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Movies Reviews: Everybody needs someone (or something) to hold on to

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By Roger Costa

KEKSZAKALLU

An official selection at Toronto and New York Film Festivals, Argentinian director Gastón Solnicki’s feature debut is a very personal look at the routine of old and young residents of a neighborhood, filmed in absorbing, observational and abstract forms. Inspired by Bela Bartok’s sole opera, it follows these people with persistent sensibility, highly supported by the stylized imagery techniques: a father going through a generation clash with his jobless daughter, four female friends enjoying a girls-night-in, a young mother exploring values with her lonely teen daughter, a couple sharing romance and joy on the grass, two sisters reveal their perspectives and philosophies, and so on. Using Opera-soundtrack, fashionable editing and unique lyricism on the contacts with water, either swimming or bathing, Solnicki fills up the screen with meditative images of poetry and melancholy, revealing his promising insights on family and relationships. (A Cinema Slate/Cinema Tropical Release. Opens Friday, July 21st at Film Society of Lincoln Center.)

AMNESIA

The splendorous landscapes of Ibiza are the set for this Cannes official-selection drama about the ambiguous relationship between an aging mysterious musician and a young, handsome German DJ who is in the paradisiacal island for an important gig at the famous dance-club of the title. Directed by Barbet Schroeder, the prolific Iranian-born director/producer who was notorious in the 90’s for his thrillers (“Reversal of Fortune”, “Single White Female”, “Kiss of Death”), it is a low-budget unusual romance, very efficient and honest, bringing fine performances by leading pair Marthe Keller and Max Riemelt, and a surprisingly ferocious appearance by Bruno Ganz. As the pair delve into an intense connection of mutual respect and hobbies, as well as passion for music, they explore the essential aspects of each other’s generation, goals and fears, until a secret involving Nazis and War twists their harmony. Deeply emotional and ambiguous, the film investigates its issues and traumas with captivating intensity, enhanced by the glorious lenses of Award-winning veteran cinematographer Luciano Tovoli. (A Film Movement Release. Opens Friday July 21st at Cinema Village.)

THE FENCER

This Finnish-Estonian Golden Globes-nominee gets the audience’s heart for its charming depiction of a father-like relation between a young political fugitive fencer and his students, children orphaned by War. Fleeing Russian agents, he arrives at a small town as the physical activities teacher, developing an immediate influence on the kids and residents, including a young lady who becomes his love interest, but raising suspicions among the dean’s office. As he introduces the technique of fencing as the main subject, he gives meaning and purpose for their solitary and hopeless lives. They decide to participate in the nation’s tournament, putting the young fencer’s hidden identity at stake. Multiple awarded filmmaker Klaus Härö builds the narrative with a coherent and vigorous suspenseful aesthetic. He also has at his favor the luminous cinematography capturing sophisticated wintry shots and the elegant, poignant piano score. But overall, the film belongs to the interaction between the fencer and his pupils, especially a fatherless girl named Martha. The chemistry is responsible for bringing joy, hope and focus while they’re going through times of separations and losses. That results in a lovely, efficiently emotional, family-friendly admirable surprise. (A CFI Releasing Release. Opens Friday July 21st at Angelika Film Center.)

MR. UNIVERSO

One of Europe’s most accomplished duo, Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel continue to investigate human nature in humble environments facing obstacles, challenges and pieces getting lost. Their most common place is the circus, where they brilliantly examined the effects of an abandoned little girl over a couple searching for her mother in “La Pivellina” a few years ago, and now they return there with the same Neo-realism influence and sweet-eyed semi-documentary road movie-style, evoking elements of an existential crisis experienced by Tairo, a gentle, expressive, yet insecure lion tamer. He becomes frustrated when his amulet disappears, and goes on a quest to find the man who gave it to him when he was a child- a strong heavy-weight lifter man named Mr. Universo who might have the solution for his problem. While his girlfriend follows a psychic’s ritual instructions in order to restore Tairo’s luck, he persuades his goal, visiting relatives, friends and eventually revealing the mystery behind the super man and his bending iron. With incredible, authentic compassion and sensibility, as well as precise observations on spontaneous emotions, the directors extract powerful revelations of the human condition through Tairo’s personal -but universal- journey. Undoubtedly among this year’s best! (A Vento Films Release. Runs July 21-27 Exclusively at Anthology Film Archives.)

OKJA

Korean director Bong Joon-ho continues his engagement into surrealistic political fantasy with this beautiful, moving, action-packed take on the power and greed of big companies, capital manipulation and the animal eating issue. The story revolves around Mija, a pre-teen girl living in the peaceful mountains near Seoul with her grandfather and a super size pig, created in a laboratory in New Jersey. When the creator-company, Mirando, takes the pig for a major contest back in America, Mija embarks on an adventure to rescue her beloved pet, meeting along the dangerous journey, eccentric folks such as a group of animal protectors and the team behind the scheme to benefit the company’s image and profits. Joon-ho creates a marvelous cinematic experience, utterly delightful and fast-paced adventurous, visually extravagant, filled with cynical humor, awkwardly hilarious performances by Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, and an irresistible affection for the bond between the brave girl and the smart piglet. A Masterpiece! (A Netflix Release. Now Playing at Film Society of Lincoln Center.)


Léa Campos: Covardia de um Árbitro

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