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Benjamin Mercer

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Dark Night Directed by Tim Sutton Opens February 3 at the Alamo Drafthouse A contemporary look at the disaffection and desensitization that have long been native to American suburbia, the unsettling independent film Dark Night describes a world of vast parking lots, manicured lawns, and latent violence. The third feature by Brooklyn-based writer-director Tim Sutton, which premiered last year in the low-budget NEXT sidebar of Sundance, imagines a sort of alternate-history version of the movie-theater massacre that...
Behemoth Directed by Zhao Liang Opens January 27 at the Metrograph Exposing the ill effects of China’s drive to develop, the mesmerizing Behemoth, a boldly visual essay film by the political documentarian Zhao Liang, depicts the successive stages of industrial manufacture as a de facto descent into hell. Zhao (who co-wrote the film with his French producer, Sylvie Blum) observes the pulverized landscape and punishing human labor in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, first at a coal...
Staying Vertical Directed by Alain Guiraudie Opens January 20 French writer-director Alain Guiraudie deservedly won a wider international audience in 2013 and ’14 as the cruising-spot thriller Stranger by the Lake, a brilliant plein-air exploration of the dark side of desire, made the festival rounds and rippled on through some of the more adventurous commercial art houses. With his follow-up, Staying Vertical, Guiraudie seems less preoccupied with growing his audience than with continuing to confound its expectations....
Ma Directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall Opens January 13 at IFC Center Drawing on the story of the Virgin Mary’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem as a narrative point of departure, Celia Rowlson-Hall’s distinctive debut feature, Ma, takes place in roughly contemporary times but contains no verbal communication whatsoever—movement is its dominant form of expression. The gifted Rowlson-Hall—who wrote, directed, and choreographed—also stars as a woman who wanders out of the desert and into the path of a man...

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