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15 Films to See in March

Written by on February 27, 2019 

5. Diane (Kent Jones; March 29)

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After crafting a number of compelling film history-related documentaries (not to mention heading up the New York Film Festival), writer-director Kent Jones made his narrative feature with the tender character study Diane. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Mary Kay Place,  John Fink said in his review, ‘The narrative directorial debut of film scholar, curator, and documentary filmmaker Kent Jones elicits an awful lot of anticipation. Often, first features contain raw emotions and boundless pent-up ideas often toned down in future efforts. Diane, written and directed by Jones, is an observant and nuanced dramas which feels closer to the emotional truths of Kenneth Lonergan and Angus MacLachlan than the formal flair of Scorsese and Hitchcock.”

4. Black Mother (Khalik Allah; March 8)

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One of the most gorgeous experiences I had in a theater last year was Khalik Allah’s moving visual poem to his past and motherhood, aptly described as “part film, part baptism.” Jason Ooi said in his New Directors/New Films review, “Comparisons of Black Mother to cinematic poetry are apt, but it’s harder to pinpoint than that, more aptly described in relation to sound or music–free-flowing jazz, fluidly connecting otherwise inconceivable strands of culture, politics, and history in Jamaica. The faces shown rarely match the soundscape and the audio and visual components of the film seem to operate parallel to each other. Words, in this case, fill in what traditional scoring tries but often fails to accomplish.”

3. Us (Jordan Peele; March 22)

After his Oscar-winning Get Out became a cultural sensation, Jordan Peele returns this month with a new thriller, Us. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, the story follows a family trip to the beach gone wrong. Set to open SXSW next week, we’ll get the first reactions soon of the frightening-looking horror feature and it’ll arrive in theaters by the end of the month. With influences including Dead Again, The Shining, The Babadook, It Follows, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Birds, Funny Games, Martyrs, Let the Right One In, and The Sixth Sense, Peele looks to be honoring the past while injecting his own forward-thinking voice.

2. Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke; March 15)

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The director with the most insightful eye on contemporary China, Jia Zhangke is returning this month with a new epic Ash Is Purest White. Following Zhao Tao’s character on a decades-spanning journey of crime, romance, and reflection, in a rare A-grade review, Rory O’Connor said at Cannes, “There are few filmmakers with Jia’s ability to convey scales both physical (simply filming his actors walk past some soulless mega-structure or vast landscape) and existential (focusing on small shifts in his characters’ relationships as tectonic shifts seem to be taking place simultaneously in those same characters’ society).”

1. Transit (Christian Petzold; March 1)

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While he reached international acclaim with Barbara and Phoenix, Christian Petzold’s filmography is full of rich, enigmatic genre riffs that delight with suspense and emotion. His latest film, Transit, is no different. The story centers on Georg (Franz Rogowski), an escapee of a concentration camp who flees Paris just as the Nazis march in. The film depicts his few weeks in the French port city of Marseille before his final trip out of the continent. Despite the film taking place during the era of the Second World War, Petzold boldly decides to ignore the historical setting, costume- and production-wise, rather having the feel of the present day. Ed Frankl said in his review, “It’s an engrossing, uncanny and somewhat disturbing film, and completes something of a trio of historical melodramas after Barbara and his worldwide hit Phoenix, but develops the themes of those in an adventurous, if oblique, way.”

What are you watching this month?

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