Sponsored link
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sponsored link

Arts + CultureMoviesBody horror and existential spelunking at the New York...

Body horror and existential spelunking at the New York Film Festival

In the second Ficks' Picks dispatch, demons and daddy issues roil 'Titane' while 'Il Buco [The Hole]' delivers without dialogue.

Film critic Jesse Hawthorne Ficks has returned to the theater to experience the New York Film Festival, which runs September 24 to October 10. Here’s the second spoiler-free Ficks’ Picks for the upcoming end-of-the-year onslaught of high profile international films — check the first installation with Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Benedetta’ here.


This film deservedly won the Special Jury Prize at this year’s 78th Venice International Film Festival. Director Frammartino has created another uniquely hypnotic, observational narrative — without a single line of dialogue. In some ways, the work is similar to his previous treasure Le Quattro Volte (2010), a film that patiently captured the profound transformations of four entities: an elderly man, a baby goat, an aging tree, and a cluster of charcoal. This most recent excursion is based on a real spelunking expedition from 1961. As a group of young cave explorers descend into a hole located in Italy’s southern region of Calabria, they slowly begin to unearth what was then the third-deepest known cave on Earth. The film is uniquely cross-cut with an elderly shepherd coming to the end of his life on earth. The peaceful, methodical filmmaking style allows the viewer to sink into one’s own existential dilemmas, right alongside Frammartino’s. With no distributor or release date in the ‘States, those of you who seek out this kind of meditational cinema should keep your eyes peeled for a rare festival screening.


Following up on her audacious 2016 feature debut Raw, Ducournau doubles down on another excruciating exploration of “body horror,” and won her this year’s prestigious Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival. While definitely not for everyone, Ducournau lets it all hang out fearlessly and fervently, and the film should attract anyone drawn to the dilemmas of demons, dysmorphia, and daddy issues. Combining David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996) with Claire Denis’ L’intrus (2004), newcomer Agathe Rousselle gives such a phenomenal performance that it should be remembered for decades to come. Vincent Lindon also brings a remarkable amount of heart-wrenching levity as an incessantly supportive father, while Ruben Impens distinctive cinematography is worth the admission alone. This is not a film to read about, though much will be written. Get to the theater as soon as possible, buckle up, and enjoy one of the year’s wildest rides. The film is theatrically distributed in the US by Neon and locally, has its debut October 1 at the Alamo Drafthouse.


Trier rounds out his Oslo trilogy perfectly with his breathtaking new film. Winning the award for Best Actress at this year’s Cannes, Renate Reinsve’s devastating performance inhabits a young woman looking for love while feeling completely empty. It allows Trier to return to his roots of capturing the cultural zeitgeist, as he did in his debut feature Reprise (2006). There’s nothing cinematically fancy here, outside of the film being structured into 12 parts — and perhaps that is why the story resonates so powerfully. In fact, once the end credits began to roll, I realized I had been fully immersed for all 122 minutes and was genuinely surprised to find myself in a theater. Don’t let this unassuming gem slip through the cracks. The film is theatrically distributed in the US by Neon with no set release date as of yet.

Jesse Hawthorne Ficks is the Film History Coordinator at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, teaches adjunct at Chapman University, is part of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle and curates/hosts “MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS,” a film series celebrating underrated & overlooked cinema in a neo-sincere manner.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Sponsored link
Sponsored link

Top reads

Reforming the recall—and the mayor’s power to appoint elected officials

Plus: What's going on with Mental Health SF, and is CPMC helping with the public-health crisis in the Tenderloin?

City College makes a move to save Cantonese classes

By classifying program as transferable to UC, school can get additional state money.

Eating Our Own: What a 1973 sci-fi movie says about the reality of 2022

Soylent Green predicted an apocalypse that isn't far from the truth. The problem is runaway Capitalism.

More by this author

Denzel and Frances deliver ‘Macbeth’ — and other standouts from the New York Film Fest

In the third Ficks' Picks dispatch from the fest, Joel Coen delivers his first brother-less triumph with 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' and a Murakami adaption — surprisingly — sings

Body horror and existential spelunking at the New York Film Festival

In the second Ficks' Picks dispatch, demons and daddy issues roil 'Titane' while 'Il Buco [The Hole]' delivers without dialogue.

New York Film Fest kicks off with blasphemous lesbian nuns, protests

In the first Ficks' Picks dispatch from the fest, 'Joan of Arc' meets 'Xena: Warrior Princess' in Paul Verhoeven's 'Benedetta'
Sponsored link

You might also likeRELATED