The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the schedule for the 12th edition of Film Comments Selects (February 17 – March 1), Film Comment magazine's film festival. The lineup boasts both films not yet in theaters and ones previously released.
Highlights out of the 32 selected films include: Kenneth Lonergan's acclaimed "Margaret"; "Silent House," the other Elizabeth Olsen movie nabbed at last year's Sundance Film Festival; "Wanderlust" starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston; Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to "Dogtooth," "Alps"; and Australia's controversial serial killer thriller "Snowtown," (winner of a special jury mention at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival).
One of the most interesting draws will no doubt be "My Own Private River," James Franco's personal re-edited version of Gus Van Sant's classic, "My Own Private Idaho," that features unused footage starring River Phoenix. In addition to the screening, the Furman Gallery will host an installation by Franco and Van Sant that, according to the Film Society, "recreates an AA meeting hall featuring three related single-channel films: 'Idaho,' Franco’s 62-minute Super-8 film based on one of the three original drafts Van Sant wrote and eventually combined into 'My Own Private Idaho'; 'Narcolepsy' (which consists of dailies); and the recently completed 'My Blue Funk.'"
The series will also pay tribute to both Ken Russell and Bingham Ray with screenings of Russell's classic "Altered States" and "Life is Sweet," the first release by Ray's October Films.
Films and Descriptions for 2012 Film Comment Selects (synopses courtesy of Film Comment):
ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE (2011) 180min
Director: Adam Curtis
THE MONKEY IN THE MACHINE AND THE MACHINE IN THE MONKEY
THE USE AND ABUSE OF VEGETATIONAL CONCEPTS LOVE AND POWER
The BBC essay filmmaker behind THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES (2007) returns with a new three-part work on mankind’s dependency on computer technology. Among the many topics covered are Alan Greenspan’s links to Ayn Rand; what Silicon Valley owes to Rand’s philosophy of “Objectivism”; and how, after the collapse of the Asian miracle economies in the late 1990s, the Chinese Politburo “designed a system to manage America.”
Saturday, February 18 at 1:30PM.
ALMAYER’S FOLLY (La folie Almayer) (2011) 127min
Director: Chantal Akerman
Taking Joseph Conrad’s first novel about a Dutch fortune seeker trapped in a loveless marriage and stranded at a river trading post in the Malaysian jungle, Chantal Akerman updates the material from the late 1890s to the 1950s, and uses it as a springboard for an examination of the bankruptcy of colonialism through the struggle between a European father and Malaysian mother for possession of their daughter.
Sunday, February 26 at 1:00PM.
ALPS (Alpeis) (2011) 93min
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Another exploration of cryptic and unnatural doings from the director of DOGTOOTH, the film’s title is the name of a secret society consisting of four members: a hospital night nurse, a gym coach, a gymnast, and the group’s leader, a paramedic. The Alps offer a unique service: the recently bereaved can hire them for a few hours a week to act as surrogates for deceased loved ones—by wearing their clothes, adopting their mannerisms and way of speaking, etc.—in order to help them adjust to their loss.
Thursday, March 1 at 9:30PM.
In Memoriam: Ken Russell
ALTERED STATES (1980) 102min
Director: Ken Russell
As a tribute to Ken Russell, the late lamented master of freak-out and fantasia, who died last November, Film Comment Selects presents a special screening of his 1980 head-trip Altered States. A fearless scientist (William Hurt) attempts to plumb nothing less than the unborn soul of mankind, using a sensory-deprivation tank and mushrooms. Russell takes us along for the phantasmagorical ride, merging psychedelic special effects, hyper-real dream sequences, and the director’s typically dazzling and blasphemous take on Christian symbolism. Featuring Blair Brown as his smitten girlfriend, and a timely use of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.”
Friday, February 24 at 9:30PM.
