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Survival Skills

Madjid Niroumand in Amir Naderi’s The Runner (1984)

The Berlinale has invited thirty filmmakers—including Maren Ade, Pedro Almodóvar, Wes Anderson, Juliette Binoche, Lav Diaz, Alice Diop, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Nadav Lapid, Sergei Loznitsa, Mohammad Rasoulof, Céline Sciamma, Martin Scorsese, M. Night Shyamalan, Carla Simón, Abderrahmane Sissako, Tilda Swinton, and Wim Wenders—to select a favorite coming-of-age film as the festival puts together Young at Heart: Coming of Age at the Movies, the retrospective of the 2023 edition running from February 16 through 26. “After two years of the pandemic, we all feel like a character in a coming-of-age film,” says artistic director Carlo Chatrian. “We aren’t what we used to be any more, and we don’t know yet what we will be. The good thing that these movies do is to turn uncertainty into a sense of excitement for what might come.”

In other festival news, Rotterdam (January 25 through February 5) has announced its first selections for the Bright Future and Limelight programs. And in case you missed it, Sundance (January 19 through 29) is putting its New Frontier exhibition of experimental works on hold for at least a year while chief curator Shari Frilot and her team reassess their mission.

  • Ehsan Khoshbakht, who wrote the essay that accompanies our release of Mohammad Reza Aslani’s Chess of the Wind (1976), curated the Viennale’s Ebrahim Golestan retrospective and discusses the director’s work and “the subversive poetics of Iranian cinema” on the festival’s podcast. New York’s Film Forum, in the meantime, is presenting a new restoration of The Runner (1984), the tenth feature by Amir Naderi. It’s a “stylized memoir of his boyhood in Iran” that “employs a mature artist’s disciplined technique to celebrate a child’s new-minted vision of his hardscrabble world,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. Let’s note, too, that on November 30, we’ll be bringing Persepolis (2007), Marjane Satrapi’s animated feature about growing up in 1970s Iran, to the Criterion Channel.

  • On Tuesday, Michael Koresky opened A Few Great Pumpkins, Reverse Shot’s annual Halloween series, by proposing that We’re All Going to the World’s Fair “may not be a horror movie as we’ve come to understand it, yet it’s undeniably a movie about the experience of horror—as aspiration, as escape, as void.” Later that same day, director Jane Schoenbrun and her star, Anna Cobb, were nominated for Gotham Awards. More Pumpkins: Adam Nayman writes that Tobe Hooper’s 1981 slasher The Funhouse “exults gloriously in the irony of thrill-seekers getting exactly what they paid for,” and Sam Bodrojan revisits John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps (2000), in which “the werewolf is not a metaphor but a catalyst for latent tensions.”

  • With the horror series In Dreams Are Monsters running through the end of the year, the British Film Institute has put together an annotated list of scary movies—one hundred of them, one for each year, starting with 1922. Samuel Wigley notes that “by traveling through the history of horror a year at a time, we can get a sense of the evolution of the genre . . . Bad moons rise, and purple patches come and go: the arrival of Universal’s gothic monster cycle and Hammer; the birth of the modern zombie movie and the slasher; the shots in the arm of J-horror and—though let’s not call them that—the ‘elevated horrors’ of the 2010s. But the journey also takes us through some barren terrain when either censorship took the fun out of the genre (the late 1930s) or audiences simply seemed to lose their thirst for it (the late 1940s and early 1950s). Even on these wind-blasted heaths, however, gems are to be found.”

  • Nikyatu Jusu, whose Nanny won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, is working on a sequel to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), and she’s cooking up something with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions as well. On the tenth anniversary of Monkeypaw’s founding, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn talks with Peele and his top executives. “The feeling for a long time from the industry was that POC films—let’s say Black films, but really any sort of POC film—was a niche project,” says Peele. “I was in a position to make a film that transcended that.” That film, of course, was Get Out (2017). As for the future, “I want to be a badass independent filmmaker. The beauty of the relationship with Universal is that we’re able to really embrace the iconography of monsters with them. Within their studio is this disruptive art form and the majesty of horror.”

  • John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, starring the late Angela Lansbury as a senator’s wife who plans to use her brainwashed son to get to the White House, “managed the neat, eerie trick of looking prescient for multiple decades following its 1962 release,” writes Jesse Hassenger in the Guardian. But does it still? On the one hand, “the idea that a plot to overthrow the U.S. government would need to hide behind respectability and subterfuge, rather than simply announce itself with Trumpian shamelessness, has started to feel curiously outdated.” But on the other: “True believers, whether colluding communists or soldiers who believe in their cause, are still just game pieces for the power-hungry.”

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