Families take the center stage in the second part of our New Directors New Films preview. In the Netherlands, a couple comes undone thanks to a new arrival. In Italy, a concubine dares to wander outside a brood’s closed ranks. In Canada, mother and son make like a WWE production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And you don’t even want to know what they’re doing to each other in Greece. It’s a line-up so gripping that film fans won’t even be able to turn from the screen to tell that elderly couple behind them to shut up. Hit the linked titles for more goodies.
Tako and Sandra oughta be poster children for the Netherlands good life. Successful in both work and in life, the childhood sweethearts are the envy of all their friends. Sandra’s pregnancy should be cause for further celebration. In Sander Burger’s domestic horror, however, the blessed event is the very thing that causes their bourgeois bliss to spectacularly deflate. Don’t stand too close to the canal!
Luca Guadagnino takes a few frames from Visconti in this fragrant family saga, garnished with plenty of love, Italian style. Tilda Swinton is the beautiful Russian odalisque who marries into a fashion dynasty. Her second-class spousal existence is upended when she falls for a humpy young chef. Problem is Swinton’s surging libido might bring down the rest of the clan with her.
Hubert loves cock almost as much as he loves his dotty mum. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, the Quebecois kid is one fucked-up puppy. If being a teenager wasn’t torrid enough, his obsession with mater is as combustible as Strindberg in Paris. Stand well back. Onetime child actor Xavier Dolan stars in his flashy debut, which picked up a Prix Regards Jeune at the Cannes Film Festival.
Pavel is fresh out of college and yearning for adventure. He thinks he’s going to find it by spending a summer inside the Arctic circle, writing and helping the grizzled vet Sergei. Such a long time to spend in the wasteland. Easy for two people to rub each other the wrong way. And rub they will. Koktebel director Alexei Popogrebsky’s film was a hit in Berlin, winning three Silver Bears.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ surreal drama has won garlands from all kinds of festivals, including Cannes, where it snagged the Certain Regard prize. Three sibs are confined to their futuristic compound. Their parents’ other strange ideas about childrearing result in what David Jenkins called “a world that’s suggestive of a latter-day Buñuel film peopled by mini Kaspar Hausers.” Throw in the hands of Orlac and consider us sold.
Fan Lixin’s doc has been chugging from Sundance to SXSW, taking on all kinds of plaudits along the way. The Canadian filmmaker lugged his camera to China for the great migration that takes place every New Years, when public transport is overburdened by millions of homeward bound workers. Helping with the Zhang family’s luggage, Lixin learns how they’re thriving amid the nation’s economic ferment.
For many, “perestroika” will mean as much as “Sony Walkman.” For vets of the Cold War, the term stood for Mikhail Gorbachev’s dedication to thawing the moribund Soviet Union. Filmmaker Robin Hessman stepped over the Iron Curtain-rod to show how the openness policy affected five young Muscovites. It’s not only Russian history (with tears), but testimony to common hopes and fears.
There’s more to black filmmaking than Tyler Perry. Recalling the engaged work of Charles Burnett, writer-director Tanya Hamilton uses the story of an ex-activist (The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie) to look at Black Power’s legacy. Back in a divided Philly, Mackie and fellow onetime firebrand Kerry Washington inhale deeply the stale Spirit of ’76. And not a gun-toting drag queen in sight!
For Oaxaca farmer Andres, the American dream is just a hop over the border. The only problem is he keeps on getting bussed back to Tijuana. In-between thwarted attempts to get into the U.S., Andres hangs at a grocery run by Ela and Asensio, becoming both fixture and friend. In Rigoberto Perezcano’s wry debut, Andres must reconcile his new attachments with his earnest desire to get the hell out of Mexico.
Tags: Alexei Popogrebsky, Anthony Mackie, Cannes Film Festival, Dogtooth, Fan Lixin, How I Ended This Summer, Hunting & Sons, Hunting& Zn., I am Love, I Killed My Mother, Io sono l’amore, J’ai tue ma mere, Kak ya provyol etim letom, Kerry Washington, Koktebel, Kynodontas, Last Train Home, Luca Guadagnino, Mikhail Gorbachev, My Perestroika, NDNF Film Festival, Night Catches Us, Norteado, Northless, Rigoberto Perezcano, Robin Hessman, Sander Burger, Tanya Hamilton, Tilda Swinton, Xavier Dolan, Yorgos Lanthimos