3 items from 2017
Popular philosopher Alain de Botton once propounded the theory that road rage is the result of an overly optimistic nature: The pessimist expects traffic to be terrible and other drivers to be idiots, and so doesn’t experience the same outbursts of frustration and despair as the optimist. Bulgarian director Stephan Komanderev’s largely road-bound “Directions,” an ensemble drama of vignettes that explores the fissures and crevices in modern Bulgarian society through a series of taxi rides, might well have been founded on this counterintuitive principle. Indeed at one point a character remarks offhandedly: “Bulgaria is a country of optimists. All the pessimists and realists left long ago.” Yet for a place full of optimists, there sure is a lot of trauma around — suicide, ill health, economic desolation, political disenchantment, social stratification — all of which Komandarev’s clever, fleet-footed film observes with poignant accuracy and flashes of wry humor.
- Jessica Kiang
The award is presented to an AFI alumnus who embodies the qualities of Schaffner — “talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality storytelling in film and television.” Schaffner earned 28 Academy Award nominations during his 40-year career.
Elmes graduated from AFI in 1972 and received his first credit on David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” in 1977. He went on to work on Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” in 1986 and “Wild at Heart” in 1990. He won Independent Spirit Awards back to back years for “Wild at Heart” and Jim Jarmush’s “Night on Earth.”
- Dave McNary
Even when you live in Los Angeles, as I do, if you’re not in the network of critics groups and press screening and screener DVDs it can be a challenge to keep up with everything you tell yourself you have to see before attempting an informed roundup of the year currently in the rearview mirror. And I also try to not let more than a couple of weeks of the new year go by before checking in, regardless of how many of the year’s big presents I have left to unwrap, though in past years I have not lived well by this dictum—let’s just say that if I’m still posting stuff on the year’s best after even Oscar has thoroughly chewed over the goods, as has happened in the past, well, I’ve overstayed my welcome.
2016 was, in most ways, a disaster of a year, »
- Dennis Cozzalio
3 items from 2017
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