Thursday, July 14, 2011

MSPIFF wrap on In Review Online

Festival Coverage: Minneapolis St Paul 2011

If you thought you missed it, you probably didn't because it only recently went online a couple weeks ago...but, better late that never, my coverage for MSPIFF 2011 is up and available at In Review Online. Check out my thoughts on Mohammad Rasoulof's The White Meadows, Federico Veiroj's A Useful Life, Arvin Chen's Au Revoir Taipei, Mike Mills' Beginners, Jordan Scott's Cracks, Denis Cote's Curling, Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme and most importantly Sergei Loznitsa's My Joy - a film that nearly broadsided me with narrative surprise and dark ingenuity. And because Dan Dobbs was recently asking me why I liked My Joy so much, I'm re-posting my review here. This is for you Dan:

My Joy / Sergei Loznitsa. A kindred, chaotic spirit of Huang Weikai’s Disorder, Sergei Loznitsa’s My Joy has a rigid Russian gloss that takes a traditional approach only if you watch a portion of the film’s random hopper of narratives. Although My Joy is made of two halves, those halves meander through various stories that each leave a lingering vapor trail to a much larger allegory. Corruption unapologetically blankets the film, trickling down from a history of authoritarianism and extreme conditions. Any kindness is met with an untrusting hostility that, at least within the gage of the film, is not unwarranted. But these vignettes, in their structural ambiguity, are anything but detached. Heavy with heartbreak and despair, each sequence is loaded with the components of profound social destruction and deranged malaise. My Joy opens with a mysterious corpse being covered in cement and ends with a shell-shocked murderer walking off into the darkness of night—although the literal connection is abstruse, the cyclical implication is crystal clear. The narrative is loosely structured around Georgy, a stolid truck driver, and the people he comes in contact with. Loznitsa and his cinematographer Oleg Mutu, who worked on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, tell much of their story through the complex and sardonic ‘joy’ on peoples’ faces. As the camera takes an impromptu walk through a market crowd we see it all—anger, frustration, fear, judgment, distrust, hate—and, in this case, for no logical reason, only to trail off after a man in an unexplained panic. The disjunctive anatomy of My Joy may be an aggravation to some, but I found it entirely euphoric with extremely detailed elements of subtle surprise that I could have never predicted in my wildest dreams.

Check out the full coverage here.

And in case you are wondering here is a loose ranking of the films I saw at MSPIFF, from top to bottom:

My Joy
The Four Times
The Arbor
Nostalgia for the Light
Film Socialisme
The Interrupters
The Forth Portrait
13 Assassins
The Actresses
Cameraman: The Life and Times of Jack Cardiff
A Useful Life
Page One
Ticker & Dale Vs. Evil
The Green Wave
Home for Christmas
Happy Happy
Au Revoir Taipei
Position Among the Stars
Project Nim
Rio Sonata
White Meadows
Kinshasha Symphony
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle
Dooman River
The First Beautiful Thing
Who Killed Chea Vichea?
A Cat in Paris
Small Town Murder Songs
Kawasaki’s Rose
Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film
Dossier K
Street Days
The Troll Hunter
Stake Land
Midnight Son
The Ugly Duckling
El Infierno

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