The politics of dance edition –


This week’s openings include a heart-wrenching drama from post-war Leningrad and a today’s tale about dancing and sexuality in a former Soviet territory, the land of Georgia. Repertoire offerings include an end-of-career masterpiece by Abbas Kiarostami, as well as classics from Senegal and the United States

Capital Projections is The DC Line’s selective and subjective guide to notable film screenings over the coming week.


Director Kantemir Balagov, born in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, is not even 30 years old. But with his heartbreaking and vividly photographed second film, he has crafted a war drama that demonstrates the care and patience of a mature artist.

Vasilisa Perelygina and Viktoria Miroshnichenko (Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber)

Located in Leningrad in 1945, Bean Quickly introduces us to the main character’s affliction, which she developed during her military service. Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), nicknamed Beanpole because of her statuesque height and lanky build, is at the hospital where she works, caring for wounded soldiers returning from the war. When we meet Iya, the pale, gaunt young woman is in the midst of one of her occasional catatonic states, which leaves her almost paralyzed except for her head twitching and the ticking she makes. as she struggles to breathe.

At home, Iya takes care of a 3 year old boy. When her friend Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina) – the mother of the child – returns from the frontlines, she finds a city in ruins, a troubled friend and more tragedy.

Miroshnichenko plays the main character, and she casts her entire towering figure into the role, haunted and awkward, and effectively conveys deep trauma just by the way she holds her hand in front of her face. But the biggest and most difficult role belongs to Perelygina, who spends most of the film quietly bubbling over. The more we learn about Masha, the more we see the layers of horror the war left on her. Balagov directs at least two scenes of such smoldering intensity that the performers are expected to explode with rage – but it never comes to the surface. This restraint is in large part what makes Bean so powerful: the repressed emotions of its performers emerge through carefully articulated gestures that play like a funeral ballet. It’s hard to imagine two better performances this year.

Watch the trailer.

Opening Friday February 21 at Landmark E Street Cinema, Cinema Arts Theaters and Old Greenbelt Theater. $ 13 to $ 15.

Bachi Valishvili and Levan Gelbakhiani (Photo by Lisabi Fridell courtesy of Music Box Films)


While Bean conveys the agony of post-war Leningrad through a sort of ballet of body horror, a new film from director Levan Akin uses dance to watch the evolution of manners in the country of Georgia.

Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) and his partner Mary (Ana Javakishvili) are young members of the National Georgian Ensemble, a dance troupe whose grizzled leader Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) barks: “There is no sexuality in Georgian dance. . Aleko worries that Merab and Mary will show too much passion during a duet – wait until you see disturbing rookie Iralki (Bachi Valishvili), for whom Merab quickly develops a crush that makes him forget everything he knows about. Georgian dance.

This coming-of-age drama places a young man who comes to terms with his sexuality in the midst of a Georgian dance tradition that (at least as we are told) is very resistant to change. The central vanity of the film seems to be that, as Irakli and Merab fall in love, they bring new freedom to the nation’s suffocating terpsichore. But the troubled young characters in the film are unable to fully embody this metaphor.

As Merab struggles with his new attraction, it shakes his dynamic with Mary, and even when performing solo, he loses control of his craft just as he loses his mind due to passion. It doesn’t help that the dances are filmed choppy. The actors work hard on an art that expresses itself through the whole body, but the bodies on the screen are so reframed that it is difficult to understand how much they evoke tradition or progress. Perhaps Merab’s most provocative dance is the one he performs outside of the studio, but what should be his triumphant hearing is rambling enough to lessen the young man’s thrill of reinvention. As a well-watched drama in the competitive dance world, And then we danced is an improvement over cheese Intensify franchise, but its subversive themes could have used more pizazz.

Watch the trailer.

Opening on Friday February 21 at Landmark E Street Cinema and Cinema Arts Theaters. $ 12.50 to $ 13.

Rin Takanashi (Photo courtesy of IFC)


Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami frequently took his characters on trips, from the stray child of Where is the friend’s house? to the emotionally lost adult in Cherry taste. So it may be fitting that Kiarostami made this late-career masterpiece so far from home.

First released in 2012, the film’s complicated dynamic revolves around Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a young prostitute from Tokyo. In one of the most magnificent footage of Kiarostami’s career, we see her in a taxi, the big city lights overwhelming her as she listens to a series of voicemail messages from her grandmother, who was in Tokyo for a day trip and is presumably unaware of what her granddaughter does for a living. As Akiko’s face is lost in layers of dizzying highlights, the footage conveys her conflicted emotions, desperate to reconnect with her family but ashamed of her life. As she asks the taxi driver to walk around the station to see if she can spot her grandmother, we share her grief as we can barely see ourselves out of the passenger window.

