NYFF60 review from Unseen Films: ‘NO BEARS’

NO BEARS

Jafar Panahi travels to a border town in order to direct a movie remotely. The actors and film crew are across the border and are taking directions via Zoom.  As Panahi struggles to get the film finished he becomes involved with two sets of lovers, two of the actors, and two people in the village where he is staying. Both pairs want to flee to somewhere safe, something that might not be possible

Panahi is not loved by the Iranian government. As this film was hitting the festival circuit the director was being put into prison. Prior to that, they had tried to restrict his ability to make films but he managed to work around the obstructions. The result has been a unique series of films where the filmmaker is the subject and the films transcend the notion of autobiographical cinema.
This time out Panahi has made one of his most affecting films. Forget his personal situation, this story of life in a small town and in a repressive country will leave you shattered at the end. Panahi is juggling a lot of balls in the air and manages to manipulate them perfectly. First, we have his situation which is basically hiding out in a small town to make a movie he shouldn’t be making. In showing us what it takes to make his film we see how the small minds of the village express an openness that really isn’t. there This ties into the story of one of the couples, a doomed romance Panahi captures in a photo, that everyone wants to see, but which he deletes and denies having. It seems the young woman has been promised since birth to someone she doesn’t love and that someone needs proof to hurt the girl’s true love.  At the same time, the lead couple in Pahani’s film is making a film based on their lives and their efforts to flee to the West. However, the need for official documents complicates things. All of the threads end in darkness for the characters and soul-searching for the audience.
I love Panahi’s films. I make every effort to see everyone I can because he always speaks a truth that needs to be heard. I also find that how he is forced to make films ends up making films that are much more real than if he were making just a straight narrative.  They are so much more interesting because we have to think about how he did what is up on the screen. His are films that are alive and in the moment.
I was rocked by this film. I did not expect the turns, and yet every one is perfectly placed.
One of the best films I saw at this year’s New York Film Festival, it is a must for anyone who loves humanity.

 

For more of Steve’s NYFF60 coverage and all the rest of the movies in the world, (because the man is a machine) head to Unseen Films.


SXSW 2021 reviews: ‘Language Lessons’ translates universally, and ‘Violet’ silences the voices that haunt us.

LANGUAGE LESSONS

A Spanish teacher and her student develop an unexpected friendship.

Unique, shocking, insightful, complex, beautiful, these are a few words that describe one of the best films from this year’s SXSW virtual festival. Two strangers become connected through chance and a gift of Spanish lessons. Cariño and Adam communicate through zoom, voicemail, genuine human connection. Mark Duplass plays Adam. Unsurprising that he is completely natural and down to earth. You’re instantly enamored with his performance. Natalie Morales is charming and honest. She’s funny and relatable. Their chemistry is the stuff of movie magic.  I would love to see them paired up again and again. They completely work around the entire subject of Covid. This could be happening at any point in time and that’s nice to feel right now. Ultimately, this screenplay is about the human spirit without a filter. Written by Morales and Duplass, and directed by Morales, Language Lessons is profound and revealing. It will touch you in ways you won’t expect. If you are looking to understand a new language, consider help from this experts in B2B transcriptions.

 

VIOLET

A film development executive realizes that “guiding voice” inside her head has been lying to her about everything.

I don’t know if a film could be any more relatable to everyone. My husband used to point out how negatively I spoke about myself. Once I noticed the self-deprecating behavior, I started noticing my mother doing the same thing. It’s a learned behavior. One we permit to exist. Olivia Munn, who wowed me back in The Newsroom, represents so many of us. This issue is ageless, ingrained, suffocating. Her vulnerability and honesty shine and we’re better for it. Justin Theroux‘s voice acting is the dickheaded tone we all know too well. What a fantastic choice. The internal battle of never feeling like we’re enough is universal. In Violet, the visual juxtaposition of handwritten thoughts, like a right-brain/left-brain battle, and Theroux as “The Voice” is perfection. When you finally catch onto the overall picture, it’s really quite genius. It’s telegraphed without our knowledge early on. Writer-director Justine Bateman nails her feature debut. What a complex and carefully curated script. Women, in particular, are going to be locked into this film.