3 items from 2017
2017 may have just begun, but it already has its first superlative motion picture release. And no, sadly, it’s not the thirty-seventh (give or take) entry in the Underworld franchise. Instead, it comes from the art film world, and specifically one of world cinema’s most interesting directors working today.
After a little over a decade of finding niche pockets of support in niche pockets of film intellectual circles, 2014 gave director Eugene Green one of his most successful outings. The superlative La Sapienza in many ways introduced the auteur to a much broader selection of cineastes, and with actor Fabrizio Rongione once again by his side Green has made yet another skeletal, beautifully crafted drama.
Entitled The Son Of Joseph, Green’s film riffs on the nativity story, telling the story of a Parisian teen by the name of Vincent (Victor Ezenfis). Living with his single mother Marie, a nurse played by Natacha Regnier, »
- Joshua Brunsting
We’re introduced to the protagonist of Son of Joseph as he silently observes the tortured of a trapped rat. Two of his schoolmates jab thin steel pins at the frightened rodent. “Try to poke one of its eyes out” one urges. “I can’t, he’s too clever,” the other replies. Our hero promptly leaves, finding himself to have more in common with the rat than his supposed friends.
If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Eugène Green you have a weird road ahead of you. He’s an American-born French filmmaker with a tendency towards brain numbingly glacial pacing, intentionally monotone performances, compositions static to the point of fossilization and characters who generally end scenes by gazing blankly into the lens. His style is definitely an acquired taste, catering for those with reservoirs of patience and the ability to tolerate some pretty artsy fartsy filmmaking.
Our lonely »
- David James
American-born French director Eugène Green is known as a practitioner of the Baroque theater technique, in particular his ability to translate that tradition into cinematic form. If that sounds like a hard sell, you’ve never seen a Eugene Green movie.
Despite their cerebral foundations (long pauses, stilted line reading), Green’s movies are characterized by dry humor and emotion that creeps into richly conceived stories. Using classic art as his backdrop, Green reshapes it into engaging new forms. “The Portuguese Nun” was a humorous look at an attempt to adapt a 17th century novel, and his marvelous “La Sapienza” followed the relatable plight of a modern architect against the backdrop of post-Renaissance architecture. Both movies manage to transform their topics into storytelling devices with unexpected twists.
With “Son of Joseph,” Green uses a 17th century biblical painting by Carvaggio to animate the contemporary tale of an angsty teen searching »
- Eric Kohn
3 items from 2017
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