The thirteenth installment of our column in which a few of our critics discuss the films they’re most looking forward to being released in theaters or for the first time on Blu-ray during the coming month.
Ian Floodgate: January gets 2018 going with some interesting films and the first I would like to look at is Vazante (dir. Daniela Thomas). It’s a period foreign language film set in Brazil in 1821. The story centers around a cattle-owner (Adriano Carvalho) and his life after the death of his wife from childbirth. The film also includes a look at slavery.
When watching the trailer there were two things that intrigued me about it. The first being that it is a black and white film. I love films that use black and white because of the light and shadows it creates that are not always noticeable in color. The second is that the film comes across as a western. It appears to have some enthralling cinematography. Even the minute and a half trailer I watched had enough suspense in it to get me hooked.
Dalton Mullins: Vazante does look to be a very distinctive and striking film. I have always enjoyed films that had great cinematography and striking imagery. This is also the first film that director Daniela Thomas has directed by herself. This film looks like it could announce a new talent that we should watch out for. Vazante looks to be a very suspenseful film, one that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of the film. I highly anticipate this film.
Ian: Another feature directorial debut this month comes from Sam Hoffman and his film Humor Me. Hoffman’s most notable credits up until this point are serving as a producer on films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. If Humor Me is anything like those it should be an interesting watch.
Dalton: Humor Me looks to be an interesting film, if it is anything like Moonrise Kingdom or The Darjeeling Limited, we are in for a treat. I also am a fan of the two main actors. Jemaine Clement is one of the most underrated comic and voice actors working today. I’m happy to see Elliot Gould get back in the saddle again. Gould, to me, never got enough attention. He was great in all of Robert Altman‘s films and was delightful in Friends. Humor Me is definitely an interesting film to keep an eye out for.
Ian: Lover for a Day treats us to two foreign language films this month that is in black and white.
It comes from veteran French director Philippe Garrel. This is the final film in his trilogy of love following Jealousy and In the Shadow of Women. Lover for a Day tells the story a young woman’s (Esther Garrel) return home from a relationship break up only to find her father (Éric Caravaca) is dating one of his students (Louise Chevillotte). This sounds like an intriguing situation to explore on film. I often find French cinema doesn’t shy away from looking at controversial relationships. The character exploration in dramatic French films is generally captivating as well which makes them quite absorbing to watch.
Dalton: I’m actually very excited for Lover for a Day. I’ve been excited for the film since I heard all the great buzz it was receiving in Cannes. French cinema has always intrigued me because it is so different from American cinema because, as you said, French cinema doesn’t shy away from controversial relationships. Lover for a Day not only looks like it boasts some powerful performances, but it also looks great too. The black and white cinematography makes the story seem timeless. After all of the festival buzz it received, Lover for a Day should be a captivating watch.
The film centers on the welfare system in Britain and title character played by Dave Johns. Daniel has difficulty finding work as well as gaining financial support leaving him in limbo. He also befriends Katie (Hayley Squires) a young woman who experiences similar problems.
Being a Brit myself I understand how frustrating the welfare system is within the country. I’m pleased this film has been made in hope of challenging the way things are run. I’m also familiar with the city it is shot and set in. It’s a working-class part of the country with a vast majority of the population there opposed to many of the current government’s policies.
Dalton: I, Daniel Blake is definitely a provocative film. I can see how it would cause anger in a part of the population. I heard the film also has two great performances from Squires and Johns and that always excites me when lesser-known and unknown actors get to show their talent. I do enjoy fact that Criterion is releasing it because not only do we get an important, award-winning film, but the DVD or Blu-ray will come packed with bonus features. This will make a nice addition to the Collection.
Ian: Indeed, and hopefully the bonus material included in the release of Young Mr. Lincoln (dir. John Ford) features stories about the production of the film since there are a number of interesting aspects there to explore.
The film features Henry Fonda in the title role depicting a fictional retelling of Abraham Lincoln’s youth. The film shows his meeting with Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver) and life as a lawyer, in particular the case defending two men accused of murder. It’s also directed by the prolific John Ford and the film’s screenplay was Oscar-nominated back in 1940.
Dalton: John Ford is one of my favorite directors of the Golden Age of Hollywood and I have always felt that Young Mr. Lincoln is one of his most underrated films. The restoration of this film looks great and so does the performance by Fonda. This film needs more attention than it gets and hopefully this release earns the film further attention.