By Roger Costa
ON A MAGICAL NIGHT
Director Christophe Honoré continues to build a brilliant career with focus on modern lovers battling obstacles and standards, while setting themselves free for love and pleasure. Gorgeous and versatile, Chiara Mastroianni exercises her comic skills as a promiscuous adulterous who finds herself on a deep self-examination after getting caught by her husband. In a stylish, elegant and ambiguous dreamlike atmosphere, deeply influenced by Buñuel and Rohmer, the director conceives a provocative, sexy and contemplative analysis on a marital crisis, as well as an intriguing homage to memory and individual time.
(Strand Releasing. Playing on Film at Lincoln Center Virtual Cinema.)
A heartfelt, adventurous and utterly efficient journey through the history of book selling, collecting, preserving, curating and in most cases, living for it. Director D.W. Young investigates the New York City’s literary culture and businesses, opening up insightful and accurate conversations on the subject, their pleasures and sacrifices, the game and its risks; Gathering truthful testimonies from specialists, booksellers and collectors, it presents the historical and fundamental importance of written, print material, while pointing to the inevitable transformations in society, with the use of technology as the real threat. Among the heroes introduced here, as saviors of the rare book culture in now-a-days America, three sisters who run a major book-store struggling to keep it open as their father’s legacy, and a man who turned his apartment into a gallery/storage, are examples of determination and perseverance on the fight for the print industry’s survival. And when the film spills the numbers and statistics of a decreasing interest in reading, it shows the urgency of the issue, and their courageous actions taken to defend the cause. Brilliant!
(Greenwich Entertainment. Playing on Film Forum Virtual Cinema.)
IN THE HEART OF THE WORLD
Neo-realism finds a new home in writers-directors Gabriel Martins and Maurilio Martins’ astonishing dramatic puzzle connecting the lives of several residents seeking meaning, love and financial security. A love letter to Contagem, its routine, culture, tradition and unified neighbors, the directors paint a poetic, sincere and heart-rendering portrait of the minority class and their struggle, as well as sacrifices, expectations and humble joy. A hairstylist dreaming of a future, a public bus money-collector dealing with humiliation, her unemployed boyfriend involved in small crimes, and an adventurous woman engaged on a new business are among the eccentric, lovable characters inhabiting this smart, beautifully shot and seductive observation on a poor neighborhood desperate for better days. An accomplished first time collaboration, it’s a fresh discovery among the new trends in Brazilian cinema.
(Playing now on Cinema Tropical Virtual Cinema. Go to https://www.cinematropical.com/the-cinema-tropical-collection for details.)
The intense, pure and incendiary friendship of a teen girl and three boys stuck in a remote place, seeking meaning and identity while analyzing their own concepts, feelings and expectations is masterly captured by the lenses of Award-winning documentarian Anna Eborn. Intimately shot in 16mm, it perfectly exposes the teens’ emotions, showing revelatory moments of anguish, fear, jealousy, passion and pure love. Following their adventures and encounters throughout summer and winter, their explorations with nature, themselves, and abandoned, destroyed buildings, Eborn conceives a naturally humane, honest, vivid, raw portrait of Millennials. The result is something rarely seen, a triumphant and heart-moving exposé of friendship values, a truthful coming-of-age story. It deserves all merits it can get.
(Part of the First Look Festival 2020. Playing now on MUBI.)
An irresistibly funny, debaucherous comedy about three best friends trying to have fun and make out on the last day of school, Emily Cohn’s feature debut definitely puts her under the radar as one of the freshest and most inventive voices in the industry. A crossing between the irreverent humor of John Waters and the young lusty of Gregg Araki, the film is highly supported by its trio of cute stars who provide screwball humor, tenderness and contagious euphoria. Isabelle Barbier plays Izzy, the center of the story, as she’s determined to lose her virginity during the “crushed” party of the title. She delivers an impressive characterization of a reckless, confused and very horny teen lacking self-confidence; her big eyes, and expressive manners and faces, demonstrate her accuracy on the comic field, leaving the audience wishing for some more of her; the drama she builds up around whether losing her virginity or preparing for a final, decisive astrology exam, is a classic, infallible formula of attachment to the audience; Sadie Scott shines as Fiona, the bowling center working-lesbian girl who will push hard to get Izzy on the adventurous side, while trying to hook up with a popular artist; and finally the versatile Deeksha Ketkar, as the Indian-descendant Anuka, a much more mature presence among her girlfriends’ sexual conflicts. Director Cohn proves her inventive skills infusing an energized, fresh rhythm to her stylish production: the text-messages exchanged by the trio, are brilliantly filmed and edited as real-time interactions, the same way their dreams and imagination keep floating on screen. A delightful quest for rapid love, first time sex, and school achievement, as well as an authentic portrait of this generation’s motivations and the power of friendship, Cohn scored a satisfying, accomplished directorial debut.
(Lightyear Entertainment. Playing now on Virtual Cinema. Go to https://www.crshdmovie.com/ for details.)