Alps: Roughly 700 films open in New York City annually. Philadelphia gets about a fourth of those. So, we miss some gems. Among those this year was Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to his fiendishly clever Dogtooth (itself among 2009’s unreleased-in-Philly). Though featuring another high concept—a service that provides families a surrogate to act as a recently deceased loved one—the tone is more funereal, the gags more stick-in-your-throat, the overall product more like Attenberg, another Greek production (co-starring Lanthimos) that at least played last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival.
Beyond the Black Rainbow: Retro ‘80s is once again a thing, this time among art nerds. But where Drive pays debt to the cinema of Michael Mann, the debut of Panos Cosmatos (son of George Pan Cosmatos of Rambo: First Blood Part II) tips its hat to a silky, hypnotic subphylum of sci-fi that never seems to have existed, except in its filmmaker’s mind. The genre specialists at Magnet picked it up and mostly dumped it on video; one needs the big screen to swim in its loud colors and not flee during its many trippy longeurs.
The Day He Arrives: South Korean minimalist Hong Sang-soo had a record three movies distributed in America this year (this, Oki’s Movie and In Another Country). None of them played Philly outside festival gigs. The best finds a filmmaker living the same general story thrice, with minor deviations.
Generation P: This Russian bugfuck was pulled from a local release at the last second, which is a shame as it’s legitimately nuts. A clerk is chosen to be an ad whiz after the fall of communism, which is only the first five minutes. Later, he will channel Che Guevara for slogan advice via Ouija board and meet an Egyptian dog god named Phukkup.
Goodbye First Love: Olivier Assayas’ young girlfriend, the talented Mia Hansen-Løve, made this devastating look at the decay of a relationship, with its young actors playing both their teenage selves and their 10-years-later counterparts—a symbol of lovers staying true to each other, even after a decade apart.
The Turin Horse: The threatened swan song for Béla Tarr, one of cinema’s great maximalist miserablists, and it couldn’t even score a token week-long run.