Screening Log

Guide to Numerical Grades

January 2016

Joy (Russell, 2015, 7.0)
David O. Russell might be the only filmmaker who can bring tears of joy to my eyes about the triumph of capitalism. Joy is bursting at the seams with energy and verve; it's as unhinged as it is controlled, but more importantly, it's intimate filmmaking. Russell cares deeply for his characters and makes yet another film, after The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, in which our connection with what is on the screen feels tactile. Much has been written about Jennifer Lawrence's age, that she's miscast for the part; that may be true, but she's doing wonders in this role, selling the character's dogged strength with the sheer force of her star charisma.

Wednesday, May 9 (Jalilvand, 2015, 7.6)
Jalilvand's debut film begins with a premise that appears far-fetched    a man posts a newspaper ad for a specific amount of money he wants to donate ti one person for charity    but as the story develops, its twists and turns take the audience into the wretched reality of tough economic times for the Iranian lower-middle class. It takes a while for the film to find the right tone, but gradually finds the perfect balance between the personal pains of its protagonists and the social repercussions of their misfortune. This is a very impressive debut, featuring a towering performance from one of Iran's most underrated actors, Amir Aghayi.

Nahid (Panahandeh, 2015, 7.4)
Sareh Bayat sneaked up on audiences in A Separation four years ago and in the short time since has become one of the most captivating and compelling actors working today. She carries Ida Panahandeh's first film on her shoulders as a single mother who persistently fights a society that is patriarchal and archaic. Panahandeh won a "most promising future" prize at Cannes, where she debuted the film, and it's easy to see why. Showing the dirty, grey side of Iran's northern villages by the Caspian sea    in place of the more common, lush vistas Iranian cinema has been accustomed to    she convincingly conveys the sense of oppression felt by women in such small communities.

In a Lonely Place (Ray, 1950, 10.0) (lecture, in Farsi)
"I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me."

Behind the Screen (Chaplin, 1916, N/A)
One of Chaplin's lesser efforts and rather thin, thematically. Yet, it's a delight to see his take on the knots and bolts of filmmaking behind the screen, with his usual charm. Plus, the new restoration, made possible with the help of Michel Hazanavicius, looks gorgeous.

Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960, )
An absolutely thrilling experience. Powell turns the gaze around to make us confront our own worst tendencies as spectators, examining the fetishes and curiosities that turn us on to the screen. Gorgeously design and performed with fitting detachment by Karlheinz Böhm, Peeping Tom is a love letter to the medium that at once complicates our relationship with it.

Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944, 9.6)
One of the brightest lights of film noir, Double Indemnity is smart, twisted, luscious and impeccably performed by its trio of stars, particularly Barbara Stanwyck, whose smooth performance is one of the very best of her career. McMurray's balance of charm and naivete is a perfect vehicle for a film that bursts at the seams with sexual energy and zippy dialogue.

It Follows (Mitchell, 2015, 8.9)
One of the best horror films of recent years. Mitchell shows superb control over every aspect of the film. Although the story is somewhat thin   and the allegory for STDs rather one-dimensional   the execution is perfectly pitched, particularly the film's two intense set pieces on the beach and at the swimming pool.

F for Fake (Welles, 1973, 6.1)
Welles's funny games with authenticity and value in art are engaging and energetic at first, indebted in no small part to the eccentric character and pizzazz of the protagonist, Elmyr, but the film's jittery rhythm and truncated cutting begins to feel overwhelming long before the film is over. This is a worthy film, mostly for the novelty factor of how it fits within Welles's long, eclectic career.

Son of Saul (Nemes, 2015, 4.2)
A miscalculation on neatly every account, Nemes's first film is oddly stylized in a way that is detrimental to its own story, muddying crucial details in the narrative. The actions of the film's protagonist   flatly performed by Geza Rohrig   are confusing and unjustifiable, and the film does nothing whatsoever to contextualize his mindset. Whatever emotional resonance Son of Saul has is the natural sympathy raised in the audience with the victims of the holocaust, not because the film is successful as a storytelling exercise.

2016 Screenings

Previous Years' Screenings

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