There are a number of terrific foreign-language films opening this weekend, May 29th and onward, that I thought I’d alert you to:
Saint Laurent (France, 2014) opens at the Landmark Century and River East 21 in Chicago. It’s Bertrand Bonello’s dense and brilliant survey of the designer Yves Saint Laurent during the late sixties and seventies. “Throughout the film we have an elemental, aesthetic and emotional understanding of why Saint Laurent’s work really was that good, and why, despite his demons (and a penchant for dismissive cruelty) he was an important and admirable guy, without having to wade through a guide to fashion history and clothing construction, and without needing a lot of the characters’ behavior overtly spelled out or explained for us. Bonello is superb at picking which sequence of seemingly secondary events, both narrative and/or emotional, will string together to create far more resonance than a more conventionally-constructed biographical outline.”
Amour Fou (Germany /Austria, 2014) begins a weeklong run at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Jessica Hausner’s film concerns the oddly morbid courtship between the German writer Heinrich Von Kleist and admiring housewife Henriette Vogel. “The film sounds, in description, like a very dry chamber drama, and on the surface it is. But it’s also a sly dark comedy… Underneath Jessica Hausner’s hermetically sealed and varnished presentations of placid elegance, symmetrical composition and delicate tints of color, Classicism and Romanticism violently flail away at each other.”
Ingo Haeb’s recent film The Chambermaid (Das Zimmermädchen Lynn) (Germany, 2014) opens for screening at Facets Cinematheque; “a somewhat Buñuelian escapade about a mild-mannered young woman who empowers herself to do the things that make her happy. The sunny and colorful surfaces involve the exploration of some mildly kinky fetishism, but in adapting Markus Orths’ German-language novel, Haeb and his wonderful lead actress, Vicky Krieps, fill the quirky and darkly humorous events with astonishing psychological acuity and empathy.” Vicky Krieps gives my favorite performance this year so far.
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata are the legendary masters of feature-length animation at Japan’s Studio Ghibli. Among their heirs apparent is Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who debuted with the well-received The Secret World Of Arrietty (2010). His new effort, When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー) (Japan, 2014), opens at the Landmark Century; it will be very beautiful, and will no doubt require the use of your handkerchiefs.