The 28th edition of L’Étrange Festival ended on Sunday 18 September at the Forum des images, in Paris, devoting “Sick of Myself”, by Kristoffer Borgli. The 2022 vintage was very rich: a delicious mix of genres dear to the organizers. Our favourites.
Inu-Oh by Masaaki Yuasa
How to summarize this animated tale which mixes in the same great crazy movement the Japanese medieval chronicle, the fantastic, the stars of the pop and the biwa hōshi, those blind priests who recited epic poems accompanied by their lute? We know it since Mind Game (2004), director Masaaki Yuasa loves nothing more than exploding the frame to hug whatever comes out of it. Inu-Oh, also selected in the Orizzonti category this year at the Venice Film Festival, is no exception. Frantically, sometimes more loosely, this musical hymn to the marginalized tends to reconcile Ancients and Moderns (“the margin is what holds the pages together”, said Godard), sometimes loses us in a few obsessive fugues but always catches up with us, especially in a moving finale. To the somewhat frozen, almost lazy animation of certain shots, he opposes here the feverish line of an Isao Takahata (extraordinary sequence of “blind” drawings), elsewhere magical and psychic exuberances: here is a marvelous epic that should enter the pantheon of Japanese animation. Inu-Oh will be released in theaters on November 23, 2022.
Assault by Adilkhan Yerzhanov
It’s always a bit the same story in the Kazakh fables of Adilkhan Yerzhanov: the civil servants, from the cops to the teachers, are incompetent, cowardly, corrupt, and most of the time perfectly stupid. This time, his nickel-plated feet are confronted with a hostage-taking as brutal as it is absurd in a lost high school in Turkestan, by masked men without any claim… We quickly make the link (the epigraph invites us to do so) with a certain don’t look up, which satirized our wait-and-see attitude in the face of global warming: caught in the ice, cowardly, intellectually low on the forehead, the heroes ofAssault (twice awarded at the Reims Polar festival in April 2022, and awaiting a release date in France) indeed offer the opportunity for a motionless burlesque to which only a few, mainly women, try to oppose a little meaning and energy. But the countdown that gives shape to the film quickly disappoints the expectations of gloriole and the homage to Carpenter is obvious: the assault of the title is accompanied by the societal pessimism and the stylistic dryness of The Thingin a sadly distressing and evocative final twist.
Rimini by Ulrich Seidl
We weren’t necessarily expecting Ulrich Seidl here, but it’s clear that the director ofImport Export put a lot of water in his wine, or rather in his schnapps, almost risking, in this first part of a diptych on Richie Bravo, an old glory of sentimental song, to a form of tenderness, even emotion sincere. Perhaps at 70 the Austrian provocateur has finally calmed down. Death hovers indeed everywhere in the sinister retirement homes and nothing evokes loneliness better than a seaside resort caught in the winter fog. But there is something endearing about this portrait of a nerdy crooner, gigolo in his spare time with old fans stranded there to escape boredom. Especially since Ulrich Seidl opposes more indistinct interiors to his ever-composed documentary framework, certainly still just as kitsch, but in which a form of resigned hope is invited, especially during unexpected squat scenes. So, even if the filmmaker still believes he has the somewhat silly pretension of “show people as they are” when he is much too insistent, complacent and unequivocal, we are delighted to see that he can also believe in nuance and redemption. Rimini will be released in theaters on November 23, 2022.
Sick of Myself by Kristoffer Borgli
Grand Prize (deserved) of this edition, Sick of Myself, by Kristoffer Borgli (already selected for Un certain regard, at the Cannes Film Festival this year), begins as a delicious farce about celebrity to turn into a rather chilling horrific satire, which a certain David Cronenberg would probably not have denied, less moral ambiguity. Who will take the light and who will benefit from it? This is the whole point of this little ego war between Thomas (Eirik Sæther, remarkably satisfied with a stench) and Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp, overwhelming with narcissism), which will plunge the latter into a nightmare with no return. If we regret a form of linearity in the descent into hell of this drama queen who makes herself ill so that we can talk about her on social networks, it is paradoxically also what gives her strength. The other success of the film is to show empathy without ever completely crushing its characters under the weight of stupidity, where a Ruben Östlund (Without filter, the Palme d’or 2022) would have fun making them easy targets to humiliate. Sick of Myself will be released in theaters on April 12, 2023.
“Attachment”, by Gabriel Bier Gislason
Funny film, touching too, which tilts a banal, very British lesbian romantic comedy into the horror of… Judaic esotericism. The mixture of genres is well suited to the Strange Festival, especially since Kabbalah and its entities are a bit obscure for the general public, even if Dibbouk and Golem are now part of a certain collective imagination. attachment (awaiting a release date in France) is quite clever, which plays on the heroine’s paranoia towards this Orthodox community and its mystique, as could Rosemary’s Baby (1968) with Satanism. The opportunity to transfigure simple sorcery to evoke, through Maja’s overinterpretative anxieties, the beginnings of a latent anti-Semitism, often nourished by what he does not understand. The opportunity, above all, to show a culture in order to overcome its prejudices.
2022 EDITION AWARDS
New Genre Grand Prize: Sick of Myselfby Kristoffer Borgli
Audience award: The Flight of Captain Volkonogov, by Alexei Chupov and Natalia Merkulova
Jury Prize: AirHostess-737, by Thanasis Neofotistos
Audience award: Plan-Plan Ass-Ass, by Alexandre Vignaud
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Horror, animation, documentaries… The five films you shouldn’t miss at L’Étrange Festival