On Screen: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, 63 Up, CatVidFest

The biggest release this week may be Harrison Ford playing with an animated dog in The Call of the Wild (stay tuned for a review). If you’re more of a feline fan, SIFF hosts afternoon screenings of CatVideoFest 2020 on Saturday and Sunday.

There’s also Kristen Stewart in the title role in Seberg, Benedict Andrews’s Jean Seberg biopic (which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and is arriving stateside to wildly mixed reviews). Finally, a PSA: Brahms: The Boy II, is unfortunately not about the composer’s youth, but instead about a ridiculous and scary doll.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019 |  France | 135 minutes |  Céline Sciamma)
Céline Sciamma’s incendiary romance was one of the best film’s of last year. In it, Noémie Merlant plays a painter commissioned to paint a portrait of a troubled and reluctant bride-to-be (Adèle Haenel). The story is one of self-discovery and seduction that unfolds as a breathtaking study of faces and glances, that bursts with color and emotion, and is told entirely through the female gaze. Some have suggested that it is the “most sensual movie … ever.” Regardless, it is a masterpiece of cinema. After a long wait, it finally gets a proper wide release, with an exclusive screening at SIFF Egyptian.

Corpus Christi (2019 | Poland | 116 minutes |  Jan Komasa)
Poland’s entry for Best International Film at the recent Oscars finds a young man released from a youth detention center spiritually transformed yet forbidden from joining the clergy due to a criminal record. A move to a small town and a series of misunderstandings, though, provides an opening for him to take over as chaplain at a rural church. (SIFF Uptown)

63 Up (2019 | United Kingdom | 180 minutes | Michael Apted)
Director Michael Apted began following the lives of several British schoolkids at the age of 7, revisiting them every seven years since. The net result is one of the most captivating documentary experiences ever committed to posterity–literally watching the entire arc of life, played out in real-ish time. This is epic in length, but if the previous eight installments are a barometer, it’ll be utterly riveting. Opens Friday, February 21, at the SIFF Cinema Uptown, various times. (Tony Kay)