DESPAIR (1978) 121min
Director: R.W. Fassbinder
Based on a novel by Nabokov, scripted by Tom Stoppard and starring Dirk Bogarde, Fassbinder’s only English-language film has an impeccable Art Cinema pedigree. Set in 1930s Berlin, the film follows Hermann Hermann (Bogarde), a Russian émigré and chocolate manufacturer displaying the early signs of incipient mental breakdown, as he begins to concoct a plan to murder a homeless man he is convinced looks like him in order to facilitate his disappearance, thereby evading business problems and Germany’s political unrest.
Thursday, February 23 at 1:30PM and Wednesday, February 29 at 4:30PM.
FACE TO FACE (Ansikte mot ansikte) (1975) 136min
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Liv Ullmann is front and center in Bergman’s film about a disturbed psychiatrist who has an affair with a fellow doctor (Erland Josephson) while her husband is attending a conference in the U.S. (with his lover), only to succumb to a nervous breakdown seemingly triggered by haunting memories from her past. FACE TO FACE was originally made as a four-part miniseries for Swedish television, and represents the midpoint in a cycle of psychodramas that began with CRIES AND WHISPERS and concluded with AUTUMN SONATA.
Wednesday, February 22 at 3:30PM, Friday, February 24 at 1:30PM.
FAUST (2011) 135min
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Winner of the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, this idiosyncratic and playful reinvention of Goethe’s play marks the return of Aleksandr Sokurov after a four-year absence. The film concludes the “Men of Power” series he initiated in 1999 with MOLOCH as a tetralogy per the classical Greek prescription—a group of four dramas, the first three tragic and the last satiric. Accordingly, Sokurov’s FAUST immediately overthrows Goethe by adopting a broadly comic treatment grounded in scatological touches and slapstick and a nonstop barrage of dialogue.
Friday, February 17 at 8:15PM, Tuesday, February 21 at 3:15PM and Tuesday, February 28 at 9:00PM.
THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (2011) 108min
Director: Joshua Marston
The long-awaited follow-up to MARIA FULL OF GRACE (2004) takes American indie director Joshua Marston even further afield—to Northern Albania to be exact—but the results are no less gripping. The action centers on a modern-day blood feud in a rural village: high-schooler Nik is confined to his home under effective house arrest when generations of bad blood between his family and another result in his father killing a neighbor over a petty land-access dispute. According to the 15th-century Balkan code known as the Kanun, the rival clan is entitled to retribution—a life for a life—and since their father is on the run, Nik and his younger brother are the next males in line. Marston and co-writer Andamion Murataj won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival. THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD is a Sundance Selects release.
Saturday, February 18 at 7:15PM.
Joshua Marston, cast members Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej and co-writer Andamion Murataj will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
HEADHUNTERS (Hodejegerne) (2011) 101min
Director: Morten Tyldum
A twist-filled, fast-paced thriller about a slick, charming corporate recruitment specialist (Aksel Hennie in a breakout performance) who leads a double life as an art thief—mainly in order to support the standard of living to which his art-dealer trophy wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) has become accustomed. At five foot four, he suffers slightly from a little-man complex, so though he loves his wife, who really only wants to have a child, he’s not averse to a bit on the side and can be sickeningly smug. But he gets much more than he bargained for when he steals a lost Rubens painting from the home of Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) a candidate for a high-powered job Roger is recruiting for and old friend of Diana’s.
Thursday, February 23 at 6:30PM and Friday, February 24 at 4:15PM.
I WISH (Kiseki) (2011) 128min
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Japan’s answer to Truffaut, Hirokazu Kore-eda, revisits the terrain of childhood with a truly sweet, low-key film. Living hundreds of miles apart since their parents’ separation, plucky 12-year-old Koichi (Koki Maeda) and his younger brother Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda) hatch a long-distance plan to reunite their family: if they rendezvous at the equidistant point at precisely the moment that north-and south-bound bullet trains pass each other on the line that links their towns, they will be granted a wish.
Sunday, February 19 at 6:15PM and Monday, February 20 at 8:45PM.
