Whether in theater or on DVD, the below films are sure to titillate your senses. In our humble opinions.
T. Mathenia Recommends
Dir: Singing Chen, Jero Yun, Midi Zhao, Joana Preiss, Shen Ko-Shang, Luis Cifuentes, Chang Jung-Chi, Alireza Khatami
Country: Taiwan 2013 Runtime: 75min
A refreshing omnibus of four shorts, each pairing a young Taiwanese filmmaker and a director from abroad (namely Chile, France, Iran, and South Korea), Taipei Factory contemplates urban life with styles ranging from light comedy to pseudo-documentary. In The Pig, a destitute farmer is forced to sell his prized pig upon the demolition of his neighborhood; Silent Asylum shows refugees recounting disturbing stories of their escape from Burma; A Nice Travel follows a young woman about to move out of Taiwan and get married in Chile, leaving behind her entangled relationships; finally, the Kafka-esque Mr. Chang’s New Address tackles major questions about identity as Chang’s house magically vanishes one day…
TOP OF THE LAKE (Part I/II)
Dir: Jane Campion, Garth Davis Country: Australia/New Zealand/UK 2013 Runtime: 177min
The stark opening, a young girl walking into a frozen lake, evokes Scandinavian mysteries, but the voices and landscape reveal Jane Campion’s New Zealand. Strong women –Holly Hunter as the enigmatic leader claiming a women’s commune in idyllic Paradise Valley; Elisabeth Moss, freed from Mad Men, as detective Robin Griffin, and Tui, the disappearing schoolgirl – struggle with sexual assault, dubious parentage and violence in the past and in its dark present. Griffin forges ahead, doubting partners, lovers and enemies; Campion slowly builds a complex battle of innocents against the increasingly perverse world of Tui’s father, the local patriarch Matt Mitcham and townspeople caught in his web of drug dealing. A world of wild, explosive men, reflective, powerful women and beautiful but treacherous nature in the first miniseries screened at Sundance.
Skeeta Diggs Recommends
SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY
Dir: Gustav Deutsch Country: Austria 2013 Runtime: 92min
Cast: Stephanie Cumming, Christoph Bach
What if these paintings spoke….moved…really were frozen instants in complex lives? Filmmaker Deutsch and masterful cinematographer Jerzy Palacz and crew lovingly reconstruct thirteen paintings from American artist Edward Hopper that apparently froze the light and lives of the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s. And then they set these tableaux into motion, following the lives of Shirley and her photojournalist partner Stephen in eras of radical social confrontations and personal challenges. An experimental exploration of art, society and levels of meaning, bathed in the lite and color of Hopper’s iconic works.
THE PUNK SYNDROME
Dir: Jukka Kärkkäinen, J-P Passi Country: Finland/Norway/Sweden 2012 Runtime: 85min
Punk bands repudiate mainstream society. But what if society has already rejected the players from birth? Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, a Finnish punk band, formed by adults dealing with autism and Down syndrome, was brought together in 2009 by an NGO that provides housing and support. Since then, the band members have built a successful career turning their different abilities into challenges to everyday frustrations, institutional life and discrimination in liberal Finnish society. The band and its documentarians open our eyes to what it feels like to be treated as “special” and to respond with the sounds of righteous anger.
Corbyn Bricie Recommends
BASTARDS (LES SALAUDS)
Dir: Claire Denis France 2013 100min
Cast: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille
The provocative title makes it abundantly clear that this is Claire Denis at her uncompromising best. Ace frequent partners Agnes Godard (cinematography) and the Tindersticks (music) return for the director’s first venture into genre territory since Trouble Every Day. A somber, violent revenge noir, the Paris-set film carries over the hard-hitting brutality of Denis’ last feature White Material. Aided by a superb cast and magnificent mise-en-scene, a loose plot unfolds about a family forced into bankruptcy by a wealthy businessman, and the price paid to exact vengeance.