On August 27, 1964, Mary Poppins debuted at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and now, nearly half a century on, it’ll be screening again—on Saturday—in that very same venue. The story of its making, Saving Mr. Banks, opens AFI Fest 2013 tonight. As Bob Verini points out in Variety, this year’s edition features “films from 42 countries (up from 28 last year)… It all amounts to, in the words of fest director Jacqueline Lyanga, ‘a window into the year in contemporary world cinema.’ Once again, thanks to the largess of longtime AFI supporter Audi, that window will be opened 100% gratis. As Lyanga points out. ‘There is no other festival of this size and scope, and with this kind of curation, that is free to the general public.’”
For those in Los Angeles hoping to nab a few of those free tickets, Michael Nordine spells out how; he also talks with programmers Lyanga and Lane Kneedler about hitting the festival circuit all year long, from Sundance through Toronto, selecting the best of the tests. Also in the Weekly: Ernest Hardy and Mike D’Angelo recommend ten must-sees. At Hammer to Nail, Paul Sbrizzi highlights a good many more.
Below, we have the beginnings of an index to the coverage of the coverage, pointing to entries that’ve been gathering reviews for some time how, many of them still being updated—and adding new notes on films within each section. You’ll see how it works as we roll along; I’m still experimenting with new formats for this sort of thing.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis.
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.
Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
John Wells’s August: Osage County.
Asghar Farhadi’s The Past.
Ralph Fiennes’s The Invisible Woman.
Stephen Frears’s Philomena.
Spike Jonze’s Her.
Errol Morris’s The Unknown Known.
Frank Pavich’s Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem.
Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar.
Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox.
Denis Côté’s Vic + Flo Saw a Bear.
Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm.
Amat Escalante’s Heli.
Ari Folman’s The Congress.
Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake.
Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition.
Hong Sang-soo’s Our Sunhi.
Thomas Imbach’s Mary Queen of Scots.
Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son.
Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria.
Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises.
Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!
Calin Peter Netzer’s Child’s Pose.
Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi’s Closed Curtain.
Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture.
Corneliu Porumboiu’s When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism.
Mohammad Rasoulof’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn.
Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty.
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana.
Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman.
Rebecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central.
“Katarzyna Rosłaniec’s Baby Blues paints a lurid picture of teen motherhood in today’s Warsaw,” writes Paul Sbrizzi. “Natalia is a wildly immature teen with a skateboarder boyfriend who can’t help wanting to have a teenage life complete with clubbing, drugs and hot new fashions, although she does her best to take care of her baby. Rosłaniec creates an evocative visual environment for Natalia—a world that looks like a teenager’s bedroom exploding outward, full of color and style experiments—that feels totally organic to the character. The performances are uncanny—real and inspired.”
Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant.
Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness.
Ramon Zürcher’s The Strange Little Cat.
“Tblissi, Georgia in 1992.” Paul Sbrizzi: “In Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’s In Bloom, best friends Eka and Natia face the everyday reality of being oppressed as women with a growing consciousness of needing to fight back. A shocking turn of events is at first accepted and metabolized, but eventually the behavior of men goes too far. Ekvtimishvili and Gross stage some spectacularly raw and real crowd scenes… Even more impressive are the performances.”
Paul Sbrizzi: “Samuel Kishi’s Somos Mari Pepa [We Are Mari Pepa] is centered on 16-year-old Alex, who plays guitar in a Guadalajara punk rock band that only has one song—a pretty good one actually, with a chorus that goes ‘I wanna cum on your face, Natasha!’ Kishi achieves a totally naturalistic tone, never forcing the drama but finding moments of abstract poetry, particularly in how characters connect wordlessly.”
Update, 11/10: “The Fake, an animated film from South Korea and directed by Yeon Sang-ho, has a very simple, matter-of-fact visual style that delivers a complex story about the nature of faith,” writes Mike Everleth.
Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin.
“Every fatal plane crash has the same, sad ending,” writes Amy Nicholson in the Weekly. “But the minutes before are unique. We think of these disasters as plane versus sky, but the 3-D docudrama Charlie Victor Romeo… takes us inside the cockpit to show us the almost mundane office politics of two co-workers in their airborne cubicles just trying to get home safely.”
Paul Sbrizzi: “A.J. Schnack’s documentary Caucus has plenty of bone-chilling moments, as the Bible-thumping demagogues of the Republican Party do their best to seduce the good people of Iowa in the lead-up to the 2012 Caucus.” Eric Luers talks with Schnack for FilmLinc Daily.
Updates, 11/9: Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir: “I suppose the danger of AJ Schnack’s immensely entertaining documentary Caucus is that it retells all the hair-raising twists and turns of the 2012 Republican caucus in Iowa as human drama, with the things we’re supposed to care about–the ideology, the ‘politics’–stripped away. We know for sure that none of these clowns will ever be elected president, so we’re free to view them as flawed, interesting, crazy and sometimes even sympathetic characters in a larger narrative that’s beyond their control. I would argue, in fact, that this gripping and grotesque portrait of retail politics in the Hawkeye State, entirely free of editorial commentary, locates truths about the contemporary Republican Party and our flawed electoral system that a more tendentious account never could.”
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears.
Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100.
Ti West’s The Sacrament.
In B Is for Boy, “40-year-old Amaka and her husband, already parents to a precocious daughter, are expecting their second child,” writes Ernest Hardy. “When the pregnancy ends in tragedy, Amaka is set on a desperate course of action. Writer-director Chika Anadu uses this narrative frame to explore clashes between modernity and tradition in contemporary Nigeria, revealing how age-old gender rules and expectations still exact heavy costs for women. (viagra) ”
Updates, 11/9: “Lyanga & Co. (including lead programmer Lane Kneedler) not only have their eye on the ball, but are judiciously spotting the movies that matter,” argues Robert Koehler at arts•meme, where he picks out “the best of AFI Fest, by section.”
“David O. Russell held court last night at the Egyptian Theater,” reports Ryan Lattanzio at Thompson on Hollywood, where he then proceeds to describe the first six minutes of American Hustle, which’ll be opening on December 13.
“Brie Larson (Short Term 12), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings), and Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) made up AFI Fest’s 2013 Young Hollywood Roundtable with Los Angeles Times‘ entertainment reporter Amy Kaufman moderating,” reports Ben Travers for Indiewire. “The quick 45-minute discussion touched on a number of topics for the sporadically reticent group to expound upon.” Highlights follow.
Updates, 11/15: AFI Fest 2013 wrapped on Thursday, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Brian Brooks has the list of awards: “Among jury prizes, Katrin Gebbe’s Nothing Bad Can Happen (Germany) received the festival’s New Auteurs Critics’ Award, while Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß’s In Bloom and Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant picked up Special Jury Prizes.” Audience Awards go to Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket (World Cinema), The Selfish Giant (New Auteurs), Zeke Hawkins and Simon Hawkins’s We Gotta Get Outta This Place (American Independents), and Chika Anadu’s B for Boy (Breakthrough).