LAND PASSION WAR OF THE DEAD CHRIST WORLDS (2012) 127min
Director: Jim Hoberman
Country: U.S. Based on 25 years of stunt projections and class presentations at NYU and Cooper Union, Jim Hoberman explores the movi-verse, and relives the horror of the Bush years—Katrina, Iraq, 9/11, all allegorized and superimposed! Now, hysteria reigns, synchronicity rules, and consciousness gets crazy mixed-up. It’s Doomsday USA, starring Asia Argento, Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Dennis Hopper, and the mind of Mel “Mad Max” Gibson.
Saturday, February 18 at 10:00PM.
Jim Hoberman will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
LE SAUVAGE (1975) 107min
Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Catherine Deneuve and Yves Montand co-star in this unlikely runaway-paced screwball farce, set in Venezuela. Deneuve gives a game performance as Nelly, a runaway mafia bride and scam artist who barges into the hotel room of Martin (Montand), a self-sufficient “sauvage” who’s in Caracas to pick up supplies before returning to the seclusion of his desert-island retreat. Pursued by both her berserk, ranting fiancé Vittorio (Luigi Vannucchi), and an ex-lover (Tony Roberts) who’s fallen victim to one of her scams, she takes advantage of Martin at every turn while he gives as good as he gets.
Tuesday, February 21 at 9:00PM.
In Memoriam: Bingham Ray
LIFE IS SWEET (1990) 103min
Director: Mike Leigh
A rare chance to see Mike Leigh’s breakthrough film in the U.S., unavailable here on DVD. A comic yet gently melancholic story with food and symmetry on its mind and a cast of Leigh all-stars, LIFE IS SWEET twins the humble efforts of good-natured professional chef Andy (Jim Broadbent) to open his own mobile snack bar, sold to him by his drunken friend Patsy (Stephen Rea), with the disastrous nouvelle-cuisine pretensions of the grandiose Aubrey (Timothy Spall), who opens his own bistro, “Regret Rien,” where Andy’s cheerful wife Wendy (Alison Steadman) goes to work as a waitress. LIFE IS SWEET is one of Leigh’s funniest and most tender films, and one of his most optimistic about family ties. Sadly, life is bittersweet in the case of this screening, which pays tribute to the late Bingham Ray, a Mike Leigh character if ever there was one, and the man responsible for this film seeing the light of day in the U.S. as the first release of his fledgling indie distribution company October Films.
Monday, February 20 at 6:30PM.
MAN AT SEA (2011) 92min
Director: Constantine Giannaris
MAN AT SEA is a visually gorgeous film telling the tale of the transnational now in which characters rarely speak in their native tongues and everybody’s an alien in one way or another. An ocean tanker picks up a boatload of refugees in the Mediterranean, much to the displeasure of the crews’ employers, only to find itself unable to locate a country willing to take them in. Alex (Antonis Karistinos), the ship’s captain, meets with hostility wherever he calls, and meanwhile his crew are becoming increasingly discontented.
Wednesday, February 29 at 7:00PM and Thursday, March 1 at 1:00PM.
MARGARET (2011) 150min
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
The story of self-involved teenager Lisa’s emotional turmoil after witnessing (and perhaps being in some way responsible for) the death of a pedestrian hit by a bus, MARGARET was shot in 2007, and then spent three long years in the editing room as writer-director Kenneth Lonergan battled with producer Scott Rudin and the film’s eventual distributor, Fox Searchlight, over its running time (at one point there was rumored to be a four-hour cut). MARGARET, whose title is derived from the poem “Spring and Fall: To a young child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, is a film of risk-taking ambition that deserves its due as a fascinating and often wrenching drama of moral crisis in post-9/11 New York. The film stars Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeannie Berlin.
Saturday, February 25 at 7:15PM
Kenneth Lonergan and cast members will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
MORTEM (2010) 94min
Director: Eric Atlan
Describing itself as “a metaphysical thriller,” Eric Atlan’s crepuscular trance film begins with its protagonist, Jena (Panchenko Daria), hurtling through the countryside on a motorcycle. As night falls, a mysterious doppelgänger (Diana Rudychenko) begins to shadow her, but it’s only after Jena checks into the near-deserted hotel and finds herself unable to leave her room that this second, equally ravishing woman becomes visible to her. In the unearthly, at times erotic psychodrama that plays out between the two women (one blonde, one brunette) Jena defies her own soul as she hovers at the threshold of life and death.
