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Leaving permanent marks on bodies, roads and memories

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By Roger Costa

DOUBLE LOVER

A prolific director who really understands about glamour and eroticism, as well as a constant observer of the uncontrollable power of desire, François Ozon is probably France’s most accomplished contemporary filmmaker. His films have the quality and twists that usually please most critics, and also carry attractive familiar contexts and irresistible sensuality, enough elements to catch mainstream audiences, as he did with “Swimming Pool” and the comedy “Ricky”. In his new film, a scandalously hot and provocative take on sexual manipulation, he explores the ambiguous emotions of a disturbed woman trapped in a complex game of seduction involving a pair of therapist twin-brothers. Marine Vacth (who worked with Ozon in “Young and Beautiful”) is hypnotizing as the obsessed femme fatale, while Jérémie Renier delivers two precisely convincing portraits of male insecurity and reveals himself as a potential sex-symbol that cinema should further explore. Ozon literally delves into their bodies (the camera goes inside her vagina at least twice, one of them during an orgasm) using psychedelic images including a mixing of figures at a museum and her thoughts, trendy music and precious editing, and the subtle mystical elements such as the connection with cats. The sexiest film of the Valentine season, Ozon conceived an explosive, enigmatic puzzle about a seductive threesome. (Cohen Media Group. Opens 2/14 at Quad Cinema.)

GOLDEN EXITS

A gorgeous Australian aspiring singer in Brooklyn gets a job as a file assistant for a middle-class man in trouble for his womanizer behavior. She becomes the pivot for jealousy and  evaluation, stirring up the unhappy lives of a group of couples, as she harmlessly tries to make her way into the city. After his acclaimed hits “Listen Up Philip” and “Queen of Earth”, indie writer-director Alex Ross Perry returns with this sophisticated dramedy about the anxieties and perseverance of a hipster generation dealing with emotional vulnerability due to overwhelming relationships. Intensely performed with precise melancholy and a charming buddy-like spirit by a fabulous cast including Emily Browning, Mary Louise-Parker, Chloë Sevigny and Jason Schwartzman, and set to a beautiful piano score, it’s a tender and perceptive analysis on fidelity, sisterhood and the virtue of community. (Vertical Entertainment. Opens 2/9 at Metrograph.)

A HEART OF LOVE

Polish Artist and performer turned-filmmaker Łukasz Ronduda’s sophomore project is a visually arresting and sensual look at many phases/crisis of a love affair. It follows a musician and a poet struggling with their respective works, at the same time that they are analyzing the meaning of their relationship. Ronduda transports his art imagination into moving images with dazzling techniques, trippy music and shot with jaw-dropping angles, sharply discussing topics of co-dependence and loyalty. (Art Cinema/Cinema Art. Screens 2/12 at Anthology Film Archives.)

24 FRAMES

Late Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s final work is a playful testament to the art of storytelling and to the director’s own craft style. Finished with the support of his son and a team of CGI engineers, Kiarostami gathered some photos of his own, pieces or scenes of his previous works, and found photographs, reinventing them as a virtually created mixing of images. The director’s firm sensibility and contemplative style perpetuate through the frames of the title, as he masterly composes exhilarating observations on animals, horses, birds, mountains, sunny rays, storms, windows, lakes, oceans, cows, green pastures, snow, resting points, and of course, trees. He rarely depicts human being interaction here, except in a shot of astonished tourists looking at the Eiffel Tower, and violence is heard as shotguns scare off creatures from the forest. On his final work, the great auteur played with technology as it’d be his first time, an expressive collection of his emotions, sensibility and human expectations. (Janus Films. Now Playing at Film Society of Lincoln Center.)

FACES PLACES

Veteran French director Agnès Varda teams up with photographer and visual artist JR for an inspiring road movie where both will create large scale printings of local people’s photographs in a personal project to explore the joy of living, the process of aging, and the pleasure of artistic creation. Nominated for the upcoming Oscar in the Documentary field, it’s a freshly vigorous, witty, funny and warm contemplation on how we connect in general, a statement on memory and preservation that proves we all resemble aspects of a big family- all in search of meaning and moments worth keeping for eternity. (Cohen Media Group. Now Playing at Quad Cinema.)


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