Full of disembodied voices and alienation, Like someone in love was the last film released during the director’s lifetime: he died in 2016. As I wrote in a 2018 room for Spectrum Culture, “This heartbreaking journey, a search for wisdom that is hopelessly incomplete, is his latest masterpiece.” The film will be screened at the Freer Gallery of Art as well as the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center as the institutions close the career retrospectives. Kiarostami’s latest film is also screened at the Freer Gallery this weekend, 24 frames (Sunday February 23 at 1 p.m.), posthumously released in 2017.

Watch the trailer.

Sunday February 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Release.

Monday February 24 at 7:15 p.m. at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. $ 13.



Next week the Mary Pickford Theater at the Library of Congress (note: I’m working there, but I haven’t worked on this program) concludes the series “A year of change: nominees for best film of 1968With classic comedy from director Mike Nichols. In what would be his defining role, Dustin Hoffman plays Ben Braddock, a young college graduate who returns home to the Californian suburbs uncertain about his future. The script by Calder Willingman and Buck Henry exploited the attitude of the counterculture, snubbing the mores of the American middle class; Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack helped make it one of the defining films of its generation. But is his satire outdated? Two reviews by the late Roger Ebert, written 30 years apart, offer very different perspectives on the film’s easy targets, like the bored housewife Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). In 1967, Ebert hardly considered the middle-aged seductress (although it should be noted that Bancroft, playing a much older woman, was only six years older than Hoffman). Sure revisit the film in 1997, Ebert came to think that she could be the real heroine of the film: “I do not see Benjamin as an admirable rebel,” he writes, “but as an egocentric creature whose adult disparagement is boring,” while that Ms. Robinson is “sardonic, satirical, and articulate – the only person in the movie you’d want to have a conversation with.” How? ‘Or’ What The graduation hold out half a century later? Come see a 35mm print and find out.

Watch the trailer.

Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m. at the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the Madison Building at the Library of Congress. Free advance tickets are available through Eventbrite. Doors open 30 minutes before the screening. Places are limited, but people waiting are encouraged to queue from 6.30 p.m. In the probable event of a full house, unclaimed seats will be released five minutes before the time of the show.

Mbissine Thérèse Diop (Photo courtesy of The Criterion Collection)


The National Gallery of Art series “African Heritage: Francophone Films 1955 to 2019Continues with Ousmane Sembène’s first feature film in 1966. The Senegalese writer-director had already published several novels and a short story book when he turned to cinema – inspired, ironically enough, by Leni Riefenstahl Olympia, which Adolf Hitler had commissioned to prove the superiority of German athletes. Sembène has adapted his own short story about Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), a young woman who leaves for France, where she is exploited by the white couple who hire her as a maid. Black girl, as the film is also known, was one of the first films from sub-Saharan Africa to be screened internationally. “The use of cinema by Sembène is only a gesture of compromise to bring home what general illiteracy on the continent would not allow him to accomplish in his literary work”, wrote biographer Samba Gadjigo. He also said the film “remains a beautiful, shocking and contemporary African story”. It is screened with Sembène’s 1963 short “Borom Sarret”, about a horse-drawn cart driver who does not charge his passengers.

Watch the trailer.

Sunday February 23 at 4 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art in the West Building Conference Room. Release.

Ronn Moss and Dona Speir (Photo courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment)


Andy Sidaris, originally from Chicago, has taken a roundabout path to exploitation cinema. He was an uncredited “football choreographer” for the 1970 Robert Altman comedy-drama. MASH POTATOES, and for most of his career he led the coverage of sporting events, taking charge of ABC’s Big World of Sports since 25 years. Known for his crowd-pleasing shots, Sidaris loved to order cheerleader camera footage – a harbinger of his fictional feature films which became known as Bullets, bombs and babies series. Next week on Washington Psychotronic Film Society screens the 1987 director’s thriller, whose programmers brag about having three Playboy playmates “and their beefy counterparts” who “take on a diamond smuggler, a skateboard assassin with an inflatable doll and a carcinogenic toilet snake, while stripping naked at every opportunity Tempering the expectations of the exotic region, the WPFS emphasizes: “This is not a hula.”

Watch the trailer.

Monday, February 24 at 8 p.m. at the Smoke and Barrel. Release.

This post has been updated to correct references to Vasilisa Perelygina and Viktoria Miroshnichenko in the section on Beanpole.

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