FIN-AIFF 2018 quick-hit must-see picks

An Elephant Sitting Still

The “2018 FIN Atlantic International Film Festival” (I think you’re supposed to shout “FIN!!” when saying the name) is upon us and, well, people keep asking me if I have any must-sees, so instead of giving you well-thought-out reasons to see them, I will just vomit the list, thusly:

  • Ash Is Purest White (Zhangke Jia, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 3pm Sunday, 150 minutes) — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: “Jia Zhang-ke was never going to make a conventional jianghu underworld movie… this typically unhurried, long-span drama is very much of a piece with the Chinese auteur’s contemplative body of work… provides a transfixing leading role for Jia’s wife and indispensable muse Zhao Tao.”
  • An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 7pm Sunday, 230 minutes) — Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter: “The film attained instant cult status among critics at the Berlinale, where it premiered in the Forum sidebar, because of the suicide of its 29-year-old novelist-turned-director Hu Bo last October. Finished by a team convened by China’s FIRST Film Festival… Elephant has taken on another layer of mystique because of its daunting, nearly four-hour running time.”
  • 3 Faces (Jafar Panahi, in Persian with English subtitles, 6pm Tuesday, 100 minutes) — I don’t really understand how Jafar Panahi is both still under Tehran house arrest and shooting this on location, but, ok. Also this film has been critiqued as being too much like Abbas Kiarostami. I am also ok with this.
  • Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, in Japanese with English subtitles, 9:20pm Tuesday, 121 minutes) — If the simple fact that it’s Kore-eda doesn’t convince you, perhaps a gentle reminder that this one won the Palme D’Or.
  • Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, in Polish, French, German, Croatian, Italian, Russian with English subtitles, 9:20pm Wednesday, 88 minutes) — If the language credit doesn’t win you over I don’t know what will.
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