Saturday, February 18 at 5:00PM and Tuesday, February 21 at 1:15PM.
Eric Atlan will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
MY CRASY LIFE (1992) 95min
Director: Jean-Pierre Gorin
Winner of a special jury prize at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, the concluding chapter in Gorin’s SoCal trilogy finds the filmmaker intrepidly venturing into the world of the West Side Sons of Samoa, a Long Beach street gang with its own deeply ingrained set of codes and rituals. Not content to merely observe, however, Gorin invites his subjects to become full-fledged collaborators in the filmmaking process, interjecting scripted scenes and monologues (sometimes obviously, often not) that blur the line between documentary and fiction, only to arrive at what feels like poetic truth.
Sunday, February 26 at 3:30PM.
MY OWN PRIVATE RIVER (2011) 102min
Directors: James Franco & Gus Van Sant
Music by Michael Stipe
Actor/director James Franco edited together a new version of Gus Van Sant’s MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO combining footage from the original film and its unused residue. As Franco put it in a piece he wrote for The Paris Review: “Many filmmakers would consider the discarded material worthless, but sometimes—as when they feature an actor like River Phoenix in a film like MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, the best of his generation giving his best performance—every scrap is gold. It was overwhelming to be able to cut the raw material of my favorite film, a film that had moved me, that had helped shape me as a teenager.” The end result, MY OWN PRIVATE RIVER, is a dreamlike portrait of both the actor and the character he incarnates.
Sunday, February 19 at 9:00PM.
James Franco will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
PINK FLOYD LIVE AT POMPEII (1971) 85min
Director: Adrian Maben
Country: France/Belgium/West Germany
In October 1971, Pink Floyd gave a spectacular concert to an audience of thousands of ghosts in the volcanically ravaged ruins of Pompeii. Alone in a stone amphitheater (save for the production crew), the prog gods crank out “Echoes,” “Saucerful of Secrets,” “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” and more, captured with slowly circling cameras, totemic framing, and even the occasional split screen. Featuring interview snippets covering the recording of The Dark Side of the Moon, the state of the music industry, and oysters.
Friday, February 17 at 11:00PM.
POTO AND CABENGO (1980) 77min
Director: Jean-Pierre Gorin
Country: U.S./West Germany
Following his work with Jean-Luc Godard as Dziga Vertov Group, director Jean- Pierre Gorin moved to San Diego, where he fell deeply under the influence of Manny Farber and embarked on a sporadic but remarkable solo film career. Inspired by a news item about twin girls, Grace and Virginia Kennedy, believed to be communicating in a language of their own invention, Gorin’s utterly beguiling documentary feature POTO AND CABENGO marked the first in an informal Gorin trilogy on private, closed communities nestled amidst the placid landscape of Southern California.
Sunday, February 26 at 8:15PM
REBELLION (L’ordre et la morale ) (2011) 136min
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
A compelling and tightly directed thriller about a team of elite counterterrorism hostage negotiators who attempt to resolve a standoff between political separatists and the French military in the Pacific island of New Caledonia, REBELLION is based on a controversial real-life incident in 1988. Beginning in the aftermath of a brutal jungle firefight, the film backtracks to the dispatching of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group team under the leadership of Capt. Philippe Legorjus, effectively played by director/star Mathieu Kassovitz. Arriving on the island, Legorjus is alarmed to find that in response to the killing of three gendarmes and the kidnapping of 27 hostages by Kanak rebels, a full-scale military response is already being prepared. Soon faced with political interference due to France’s impending General Election, and undermined by the French military command, Legorjus races against time to avert further violence by making contact and negotiating with the separatists.
Thursday, February 23 at 8:45PM and Wednesday, February 29 at 1:45PM.
