticipated new films by Apichatpong, Gallo, Breillat, Reichardt, Hong, Wiseman, and Godard.

2009 TIFF Wrap-Up

To carry on the tradition from past years (2006, 2007, 2008), here’s a breakdown of the feature-length films I saw at TIFF, more or less in order of preference. Masterpieces Will likely end up on my short list of favorite films of the decade: none Stand Outs Will be among my favorite films of the […]

2009 TIFF Day 3

Antichrist (Tars von Trier) When asked at TIFF what I thought of Antichrist, I got in the habit of saying, “Well, it’s a testament to von Trier’s talent that he can make such an unremarkable film of such remarkable imagination and control.” It’s a genre film, right? A psychological horror movie with a few unexpected […]

2009 TIFF Day 2

Like You Know It All (Hong Sang-soo) Given the generally low opinion of Like You Know It All among many Hong fans, and given my enjoyment of it, I’ve concluded I just can’t tell the good ones from the bad. This one has everything I enjoy about his work: a self-absorbed, unintentionally cruel, and likable […]

2009 TIFF Day 1

A quick review of L’Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot Inferno, directed by Serge Bromberg & Ruxandra Medrea.

Anticipating TIFF (2009)

I just received my ticket order confirmation. I have a 50-ticket pass but will probably only — only — see 36-40, so I went ahead and double-booked several time slots and will make a last-minute decision about which tickets to use.

Phantoms of Nabua and a Letter to Uncle Boonmee

There are ways of “decoding” this film, I suppose — the soccer ball as a synecdoche for military armaments, the cinema as documentarian, the hovering florescent light as ghost (or Ghost) — but reducing Apitchatpong’s films to points on a symbolic answer key seems beside the point.

Wavelengths: Tamalpais and Hotel Roccalba

Short responses to Chris Kennedy’s Tamalpais and Josef Dabernig’s Hotel Roccalba.

Lumphini 2552

My tendency when describing a film like Lumphini 2552 is to fall back on Modernist rallying cries like that old Ezra Pound chestnut, “Make it new!” Maybe a useful way to think of Nishikawa’s film is as a beautifully defamiliarized — and uniquely cinematic — landscape.

Lisandro Alonso: Who’s John Ford?

Originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Albert Serra: Iconic Images

Originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Claire Denis: Dancing Reveals So Much

This interview was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

New Directions: The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Nathaniel Dorsky: Manifesting the Ineffable

Originally published at Mubi.

TIFF ’08 Wrap-Up

Here’s a quick breakdown of what I saw, more or less in order of preference. I’m never sure how to handle the Wavelengths shorts, so I’ve included several of them that I thought were especially strong and arbitrarily omitted others. Wavelengths was, without question, the highlight of TIFF for me this year.

RR (2007)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Railroad (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

Revanche and Delta

I’ve developed a lazy habit of saying that I don’t particularly care what a film is about; I care what it does formally. But, while well-directed and wonderfully performed, the standout feature of Gotz Spielmann’s Revanche is the story, which, particularly over the last 80 minutes, is perfectly constructed.

Anticipating TIFF (2008)

The Toronto International Film Festival is always the most highly anticipated week-and-a-half of my year, but this time around my eagerness to go watch movies, hang out with friends, and wander around a great city is being trumped by the more basic and urgent need for a vacation. I’m deep-down-in-the-bones tired and I can’t wait to get away and be a different version of myself for 11 days. When I got home last year, I told Joanna that Toronto has become my mistress. I’ll stand by that metaphor.

2007 TIFF Day 8

Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, Lee Kang-sheng’s Help Me Eros, Nanouk Leopold’s Wolfsbergen, and Alessandro Capone’s L’Amour Cache.

2007 TIFF Day 7

Catherine Breillat’s Une vieille maitresse, Brian De Palma’s Redacted, and Jose Luis Guerin’s Dans la ville de Sylvie.

2007 TIFF Day 6

Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light, Bernard Emond’s Contre Toute Esperance, and Celine Sciamma’s Naissance des pieuvres.

TIFF 2007: In a Nutshell

I intend to post capsule reviews of every film I saw, but it’ll probably take another week before I get through them all. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the festival.

2007 TIFF Day 5

The Coen brothers’ No County for Old Men, Anahi Berneri’s Encarnacion, Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Bruce McClure’s Everytwo Circumflicksrent…Page 298.

2007 TIFF Day 4

Lucia Puenzo’s XXY, Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine, Saverio Costanzo’s In Memory of Myself, Hannes Schupbach’s Erzahlung, and Heinz Emigholz’s Schindler’s Houses.

2007 TIFF Day 3

Naomi Kawase’s Mourning Forest, Bela Tarr’s The Man from London, Jia Zhang-ke’s Useless, John Gianvito’s Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, and Ute Aurand and Maria Lang’s The Butterfly in Winter.

2007 TIFF Days 1 and 2

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Wang Bing’s Fengming, A Chinese Memoir, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge, Peter Hutton’s At Sea, and Sandra Kogut’s Mutum.

A Toast to Cinephilia!

A total trainwreck of a day had suddenly been redeemed by a simple act of kindness — or acts of kindness, as, first, Girish was looking out for me and then other members of the Cinematheque staff (projectionist Alexi Manis most of all) were, I’m sure, inconvenienced by the sudden change of plans.

In a Nutshell

The Toronto International Film Festival is exactly the right length. After seeing thirty or forty film programs in nine-and-a-half days, I’m always ready for it to end. I hate that it’ll be another year before I get to walk down Yonge Street again, discuss movies over sushi with friends again, and discover so many great new films again, but, for the time being at least, I’m glad to be home.

History and Politics

These Girls is a difficult film to watch. Rached avoids over-sentimentalizing her subject, and, frankly, the girls have been hardened to the point that, at times, I found it difficult to muster the appropriate sympathy for them. (I say that with embarrassment.)

Three for Three

Perhaps it’s simply the inevitable result of paring down my schedule from 44 films in 2005 (only 35 of which I actually saw) to “only” 33 this year, but my sense while researching and planning over the past weeks was that TIFF’s lineup is stronger, top to bottom, this time around than in previous years.

TIFF 2006

Late last night I received a confirmation email from the Toronto International Film Festival box office, notifying me that I would be seeing all thirty of my first choice films. Given that so many of my friends are still awaiting similar confirmation, mine appears to have been one of the first orders processed — just lucky in the lottery draw this year, I guess.

Impossibly, Even Scarily, Geeky *

The idea of creating an Excel file to collect information about each of the 300+ films occurred to me two years ago, when a friend (and TIFF veteran) told me he chose his films based on very particular and personalized criteria.