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15 Films to See in August

Written by on July 29, 2019 

5. End of the Century (Lucio Castro; August 16)

One of the most heartfelt, intimate, and ambitious directorial debuts I’ve seen this year is Lucio Castro’s End of the Century. Starring Juan Barberini, Ramón Pujol, and Mía Maestro, the film follows a seemingly random connection between two men that is then revealed to have a deeper meaning. With touches of the Before trilogy in both the way it plays with time as well as provide an intimate lens on a relationship, it’s essential viewing. Jason Ooi said in our review, “End of the Century is a love story drenched in a nostalgic magical realism that constantly shifts its own logic, as if recognizing the futility of containing its uncontainable romance.”

4. American Factory (Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; August 21)

Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert–who were Oscar-nominated for another look into the recession, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant–are back with American Factory, a documentary that explores blue-collar workers of Dayton, Ohio who found a savior in a Chinese billionaire. Six years after the lifeblood that was a General Motors plant was shut down, the car-glass manufacturers Fuyao opened up their first American factory in the town, meaning thousands of new job opportunities. The promise of a steady income lifts the spirits of the workers, but an East vs. West clash of working methods quickly emerges, causing labor division, personal strife, and some unexpected camaraderie amongst the workforce. The directors “capture this conflict in it all its complications, humor, and heartbreak in their thoroughly engrossing” new film, I noted in my review from Sundance.

3. Genèse (Philippe Lesage; August 23)

Philippe Lesage’s stunning coming-of-age film Genesis (aka Genèse) follows the lives of half-siblings Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) and Charlotte (Noée Abita) as they traverse first love, desire, and danger. Zhuo-Ning Su said in his review, “In the grand scheme of things, teenage love affairs–together with all the raptures, jitters, devastations associated with them–probably don’t count that much. But then again probably everyone can relate to the sheer groundbreaking force of that first quickening of the heart, of that blinding rush of hormones that compels us to act with a recklessness that we’ll later learn to forever suppress. Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage’s Genesis is an ode to that time in our lives when we still paid more attention to impulses than consequences. Trifling perhaps in terms of subject matter and scope, but it absolutely mesmerizes.”

2. Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Mads Brügger; August 16)

The best documentary of the year thus far starts fairly inconspicuously, before it unfolds into something far more substantial and affecting. In 1961, Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in a plane crash in Africa under mysterious circumstances. Beginning as an investigation into his still-unsolved death, the trail that Mads Brügger follows in Cold Case Hammarskjöld is one that expands to implicate some of the world’s most powerful governments in unfathomably heinous crimes. I said in my review, “Sitting down for the documentary, I had virtually no knowledge or interest in a Swedish Secretary-General who died over half-a-century ago. By the first half, I was fully invested in the case. At the finale, I was reeling from the atrocities that were uncovered and enraged that it has taken this long to bring them to the surface. If it wasn’t for Brügger’s desire for the truth, they may have stayed dormant forever, and that precise depiction of the grueling investigative process, along with the staggering revelations found therein, makes Cold Case essential viewing.”

1. La Flor (Mariano Llinás; August 2)

Clocking in at a staggering 14 hours, Mariano Llinás’ epic new film La Flor was a decade in the making and shot across three continents. Starring Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, and Laura Paredes across six episodes (screened in four parts for its theatrical release), it certainly won’t be reaching multiplexes across the country, but if it’s coming near you, it’s an experience unlike any other you’ll have this year, or likely in many years. Calling it “a landmark in filmmaking,” Leonardo Goi said in his rare A-grade review from Locarno, “This film is about its four actresses in the sense that it is a testament to how their craft developed through time. And the feeling of awe that transpires from that late montage, the feeling of having watched four artists grow, is indissolubly contingent on the film’s colossal length.”

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