ROLE MODELS (2008) 99min
Director: David Wain
Wain’s inspired third feature turns the whole pious, “be yourself” genre deservedly on its ear with its cheerfully irreverent tale of two disillusioned energy-drink salesmen (Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott) who run afoul of the law and get sentenced to community service in a Big Brothers–esque youth mentoring program (run by a hyper-intense ex-addict played brilliantly by Jane Lynch). Barely able to manage their own stuck-in-reverse lives, the pair suddenly find themselves charged with shaping the future of a foul-mouthed fifth grader (scene-stealing Bobb’e J. Thompson) and a shy teenager (Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin) obsessed with a medieval role-playing game called LAIRE. But who’s really mentoring who?
Wednesday, February 22 at 8:45PM.
ROUTINE PLEASURES (1986) 81min
Director: Jean-Pierre Gorin
Country: West Germany/France/UK
Gorin’s unclassifiable second American feature begins as an affectionate group portrait of devoted model-train hobbyists in the San Diego suburb of Pacific Beach (filmed in lustrous black and white), detours through the painting studio of artist-critic Manny Farber (at work on two of his bustling, crowded canvases), and pauses for ruminations on Thelonius Monk, William Wellman, and Howard Hawks—yet somehow, wonderfully, feels all of a piece. The subjects are all miniaturists of a sort, and so too is Gorin, treating us here to another lyrical, inimitable vision of his shoebox America.
Sunday, February 26 at 6:30PM.
SILENT HOUSE (2011) 86min
Directors: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
In this perfectly executed minimalist thriller from the directors of 2003’s vérité shark-attack quickie OPEN WATER, Elizabeth Olsen finds herself trapped inside the dilapidated cabin her family is readying for sale. With no contact to the outside world, and no way out, panic turns to terror as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house. Based on Uruguayan director Gustavo Hernández’s 2010 LA CASA MUDA, SILENT HOUSE uses meticulous camera choreography to take the audience on a breathless, real-time journey, experienced in a single uninterrupted shot. SILENT HOUSE is an Open Road Films release.
Thursday, February 23 at 4:00PM and Saturday, February 25 at 10:45PM.
SLEEPWALK (1986) 78min
Director: Sara Driver
A beguiling and enigmatic nocturnal adventure set in New York’s no-man’s land, at the intersection of SoHo, Chinatown, and Tribeca, Sara Driver’s first feature begins in mundane daily life but imperceptibly drifts into the dreamlike realm of the trance film. Single mother Nicole (Suzanne Fletcher), a typesetter who happens to speak fluent Mandarin, is hired by mysterious mystic teacher Dr. Gou (Stephen Chen) to translate an equally mysterious manuscript. Almost immediately unexplained, vaguely portentous events and encounters proliferate around Nicole, to increasingly spooky effect—and this sense of the city as a ghostly, emptied-out multicultural space containing infinite potential for the strange and the happenstance not only shapes the film but is effectively its subject. The film also includes appearances by Ann Magnuson, Tony Todd, and Steve Buscemi.
Wednesday, February 29 at 9:00PM.
Sara Driver will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
SNOWTOWN (2011) 119min
Director: Justin Kurzel
Justin Kurzel’s stark, enormously accomplished debut feature recounts the horrifying crimes discovered in Snowtown, Australia in 1999, where police found dismembered bodies rotting in barrels. In Adelaide’s poor, desolate northern suburbs, single mother Elizabeth Harvey (Louise Harris) is raising her teenage son Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) and his two younger brothers. After her latest boyfriend displays pedophilic tendencies, she takes up with a new man, John Bunting (Daniel Henshall), hoping for security but unknowingly welcoming an even more vicious predator into her home. SNOWTOWN is an IFC Midnight release.
Friday, February 17 at 1:30PM and Sunday, February 19 at 1:30PM.
