In adapting London’s novel, Marcello and his screenwriting partner Maurizio Braucci have transposed Eden’s story from turn-of-the-century Oakland to the coast of Naples, but they’ve also left the question of when intentionally unresolved, indeterminate.
McQueen toggles between fiction and historical recreation, all the while attempting to imbue nuance and depth to a depiction of black life in the West Indian community of London from the 1960s to the 1980s.
The new Jia documentary may not have the aesthetic boldness of his best work, but it illuminates the proximity of fiction and nonfiction in his oeuvre and doubles as something of a directorial mission statement, highlighting the role of the artist in writing and preserving history.
Note the staging of his scenes here, how people almost always have some physical object between them as they share increasingly intimate details about their lives, or how that physical object, like a plate of freshly cut apples, can be used to close distance in the presence of silence.
This first foray into scripted narrative by documentarian Heidi Ewing trembles with longing. In this nonlinear, decades-spanning romance about an undocumented gay couple from Mexico, Ewing paints the first blush of love as a neon-lit meet cute, a first kiss beneath a purple dawn.
Its gender dynamics disorient the era Garrel is trying to convey. Is this a retro love letter to a bygone era when it was still possible for a bus stop meet-cute to blossom into a full courtship; when long-distance lovers unironically corresponded through postcards?
Night of the Kings is a testament to a more inclusive future: actors are sourced not only from Abidjan but also from France and Burkina Faso, and the director pointedly serves us up a medley of western art touchstones and West-African traditions.
In the spirit of films like the Chantal Akerman documentary No Home Movie and I Go Gaga, My Dear, by Naoko Nobutomo, Johnson tries to capture him on camera to come to terms with his eventual disappearance, while also somehow keeping him alive.