Film Comment Selects 2014 offers another grab bag of goodies

A.J. Bowen plays a documentarian encountering a Peoples Temple-esque cult in "The Sacrament." Credit: Magnet Releasing
A.J. Bowen plays a documentarian encountering a Peoples Temple-esque cult in “The Sacrament.”
Credit: Magnet Releasing

For its 14th year, the cinephile magazine Film Comment launches its annual series dedicated to the new, the unearthed and the old. That the series includes the latest Bernardo Bertolucci, a rare Blake Edwards picture and the chance to see Jane Campion’s Netflix hit “Top of the Lake” on a big screen should tell you what you need to know about its singular scope.

‘Cherchez Hortense’ Kristin Scott Thomas claims she’s retiring from acting because she’s bored with it. So get in as much as you can with this French dramedy, in which her duplicitous wife adds to the madness that has engulfed a frustrated academic (Jean-Claude Bacri). Co-written and directed by Jacques Rivette collaborator Pascal Bonitzer, it gains much from Bacri (of “Look at Me), and as his life spins into a series of spinning plates, it finds a tone perched between manic and cool. Tues., Feb. 18, 6:30 p.m. and Tues., Feb. 25, 4:45 p.m.

‘Enemy’ Before they teamed up for “Prisoners,” Jake Gyllenhaal and French-Canadian super-stylist Denis Villeneuve collaborated on this smaller, arguably more OTT effort. Gyllenhaal plays a Toronto depresso who snaps into existential despair when he discovers his much more unpleasant doppelganger. The tale adapts Jose Saramago’s “The Double,” and as with “Blindness,” his philosophical plot machinations don’t take well when made literal on film. Villeneuve tries to make it into a mood piece, which occasionally seeps into parody. But let down your guard and it might whack you on the head. Thurs., Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m.

Joel Edgerton plays a cop who drunkenly ran over a kid in "Felony." Credit: Lincoln Center
Joel Edgerton plays a cop who drunkenly ran over a kid in “Felony.”
Credit: Lincoln Center

‘Felony’ The latest Australian cinema wave has given us murderers, gangsters and psychopaths, so it’s saying something that the nicest protagonist “merely” ran over a kid with his car. Heading home after celebratory drinks, a detective (Joel Edgerton, who also wrote the film) sloppily covers up his crime, then has to fend off his own guilt and a pesky newbie who suspects him. That this truth seeker is a smug jerk dirties up a familiar, if still thoughtful, morality tale, one that questions whether legal punishment does anything at all. Mon., Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m. 

‘The Hospital’/’The Carey Treatment’ The time is ripe to dig up old examples of health care grumbling, few better than 1970’s “The Hospital,” in which screenwriter Paddy Chayevsky — sharpening his knives for “Network” — unleashes bitter doctor George C. Scott on all manner of maladies (and, alas, forces himself on Diana Rigg). “The Carey Treatment,” from 1972, finds director Blake Edwards — soon to resurrect Inspector Clouseau — lending his expert cinemascope camerawork to a silly mystery, albeit with a beyond heavy topic. James Coburn is a renegade pathologist trying to uncover a back-alley abortionist, one year before Roe V. Wade would render much of it a period piece. Tues., Feb. 25, 7:00 p.m.

‘Me and You’ Health problems kept Italian great Bernardo Bertolucci from movies for nine years. His return isn’t monumental: it’s a deceptively plain look at siblings — a grouchy 14 year old and his druggie half-sister — escaping, like the the stars of “The Dreamers,” into a living space removed from the rest of the world. (Here, it’s a dingy basement Bertolucci’s camera has fun getting lost in.) Its findings are modest but deeply felt, and best of all, it slips in David Bowie’s “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola,” his Italian-language version of “Space Oddity” that utterly changes the subject matter from space to heartbreak. Thurs., Feb. 27, 8:30 p.m.

"Our Sunhi," from South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, is about as great as his others. Credit: Lincoln Center
“Our Sunhi,” from South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, is about as great as his others.
Credit: Lincoln Center

‘Our Sunhi’ The joke about South Korean master Hong Sang-soo (“In Another Country”) is he makes the same movie, or at least the same quality of movie. Here, he takes what had become his increasing focus on women and turns it back to callow men, namely three guys who want to possess the titular flibertigibitty film student. She samples their affections — usually, as in all Hongs, over way too many drinks — but the focus isn’t on her doings as much as how each man reads too much into what are relatively minor flirtations. And guess what? It’s incisive, funny, playful and sharp. They all are. Mon., Feb. 17, 9 p.m. and Thurs., Feb. 20, 4:45 p.m.

‘The Sacrament’ Till now Ti West (“House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers”) had cornered the market on a very specific kind of retro horror, one where the build-up and the hang-out time was more important than the requisite thrills. His latest tries for something else: a quasi-found footage film that imagines what would have happened if the hipper-than-thou journos at Vice visited a Peoples Temple-esque cult right before they drank the Kool-Aid (er, Flavor Aid, actually). West’s potshots at the magazine are minimal, almost latent, and it keeps to the story more than you’d think. The Boschian hellscape, when it arrives, is horrific, but it’s little else. Fri., Feb. 21, 8:30 p.m.

‘Wolfsburg’ The rest of the world caught up with German filmmaker Christian Petzold with his “The Postman Always Rings Twice” redux and the East Berlin drama “Barbara.” But he’s been cranking out clinical, stripped-down neo-noirs for ages. One of two oldies on tap, including 2005’s “Ghosts,” this 2003 number shares almost the same premise as “Felony”: a young richie (Benno Furmann) mows over a kid on his bike. But here he befriends the mom (Nina Hoss), leading to a satisfying shock ending. Wed., Feb. 26, 6:00 p.m.

Through Feb. 27
Film Society Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


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