AFI Fest 2021: Red Rocket
Sean Baker has never had problems finding cinematic drama — and a deep well of empathy — in the lives of people on the brink. To large degrees, all of his films have revolved around well intentioned folks doing the best they can in the face of debilitating financial situations. Be it Sin-Dee (Kitana Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) working the streets of LA or Halley (Bria Vinaite) doing sex work on the side to keep a roof over her daughter Moonee’s (Brooklynn Prince) head, Baker’s characters clearly hold his respect. Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), the central figure of Red Rocket, is a new type of lead for the director.
AFI Fest 2021: Petite Maman
Expectations are always high for a well regarded auteur, but they were especially lofty for Celine Sciamma following her revelatory 2019 film Portrait of a Lady on Fire. From Water Lillies to Girlhood, the French director has always had a piercing vision, but Portrait brought her the largest audience and most fervent acclaim of her illustrious career. So how did she choose to follow it up? With Petite Maman, a 72 minute fable about a young girl meeting her mother as a child, of course.
For decades film has told the stories of young people finding their way in the world to dazzling effect. There is something so universally relatable about those late teenage years where you feel like you’ve figured it all out and seeing it with the gift hindsight you realize that those answers wouldn’t come until much later. The hard truth is that coming of age doesn’t happen all at once and that next phase of life brings with it doubts, big decisions and so much more uncertainty. This is the phase of life examined in Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World.
A tale as old as time, how much can true love transcend? Is it simply an intertwining of attractions or is love something more, something so inherent to our very being that we’ll find our way back to it under even the most dire of circumstances? These are questions Georgian filmmaker Alexandre Koberidze poses, if never really answering, in What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?