Rushes: Cannes | BERNIE | Avant-Garde

27.April.2012: A busy week of Cannes updates comes to a close with announcements on the La Semaine de la Critique jury and the Cannes Classics lineup. House of Pleasures director Bertrand Bonello will serve as president for the features side of the Critics’ Week, while Portuguese auteur João Pedro Rodrigues heads up the shorts jury. The most anticipated event of the Classics selection is likely a 4K Film Foundation restoration of Sergio Leone’s gangster epic, Once Upon a Time in America, featuring 25 minutes excised from the original release. Other highlights include restored versions of Agnès Varda‘s groundbreaking debut, Cléo from 5 to 7; Roberto Rossellini’s modernist landmark, Viaggio in Italia; and Steven Spielberg’s signal blockbuster, Jaws.

Richard Linklater has a new Texas true-crime story out in theaters this weekend, and The Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton says that Bernie is that “rarest of rarities: a truly unexpected film.” He goes on, “It might be classified as a black comedy, for it deals with the murder of an 81-year-old woman in a fashion that is not exactly tragic. But unlike most movies that fall under that label, it never indulges in flagrant naughty posturing, nor does it offer the viewer a firm, comfortable point of view from which to sit back and bear witness.” Manohla Dargis adds in a similarly complimentary review, “Push past the local color… as Mr. Linklater does, and this starts to look like what it was: a sordid, bleak tale about two lonely people drawn to each other like colliding planets.”

A few avant-garde leads into the weekend: Doug Cummings looks ahead to two Center for Visual Music programs at LACMA tonight, the first of which is dedicated to Oskar Fischinger’s animation. J. Hoberman has a new article on Luis Buñuel’s art and politics for The Nation on occasion of the recent critical study, Luis Buñuel: The Red Years 1929–1939. Mike Everleth has the full lineup for the Migrating Forms festival, which runs at Anthology Film Archives from May 11-20. Besides the usual avant-garde fare, the eclectic program features unique features from the festival circuit (Lav Diaz’s Century of Birthing, Gonçalo Tocha’s It’s the Earth, Not the Moon), older works by Fritz Lang, Raymond Pettibon, Chuck Jones, and the Dziga Vertov Group; a tribute to the departed auteur Raúl Ruiz; and a Borgesian sounding presentation from critic and curator Ed Halter on fake experimental films created for mainstream movies.

Peter Watkins’ 1971 film Punishment Park uses similarly pseudo means for a frighteningly plausible depiction of political paranoia. Using the McCarran Act to springboard into an alternate reality in which dissidents are badgered to the breaking point, Watkins fashions what “might be the most radioactive portrait of American divisiveness and oppression ever made” as per critic Michael Atkinson. It’s one of four featured films circling war on Fandor this week, along with Life and Nothing But, French director Bertrand Tavernier’s novelistic drama in the shadows of WWI; How to Fold a Flag, Gunnar Palace directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker‘s incisive look at the homecomings of several American soldiers; and Maja Weiss’ Balkan Wars drama, Guardian of the Frontier.

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