THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY IN THE WORLD – Review by Diane Carson

Directors Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri’s documentary tantalizingly titled The Most Beautiful Boy in the World prompts several questions. First and most specifically, who played the alluring Tadzio, that boy, in Italian director Luchino Visconti’s 1971 adaptation of Thomas Mann’s 1912 novel Death in Venice? Second, given the global idolizing he activated, what career followed and who is he today?

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THE CARD COUNTER – Review by Diane Carson

Buried deep within his PTSD throughout The Card Counter, William Tell, aka Bill Tillich, robotically counts cards at blackjack and poker. William had time to develop this talent during ten years in prison, using incarceration to his advantage. Now, rambling alone from casino to casino, he wins enough to get by but never so much the pit boss hassles him.

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ISABELLA – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Matías Piñeiro opens Isabella with a full screen of three interlocked blue rectangles dissolving into purple. The camera tilts down revealing a long, narrow pier jutting horizontally out into the ocean, as a narrator describes the color as “both a cooled red or a heated blue, fragility and strength at the same time. . . the color of ambiguity.”

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SEVEN WEEKS – Review by Diane Carson

Seven Weeks documents a complicated memoriam. In Seven Weeks, the second film in Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s trilogy on war, he asserts that for every death, someone takes that person’s place. Honoring the importance of an individual’s passing, he proposes to “take a look at one tiny tale of a death” because with each “there is a story.”

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DAYS – Review by Diane Carson

Days has no dialogue in an exercise in minimalist cinema

Writer/director Tsai Ming-liang, one of the outstanding Second New Wave Taiwanese filmmakers, intentionally leaves his eleventh feature Days unsubtitled, rendering it an extremely challenging, minimalist experience at just over two hours running time. What Tsai does achieve is our silent immersion in two men’s lonely lives, our position roughly that of a fly on a distant wall.

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HANAGATAMI – Review by Diane Carson

Hanagatami, the third in Japanese director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s war trilogy, unfolds more like a stream of consciousness than a linear narrative. This makes it both refreshingly unconventional and formally striking. However, at just under three hours running time, it is also exhausting and frustrating as it circles back on itself several times.

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Telluride Film Festival 2021 Wrap – Diane Carson reports

As always, the Telluride Film Festival offered an awe-inspiring, diverse selection of contemporary and historically notable films, too many to see even with the extra day added to the 2021 Labor Day weekend. Of the thirty-eight main selections, the six chosen by guest director Barry Jenkins, the compilation programs of Student Prints, Calling Cards, and Great Expectations programs, I managed sixteen screenings. It’s a feast that always leaves me, now in my twenty-fifth year of attendance, ecstatic for the medium and frustrated that I can’t see every offering.

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SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE – Review by Diane Carson

With the tantalizing title Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, director Jia Zhang-ke personalizes decades of Chinese history through the recollections of well-known writers and ordinary citizens. Through eighteen chapters, this documentary interweaves brief moments of recited poetry, early and recent film clips, urban and rural snapshots, and professional performances, all anchored in extensive, individual interviews.

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CASTING BLOSSOMS TO THE SKY – Review by Diane Carson

In Casting Blossoms to the Sky Japanese writer/director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi mounts a plea for peace, kindness, and compassion through a blizzard of images. Dedicated “To the children of the future from adults who lived the past,” the film layers memories of wartime tragedies and natural disasters, primarily WWII cluster bombs dropped on Nagaoka and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

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WHAT WE LEFT UNFINISHED – Review by Diane Carson

What We Left Unfinished documents the recovery of Afghan Films. In troubled, war-torn countries, the arts often slip from discussion and concern. And yet, as one wise Afghan director observes in filmmaker Mariam Ghani’s surprising, informative documentary What We Left Unfinished, “You can’t do as much damage to the enemy with an F-16 or other air power as you can with a really good film.”

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