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 Kurz' Excursions Into Film Film Film at the 2012 IFFR 
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Kurz' excursions into film film film at the
International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR)


I'm currently sequestered and sometimes travelling to the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. I want to write about this festival here, but since I'm also already writing for a Dutch website and with the travel and the actual film watching, I'm not sure yet how much time I'll be able to put in reviews in English. But I thought I'd give it a shot and wanted to keep them all in one thread. Tonight I'll have some time, but after that we'll have to see.

The IFFR is a film festival that is not necessarily about the big films. It's awards, the Tiger Awards, are awarded to first or second films of directors, to encourage young talent in a world where beginning artist struggle to get films made. Hence, a lot of the program is dedicated to new films of filmmakers who aren't yet established from all over the world. But there are also retrospectives of old films, and a lot of films by established or known international directors, and even some from Hollywood occassionally (if the film fits a certain program or theme, or just to boost ticket sales a bit). Some films will screen nationwide later in the year or even next year, some will never be seen or heard from again.

This year, I'm trying to catch a bit of all these different options, from the new Scorsese that's nominated for over ten Oscars to a 1951 Lettrist manifesto, from old Finnish entertainment to the first film of a young Brazilian who's already being compared to Bela Tarr.

Edit: damnit, on my laptop the envisioned layout with the three pictures next together doesn't work at all...

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:12 am
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eww, movies

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:17 am
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Trip wrote:
eww, movies

They're FILMS.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:18 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
They're FILMS.

x3

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:20 am
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Trip wrote:
x3

<3

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:22 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
<3

8====D ~~~ ((

Oh look, Kurz is here.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:25 am
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:up:

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:31 am
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Looking forward to this :fresh:
Also, the layout aka the pictures look fine from my laptop.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:42 am
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Mine is tiny, so the third is below the others instead of them all nice in a row.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:49 am
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:heart:

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:49 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
Mine is tiny, so the third is below the others instead of them all nice in a row.

Nah, looks fine.

Should look okay on most resolutions, besides perhaps 800x600.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:50 am
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Yeah, it only looks bad if you're poor. Don't worry, Kurz.


Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:16 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Nah, looks fine.

Should look okay on most resolutions, besides perhaps 800x600.

Heh, I've got 1024x600 on my netbook. It was a surprise after the draft version made on my PC.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:50 am
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I'll be reading. Kurz is lovely

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:55 am
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Write something already... gezzzz!


Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:22 am
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The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-Soo, South-Korea, 2011)

Apparently I once saw a Hong film the first time I went to the IFFR fulltime, but I don't remember it at all. So, in a way, this is a renewed introduction for me, and I like the cut of this guy's jib. A director who doesn't make films anymore returns to Seoul and lives through a series of variations on the same encounters and events. Even he himself is vague about whether or not these recurring scenes are new to him everytime, although at times he does display some knowledge of 'past' events. The whole film has a cyclical feel about it, these rituals of drinking and talking that get repeated in the same places, sometimes with different or just more people. I got the feeling that some scenes where just shot several times but instead of using one take, Hong just used put them all in his film. Shot in black and white so soft it's almost grey, the film never outstays it's welcome with its 80 minutes runtime, so even though we watch repetitions this charming film stops before those become the variations stop becoming fresh.

Oh, and it's nothing like the trailer, that was just a scene from the film played backwards.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:57 am
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So looking forward to this.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:04 am
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Ace Attorney (Miike Takashi, Japan, 2012)

The world premiere! So Miike himself was present to tell us before the film to not expect lactating breasts and bloody appendages, but to look at his latest (well, technically he's made one since already that will be released in Japan in a few months...) with innocent eyes. For it is an adaptation of the popular game of the same name, which is evident from the insane outfits, hairdo's and behavior of most characters in the movie. The main character has to argue and investigate several courtcases at once (they're all connected). Crazy animations and situations keep the courtroom proceedings entertaining, and hilarious from start to finish. Evidence in the courtroom is introduced by way of big floating sci-fi screens in the middle of the courtroom, and the lawyers frequently throw these at eachother. I laughed a lot. May be the best game adaptation yet, though the bar for that is not that high. A friend of mine told me it's really faithful to boot. Afterwards Miike answered a lot of questions that I've already forgotten, but I do remember that he said this relatively new, less 'edgy' (read: less lactation and menstruation in people's faces) phase of his career is his way of branching out in new territory.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:11 am
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Hugo (Martin Scorsese, USA, 2011):

At first I thought it was weird that the new Scorsese was screening at this festival, but having seen this love letter to early cinema it makes sense. Also, it's part of a program that also features a newly restored color version of A Trip To The Moon and a documentary on that restoration. I really liked how Scorsese shows himself a master of digital cinema yet at the same time uses that to remind us of the wonders of old analogue films. I loved everything about this movie but the 3D, which I had mixed feelings about. Some great compositions sure, but at times with people in the foreground you get that annoying 'diorama effect' where I feel I'm just looking at flat layers, with each layer looking much more 2D than a rounded 3D figure would look in 2D... But besides that it was a very lovely film that looked absolutely gorgeous, in which I loved not only the cinema stuff but also the sentimental kids stuff, save a few too literal lines which kids would probably never articulate. A pleasure.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:36 am
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Wow, we've got festivals going on worldwide right now! Thanks for keeping us up to date on this one, Colonel.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:51 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
Ace Attorney (Miike Takashi, Japan, 2012)

Any obvious similarities to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, given that the Pilgrim flick isn't based on a video game?

