The ten best films of 2021 | Characteristics


6. “It’s not a funeral, it’s a resurrection”

I teach a film language course at New York University, and the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses were conducted remotely. This created arguably inhumane conditions for students calling from Asia or South Asia at 9:30 a.m. EST (do the math). But the participation of students from their home environment was refreshing, because (and this is only something that I had a hunch, I cannot prove anything), they felt freer to be frank and fully. themselves during and after class. Anyway. In the spring, one of my students called from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Extremely well versed in much of the material I was showing, he also expressed his displeasure with the lack of corporate soul in contemporary cinema (not to mention the numbness inherent in much of what is called canon). His film model is the daring Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha.

One day after class, he deplored the absence of a true radical cinema, so I offered him a film. It was the one I had seen at the Venice Biennale, and moreover I weighed in from there, both as a correspondent for RogerEbert.com and a panelist evaluating films commissioned and funded by the Biennale College. When I was asked to describe the College, I tell people it’s kind of like a combination of Sundance Labs and “Project Greenlight”, but without the reality TV component. And a real commitment to internationalism and diversity. One should not take into consideration the circumstances of a film’s production as a review, I often think. But the fact that its director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese made this rich, dense, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes confusing film in less than a year, with a budget of 150,000 euros, testifies not only to his technical ease but also to his passion, of its vision and commitment. . It is the story of a mother and the land to which she is linked – indeed, the tale is not far removed from that of the beautiful and underrated “Wild River” of Elia Kazan – but it’s also about colonialism, injustice, life, and death. One of my observations, writing from Venice, was: “The specificity with which he pursues his most dazzling and hallucinatory vanities is quite surprising. Along with the images, Yo Miyashita’s score and accompanying sound design challenge the conventional language of Western cinema. It is welcome and necessary, I think.

It is therefore the film that I recommended to my pupil: “This is not a funeral, it is a resurrection”. My student happened to have seen it before. But as I said his title, he practically jumped off the chair he was sitting on in Rio. “That’s it! It’s cinema! It’s the only film that does anything new or real!

Then there is your recommendation. (Glenn kenny)


5. “The Green Knight”

Both beautifully dreamlike and grim nightmarish, “The Green Knight” is one of the most confident films of the year, but it’s also incredibly open to interpretation. Writer / director / editor David Lowery offers bold vision in his version of the ancient poem Sir Gauvain and the Green Knight. But while his film takes place in the 14e century, the themes he explores are very contemporary.


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