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Difficult Circumstances

Oleg Vladimirsky in Kira Muratova’s The Long Farewell (1971)

The New York Film Festival (September 29 through October 15) rolled out lineups for its Currents and Revivals programs this week. Currents will open with Eduardo Williams’s The Human Surge 3, “which shifts disorientingly among its three locations—Peru, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan—bringing together twentysomethings from all three places into one roving, multilingual mega–friend group,” as Beatrice Loayza wrote in her recent dispatch to Film Comment from Locarno. “Williams imagines a world in which we are one with our online avatars—and better for it.”

A highlight of the Revivals program will be the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation’s new 4K restoration of Horace Ové’s Pressure (1975), which will have a joint premiere at the NYFF and the London Film Festival on October 11. “Pressure is rightly understood as a landmark work in British cinema, blending a gritty, acute sense of time and place with unexpectedly sensual and sometimes surreal stylistic flourishes,” wrote Ashley Clark in his introduction to a 2016 Light Industry screening.

Before turning to this week’s highlights, we need to note the passing of Iranian writer and filmmaker Ebrahim Golestan on Tuesday at the age of one hundred. Golestan’s Brick and Mirror (1965), in which a Tehran cab driver discovers a baby in the back seat of his taxi, is considered a foundational work of the Iranian New Wave. Last year, Mitra Farahani won a Special Jury Prize in the Berlinale’s Encounters competition for See You Friday, Robinson, which captures the multimedia correspondence between Golestan and Jean-Luc Godard.

  • New 4K restorations of Kira Muratova’s first and fourth features, Brief Encounters (1967) and The Long Farewell (1971), open today at Film at Lincoln Center in New York. “They make for fruitful viewing as a diptych, sharing in certain themes, motifs, and, above all, a rulebook-shredding attitude to cinematic form,” writes William Repass at Slant. “Neither overtly criticize Soviet life, yet they smuggle in a discontent that’s detectable less by what they condemn than by what they frame instead: the domestic, the psychological, the interpersonal. What’s surprising isn’t that they got banned, but that Muratova managed to get them made at all.” In the New York Times, Natalia Winkelman is “struck by how much their stories harmonize with their embattled history.”

  • In November, the Camerimage Film Festival will present its Cinematographer-Director Duo Award to Peter Zeitlinger and Werner Herzog, who have been working together since 1995. Herzog, in the meantime, has an amusing autobiographical piece in this week’s New Yorker in which he recalls being taken in by an eccentric family in Pittsburgh when he was in his early twenties. As you’d expect, there are several Herzogian tangents, including a flight to Mexico; an early Rolling Stones concert; the shooting of his first feature, Signs of Life (1968), on the Greek island of Kos; a rodeo injury; and a declaration that the Privilegium maius, “a flagrant forgery” which established the Habsburgs’ claim to Austria, was, in fact, the real deal. “Truth,” writes Herzog, “like history and memory, is not a fixed star but a search, an approximation.”

  • Radu Jude’s Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World took Locarno by storm, and now it’s heading to festivals in Toronto and New York. Film Comment recently invited Jude to contribute to its Guilty Pleasures column, in which filmmakers “list ten movies they enjoy in spite of themselves.” Jude steers clear of any list-making, writing that “I consider all moving images to be part of ‘the cinema kingdom,’ from amateur porn to Ingmar Bergman, from trash TV to Shoah, from TikTok videos to Barbie and Oppenheimer.” He does feel guilty, though, watching “documentary recordings of extreme violence,” but he believes that he must “because I feel that I must know what beheading or burning of a live person looks like, and not look away.”

  • Introducing his conversation with Kim Morgan at Aquarium Drunkard, Eric Hehr writes: “One need only look at her recent piece on Marilyn Monroe for the Criterion Collection to know that Morgan’s sprawling knowledge of cinema transcends the enumeration of filmographies, commenting on a deeper emotional vibration.” The film under discussion is Play It As It Lays (1972), which Morgan calls “a beautiful synthesis of Frank Perry’s understanding of Joan Didion’s novel—portraying this feeling of nothingness, disconnection, multi-connections, experiences, and loneliness in Los Angeles. Living in the past, present, and . . . what is the future? And it understands depression. And driving. So much driving.”

  • Dustin Guy Defa “excels at eliciting nuanced performances and writing slightly off-kilter details in service of not quirk but whisker-sensitive emotional realism,” writes Nicolas Rapold in his profile of the filmmaker for the Los Angeles Times. Defa’s latest feature, The Adults, starring Michael Cera as a big brother visiting his two sisters (Hannah Gross and Sophia Lillis), is currently in theaters, and we’re presenting all of his previous work on the Criterion Channel. Maurice Pialat, Kenneth Lonergan, and Mike Leigh are filmmakers that speak to him, he tells Rapold. “I think it’s the basic interest in the human being,” he says. For all the other things their films are up to, they’re also about “how to be kinder to each other under difficult circumstances.”

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