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Author: Tanner Tafelski

Metal Martyr—“Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc”

In the past few years, Bruno Dumont has gotten goofy. Long gone is the sober and severe Dumont of The Life of Jesus (1997), Humanité (1999), and Twentynine Palms (2003). Filled with bold colors by DP Guillaume Deffontaines, stylized performances from actors and non-actors, and flirtations and mutations of genres (a murder mystery, a musical) — Li’l Quinquin (2014) and Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (2017) are some of Dumont’s best work yet. The latter of which is a Joan of Arc movie unlike anything before. Throughout film history, directors — Gallic and non-Gallic alike — have...

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Heavy Traffic: Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy’s Interchange

In Interchange (2018), the persistent sound of cars whooshing by on the looming concrete slabs of the titular infrastructure connecting ramps, entrances, and exits for multitudinous highways overshadows lives lived in the near vicinity. Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s feature is a kind of ecology of people and places around an interchange located around the outskirts of Montreal. Premiering at the 2018 Berlinale Forum, Interchange marks the filmmakers’ first feature since their 2012 narrative film, Francine. Working together for roughly ten years now, these micro-budget and truly independent filmmakers have created a body of work that is at...

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Monstrous Mom: Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother

Scary Mother is a new film that formally sets itself apart from the glut of recent neo-realist cinema emerging from Georgia. Taking a different aesthetic tact, the film uses a bold expressionistic color palette, architectural details, and psychological acuity to mind the depths of a story about a housewife shirking her responsibilities in order to write her first book, to the consternation of her family. By setting her film apart from the rest of the country’s cinematic landscape, and using a seasoned cast and crew, Ana Urushadze (daughter of Tangerines director Zaza Urushadze) has made a first feature that...

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The Flux of Life in Two Recent Hong Sang-soo Films

Hong Sang-soo, prolific as usual, had three films released this year: On the Beach at Night Alone, The Day After, and Claire’s Camera. Although this piece will focus in depth on the first two films, all three provide further evidence that Hong has one of the most coherent bodies of work in contemporary cinema. Like those of Yasujirō Ozu, Philippe Garrel, and Eric Rohmer, a Hong film can be appreciated on its own, but grows in richness when placed in the context of his ever-expanding body of work. His films may be similar in aesthetic (a direct approach with sequence shots, simple...

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Losing Ground: Lucrecia Martel’s Zama

Nine long years have elapsed since the release of The Headless Woman (2008), Lucrecia Martel’s last feature film. Since then, she prepared and failed to get a science-fiction project launched, endured a drawn out two-month production, and oversaw an extensive edit on Zama, an adaptation of Antonio di Benedetto’s rigorously precise novel of the same name. The shoot may have been protracted, but none of that manifests on screen. Though at times insular, Zama is a haunting work for an artist who continually redefines her cinematic language with each film. Zama follows the eponymous character during three episodes in...

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