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Entries in Ema (2)

Monday
Sep162019

TIFF Quickie: Crazy White Women!

by Nathaniel R

For this last batch of short TIFF reviews, let's look at three films about mysterious and/or psychologically complex female characters. The post title was glib but the films aren't. 

DISCO (Jorunn Mykelbust Syversen, Norway)
This puzzling drama centers on a champion dancer whose mom and step-dad run some kind of evangelical church. Apparently in Scandivania -- as with America -- conservative faith movements are on the rise. Syversen shows empathy for her characters but chills it with a clinically detached rhythym to the cutting. The lost protagonist Mirjam (Josefine Frida Pettersen) has mysterious physical troubles and vacant psychology that can bring flickers of Todd Haynes' Safe (1995) to mind.

Syversen's strongest skill seems to be in observational mode. In one escalating series of scene at a Jesus camp the choices in camera distance are particularly compelling. In medium shot we observe a group of boys being told to breathe quickly in and out of paper bags to drive out the demons inside them. Cut to a long shot as we watch them comically pass out as they hyperventilate. This is a followed by a not at all comical baptism that is shot more like a drowning. Despite Syverson's obvious skill and a tight running time (94 minutes), Disco is far too repetitive and its point of view remains as opaque as Mirjam's psychology. It's not enough, always, to merely observe. C

EMA (Pablo Larraín, Chile)
The first image is a startling one: a still working traffic light engulfed in flames...

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Monday
Sep092019

Latin American happenings in the Oscar submission realm

by Nathaniel R

In the heat of festival season we're also getting continued news about the Oscar race for Best International Feature. In terms of South America we'd already heard about submissions from the Dominican Republic (The Projectionist), Ecuador (The Longest Night which is sometimes referred to as Mala Noche), Panama (Everybody Changes), and Uruguay (The Moneychangers). There are three more already announced that will likely have higher profiles due to familiar actors. Colombia has Monos starring Julianne Nicholson, Cuba has A Translator starring Rodrigo Santoro and of course there's Brazil's Un Certain Regard-winning melodrama The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao which feels like a probable finalist / possible nominee. It's very moving and accessible and Fernanda Montenegro (of Central Station fame) adds a last boost of melancholy and nostalgia to it in terms of Brazilian cinema and Oscar affections. To add to that stack of films we've just learned that Bolivia will submit the gay drama Tu Me Manques (I Miss You) which is based on a hit stage play about a father visiting the boyfriend of his dead son in New York City. It recently won the screenwriting award at OutFest. The director Rodrigo Bellott was submitted once before for his artsy college film Sexual Dependency (2003). The film stars Oscar Martinez (Wild Tales) as the estranged father, Fernando Barbosa as his son's boyfriend, and features Rossy de Palma who is, of course, beloved from many Almodóvar pictures.

After the jump the finalists announced for both Chile and Mexico. Which films will they choose we wonder...

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