"'In pre-made molds, I don't know how to create myself,' softly sings a character in João Pedro Rodrigues's To Die Like a Man," begins Melissa Anderson in the Voice. "The Portuguese director, 44, one of the most daring new talents to emerge in the past decade, has been busy smashing molds himself, invigorating queer narratives while subverting the trappings of genre (like the melodrama and the musical) to explore lust and grief. Rodrigues's three features, all on view at BAMcinématek's tribute (plus two shorts), are driven by unforgettable protagonists caught up in their own compulsions, madness, or uncertainty."
The Next Director: João Pedro Rodrigues runs today through Friday. Earlier: A New York Film Festival 2009 roundup on To Die Like a Man and reviews and notes by Daniel Kasman, Glenn Kenny and Gabe Klinger. For indieWIRE, Nigel M Smith reports that To Die is Portugal's horse in the foreign language Oscar race and that Strand Releasing will have it in US theaters early next year.
"Points on a Line, the latest film by artist Sarah Morris, takes as its central focus two architectural subjects on the verge of critical exhaustion," writes Aram Moshayedi for Artforum. "Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois and Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut have, both together and separately, been exposed to such thoroughly repetitive visual and textual analysis that it is surprising to find the two icons called upon to be reconsidered anew. Morris's cinematic portrait of these architectural landmarks, designed and constructed roughly within the same period of time by the German mentor and his American disciple, moves well beyond the historic dispute over originality and influence, as well as the fascination with glass as a material — reflective and transparent — caught in the folds of perception. Instead, Points on a Line is filmed with such visual precision and edited with such rhythm that the merger between history and mythology becomes evident as a defining characteristic of architecture." Screens tonight at Sotheby's.
ALSO OPENING TODAY
"In some respects, Idiots and Angels shows legendary independent animator Bill Plympton at the top of his game," writes Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York. "The simple setup (a killjoy nine-to-fiver grows a pair of angel wings that force him to do good) and complete lack of dialogue (it's mainly guttural groans — the prole's lament) allow the writer-director's imagination to run wild.... You get the sense Plympton could have made a few masterful shorts out of this material. Stretched to feature length, however, the story loses its subversive luster." More from Stephen Holden in the New York Times and Eric Kohn at indieWIRE. At the IFC Center.
"Robert Jay Lifton, the venerable psychiatrist and author, deserves a better documentary than Robert Jay Lifton: Nazi Doctors, a lazy piece of filmmaking that consists of little more than letting him talk for almost an hour and a half about one of his better-known books," writes Neil Genzlinger in the NYT. That book is The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, "which explored the twisted logic by which doctors were able to rationalize their participation in the Holocaust." More from David Fear (TONY), Michelle Orange (Voice) and Lauren Wissot (Slant). At Film Forum through Tuesday.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Oregonian's Shawn Levy notes that his state will be lousy with film festivals all month.
And there's a new issue of IndianAuteur up, this one with a focus on anime.
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