One of the things to look forward to every year with the Cinema One Originals Festival is the selection of world cinema they bring in; for some of these acclaimed films it’s the only chance Philippine audiences will get to see them in theaters. Here are a few of the highlights:
Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” shows why it won best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; such an exercise of control and restraint might make other films feel airless but Sciamma lets outbreaks of emotion crash through as necessary, and this lesbian romance of longing and sacrifice is an artful example of what you can do with only a handful of elements, carefully and expertly deployed.
Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” is an acting showcase for Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, another example of two actors in a confined space being allowed to let ’er rip (in Dafoe’s case, including the occasional offensive fart). Madness descends upon two isolated lighthouse keepers. Claustrophobic, unsettling, with gorgeous sound, it’ll have you paranoid and questioning your own sanity at certain points.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “The Truth” sees the maestro working in France with some heavyweights: Catherine Deneuve stars as a legendary actress in her twilight years who’s just put out her memoir, Juliette Binoche plays her daughter, upset about its lies. Ethan Hawke plays the daughter’s husband. His follow- up since winning last year’s Palme d’Or with “Shoplifters,” Kore-eda maintains his carefully observed moments that betray characters’ inner feelings in a rumination of memory and legacy, and finds his material translating well into other languages and cultures.
The 30-year-old prolific multiple threat Xavier Dolan writes, directs, edits and stars in “Matthias & Maxime,” his eighth film. A look at hidden, bubbling feelings among two adult men who’ve been friends since high school, it lacks focus and clarity and doesn’t earn its ending, though there are powerful and moving sequences scattered throughout. Wish it was clearer about what story it really wants to tell, and got to that point faster.