Film Comment Selects

Playing “In the Company of Men”, 2003

Arnaud Desplechin’s fractured, self-reflexive portrait of corporate anomie, based on British author Edward Bond’s play In the Company of Men, is a frustratingly disjointed and excessively soundtracked (often with unnecessarily cranked up, thematically unrelated music from Paul Weller and The Jam that renders the dialogue inaudible) that is punctuated with episodes of fractured clarity. Fusing… read more »

A Wonderful World, 2006

A drunken vagrant, Juan Pérez’s (Damián Alcázar) unexpected turn in fortune after sneaking into an office at the World Financial Center headquarters one cold and rainy evening sets the stage for Luis Estrada’s A Wonderful World, a dense, darkly comic, and provocative, if mean-spirited sardonic fairytale on the politics of poverty, charity, globalization, and social… read more »

Stranded in Canton, 1974-2005

Consisting of several black and white home videos taken by William Eggleston around the city of Memphis in 1974 using a modified Sony Porta-pak handheld camera (and occasionally accompanied by Eggleston’s interstitial voice-over narration that provides contextual or anecdotal point of reference to the episode), Stranded in Canton provides a glimpse into what Amy Taubin… read more »

The Third Generation, 1979

An early cursory comment that capitalists invented terrorism as a means of selling security (that, in turn, will safeguard their own survival) provides the trenchant context for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s delirious and provocative satire, The Third Generation. Alluding to the emergence of a new generation of terrorists who, unlike their predecessors, lack a coherent agenda… read more »

A Woman in Berlin, 2008

Based on the autobiographical novel by a German international correspondent who published her wartime journal under the pseudonym Anonyma, Max Färberböck’s A Woman in Berlin presents a raw and sobering account of the waning days of World War II as the Russian army seized control of a town in war torn Berlin and, consequently, lorded… read more »

No Rest for the Brave, 2003

Recalling the surreal, playfully nonsensical logic puzzles of Raoul Ruiz (although lacking the Chilean-born filmmaker’s elegantly fluid camerawork and clever storytelling agility), Alain Guiraudie’s No Rest for the Brave is an absurdist, occasionally humorous, but ultimately pointless and incoherent excursion into the ambiguous, forbidding, and untenable terrain of dream state and the subconscious as a… read more »

Longing, 2006

At the heart of Valeska Grisebach’s slender, yet meticulously observed slice of life portrait, Longing, is the seemingly ideal marriage of metalworker and volunteer firefighter, Markus (Andreas Müller) and his wife, Ella (Ilka Welz), a chorus singer who, in the film’s establishing sequences, casually describes their romantic union as the result, not of love at… read more »

Workingman’s Death, 2005

Michael Glawogger pulsing, ambitiously conceived global treatise on the drudgery, and often dehumanizing, rituals of manual labor at the beginning of 21st century – over a century after the birth of the Industrial Revolution – appropriately begins in the town of Donbass in the Ukraine, the coal mining town where, in 1935, Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov… read more »

Joy Division, 2007

Grant Gee frames the documentary of seminal band Joy Division as a city symphony that mirrors Manchester’s revitalization – a convergence of musicians and friends coming of age during the city’s decline from its heights as the cornerstone of the Industrial Revolution, as equally marked by the rebellious angst of a vibrant punk music scene… read more »

The Frontier of Dawn, 2008

Philippe Garrel’s atmospheric and luminous, if oddly cold and alienated The Frontier of Dawn represents an amalgam of the filmmaker’s familiar themes: the haunting of a failed love affair, the helplessness of seeing a loved one self-destruct, the guilt (and isolation) of survival, the fear of fleeting happiness. In this respect, the film’s crepuscular title… read more »

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