Movie Diary 11/19/2018

More from the Ljubljana Film Festival.

Little White Lie (Tomas Alzamora, 2017). This Chilean comedy gets off to a rollicking and inventive start, and although the idea doesn’t really sustain itself, there’s a lot of promise here. The gist of it is a failing small-town newspaper that gins up a story about possible alien abductions to raise circulation.

My Last Year as a Loser (Ursa Menart, 2018). A Slovenian coming-of-age tale about a young woman navigating various hurdles – bureaucratic, cultural, emotional – as she waits out an aimless year. Nicely rendered if not always very exciting.

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018). Another backstabber from the Dogtooth director, in which two court ladies (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) vie for the affections of the clueless Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). In many ways the film is just as lethal as Lanthimos’s previous outings, but maybe a little more pleasurable.

High Life (Claire Denis, 2018). Robert Pattinson as an astronaut, surrounded by decaying hardware and flashbacks. Denis puts her imprint on science fiction and it is as dreamy as you would expect.

Crystal Swan (Darja Zuk, 2018). From Belarus, a very strong story about a young woman in 1990s Minsk trying to finagle her way to a travel visa for the USA, a process made difficult by bureaucracy and local customs. In the old arthouse world, this kind of movie could be a hit, given a determined Jeff Dowd-like publicist and the right critical support. It’s the Belarus submission to the Oscars, anyway.

Person to Person (Dustin Guy Defa, 2017). In some ways this is such a “typical Brooklyn indie” that one wants to resist. But the offhand cruise through streets and apartments and record stores is easy to take, and the cast (the main names are Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson) is right on. The movie’s also got an ear for unabashedly “written” dialogue that sounds just a bit like Hal Hartley.


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