Lore

Immediately after the close of World War Two, Europe was a mess of violence and migration the likes of which the continent had never seen. We know this, factually, but it doesn’t come up too often in movies. Maybe it’s because such a non-conclusion would leave us without closure, without a sense of victory. In steps Cate Shortland’s Lore, a gorgeously rough journey through the confused Germany in the days immediately following the armistice.

Young children, abandoned by the intervention of history in the lives of their high-ranking Nazi parents, must travel across the whole of their cracked-open country to seek refuge with their grandmother in the North. More than simply an illumination of a forgotten time, Lore is an earthy coming-of-age tale that grafts the rawness of youth onto the wreckage of the 20th century.

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The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear

The structure of Tinatin Gurchiani’s first documentary feature is simple enough. Find young people and ask them about their lives, contextualize, repeat. All of this is done in the small, Caucasian nation of Georgia. What Gurchiani finds and presents, however, is not at all simple. The communities she visits have created complex, often determined and occasionally brutal young minds that lend the film a unique philosophical slant. It’s an intriguing and exciting debut.

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Mother of George

Brooklyn has never looked so good. Andrew Dosunmu’s melodrama of marriage and family in the Nigerian community of New York City’s Crown Heights neighborhood is a breathtaking example of how no independent, low-budget film needs to be “small.” Danai Gurira is extraordinary as a wife caught between a stubborn husband, his mother and the struggle of fertility. The supporting performances are without exception among the best of the year, the costumes are something to behold, and the whole thing is shot (again by Bradford Young!) with a delirious and sensuous attention to detail.

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Viola

The best Shakespeare adaptations are rarely the faithful ones (no slight intended to Laurence Olivier). Matías Piñeiro’s Viola is not his first attempt at capturing the spirit of The Bard, but it’s his best. Weaving through the lives of young creative types in Buenos Aires, the subtle erotics of “Twelfth Night” find new life here, including the year’s best scene of seduction. Questions of love and its duration float about like birds, both Shakespeare’s and Piñeiro’s words achieving a light but very textured quality that connects people in unexpected but destined ways.

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More Best of 2013


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