While summer may not feel just around the corner, the summer blockbuster season is already upon us; with that comes a barrage of endless sequels and some rare surprise hits. Some of those innovative and small-scaled finds are slated to screen at New York’s Film Forum over the next few months, as part of their summer lineup. Take an exclusive look below to read through the releases, including some films we’ve previously endorsed. (Synopses courtesy of Film Forum.)
Film Forum Premieres
“Post Tenebras Lux”
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Mexico 2012 115 mins. In Spanish, English and French with English subtitles. Strand Releasing
Winner of the Best Director prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, “Post Tenebras Lux” (“Light After Darkness”) is a new autobiographical feature by acclaimed director Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light, Japon). Ostensibly the story of an upscale, urban family whose move to the Mexican countryside results in domestic crises and class friction, “Post Tenebras Lux” is a stunningly photographed, impressionistic psychological portrait of a family and their place within the sublime, unforgiving natural world. Reygadas conjures a host of unforgettable, ominous images: a haunting sequence at dusk as Reygadas’s real-life daughter wanders a muddy field and farm animals loudly circle as thunder and lightning threaten; a glowing-red demon gliding through the rooms of a home; a husband and wife visiting a swingers’ bathhouse with rooms named after famous philosophers. By turns entrancing and mystifying, “Post Tenebras Lux” palpably explores the primal conflicts of the human condition. “Entrancingly beautiful. As beguiling a cinematic object as one is likely to encounter this year.” – Dan Sullivan, Film Comment
MAY 15 – 28
Directed by Philippe Béziat
France 2012 112 mins. In English, French, and Italian with English subtitles. Distrib Films.
The reinvention of Verdi’s masterpiece, La Traviata, as sung by world-famous French coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay, is the subject of Philippe Béziat’s thrilling new movie. A modern, minimalist, post-punk approach strips away the opulence and grandiosity associated with operatic productions. Concentrating on director Jean-François Sivadier’s working relationship with Dessay, the film reveals how two great creative minds build the story of a doomed love affair. The stars rehearse in what look like yoga outfits, on a bare stage, with minimal props. The final production, set against a backdrop of sky and clouds, punctuated by a single chandelier, features Violetta and Alfredo (a darkly gorgeous Charles Castronovo) as the very essence of hipster-chic. Their passion, however, is for the ages. With music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Louis Langrée.
Opens Friday, May 17 for an ongoing engagement:
Directed by Alice Winocour
France 2012 102 mins. In French with English subtitles. Music Box Films.
In late 19th century France, a beautiful teenage kitchen maid, subject to violent seizures, is sent to a Dickensian psychiatric hospital where a famed neurologist transforms her into his star attraction. With Vincent Lindon as Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (a founder of modern neurology) and French recording star Soko as his patient, Augustine. Based on a true story. “A coolly febrile study of madness, Victorian sexual politics and power.” – Leslie Felperin, Variety
MAY 29 – JUNE 11
Directed by Margarethe Von Trotta
Germany 2012 113 mins. In English and German with English subtitles. Zeitgeist Films.
“Premier David Ben-Gurion announced today that Adolf Eichmann, the S.S. colonel who headed the Gestapo’s Jewish Section, was under arrest in Israel and would stand trial for his life.” – The New York Times (May 24, 1960). The luminous Barbara Sukowa stars as the brilliant German-Jewish emigree Hannah Arendt – sent to cover the trial in Jerusalem by New Yorker editor William Shawn; her coverage becomes one of the most important and controversial books ever written on the Holocaust: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. A veritable hornet’s nest of ugly accusations, recriminations, and counter-charges greets Arendt’s proposition that ordinary people are capable of the vile acts for which Eichmann stands justly accused. Arendt’s loyal friend, writer Mary McCarthy (played by Janet McTeer) comes to her defense in Margarethe von Trotta’s deeply serious, yet wildly entertaining look at the lives and loves of a bevy of New York’s most famed intellectuals during the 1950s and ‘60s. Von Trotta — working with longtime co-screenwriter Pamela Katz — brings a practiced eye, a compassionate mind, and, appropriately, fearless independence, to this riveting portrait of a woman of both ideas and heart.
Presented with support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund For Jewish And Holocaust Film.
JUNE 12 –25
“More Than Honey”
Written and directed by Markus Imhoof
Germany / Austria / Switzerland 2012 91 mins. In English and German with English subtitles. Kino Lorber.
Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof (“The Boat Is Full”) tackles the vexing issue of why bees, worldwide, are facing extinction. With the tenacity of a man out to solve a world-class mystery, he investigates this global phenomenon, from California to Switzerland, China and Australia. Exquisite macro-photography of the bees (reminiscent of “Microcosmos”) in flight and in their hives reveals a fascinating, complex world in crisis. Writes Eric Kohn in Indiewire: “Imhoof captures the breeding of queen bees in minute detail, ventures to a laboratory to witness a bee brainscan, and discovers the dangerous prospects of a hive facing the infection of mites. In this latter case, the camera’s magnifying power renders the infection in sci-fi terms, as if we’ve stumbled into a discarded scene from David Cronenberg’s “The Fly.” This is a strange and strangely moving film that raises questions of species survival in cosmic as well as apiary terms.
Opens Friday, June 21 for an ongoing engagement:
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm
Denmark 2012 99 mins. In English and Danish with English subtitles. Magnolia Pictures.
