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The Weight of Human Compassion in Search of Redemption

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By Roger Costa

FAREWELL MR. HAFFMANN

A heart pounding, suspenseful dramatic thriller set during the Nazi invasion in Paris, director Fred Cavaye’s masterly crafted multi-character study is his best film yet. Daniel Auteuil stars as a prominent jeweller who is forced to make a pact with his employee, drastically changing their lives: he must hide from the Germans underneath the property, while the other would live there as the new owner along with his wife. Richly composed, with great music, precise cutting and perfectly recreating the turmoil of the early 40’s, Cavaye scores a gripping and entertaining thriller with lots of tension and unexpected twists. What ensues is a fascinating, mind bending moral puzzle about love, marital devotion and principles reflected on the three characters’ motives, risks taken and struggles. It is a dynamic and fresh depiction of the so-much explored Nazi occupation and its consequences.

(Menemsha Films. 3/29. Quad Cinema).

ART TALENT SHOW

This immersive and engaging doc follows the intense, expansive attempts of three different professors in selecting the best works for an art contest show. Going through hundreds of applications, the Academy of Arts in Prague aim to find the next great artists, evaluating, teaching and guiding new students and aspiring provocateurs alike. Directors Adéla Komrzý and Tomáš Bojar get exclusive access to their selective process, intimately witnessing the impact it causes on their close knit relations, as well as the creative process of the students when they are given a new task and must come up with their best. The result is an important statement about compassion, respect and the passionate work of artists in search of an opportunity to shine.

(Film Movement. 3/22. Firehouse DCTV).

DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD

Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude attacks again with a nail-biting, scandalous and absurdist look at human behavior, injustice, working class struggles and social media obsession with this multi-layered report on the social, political and environmental abuses his country has been enduring for generations now. His alter ego this time is a compulsively engaged and political conscious social media influencer who while working on the conception of a safety video for a German company, casting humble workers who suffered accidents, finds opportunity to expose the problems her fellow Romanians go through with sarcastic takes on their regime, which in this case focuses on the careless system for those injured at work. Radical and immersive, Jude reflects on society’s behavior, the chaos of modern working-place and the daily injustice faced by the minorities with powerful control on the material, making it a superb and essential piece of cinema vérité.

(MUBI. 3/22. IFC Center).

THE BEAST

A contemporary auteur who continuously defies the normalcy and banality of the conventional, Bertrand Bonello returns with his most cerebral film yet, a weird sci-fi romance spanning three different periods in the life of a woman who joins a program in order to keep some of her memories safe and get rid of others. Those include the incendiary encounters with a mysterious charming man, who is possibly a lover from one of those lives. Lea Seydoux and George MacKay are fabulously funny, sexy and ambiguous in this triptych, mind-bending experience like nothing before. Addressing consumerism, vanity, mental disorder, manipulation and the rapid advances of AI, Bonello scored a haunting and psychological study on isolation disturbingly reflecting our troubled times. An urgent masterpiece.

(Sideshow/Janus Films. Opens April 5th at Film at Licoln Center with Director Bonello in person for Q&A. Go to https://www.filmlinc.org/films/the-beast-bonello/ for details).


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