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:53 am
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I'm glad I saw Hugo in 2D.

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Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:50 am
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dreiser wrote:
I'm glad I saw Hugo in 2D.

It's great in 3D. I don't agree with Kurz's complaint at all.


Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:54 am
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Great start, Kurz, and thanks for doing this! I'm really looking forward to that Hong, and the Miike sounds fun. I didn't have any problems with the 3D in Hugo. I thought it was lovely.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:48 am
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Sudoeste (Eduardo Nunes, Brazilië, 2011):

I always try to watch at least a few Tiger nominees (see opening post) and this Brazilian debut feature was the first this year. Director Eduardo Nunes is already being compared to Bela Tarr, and the beautiful black & white cinematography, compositions, frequent shots of cracked walls and the like, and the ever present sound of wind and rain do have a touch of Tarr. What's different though is the way Nunes favors magic over reality. There are people leading their normal everyday lives, but the main character is a woman born from a dead mother, who goes from baby to kid to teenager to adulthood over the course of one day, only noticing. The title is telling: there's no actual southwest in Brazil, so the location of the film is already mystical. There's a cyclical nature to the story – The actress who playes Clarice as a young woman also plays the dead mother in the opening scene. The languid pace and long takes complement the Brazil atmosphere and the tragic beauty of the narrative. Other nice touches are the way a lake seems vast and enormous in the beginning of the film, but when Clarice is a woman it turns out not be big at all. And the image of a lone hut on said lake burning down is unforgettable.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:06 am
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Traité de Bave et d'Éternité (Isidore Isou, France, 1951):

Wow, I don't know where to start with this one. A film manifest dedicated to the breaking down of film language in order to build a new one, with Lettrist chants/poems brutally attacking full frontal at first, and then receding into background noise – I thought it would become annoying, but in moments of silence I actually started missing the rythmic shouts. Isou has an enormous ego, but luckily also has a sense of humor about that, such as wehen claiming that everything in the film is original – he claims even to have build the part of Paris where the first part of the film is filmed. Sound is never directly connected to image, image is upside down or scratched upon. It's rebel streak can be quite juvenile, but it's youtful rebellion and middlefinger to everything is also part of the fun and charm. For me, the best part is when we see Isou walking through Saint Germain while the at times hilarious audio track is from a meeting where he explains his idea for the film, being frequently interrupted and attacked by his racuous audience. As a whole, it's at times a frustrating and/or tiring experience, but in the end a quite fascinating and rewarding one.

Also fun are some of the stories surrounding the release of the film. During the first screening (organised by Jean Cocteau) a riot with fistfights broke out. As it turns out, Isou himself started the fight by pinching the butt of the theater owner's wife, just so later people would say his film caused riots. At the 1951 Cannes film festival, fellow Lettrists would go to random screenings and start shouting insults at the screen, screaming that it was all old hat and stupid, and that they wanted to see Isou. The mysterious (to the Cannes organisation, that is) 'attacks' resulted in Isou getting his film screened near the end of the festival. Of course many hated it, but Isou anticipates this, as the end credits already contain insults to anyone not responding well to the film.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:08 am
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I'm reading!

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:35 am
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moi aussi.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:54 am
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Sudoeste sounds like a must-see.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:10 am
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Beautiful my friend.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:54 am
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Would've never tried if it wasn't for you.

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:58 pm
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Trip wrote:
Sudoeste sounds like a must-see.

Hope he wins the Tiger.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:04 am
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The Great Northwest (Matt McCormick, 2012, USA):

Basically, this a 70 minute long filmed documentary road trip through the most Northwestern states of America. Except the person travelling is barely seen or heard. Filmmaker Matt McCormick found a scrapbook of a trip four ladies made 50 years ago and decided to follow the book to see what's changed and what stayed the same. He finds tourists everywhere, except in the many near deserted miner and railroad towns. Notable is when he visits Old Faithful, yet never films the geyser, only the rows of gawking tourists waiting for the burst. What makes this documentary most worthwhile are the beautiful (HD?) shots of skies and landscapes. And the longest scene in the movie, when McCormick has to drive through a herd of cows on the road. Everytime he thinks he can speed up, a cow darts right in front. Interesting if you have an interest in this area or like the look of it.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:14 am
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Play (Ruben Östlund, 2011, Sweden):