A Danish freighter, hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, is held for ransom. The action alternates between the deteriorating conditions of the men abroad the hostage ship and the offices of the sleek Copenhagen firm from which the company’s steely CEO negotiates with the pirates. “Superb. Actually grows more chillingly subdued as its nightmare scenario unfolds.”– Guy Lodge, Variety
JUNE 26 – JULY 9
“Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert For Kate Mcgarrigle”
Directed By Lian Lunson
Canada 2012 105 mins. Horse pictures
Rufus and Martha Wainwright honored their legendary mother, folksinger Kate McGarrigle (1946 – 2010) with a Town Hall concert in NYC that included performances/appearances by Anna and Jane McGarrigle, Jimmy Fallon, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Antony Hegarty, Teddy Thompson, and novelist Michael Ondaatje. Lian Lunson, director of “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”, assembles home movie footage of the Wainwrights (their father is Loudon Wainwright III), archival footage, and family interviews that give resonance to the story of Kate’s life and the songs she wrote (many with her sisters); they draw upon romantic, carefree, and bittersweet memories that reference her life as an artist, wife, sister, and mother. Rufus’s rendition of Candles is a particularly poignant moment among many.
JULY 10 – 16
“Israel: A Home Movie”
Produced And Directed By Arik Bernstein
Israel 2012 93 mins. In Hebrew with English subtitles. Alma Films
Why is it that home-movie footage, usually taken at celebratory events (birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, summer holidays, Christmas), may evoke profound sadness when viewed in retrospect.? Susan Sontag wrote brilliantly on the nature of photography: that it freezes a moment which is instantly no more, that it captures the transitory, allowing us to consider its fate. “Israel: A Home Movie” performs this role for an entire nation. Arik Bernstein assembles amateur movie footage from the 1930s through the 1970s: from Romanian refugees dancing on the decks of boats as they arrive in then-Palestine, to postwar Europeans complaining of a “barbarian land,” to celebratory Israelis in 1968 proclaiming victory in “the last war,” to those in the ‘70s who founded settlements in the occupied territories. In the course of one movie, Israel goes from a young, optimistic nation to one in which the realities of middle-age settle in. As early as the late 1970s, one feels that tragedy has become the norm, that life inevitably leads to death and that – in Israel as we have known it – peace inevitably leads to war.
Presented with support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund For Jewish And Holocaust Film
JULY 17 – 30
Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski
Usa 2013 92 mins. Kino Lorber
A.O. Scott, in The New York Times, named Andrew Bujalski’s “Funny Ha Ha” “one of the ten most influential films of the ’00s” and Amy Taubin, in Film Comment, calls his new film, “Computer Chess” “bracingly idiosyncratic – and close to perfect.” She continues: “Set in 1980 in a nowheresville hotel hosting an annual artificial-intelligence chess competition (software programs operated by computer nerds compete at chess), the movie is part faux documentary and part hallucinatory coming-of-age sexual fantasy.” With clunky computers the size of small cars, and eyewear of almost equal weight, these data wizards may be in the techno-vanguard, but they are hopeless when it comes to human relations. Bujalski gives the film a charming period look by shooting on primitive early ‘70s video cameras. Justin Chang in Variety calls it “an endearingly nutty, proudly analog tribute… about as weird and singular as independent cinema gets.”
JULY 31 – AUGUST 13
“Smash And Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers”
Directed by Havana Marking
Uk 2012 90 mins. Goldcrest Films
Their crimes resemble high-octane Hollywood action movies: a sports car speeds through a Dubai shopping mall, crashing into the windows of a Graff jewelry store. Masked, gun-wielding men jump out of the car, and stuff fistfuls of diamonds into their satchels before screeching off. In London, they took all of three minutes to make off with $30 million in diamonds. Dubbed the Pink Panthers, they’re captured — on surveillance tapes that record their astonishing lightning strikes with hypnotic accuracy. A 2010 New Yorker article by David Samuels described them as “a spectacularly inventive and elusive gang of jewel thieves…who’ve robbed 152 jewelry stores” in Europe, Asia and the Mid-East, of diamonds worth a quarter-billion dollars, since 2002. They’re believed to be a loose confederation of 20-30 men (and women), many from Serbia and Montenegro, who “grew up in an atmosphere of wholesale corruption” after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Some are in jail. Others agree to be interviewed by Havana Marking so long as their identities are kept secret. They continue to smash and grab.
AUGUST 14 – 27
“The Patience Stone”
Directed By Atiq Rahimi
France / Germany / Afghanistan 2012 98 mins. In farsi with English subtitles. Sony Pictures Classics
Based on the novel by Atiq Rahimi, winner of the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, and co-scripted by legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (who wrote “Belle De Jour”), “The Patience Stone” takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. Beautiful actress Golshifteh Farahani (who is persona non grata in her native Iran for starring in Ridley Scott’s “Body Of Lies” and posing nude in a French magazine) gives an electrifying performance in a reversal of the Scheherazade role: Instead of spinning fabulous tales to amuse her man, she sits by her injured, unresponsive husband and confesses to a litany of abuses she has suffered at his hands, among others. Critics have called her performance “mesmerizing,” “spellbinding,” “luminous,” and “a tour de force.”
Premieres programmed by Karen Cooper and Mike Maggiore