Jonathan Rosenbaum, critic (joinathanrosenbaum.net) and sometime educator (FilmFactory, KinoKlub in Split), United States
The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh, 2022
Memoria, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021
Men, Alex Garland, 2022
Potemkinistii, Radu Jude, 2022
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021
I have conflicted relations to all five – even Memoria, the only one I’ve seen twice and which I’m still trying to understand. The Jude film is a short, and the Hamaguchi feature beautifully juxtaposes three formally and thematically related shorts.
The Banshees is the first McDonagh film I’ve halfway liked–much as Tár, its big-city near-equivalent in social critique, is the first Todd Field film I’ve halfway liked. But the facile defeatism of both features depresses me: small-town stupidity and brutality motored by a colossal sense of entitlement, big-city smarts comparably preening and braying through the brutality of celebrity culture. Both register like bad jokes told with enough sarcastic relish and wit to make them sporadically blossom out of their gnarled bitterness into something resembling good jokes
American: An Odyssey to 1947, Danny Wu, 2022. This documentary about Orson Welles’ politics in the 30s and 40s doesn’t even have a distributor yet, but it taught me a lot. If I had room for a short, I’d include Nisam je stigao voljeti/I Didn’t Get to Love Her (2022) by Anna Fernandez, a former FilmFactory student who shot it in Sarajevo but edited it years later in Spain, especially for its rhythm and framing.
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg, 2022. Not my favorite Spielberg, but the nerviest. Ross Lipman’s The Case of the Vanishing Gods is almost as nervy and every bit as scary.
The Runner, Amir Naderi, 1984. My best guess as to why this remarkable and innovative autobiographical feature was held up for 38 years: the need to clear various song rights.