What to see at this year’s New Directors/New Films

One of the crazier sights in "The Act of Killing," screening at the latest New Directors/New Films Credit: Joshua Oppenheimer
One of the crazier sights in “The Act of Killing,” screening at the latest New Directors/New Films
Credit: Joshua Oppenheimer

Emerging — or sometimes only semi-recently established — talent are the bread and butter of “New Directors/New Films,” the series that presents tomorrow’s filmmaking greats, now in its 42nd year. Films from all over the world appear in its latest iteration, at the Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, with sights ranging from on-the-loose raccoons to graphic murders recreated by old men. Click here for the full schedule.

‘The Act of Killing’
In 1965 and 1966, an estimated half a million died in the wake of a failed coup in Indonesia. The surly men who committed some of these graphic murders are still around and, when pressed, not only casually remorseless but boastful of their bloody handiwork. Director Joshua Oppenheimer skips a conventional approach, instead asking them to recreate their deeds in sometimes outlandish ways, as well as getting them comfortable enough to say some of the least humane sentences ever uttered on film. Going from nightmare to dark comedy and back again, it’s a testament to how when the baddies win, evil simply becomes the norm.

‘A Hijacking’
Tobias Lindholm’s eerily calm hostage drama, culled form an actual case, takes an unsexy look at a hostage situation, methodically telling of a cargo ship seized by pirates. “This could last a month, or a year,” says the pirates’ affable negotiator, and though that estimation may initially sound like hyperbole, it proves not too far off. Lindholm juxtaposes between the increasingly grimy, urine-soaked ship and the existentialist white offices of the corporation, where its robotic CEO slowly malfunctions. Emotions, says one character, lead to mistakes, and this one fumbles only on the few times it goes for anything but the facts.

‘Leones’
Cinematographer Matias Mesa apprenticed on Gus Van Sant’s “Gerry” and “Elephant,” and he works similar wonders on Jazmin Lopez’s debut. His camera stalks, in gliding long takes, a quintet of bored Argentine teens wandering through a forest. Are they lost? What’s with the gash on the one girl’s neck? And will the gun they’ve procured ever go off? As with other ND/NFers (like “Upstream Color” and “Viola”), its crypticism is more playful than impenetrable and, thanks to Mesa, the film is never not arresting — even though, or because, it so rarely lets you in.

‘Tower’
Canadian Kazik Radwanski’s contribution to the “biggest loser” genre (see also: Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse”) boasts a single novel twist: its balding, thirtysomething deadbeat — who lives with his parents, works construction with his uncle and will probably not become a star animator — is actually reasonably social. He’s not great at it, mind, but the fact that he’s trying, and even briefly has a girlfriend (whom he’s not that into) softens the relentless parade of humiliations that befall him. Radwanski aims for the nightmarish claustrophobia of Ronald Bronstein’s no-budget “Frownland,” but has to settle for an aloof tone more in keeping with star Derek Bogart, whose quiet, unambitious frustration makes him a grower.

Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz star in "Upstream Color" Credit: erbp
Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz star in “Upstream Color”
Credit: erbp

‘Upstream Color’
Shane Carruth’s time travel cult monster “Primer” is often mistreated as a mere puzzle. The same has already happened to his belated follow-up, which makes even less sense. Carruth and Amy Seimetz play victims of a violent unknown event, which has something or other to do with inchworms and pigs. What follows makes a kind of sense while it flickers in front of you, even if it’s impossible to summarize after. But even amidst the confusion there emerges a potent and weirdly gutting depiction of conjoined insanity borne out of shared trauma, with characters struggling, like the audience, to grasp onto what’s going on. Just as “Primer” worked even if one couldn’t grok its dense storyline — or even because they couldn’t — “Color” can get to you even if you couldn’t for the life of you tell strangers what it’s about.

‘Viola’
Argentina’s much-liked Mattias Pinero’s latest crams a lot into a mere hour: multiple protagonists, interplay between stage and real life, even plot points borrowed from “Twelfth Night.” The narrative starts as a riff on Jacques Rivette, with actors working on Shakespeare, before residing permanently with someone only tentatively related to the “plot.” Its “meaning” can be elusive, but the moment-by-moment pleasures are not.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Judge holds Amber Hellesten for trial on murder…

Amber Hellesten turns 16 next Wednesday, April 30. It could be her first of many birthdays behind bars.

National

University of New Mexico running back arrested for…

By Joseph J. KolbALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A University of New Mexico football player has been arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a…

National

Teen who stowed away on flight to Hawaii…

By Alex Dobuzinskis(Reuters) - A teenage boy who stowed away on a flight from California to Hawaii in the frozen, oxygen-deprived wheel well of a…

Money

Investing is easier than you think

Easy investing: Everything you need to know about investing, you already do.

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NHL

Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.