22.March.2012: “For over 40 years, we’ve been able to present a festival like New Directors/New Films because of our audiences.” That’s Richard Peña on ND/NF, which opened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center yesterday. Elsewhere on the FSLC blog, Peña’s fellow committee members Rajendra Roy, Laurence Kardish, and Jytte Jensen discuss the selection process. The closing night program on April 1 still hasn’t been announced, but Ed Gonzalez offers up a few guess before introducing Slant’s full slate of reviews: “Given the festival’s history of stitching together a sizable portion of its hip and socially conscious lineup from recent films that have made the festival rounds, we place our bets on one of several hot, still-fresh commodities to premiere at Sundance: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The House I Live In, or The Surrogate.” Focusing on what is definitely on the program, today ND/NF features action-packed The Raid: Redemption, Argentine road movie Las Acacias, acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s Goodbye, and the Brazilian Found Memories.
The Village Voice’s Melissa Anderson singles out Las Acacias in her roundup: “Although confined mainly to the cab of Rubén’s vehicle, Las Acacias is generous and expansive, subtly registering how these three strangers eventually become at ease with and grow attached to one another.” Her colleague Ernest Hardy weighs in on The Raid: Redemption: “Lean, fast-moving, and filled with game-changing fight sequences that have a brutally beautiful (or beautifully brutal) quality, Gareth Evans’s Indonesian martial-arts film The Raid: Redemption lives up to its viral hype.” There were many reviews of Goodbye after it premiered at Cannes along with Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film, but perhaps the best place to start with Rasoulof is the measured survey Michael Sicinski wrote for Cinema Scope last year. Finally, A.O. Scott closes his article with an appreciation of Found Memories: “A vestige of that country—a remote, decrepit hamlet inhabited entirely by elderly people—is the setting of Found Memories, which might be described as a neo-realist ghost story. It’s a small, graceful film, and it communicates the sense of discovery that is the best reason to revisit New Directors each year.”
The Guardian’s John Francis Lane pens the obituary for Tonino Guerra, the Italian poet and screenwriter who had a major hand in 20th-century European art cinema. He died yesterday at the age of 92. “Perhaps his most creative contribution was to Fellini‘s colourful account of life in a small coastal town in the 1930s, Amarcord (1973), of which he was truly co-author, because the film reflected their common experiences growing up in Romagna…He first started writing poetry in dialect when interned in a prison camp in Germany, after being rounded up at the age of 22 with other antifascists from Santarcangelo.” Guerra’s astonishing list of screen credits also included many films with Michelangelo Antonioni, including several of the director’s masterpieces (L’avventura, La notte, L’eclisse, Red Desert, Blow-Up), Vittorio De Sica’s Marriage Italian Style, Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia, and many films by Greek auteur Theo Angelopoulos, who died earlier this year.
Longtime New York director Ulu Grosbard, who worked both on Broadway and in film, also died this week. He was 93. Bruce Weber writes for The New York Times, “Known for his skill in cajoling substantive performances from actors and his unhurried, perfectionist’s approach to polishing a script and staging a scene, he worked with distinguished playwrights on Broadway, including Arthur Miller (The Price), Beth Henley (The Wake of Jamey Foster) and Woody Allen (The Floating Light Bulb) and cultivated relationships with revered stars, including Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall.”