“The father who moves the mountains”
Following an intelligence officer whose son went missing on a blizzard-stricken mountain, this slow-burning Romanian film delves into familiar Hollywood models – a father’s relentless quest to save his child; a battle of man against nature – in a complex ethical drama about the blurred lines between despair and pride. When Mircea Jianu (Adrian Titieni) learns for the first time of her son’s disappearance, her reactions are what one would expect from any parent in his place: panic, despair, anger. He insisted on following the rescue team on the slopes, despite the bad weather, and criticized their apparent slowness.
But his anguish soon turns to indignation. Mircea enlists the intelligence services to set up an illegal high-tech search operation, which piques the suspicions of local journalists and invites relatives of other lost hikers to seek Mircea’s help. Meanwhile, the weather deteriorates, endangering the men Mircea intimidates and bribes in what increasingly looks like a futile quest. Is her refusal to accept the writing on the wall an admirable streak of parental devotion or a relic from a time when bureaucrats always did what they wanted? Daniel Sandu’s film remains delicately balanced between these two possibilities, the stiff and austere setting providing an elemental backdrop to existential dilemmas.
“Koshien: the field of dreams of Japan”
Like the best sports documentaries, Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s eye-opening portrayal of Japanese high school baseball is as much about the game as it is about the culture around it. “Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams” invites us into the fierce arena that first propelled Major League stars like Hideki Matsui and Shohei Ohtani onto the professional scene: Japan’s annual national high school baseball tournament, too. known as “Koshien” after the stadium where the finals take place.
Yamazaki follows two coaches in the run-up to Koshien’s long-awaited 100th birthday in 2018: Tetsuya Mizutani, who has only reached the final once in his nearly three-decade career, and his former mentee, Hiroshi Sasaki, who has been to Koshien nine times but never won. Their different approaches – Mizutani is strict and old-fashioned; Tech-savvy and adaptable Sasaki traces the competing impulses that define Japanese baseball. Although imported from the United States in the 1800s, the sport has imbued with the ritualism and reverence of Japanese martial arts, while also blossoming into a highly commercialized television spectacle in the 21st century.
Yamazaki’s interest, however, lies in the deep emotional bonds forged in the heat of competition. When the captain of the Mizutani squad rallies the tear-eyed rejected players of the Koshien squad, assuring them that “those who have been chosen will play with everyone’s hearts here”, even my sporting heart has surrendered to the wonders of the game.
“I have never climbed the province”
When a decades-old bakery in Santiago, Chile is closed and replaced with a new building, filmmaker Ignacio AgÃ¼ero no longer has a stunning view of Mount Provincia from his window. This small change in her visual landscape becomes the catalyst for a vast rumination on gentrification, community and memory in “I Never Climbed the Provincia”, an intimate documentary in the style of Chris Marker and Chantal Akerman’s memoir films. AgÃ¼ero takes an open and endearing approach to his modest investigation: he asks neighbors and traders about all the memories that make up his little pocket of the city, remembers his own experiences of growing up in the neighborhood, and writes mysterious and melancholy letters. to an anonymous recipient who never responds. A thick bed of ambient sounds forms the basis of AgÃ¼ero’s traveling images, reminding us of the power of cinema to resuscitate lost places and times – which the director further emphasizes through interspersed excerpts from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant”. Although made before the pandemic, âI Never Climbed the Provinciaâ looks like a very current film, driven by a desire for both stasis and change.
The latest from Tamil filmmaker Mari Selvaraj is a thrilling Indian take on the neo-western, starring brave armed villagers, villainous police and a cavalier and capricious antihero. The film is set in Podiyankulam, a small, rural, low-caste settlement in southern India that suffers from the contempt and indifference of the state. The village is not even considered worthy of a bus stop, which further exacerbates its poverty: children find it difficult to go to school, young people cannot get to work and the lack of access to hospitals leads to tragedies.
From this environment emerges the pugilist Karnan, whom we meet for the first time in a moment of Arthurian glory: he wins an annual competition which consists of slicing a fish in the air with a sword. (The scene is better viewed than described.) Still, he is viewed by everyone as a nuisance during the first half of the film, his quick temper prompting him to frequently fight with bus drivers, rival villagers, and police officers. .
But boiling under Karnan’s recklessness is righteous rage. When an encounter with the police leads to the vicious torture of the village elders, Karnan’s anger explodes throughout the community. Drawing on horrific real-life incidents from the 1990s, Selvaraj tells long-neglected victims of police brutality a Tarantino-style tale of a bloody, gloriously stylized revenge, as Tamil superstar Dhanush delivers a stunning performance in the role of the intrepid Karnan.
Transposing the vaporous black-and-white palette and formal experiments of the French New Wave to present-day Hangzhou, China, “The Cloud in His Room” offers a beautifully oblique glimpse of a few days into Muzi’s life, a 22 – A college graduate returning home from Beijing for the Chinese New Year. Fleeing from exposure or traditional intrigue, director Zheng Lu Xinyuan slowly plunges us into Muzi’s life through the tranquil scenes she spends with her divorced parents, her two beautiful suitors and often alone in the desolate rooms of her home. childhood house.
Even as the film progresses at a languid and uneventful pace, cinematographer Matthias Delvaux holds our attention with his camera, constantly probing the setting for unusual angles and compositions: a swimmer is captured up close through the rippling water; Muzi and her mother are spotted through a small oblong window as they sing karaoke under strobe lights; a stroke of the moon suddenly inverts the colors, so that a black orb sparkles in a neon white sky. The camera’s inquisitive gaze ultimately reflects Muzi’s own search for connection as “The Cloud in Her Room” emerges as an evocative portrayal of the uprooting of youth – a discomfort that is as hard to find as it is universal.