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filmexplorer's Choice

Launched in 2016 by Ruth Baettig and Giuseppe Di Salvatore, FILMEXPLORER is an online platform that is entirely dedicated to moving images as an art form, and promotes critical discussion through the production of texts, audio and videos in four languages. We are convinced that an in-depth reception of films is tantamount to an expanded vision! Here we propose an ever evolving selection of films that are available on filmingo and discussed on FILMEXPLORER.

So Long, My Son (2019)
Xiaoshuai Wang
China
185′
‘We’re waiting to grow old’. This sentence briefly sums up Yaoyun and his wife Liyun’s bitter realisation about their lives. They were once a happy family – until their son drowned playing by a reservoir. And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot even understand the local dialect. Their adopted son Liu Xing does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either. Defiantly rejecting his ‘foreign’ parents, he one day disappears altogether. The married couple are repeatedly enmeshed in their memories. Finally, they decide to return to the site of their lost hopes. In this family saga spanning three decades of Chinese history, the private and the political merge and the individual gets caught up in the gears of a society in the throes of constant change. Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from the country’s upheaval in the 1980s following the Cultural Revolution to the prospering turbo-capitalism of the present day. Told in sweeping tableaux, it makes visible the deep scars that lie beneath the surface of an ostensibly unbroken success story.
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«[…] The epic tonality of the tale does not find its accomplishment in glory or victory, but in piety. In its exclamative climax we feel the breath of humanism.» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch
Ash is purest white (2018)
Zhangke Jia
China
136′
Young dancer Qiao falls for powerful mob boss Bin. After protecting him during a rival gang’s ambush, she ends up in prison. Upon release, some five years later, she seeks out Bin to restart their old life. But is that still possible? Their violent relationship develops from 2001 to 2017, which allows director Jia Zhangke to chronicle contemporary China – from mining ghost towns to entire villages sacrificed for new dams.
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«[…] With a heroine at the centre who has utilised all her passion to survive and become independent in a world that twists and turns under her feet, Jia portrays a woman of enormous candour, humanity, and virtue.» Review by Pamela Jahn on www.filmexplorer.ch
Just Like Our Parents (2017)
Lais Bodanzky
Brazil
106′
Rosa is in her late 30s, a child of the 1970s with divorced parents. She lives with her own family in São Paulo. Overwhelmed by an eruption of individual passions, lies and the expectations of three generations, she tries to discover who she really is.
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«[…] There are many shots that allow the emotion of the film to reach us in subtle tones. The dialogue is continuously fierce and rational. There are no moments where we get a Hollywood-style “breakdown”.» Review by Jodie McNeilly-Renaudie on www.filmexplorer.ch
«[…] Telling a story is like painting a natura morta. It is probably a way for Pamuk to guard against the aggressive transformations of Turkey – between Westernization and Islamization…» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch
Loveless (2017)
Andrey Zvyagintsev
Russia
122′
Zhenya and Boris are going through a vicious divorce marked by resentment, frustration and recriminations. Already embarking on new lives, each with a new partner, they are impatient to start again, to turn the page – even if it means threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha. Until, after witnessing one of their fights, Alyosha disappears.
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«[…] Liebe oder auch nur Zuneigung gibt es keine in dieser Familie, gab es wahrscheinlich auch nie, und Andrei Swjaginzew betrachtet (bzw. inszeniert) deren Zustand als so symptomatisch für die gegenwärtige russische Gesellschaft, dass er diese als Allegorie für die gesamte Gesellschaft verstanden haben will.» Review by Dominic Schmid on www.filmexplorer.ch
Western (2017)
Valeska Grisebach
Bulgaria
120′
A group of German construction workers start a tough job at a remote site in the Bulgarian countryside. The foreign land awakens the men's sense of adventure, but they are also confronted with their own prejudice and mistrust due to the language barrier and cultural differences. The stage is quickly set for a showdown when men begin to compete for recognition and favor from the local villagers.
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«[…] Meinhard embodies the Hobbesian anthropological pessimism expressed by the motto “homo homini lupus”, that is the law of the jungle where only the stronger prevail; yet, he is also the only one who is actively seeking out bonds and friendship.» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch
Shoplifters (2018)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
116′
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.
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« […] Dabei geht es um Besitzansprüche und Zugehörigkeiten ebenso wie um Elternpflichten und Fremdenliebe – grosse Themen also, über die Kore’eda stets mit grösster Sorgfalt und der Raffinesse eines feinsinnigen Poeten reflektiert.» Review by Pamela Jahn on www.filmexplorer.ch
Lazzaro Felice (2018)
Alice Rohrwacher
Italy
127′
The tale of a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping.
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«[…] It is precisely to the important Italian tradition of sanctity as purity, innocence, simplicity, that the Italian-German director is linked, making an old and powerful voice of the Italian imagination and historical conscience re-emerge.» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch
[…] «Familie kann manchmal etwas sehr Statisches sein. Ich wollte mit «Toni Erdmann» eine Ausbruchsfantasie erzählen.» Interview with Maren Ade by Ruth Baettig on www.filmexplorer.ch
Chevalier (2015)
Athina Rachel Tsangari
Greece
105′
In the middle of the Aegean Sea, on a luxury yacht, six men on a fishing trip decide to play a game. During this game, things will be compared, measured and blood will be tested. Friends will become rivals, but at the end of the voyage, when the game is over, the winner will wear the victorious signet ring: the "Chevalier".
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«[…] In capturing this, Tsangari’s style of filming is cold, objective, almost cynical, yet it remains close to the characters, revealing their human faces.» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch
«[…] In one sense, the story evolves horizontally like an urban road movie. The subjects of this part are a colourful bunch of characters or, better said, the whole city, Nazareth, with its problems, contradictions, social conventions and vitality.» Review by Mattia Lento and interview with Annemarie Jacir by Manuela Ruggeri on www.filmexplorer.ch
Paterson (2016)
Jim Jarmusch
United States
118′
Paterson is a bus driver in the city whose name her shares: Paterson, New Jersey. Every day, he drives his route and observes the city as it drifts across his windshield. During his lunch break, he writes poetry into a notebook. In contrast to Paterson's steady routine, his wife Laura's world is constantly changing. New dreams come to her almost daily, each a different and inspired project.
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«[…] Pour cela, Jarmusch construit une figure de femme, Laura, qui plaît et irrite en même temps, à la fois accueillante et inquiétante — une invention unique, magnifiquement jouée par Golshifteh Farahani.» Review by Giuseppe Di Salvatore on www.filmexplorer.ch

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