Underway as of last Friday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual series Film Comment Selects is rolling out another program of new discoveries and overlooked gems. As the New York Times’ A.O. Scott puts it: “Free of the prestige and pressure that swirl around the New York Film Festival each fall, Film Comment Selects, at the Walter Reade, seems committed above all to being interesting and to calling the attention of the cognoscenti and the merely curious to movies they might otherwise have missed.”
“The series’ Asian selections are a mixed bag,” writes Steven Erickson in Art Forum. “In ‘Like You Know It All’ (2009), director Hong Sang-soo’s reliance on bifurcated plots about the misadventures of male artists at last seems to arrive at formulaic complacency. On the other hand, Soi Cheang’s ‘Accident’ (2009) is a modern noir gem. Following a group of assassins who stage murders that look like accidents, it could pass for a work by Johnnie To (who produced it). Decorated with plumes of cigarette smoke and a constant downpour, it pushes Hawksian professionalism into a maelstrom of paranoia and mistrust. While it includes several thrilling set pieces, the narrative’s connective tissue is equally compelling.”
In Time Out New York, David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich run down the highlights of this year’s festival, including a screening of “A Brighter Summer Day”: “Edward Yang’s 1991 stroll down memory lane turns ’60s Taiwan into a web of warring juvies, rock & roll obsessions and diasporic identity crises; it’s a singular look back that treats a filmmaker’s yester-daze with both nostalgia and razor-sharp irony. Still unavailable on DVD—hello, Criterion!—this remarkable remembrance of things past is rarely screened. See it.” More on the film from Andrew Schenker at the House Next Door. Also, at the House Next Door, Aaron Cutler reports on a program of Godard rarities that screened this weekend.
According to Glenn Kenny, writing for The Auteurs, “The sure-to-be controversial centerpiece of sorts of this year’s Film Comment Selects screenings is a three-film retrospective comprising fiction features by French director Phillipe Grandrieux. So exacting and precise is Grandrieux with respect to the creation and projection of the cinematic image that he’s been known to try to have the exit lights in theaters blacked out at screenings where he’s in attendance. The immersion in total darkness is said to be particularly crucial to his latest picture, 2008’s ‘Un lac.’ The Grandrieux immersion occurs on Wednesday, February 24—a separate admission triple feature of sorts.”
“The retro rarity this go-around is an excavation of ‘The Victors,'” reports Nick Pinkerton in the Village Voice. “The history of the World War II film shouldn’t be read as the simple trajectory from naive jingoism to smug-modern truth, but Carl Foreman’s intimate epic was something very different in 1963. Playing in the complete 175-minute cut, it’s the only directorial credit for Foreman, ‘High Noon’ screenwriter, blacklistee, and veteran of Frank Capra’s documentary unit—the latter role reflected in ‘The Victors” newsreel chorus, announcing the changes of battleground as the film travels with American GIs liberating Europe, from Sicily to Berlin.”
Meanwhile, Simon Abrams is posting dispatches from the series over at the New York Press: “Even ‘Air Doll,’ clearly the runt of the litter so far, is not only brazen conceptually but thankfully sincere enough to make the film bewildering enough to be worth championing,” he observes about Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest. “You won’t see me doing it but hey, somebody out there has got to, right? ‘The Time That Remains,’ the new Elia Suleiman drama is as good as fans of his ‘Divine Intervention’ hoped his long-anticipated follow-up would be and ‘Like You Know it All,’ Hong Sang-soo’s latest navel-gazing, Rohmer-esque black comedy is probably his best film yet.”
More from James van Maanen over at his blog.