A stranger notion of life in death–or perhaps the reverse–animates Claire Simon’s sinewy, fierce «a br˚le, which I caught in its Wednesday press screening. I had narrowly missed seeing Simon’s film at Cannes last year, where it played to admiring audiences at the Quinzane. Simon works by accretion: What at first appears to be a teen girl’s impulsive infatuation for a fireman in a suburb of the Provence town of Montpellier grows more enveloping and sinister. Simon risks playing with extremely broad metaphors–the use of fire (which the girl starts in a similarly impulsive act) as a correlative for …

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And the answer to the speculation from the last post–is Kim Ki-duk still South Korea’s worst filmmaker?–is….yes. His latest, just about to open in Argentina and for some unholy reason selected by Karlovy Vary to open its 2006 edition, is Time, and brother, is it ever bad. Like all typical Kim characters, the male-female couple in this one grows obsessive and end up hurting each other badly. The inexplicable narrative starts with the woman (Park Ji-yeon) growing hysterical by the minute–Seong’s performance builds into a ghastly string of pure shrieks–and it becomes clear that she thinks all of her …

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Robert Koehler, who writes for Variety, Cinema Scope, Cineaste, and other publications, is not only one of the most dependable and active critics in Los Angeles, but he’s also a friendly and engaging cinephile. We’ve crossed paths at several film events–including a lengthy conversation after the Q&A for Honor of the Knights at this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival–and he has graciously agreed to send in some exclusive festival reports from the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival, where he is serving on the jury for the international competition. –Doug

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