Another dispatch from our correspondent Monica Castillo
covering the New York Film Festival. Her take on four more provocative films:
"Our Children" explores an
interesting concept -- if you can stomach it. Boy meets girl, gets married,
moves in with the groom's dad, and makes many adorable children. Sadly, after a
claustrophobic life without any help, Murielle (Émilie Dequenne) finds a way
out by murdering her kids (not a spoiler, you see their coffins in the first
few minutes). The director Joachim Lafosse explained that he wanted to explore
what would drive an otherwise loving mother to do such a thing. He studied up
on untreated postpartum depression and turned
it into a tension-filled movie about a woman on the edge. When the deed
happens, even though it's no surprise, it is still shocking. Mercifully, the
film doesn't show any dead children.
Not sensational enough? Next comes the hotly anticipated "The
Paperboy" from Lee Daniels.
among my fellow seatmates was divided, but during the q & a Daniels was
patient enough to explain several of the most difficult parts of the movie,
which involves a boy falling in love with an older woman who's engaged to a
convict she's never met while a murder mystery is being investigated by a pair
of journalists from the big city. This convoluted melodrama takes place in a swampy,
1960s south Florida
in the midst of growing racial tension. I felt as if it tried too hard to be
too many things: exploitative but serious, realistic but over-the-top. And to
think that Daniels originally set off to make a biopic of Martin Luther King,
Jr., and ended up taking the reins of "The Paperboy" from Pedro Almodovar.
For different kind of
romantic, and real life melodrama I watched a cheeky Italian documentary from Francesco Patierno
that clocked in under an hour. "The War of the Volcanoes" follows the love triangle between director Roberto Rossellini, his longtime
lover and diva Anna Magnani, and actress Ingrid Bergman.
Yes, that Bergman,
fame. Once Bergman and Rossellini embark on a project on one of the volcanic Aeolian islands, the jealous Magnani sets up her own
production on a neighboring island with a story that's strangely familiar. It's
a lover's spat of cinematic proportions, complete with behind the scenes
footage, old-school paparazzi pictures, and tongue-in-cheek narration.
To finish off the night, I caught the "Punk in Africa" documentary
from director Keith Jones as part of the NYFF's spotlight on the arts.
Well-structured and informative, while playfully anarchic, the documentary
retraces the birth of an anti-establishment and anti-apartheid movement in the
grimy clubs of South Africa.
Survivors recount the glory days of getting raided by the cops and the reasons
why they joined the movement. The documentary also followed through to the
present day, to African punk, reggae, and ska bands who are still preaching the
anti-establishment, anti-war, and anti-racist message from before. For the most
part, the film rarely leaves South Africa and does not include a single female
musician as a commentator, despite mentioning a couple of all-female or
female-fronted groups. Perhaps this was for time constraints but I would have
loved to have found out about a Riot Grrrl response out in South Africa.