Saraband, 2004

Revisiting the irreparably splintered middle-aged couple Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) of Scenes from a Marriage as they reunite 30 years later, Saraband represents a continuation as well as a culmination of Ingmar Bergman’s spare, late period films, most notably in the purgative confessions and emotionally resigned acceptance of Autumn Sonata. Opening with… read more »

Since Otar Left, 2003

A refreshingly optimistic, humorous, captivating, and deeply humanist portrait of perseverance and family, Julie Bertuccelli’s Since Otar Left centers on three generations of women – the inimitable grandmother, Eka (Esther Gorintin) who wistfully reminisces over life under Stalin, her widowed daughter Marina (Nino Khomassouridze), and her multilingual, well-educated granddaughter Ada (Dinara Droukarova) – living under… read more »

Mother, 2009

Inasmuch as Life During Wartime explores the limits of forgiveness, Bong Joon-ho’s Mother poses a sinister corollary in its tale of a parent’s unwavering devotion to her child. The price exacted is prefigured in the opening shot of the impassive, titular mother (Kim Hye-Ja) wandering through the countryside with arms flailing to the rhythm of… read more »

The Host, 2006

Screened at slightly more than the halfway mark of the festival, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host offers a particularly refreshing pause in the mind bending aftermath of the Inland Empire, a smart, offbeat, and competent horror film that effortlessly weaves the ingredients of a well-crafted monster thriller with an incisive, cautionary tale on environmental responsibility and… read more »

Poison Friends, 2006

Capturing the point of intersection between the conformity of adolescence and the independence that comes with maturity, Emmanuel Bourdieu’s Poison Friends is an intelligent and insightful, if oddly sterile and empirically rendered chronicle of academic life as seen through the perspective of a loose knit group of university-aged students at the transformative stage when they… read more »

Bluebeard, 2009

Ostensibly an adaptation of Charles Perrault’s baroque fairytale, Bluebeard is also a distilled and densely layered exposition on Catherine Breillat’s recurring preoccupation with socioeconomic and sexual politics. Structured as a tale within a tale, the film alternates between past and present, childhood and adolescence, fiction and reality. On one level is bright, cherubic Catherine (Marilou… read more »

The Last Mistress, 2007

There is a moment in The Last Mistress when the Comtesse d’Artelles (Yolande Moreau), after having played her part in mitigating the scandal surrounding the dashing, but inscrutable rogue, Ryno de Marigny’s (Fu’ad Aït Aattou) unresolved romantic entanglement with his long term mistress – and, consequently, enabling his marriage to the Marquise’s granddaughter and heir,… read more »

Insiang, 1976

To some extent, author and national hero José Rizal’s Spanish colonial-era novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo paved the way for a certain propensity towards melodrama and tortuous, epic narratives that continue to shape and define the aesthetics of Philippine indigenous cinema. So, while there is the temptation to characterize Lino Brocka’s cinema through… read more »

Ne Change Rien, 2009

Like his earlier documentary, Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? on seminal filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work on Sicilia!, Pedro Costa’s Ne Change Rien plays on the idea of répétition as the act of rehearsal and iteration to capture the ephemeral nature of the creative process. Shot in black and white, Costa’s… read more »

Marie Antoinette, 2006

Based on Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette: The Journey, Sofia Coppola’s irreverent, sumptuously stylized, and audaciously freeform, if decidedly uneven adaptation of Fraser’s re-evaluative biography casts the controversial monarch in a more human, accessible, and contemporary light – not as an arrogant, out of touch queen who, as proof of the height of her insensitivity over… read more »