The cinematic winter doldrums are officially over. It will be quite a busy time for me over the next few months, starting with what has become an essential film series for me: "Film Comment Selects," a selection of recent highlights of world cinema, chosen by the editors of Film Comment. The eighth edition screens beginning tomorrow through February 27 at the Walter Reade Theater. I will be reviewing the films in this space over the next couple of weeks or so. For now, I'll briefly point to a few films that seem especially worthy.
The first is one I just saw, the one that provides the striking image you see above: Lin Tay-jou's Bardo (screening on Feb. 16). A truly unclassifiable and mind-melting experience, Lin's film is a non-narrative triptych that speeds through the cycles of life, death, and rebirth, making use of references to Buddhism, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bible, erotic and religious art. Lin compresses all these elements into a unique and searing vision of death, murder, sex, dismemberment, cannibalism, political protest, and much more, which, despite its often extreme imagery and visceral sound design, culminates in an oddly hopeful notion of the circularity of nature's existence.
Other films to look out for are: Jean-Claude Brisseau's Exterminating Angels (Feb. 14 and 17), which continues his unique depictions of female sexuality that he has explored in previous films such as Secret Things; Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa's Colossal Youth (above, Feb. 16 and 18), in which I'll see for myself if he is worthy of the hype he's gotten in many quarters, most notably from Mark Peranson in his magazine Cinemascope; Johnnie To's latest in his series of gangster tales Exiled (Feb. 15); the veteran experimental filmmaker James Benning's 13 Lakes and Ten Skies (Feb. 24); Finnish master of the deadpan Aki Kaurismaki's Lights in the Dusk (Feb. 22); Retribution (below, Feb. 17, 18, 19), the latest from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, that is hopefully an improvement upon the visually creepy but utimately baffling Loft; Lou Ye's Tiananmen Square evocation Summer Palace (Feb 17 and 18), which got its creator in major trouble with the Chinese government and a five-year ban from filmmaking; Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, who have created some of the most materially tactile, intellectually rigorous, and downright beautiful cinema creations ever made, are in the series with their final collaboration (after the passing of Huillet last year), These Encounters of Theirs (Feb. 25 and 26); and a film I saw at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, Marwan Hamed's entertaining epic of Cairo history The Yacoubian Building (Feb. 21 and 24).
A busy season and much lack of sleep awaits me. For more info on the series, check here.