• The Holdovers

    The Holdovers


    It is, as previously announced, a crowdpleaser directed by Alexander Payne, designed for career rejuvenation after the ambitious, unwieldy and expensive commercial failure of 2017’s Downsizing, and effectively written under his instruction by sitcom writer-producer David Hemingson. He cannibalized what was initially written as a prep school-set pilot by, among other things, following Payne’s directive to modify a plotline from Marcel Pagnol’s Merlusse. Payne saw that film at Telluride in 2011 while promoting The Descendants, and despite the very specific…

  • Poor Things

    Poor Things


    Initially, Poor Things seems like it might be a Yorgos Lanthimos provocation about the value of provocation, a suspicion prompted when medical student Max McCandless (Ramy Youssef) first sees Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) and, awestruck, describes her as a “beautiful retard.” Given the film’s steampunk trappings, the 19th-century setting doesn’t offer “period verisimilitude” as a cover for vocabulary that feels suspiciously like a Red Scare shout-out. Bella is seen naked for the first time while unconscious; depending on how you…

  • The Human Surge 3

    The Human Surge 3


    Williams’s best work generates spectacle via lo-fi conceptual audacity, often abetted by early-adopter technological virtuosity and compacted into sprint-size bursts, a description covering both his best shorts and first feature, 2016’s The Human Surge, which plays like three shorts sown together. What’s new about The Human Surge 3 isn’t a technological element but that’s it’s all of a uniform piece; instead of traveling across three countries in discrete, successive segments as he did in the first Surge, Williams scrambles them…

  • For Bruce

    For Bruce


    On Cannes’ first Sunday, I tried to combat feeling depleted by taking a stroll through the Marché market, a form of restoration through masochism: If you don’t have business to conduct there, the main advantage of a walkthrough is seeing a lot of amusingly terrible posters for seemingly hopeless films (for years, The Guardian spun whole slideshows out of these). This time, I unexpectedly found actual art via a booth for Playlab Films, with text outside promising a new Apichatpong…

  • About Dry Grasses

    About Dry Grasses


    The plot, such as it is, finds Samet alternately at odds with just about everyone in the small town—his adolescent student Sevim (Ece Bagci), roommate Kenan (Musab Ekeci), potential love interest Nuray (Merve Dizdar)—in consistently logorrheic back-and-forths. Because it’s in Ceylan’s nature, it’s no surprise when one plotline is discarded midway through to go in favor of full-on philosophical exchanges; all of a sudden Samet is sitting in the candle-lantern-lit dark, exchanging Johnnie Walker Red and thoughts about honor with…

  • Asteroid City

    Asteroid City


    The negative talking points around Wes Anderson—too twee, airlessly production-designed, an aesthetic in search of emotions—have metastasized thanks to a wave of AI-generated trailers of movies “in his style” (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Star Wars—no, I’m not linking!) that seemingly prove computer fake can be just as bad as the real thing. I wish I could credit the tweet I saw (and should’ve fav’d) which pointed out that maybe part of the reason Anderson’s aesthetic is the only…

  • The Sweet East

    The Sweet East


    Cinematographer Sean Price Williams’s first feature as a solo director, The Sweet East, is more plausibly describable as “vibey”—assuming “American, dumb and probably really pissed off” is a vibe of sorts (which it absolutely is). Directors’ Fortnight executive director Julien Rejl took to the stage to introduce the premiere by announcing that The Sweet East shows an America shattered into pieces, and that the film “doesn’t put the pieces back together again”—a portentousness Williams, looking every bit the American director…

  • The Delinquents

    The Delinquents


    For four years, the rapper Father was signed to Sony; when his major-label time was over, he moved back home and resumed the independent hustle lifestyle. In an interview last year, he was blunt about the financial downgrade: “Retirement is done. Unless you’re rich as fucking shit. Most of us are gonna be working until we die.” That quote came back to haunt me early in Rodrigo Moreno’s Un Certain Regard title The Delinquents, a (sort-of) heist movie in which the financial stakes are considerably lower than usual for the genre.


  • Occupied City

    Occupied City


    The voiceover delivery by British-born, Amsterdam-based photographer Melanie Hyams is fairly remarkable, devoid of the overinflection and emotional underlining that makes so many documentary narrations come off as auditory overacting. If anything, she sounds weirdly cheerful, like a teacher trying to make sure her students are engaged as she is; as McQueen says, “It’s not supposed to be dispassionate. It’s informational.” That restraint is a useful reminder that, as shown in his other best features (from my perspective, Hunger and…

  • The Plough

    The Plough


    A tiny visual suture at the very beginning of Philippe Garrel’s The Plough inadvertently attests to two different formats being stitched together. The letters of the production company/financing body credits have slightly serrated edges against a dark grey background and clearly come from a digital file, while the subsequent dedication and title card have smooth-lined lettering against a perceptibly darker black, with a few scratches further confirming their celluloid origin. Somebody output those titles to 35mm, then scanned them back…

  • Wicked Games

    Wicked Games


    Seidl originally conceived of the Paradise triptych as one super-long work before being diverted away from that, either by festival rejections or his producers, but given the situation, there’s seemingly no reason for him not to revisit that dream and recut Rimini and Sparta into one huge, essence-of-Seidl object as long as it could find a home. IFFR has a history with Seidl, moderator Olaf Möller said in his introduction, and the audience certainly acted like he was a returning…

  • Gush



    On her site, Maxy’s output is divided into three categories: “Horror,” “Music Videos” and “Docs,” that first being the unexpected label for her experimental documentary work. Perhaps “Horror” derives from the condition of being Native in the US: protests at Standing Rock and elsewhere have been regular elements in shorts like F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now. Those are not explicitly present in Gush, an omission that may be a manifestation of the interest in self-care and mental self-preservation that…