Three moderately well to do Swedish boys (two white, one Asian) are harrassed, intimidated and ultimately deftly (without violence or weapons) robbed by five poor black boys. Once again Östlund uses a very distancing style to examine Swedish society, and does so also by throwing in a couple of scenes unrelated to the narrative in which he through dialogue or blatant symbolism ask questions he wants us pondering over that main narrative. Subtle as Nolan and with an alienating style that is at times intriguing but also annoying, Östlunds second film is once again made for people that aren't me. The first mediocre film I've seen at this year's festival.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:18 am
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La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser [The Legend of Kaspar Hauser] (Davide Manuli, 2012, Italy):

After the last film, this was a shot in the arm. Nonsensical, hilarious and utter lunacy. This is a long way from Werner Herzog's version of the tale of Kaspar Hauser. Here Kaspar is played by a mostly topless woman, though everybody calls her 'boy', and always has headphones with a loose cord hanging from it. Kaspar washes up on the beach of a mysterious, barren Italian island which looks like the locale for a Spaghetti Western. A sheriff, the only American character in the film who gnaws a 'yeah' before and after every sentence, trains Kaspar to be DJ. He is of course played by Vincent Gallo, who also plays his Italian motorcycle helm clad twin brother. Kaspar is almost always dancing or rythmically moving, and Gallo often busts a move too, to the techno of Vitalic that dominates the film. The film mostly consists of surreal conversations and dance scenes, all in very long takes in black and white. Refreshing and at times incredibly funny.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:24 am
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A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg/Merchant/Ivory):

This wasn't as bad as I feared it would be, but it wasn't exactly good either. For a film about Jung and Freud, this remains quite shallow and basic when it comes to psychoanalysis, and since it seems to be all about conversations about this very subject... It's interesting even as a cursory glance into this world, though, but not that much. The dramatic parts hardly work at all. The only time Cronenberg's usual obsession with the body was visible in this film was in Knightley's confession and in some of the subsequent sex, but it was more like lipservice to Cronenberg than actual Cronenberg.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:40 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser [The Legend of Kaspar Hauser] (Davide Manuli, 2012, Italy):

Nonsensical, hilarious and utter lunacy.


Sounds marvelous.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:46 am
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Discouraging about Play. I'll be giving it a shot during GFF because it's showing for free for some reason.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:48 am
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Another must-see. This thread is super helpful.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:48 am
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Spengo wrote:
Discouraging about Play. I'll be giving it a shot during GFF because it's showing for free for some reason.

I get the sense that mine could be the minority opinion on that one, so if it's free... did you like Involuntary, his first film?

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:06 am
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Trip wrote:
Another must-see. This thread is super helpful.

I got a slight Jodorowsky vibe from it at times. But, y'know, without all the religion and spirituality stuff, or the colors.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:07 am
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I've not seen it. Or even heard of it before now.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:08 am
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I heard about it, like, this morning, in the 88 Takes thread heh.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:09 am
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Yeah, I just saw that. I guess Play has long takes as well.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:11 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
The Great Northwest (Matt McCormick, 2012, USA):

What makes this documentary most worthwhile are the beautiful (HD?) shots of skies and landscapes.


Montana's "Big Sky Country" nickname is well earned.

Totally agree with your Cronenberg assessment, btw.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:57 am
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Involuntary is great. Looking forward to Play.

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So many of these sound wonderful, nice job so far.


Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:54 pm
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Post Re: Kurz' Excursions Into Film Film Film at the 2012 IFFR

Les géants [The Giants] (Bouli Lanners, Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2011):

In the languid summer of the Ardennes mountains, three teenage boys have been left to their own devices and they're full of mischief: smoking weed, joyriding and stealing food. With no money they have to fend for themselves, but this is not a sad tale of young woe, although there is plenty of hurt to go around. The tone and atmosphere, not to mention the disposition of the guys, are different. Dry, absurd humor and a touch of magic realism keep this film in which the boys lose their home to a drugsdealer light and almost like a fairytale at times (there's a part which sort of plays out like three little pigs versus a mean wolf). Glorious guitar picking on the soundtrack and good cinematography of the Ardennes landscape keeps the meandering movie glide along easy.

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Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:59 am
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Post Re: Kurz' Excursions Into Film Film Film at the 2012 IFFR

Alps (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece, 2011:)

Much more absurdism in this merciless allegory for a country gone crazy with roleplaying, lies and unrealistic expectations. The Alps are four people that for a fee pretend to be a recently deceased loved one, 'to help with the grieving' – but does it really do any good? Like in Lanthimos' previous film Dogtooth there are a lot of weird, dubious relationships and power dynamics that are always twirling, twirling towards freedom-er, I mean insanity. Equally hilarious and disturbing, with now familiar wry dialogue, Lanthimos proves his first was no fluke. In fact, this one might be even better than his first.

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Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 am
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Post Re: Kurz' Excursions Into Film Film Film at the 2012 IFFR

That's great to hear! I just found out today that I'll have a chance to see that in a few weeks, so color me excited.


Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:12 am
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