1. Crimes of the Future– “I don’t like what’s happening with the body. In particular, what’s happening with my body, which is why I keep cutting it up.”
Saul Tenser, an artist of the near future, does not feel pain. He eats plastic to survive. His body automatically grows new organs, which his collaborator and lover Caprice surgically removes in front of an audience.
This premise is so Cronenbergian that mentioning who directed it may seem beside the point. However, David Cronenberg’s first film in nearly a decade takes his usual artistic obsessions to sparse aesthetic extremes. Set in a drab world of near-apocalyptic ruin, Crimes of the Future is populated with clashing ideologies over how to deal with these evolving bodies. There is a governmental office dedicated to tracking new organs, and radical evolutionists who want to modify their own digestive systems. Amid this flurry of pleasingly grotesque world-building is Cronenberg’s most romantic movie since 1996’s Crash. Saul and Caprice (Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux) are lovers at the end of the world, creating art not out of pain but its absence. A lack of physical sensation has driven them to surgical extremes, and who can blame them?
2. In Front of Your Face– The prolific director Hong Sang-soo directed two of the best films I saw this year. The first is In Front of Your Face, a deeply affecting portrait of an actress (Lee Hye-yeoung) who has returned to Seoul after years in the U.S. to visit old friends and family as well as meet a promising young director who wants her to return to acting in his new film. Filled with long, meandering conversations that gradually unveil profound emotional truths (Hong’s signature), scenes from this film, and Lee’s striking performance, replayed in my mind long after it ended.Continue reading