Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire, "an obscure two-part television movie he made in 1973, is a textbook example of a film that was ahead of its time," writes Dennis Lim in the New York Times. "Head-trip cinema about virtual-reality immersions, it's an analog-age Avatar, a movie that anticipates Blade Runner in its meditation on artificial and human intelligence and The Matrix in its conception of reality as a computer-generated illusion. Since its broadcast on German television in October 1973, World on a Wire has gone largely unseen. Digitally restored by the Fassbinder Foundation under the supervision of its original cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus, a spiffed-up version of the three-and-a-half-hour film had its premiere in February at the Berlin Film Festival." And now it's "set to receive its first ever theatrical run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from April 14 through 19."
"We are dealing with three worlds." The Foundation runs an English translation of Fassbinder's reflections on World on a Wire as well as a note from Volker Schlöndorff and a collection of reviews, most of which appeared in German papers in 1973.
New Directors / New Films runs through Sunday and, while there may be updates, today's batch marks the final roundup.
"A sort of reductio ad absurdum of the long-take approach to filmmaking, How I Ended This Summer is tedium incarnate — which may be precisely director Alexei Popogrebsky's point." Andrew Schenker in Slant: "The Russian filmmaker's two-character anti-drama channels the banality of daily routine at a Russian meteorological station located on a remote Arctic island. Slowing its rhythms to the sluggish pace of a life that revolves around little more than taking periodic readings on seemingly antiquated equipment, the film's odd turn into psychological thriller only leads to the introduction of even longer stretches of unproductive dead time. Bringing a contemplative approach to a genre piece — or what here amounts to a little sketch of a genre piece — is a potentially fruitful idea, but Popogrebsky's conception is so slack and uncertain that it yields frustratingly little."
And yet, for Howard Feinstein, writing at indieWIRE (also running an interview with Popogrebsky), this was "by far the best movie at this year's Berlin Film Festival." Mileage varies. More from Simon Abrams (New York Press) and Stephen Holden (NYT).
Again, Andrew Schenker: "A neo-neo-realist offering from the homeland, Italian-based filmmakers Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel's La Pivellina seems to owe much of its aesthetic approach to the Dardenne brothers, while using it for decidedly non-Dardennian purposes. Like the Rosetta auteurs, Covi and Frimmel rely heavily on handheld shots to track characters' movements, employ super 16mm stock, and film their marginal characters in grittily authentic locations. But La Pivellina, which follows a couple of Roman circus performers who find and take in an abandoned baby, lacks the immediacy of the Belgian duo's pictures, the electrifying sense that anything might happen, while also avoiding their penchant for redemptive resolutions." IndieWIRE interviews the filmmakers.
"Subversive pranksterism takes center stage in The Red Chapel, Danish director Mads Brügger's attempted critique of North Korea via a Yes Men-style ruse," writes Nick Schager in Slant. In the New York Times, Stephen Holden notes that the film "shows none of the atrocities committed under [Kim Jong-il's] regime, although Mr Brugger mentions them in his strenuously critical commentary. But its portrait of people surviving in a social climate so ruled by fear that they move and talk like automatons speaks for itself. Its pictures of a capital city whose thoroughfares are nearly empty, and of an anti-American rally at which, Mr Brugger observes, people have been reduced to pixels for a televised pageant, lend the film a grotesque through-the-looking-glass surrealism."
More from Simon Abrams (NYP) and Nelson Lim (Hammer to Nail). Earlier: Reviews from Sundance, where The Red Chapel won the grand jury prize for best world cinema documentary. IndieWIRE interviews Brugger.
Related: Dennis Lim in the NYT on three films, this one included, that "show in very different ways that it is possible to bypass or subvert official channels when dealing with North Korea." The other two: NC Heikin's Kimjongilia and Jim Finn's The Juche Idea.
"Cinematheque proudly presents two justifiably legendary filmmakers — Stanton Kaye and Jim McBride — and four feature films (plus a short) in their long overdue and most welcome return to San Francisco," writes the Cinematheque's Jonathan Marlow. Kaye's Georg (1964) and McBride's David Holzman's Diary (1967) screen tonight at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Tomorrow night: McBride's My Girlfriend's Wedding (1969) and My Son's Wedding to My Sister-in-Law (2008) and Kaye's Brandy in the Wilderness (1971).
The Chicago Reader's JR Jones surveys local goings on.
Brecht Andersch previews SFMOMA's April lineup.
The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus will be hosting an evening with Lewis Klahr (May 1), who, in turn, will be conducting a masterclass (May 4). Weekly screenings of Klahr's films throughout the month begin on May 6. Related viewing: a visit to the filmmaker's studio.
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