A STOKER (Kochegar) (2010) 83min
Director: Alexei Balabanov
At the center of Balabanov’s crime drama is an elderly, not-all-there Afghan war veteran known to his acquaintances as “the major.” He tends the boiler in the miserable basement of a St. Petersburg building to which corrupt cops and mobsters alike bring their murder victims for him to cremate—without question. Devoting his spare time to writing an epic novel about a historical outlaw, the Major’s only personal tie is to his self-involved daughter Sasha, who is engaged to a low-level mobster—who’s cheating on her with his boss’s daughter, who also happens to be Sasha’s fur-store co-worker. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this is all heading…
Saturday, February 25 at 5:30PM.
TARGET (Mishen) (2010) 158min
Director: Alexander Zeldovich
Set in the year 2020 in a world where China is now the planet’s dominant country and Russia is its gateway to Europe, a member of the Russian oligarchy and his wife live lives of privilege, but obsess about staying young and healthy. Together with her brother, a handsome television game show host, and an equestrian champion, they fly from Moscow to Central Asia, and arrive at a wilderness outpost in search of an abandoned astrophysics facility in the back of beyond where mysterious cosmic radiation endows those exposed to it with eternal youth. Rejuvenated, the group returns to their lives, but as each character’s destiny unfolds, it would seem that eternal life has its downside.
Friday, February 24 at 6:30PM and Thursday, March 1 at 3:00PM.
TRANSFER (2010) 93min
Director: Damir Lukacevic
TRANSFER gives new meaning to the concept of timesharing if you substitute living bodies for apartments. Elderly and wealthy white Germans engage the services of the Menzana Corporation, while the host bodies into which their personalities are downloaded are those of young African refugees who willingly lend out their corporeal residences for 20 hours a day in the knowledge that their families back home are being handsomely compensated in exchange. Therefore, when Anna and Hermann Goldbeck, an elderly but still devoted couple, opt to submit to the transfer procedure for a trial period due to Anna’s terminal illness, they find themselves inhabiting the gorgeous, perfect bodies of Apolain and Sarah—whose personalities remain intact but offline until the wee hours, when they are granted a daily four-hour window to return to consciousness.
Friday, February 17 at 4:00PM, Monday, February 20 at 4:15PM, and Wednesday, February 22 at 1:30PM.
WANDERLUST (2012) 98min
Director: David Wain
Meet George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), a typically overextended, stressed-out Manhattan couple. When George is downsized out of his job, they find themselves with only one option: to move in with George’s obnoxious brother (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. But en route, they stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community (emphasis on “commune”) populated by a cast of eccentric characters who look at life through a different prism. Money? It can’t buy happiness. Careers? Who needs them? Clothes? Only if you want them. Is Elysium the fresh start George and Linda need? Or will the change of perspective cause more problems than it solves? The film also includes Alan Alda, Justin Theroux, Ray Liotta, and Malin Akerman.
Wednesday, February 22 at 6:15PM.
David Wain, Paul Rudd and Kerri Kenney will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
WE HAVE A POPE (Habemus Papam) (2011) 104min
Director: Nanni Moretti
Screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, Nanni Moretti’s new comedy, stars Michel Piccoli as a newly elected pontiff who gets cold feet. Because strict Vatican rules demand that his identity remain secret until the public proclamation, doubt-ridden Cardinal Melville (Piccoli) is confined to the Vatican’s inner sanctum. Enter Moretti as a psychoanalyst tasked with coaxing the Catholic-in-Chief back into action, in the actor-filmmaker’s latest look at inadequacy, narcissism, and the quandary of daily existence. WE HAVE A POPE is a Sundance Selects release.
Friday, February 17 at 6:00PM and Monday, February 20 at 2:00PM.
WHORES’ GLORY (2011) 119min
Director: Michael Glawogger
Its provocative and ambiguous title aside, WHORES’ GLORY is an un-sensational, non-exploitative, matter-of-fact study of the world’s oldest profession. That said, it’s no accident that Michael Glawogger’s triptych forgoes examination of the mundane realities of sex work in the West to focus on prostitution in the developing world, traveling from Thailand to Bangladesh to Mexico.
Sunday, February 19 at 3:50PM.