All posts by Jessica Kiang

Venice Film Review: ‘The Taste of Rice Flower’

In 2015, the Venice Days Fedeora award went to “Underground Fragrance” the debut film from Chinese director Pengfei, a regular collaborator of Tsai Ming-Liang and co-writer of Tsai’s “Stray Dogs.” In evocative, elegantly controlled scenes it detailed subterranean life in overcrowded, urban China, where even a glimpse of daylight is a luxury denied to many... Read more »

Venice Film Review: ‘The Testament’

Though it may play better in festivals with a Jewish focus, to secular audiences, the main thrust of Amichai Greenberg’s sincerely intentioned but unnecessarily dour debut “The Testament” is difficult to fully invest in. It details a rigorously, frostily devout Jewish Israeli historian who discovers that the founding principle of his unyielding worldview is false.... Read more »

Venice Film Review: ‘The House by the Sea’ (La Villa)

A gracenote scene in Robert Guédiguian’s plangent, indulgent “The House by the Sea” finds three late-middle-aged siblings replaying a childhood game and calling each other’s names up into the arches of a viaduct so that the echoes sing a roundelay. It’s an evocative metaphor for the film’s gentle perceptiveness into lives that don’t run in... Read more »

Locarno Film Review: ‘The Poetess’

For a Western audience, there are several arresting elements to Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff’s engaging, accessible documentary “The Poetess”: The first is that although we come to know its subject, Saudi writer Hissa Hilal, very well, and though she’s in almost every shot, we never see her face. The second is that the reason... Read more »

Locarno Film Review: ‘Those Who Are Fine’

The benignly dull Switzerland of Harry Lime’s famous summation in “The Third Man” (“…brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock”) is nowhere to be found in Swiss director Cyril Schäublin’s clinically intelligent, laceratingly pessimistic feature debut. Envisioning the outskirts of Zurich as a gray, unpeopled dystopia... Read more »

Locarno Film Review: ‘Iceman’

An extraordinary premise gets a slightly ordinary workout in Felix Randau’s meticulously mounted but narratively simplistic “Iceman,” an imagining of the last days in the life of the man we now know affectionately as Ötzi, whose mummified remains were found in the Alps in 1991, and were subsequently discovered to date back to 3300 B.C.... Read more »