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Fighting Back to the Effects of Anxiety, Racism and Desire

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By Roger Costa      

 ANNE AT 13,000 FT

Giving Neo-Realism a modern and highly anxious shape, Canadian director Kazik Radwanski confirms himself as a skillful filmmaker who knows exactly how to create life out of improvisation with his spontaneous creativity. Winner of the Platform Prize at Toronto Film Festival, he crafts a profoundly melancholic mental illness character study, anchored by Deragh Campbell. Devouring every moment of the film as a platform for her talent, Campbell is observed by close-up shots with handheld camera, which intensifies the anxiety and uncertainty of her emotional condition. As the film explores her return from rehab and struggle to reintegrate into community and family, still presenting fractures of her illness, Campbell delivers an impeccable performance, one of those memorable roles that stick with you for days. Her complexity and fragility are something mysterious and unexpected, an enigmatic force deeply studied by Radwanski’s transparent lenses. She discloses herself through the various interactions along the narrative: with the kids she takes care at a childcare facility, with her mother’s misunderstandings discussions, with colleagues and a love interest, and the flashbacks we see of her jump from the skies. Haunting and intense, this is major filmmaking, life as it is on screen, one that deserves Awards attention.

(Cinema Guild. 9/3. Quad Cinema.)

MEMORY HOUSE

Since the beginning of this decade, emerging Brazilian filmmakers have been engaged to expose the country’s sociopolitical challenges with focus on the idea of a regionally divided country and how it affects the hopeless elderly. This sort of scenario was vividly explored, just to mention a couple of examples, in both “Bacurau” and “The Fever”. In the hands of director Joao Paulo Miranda Maria, here making his feature length debut, the timely issue becomes an extravagant Gothic tale, a unique blend of horror, racial drama and sharp social commentary. One of the most original discoveries to come out of both Cannes and Toronto, the director makes an impressive mark with a symbolic, raw and haunting exploration on the chaos falling over an aging Indigenous Black man who is harassed by a series of disturbingly violent acts made in his Austrian-descendant village. In the opening sequence, Cristovam is intimidated by his boss, who announces he is reducing his salary, due to the company’s new regulations and goals, and he is forced to accept it without complaining. Later that day, they announce a revolutionary program to transform the south of the country in one single nation, dividing the region from the rest of the country. All the workers are lured to sign a paper giving their consent to establish such a cause. On his way home, he is hunted down and attack by a group of Neo-Nazi kids carrying a gun, and he has to endure the white-majority men with insults related to his color, social status and, mostly crucial, to the place he came from, the North. As Cristovam tries to avoid trouble, caring for his three-legged dog and travelling through memories at his abandoned childhood house, as well as refreshing with a beer at the local bar (the only place where somehow he feels welcome, despite the troublemaker clients and their lust seeking manners), he is constantly confronted by all these real, merciless and threatening situations, mirroring the harsh reality Brazilian minorities strongly endure. The sensational Antonio Pitanga, who worked with both Diegues and Rocha during the Cinema Novo movement, gives life to our hero, courageously facing the obstacles, maintaining his integrity but getting a little disoriented and perhaps furious by the circumstances. With all these elements brilliantly executed and hauntingly shot, the director conceives an acid and hallucinating, nightmarish-style, powerfully provocative critique to an intolerable and poisoned society.

(Film Movement. 9/3. BAM, Brooklyn.)

WHO YOU THINK I AM

The great Juliette Binoche is ravishing and hypnotically elegant as a divorced teacher who pretends to be a 20-something model-like woman on social media and targets a talented young photographer becoming compulsively involved via the tech device. Trying to find romantic motivation and prove her sex-appeal, she is seduced by the idea of youth, letting the distractions come across her daily responsibilities. The most affected part is really her children, at moments completely ignored by their mother’s blindness. When things get out of control, she must decide whether to keep the game on, or surrender to the truth- which may carry a possibility of rejection or a generational shock. Directed by Safy Nebbou, this sophisticated comic erotic drama brings an enchanting performance by one of the world’s best actresses, and accurately and seductively addresses both the pleasures and perilous illusions of social media.

(Cohen Media Group. 9/3. Quad Cinema.)


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