Modest Reception

Directed by Mani Haghighi (2012) Modest Reception (Paziraie sadeh), the latest film by Iranian director Mani Haghighi, is a provocative piece of work that starts out in the realm of dark comedy and progresses in a more serious direction without losing its absurdist edge. Set amidst expansive, desolate scenery and bookended with bursts of experimental … Continue reading Modest Reception

In the Fog

Directed by Sergei Loznitsa (2012) In the Fog (V tumane), the second narrative feature by Sergei Loznitsa, previously known for his documentary work, is a slow, atmospheric meditation on the actions of ordinary people under extreme circumstances. Based on a novel by Vasil Bykov, the film portrays events in a rural area of occupied Belarus … Continue reading In the Fog

Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4

Minnesota Orchestra Conducted by Osmo Vänskä The Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä received much acclaim for their recent recording of Jean Sibelius’s second and fifth symphonies, which are among the composer’s most popular works. For their second Sibelius recording, the orchestra and Vänskä have taken on the less familiar first and fourth symphonies, turning out … Continue reading Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4


Directed by Ursula Meier (2012) Director Ursula Meier’s last film, Home, was a bit of a farce and a bit of a horror movie about a family whose front yard was suddenly replaced by a freeway. With Sister (L’enfant d’en haut), Meier makes a move in the direction of the Dardenne brothers’ aestheticized social realism while … Continue reading Sister

This Is Not a Film

Directed by Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (2011) A couple months ago, I reviewed Mohammad Rasoulof’s Goodbye, the director’s first film since he was arrested on suspicion of conspiring against the Iranian government. Arrested at the same time as Rasoulof was his much more internationally famous colleague Jafar Panahi, and This Is Not a Film … Continue reading This Is Not a Film

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Directed by Benh Zeitlin (2012) Beasts of the Southern Wild, the first feature by director Benh Zeitlin and his Court 13 filmmaking collective, was, by all accounts, the breakout hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. A relatively low-budget effort that doesn’t feel like one, the film features compelling performances from mostly nonprofessional actors, as … Continue reading Beasts of the Southern Wild

Goodbye First Love

Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve (2011) In Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse), Mia Hansen-Løve takes on the challenge of telling a story about a teenage relationship and its aftermath without romanticism or condescension, demonstrating respect for both her characters and her audience. Goodbye First Love portrays events occurring over eight years, and Hansen-Løve takes … Continue reading Goodbye First Love

The House

Directed by Zuzana Liová (2011) The House (Dom), a recent Slovak film written and directed by Zuzana Liová, offers a nuanced take on the familiar coming-of-age genre, setting itself apart with carefully drawn characters confronting non-ideal circumstances in intriguing but believable ways. Eva (Judit Bárdos) lives in a rural village — the sort of place … Continue reading The House