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Did You See This?

From ’90s Manhattan to Weimar Berlin

Parker Posey in Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s Party Girl (1995)

Before we turn to some of the highlights of this past week, let’s quickly catch up with the latest festival news. Cannes (May 16 through 27) has rolled out two more lineups. Eleven films will compete for the Short Film Palme d’Or, and La Cinef will present sixteen student films. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) will preside over the jury awarding this year’s Queer Palm.

Nenad Cicin-Sain’s Kiss the Future, a documentary on an American aid worker’s efforts to get U2 to draw international attention to the plight of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, will open Tribeca (June 7 through 18), and the festival will wrap with a thirtieth anniversary presentation of Robert De Niro’s directorial debut, A Bronx Tale. Karlovy Vary (June 30 through July 8) will premiere a new restoration of Evald Schorm’s Courage for Every Day (1964), salute Czech actor Daniela Kolářová, and present retrospectives celebrating independent Iranian cinema and the work of director Yasuzo Masumura.

  • Party Girl (1995), a time capsule of the mid-90s Manhattan club scene and an absolute banger of a showcase for Parker Posey, is streaming on the Criterion Channel, and it’s out on Blu-ray from Fun City Editions.FilmRise is launching a theatrical run today, and Joseph A. Berger talks with Posey, director Daisy von Scherler Mayer, cowriter Harry Birckmayer, and music supervisor Bill Coleman. This latest entry in the Deuce Notebook isn’t so much an oral history of the movie’s making as it is an immersive guide to a very particular time and place. And like the movie, it’s great, great fun.

  • If you’re in New York, the new restoration of The Oak, Romanian director Lucian Pintilie’s 1992 film set in the chaotic final days of the Ceaușescu regime, is not to be missed. Opening today at Film Forum, The Oak depicts “a world so despoiled a Hieronymus Bosch landscape might seem bucolic by comparison,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “Ensuing decades have scarcely mitigated its power.” At Slant, William Repass finds that the “flimsiness of the membrane separating life from death is the source, paradoxically, of the ebullience that courses through the film.”

  • Soraya Nadia McDonald, a recent guest on the very fun podcast A Very Good Year, writes a marvelous appreciation of Viola Davis for Film Comment. “Born on the Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina to the children of poor Black sharecroppers, Davis carries within herself America’s long, complicated legacy of enslavement, as well as its ongoing fight for freedom,” writes McDonald. Davis is “a very specific type of American artist: the August Wilson–trained actor. What’s evident throughout Davis’s work, on both stage and screen, is a through line of Wilsonian rigor, as clear and identifiable as the Shakespearean background of great British actors from Sir Laurence Olivier to Dame Judi Dench.”

  • Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is to Me is a career-spanning solo exhibition on view at Tate Britain through August 20, and The Passion of Remembrance, the 1986 film Julien made with Maureen Blackwood, and Julien’s Young Soul Rebels (1991) are screening at BFI Southbank through Thursday. “Julien’s film installations can be ravishing, lyrical, languorous, and sexy, and also at times horribly bleak,” writes Adrian Searle in the Guardian, where Paul Mendez talks with Julien about being mentored by the “very generous” Derek Jarman in the mid-1980s as well as about his later works, such as Ten Thousand Waves (2010), featuring Maggie Cheung.

  • In the new edition of WeimarCinema.org, Tom Gunning writes that Frank Wysbar’s 1936 feature Fährmann Maria “feels to me like a film gone astray from the earlier era” and “has the feel of a curtailed experiment.” So Mayer argues for “the political radicalism of queerness” in Richard Oswald’s Anders als die Andern (1919) and Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform (1932), Tatjana Hramova finds that Fritz Lang “seems to have been an important influence on Samuel Beckett,” and Pamela Hutchinson suggests that “the prism of Hollywood film noir . . . may throw some light on the work of [G. W.] Pabst, and his understanding of the spaces of Weimar Berlin.”

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