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Mister Organ / Farewell My Concubine / What Doesn’t Float

Mister Organ

New Zealand journalist David Farrier, known for his work on Netflix's "Dark Tourist" and the 2016 film "Tickled," returns with another captivating feature documentary that delves into a world even darker and more bizarre. This documentary revolves around an enigmatic character who goes by the name Mister Organ, which also serves as the film's title.

The story kicks off when an accusation surfaces about a tow truck driver displaying aggressive behavior and imposing exorbitant fees for parking in a private lot owned by an antique store. David Farrier initially sets out to write an article about this peculiar situation for his newspaper. However, as the narrative unfolds, the antique store owner and the towing company respond with threats of a defamation lawsuit. Undeterred, Farrier decides to dig deeper into these strange occurrences, inadvertently plunging himself into a web of intrigue and darkness that defies his wildest expectations.

Much like "Tickled," this story unravels to reveal a horrifying world characterized by scams, sociopathic tendencies, cult-like behavior, and more. The unique twist here is that Mister Organ seems to relish the attention and investigation, willingly participating in interviews and regularly contacting Farrier throughout the film, sometimes for casual conversation or updates on the unfolding story.

The film provides a chilling look at the inner workings of the con, highlighting the helplessness of its victims in the face of such a manipulative figure. To avoid spoiling the plot, I won't delve into specific details, as a significant part of the film's appeal lies in its unpredictability.

In terms of filmmaking, "Mister Organ" is a well-crafted piece that follows a structure reminiscent of exposé documentaries like "The Cove" or "Roger & Me." What sets it apart is the human element introduced through Farrier's on-screen presence. His vulnerability and the emotional toll the investigation takes on him add depth to the viewing experience, making you genuinely concerned about his well-being and prompting introspection on how you might react in similar circumstances.

The film boasts an engaging score, impeccable editing, and seamless production. It refrains from offering easy answers, mirroring the complex and messy nature of its subject matter. While there may be moments when you wonder if the documentary flirts with sensationalism, by the film's conclusion, it becomes clear that there might not have been a better way to tell this astonishing story.

Currently, "Mister Organ" is in theaters courtesy of Drafthouse Films, and it is expected to be available for streaming in the coming months.

Farewell My Concubine

Coming back to theatres is the 4K restoration of "Farewell My Concubine.” The Academy Award winning, Chinese epic, directed by Chen Kaige, has been brought back to life with breathtaking clarity and detail, making it a must-see for both longtime fans and newcomers.

The intricate storytelling, set against the backdrop of Beijing Opera, unfolds newfound richness and depth. The restored visuals breathe new life into this film, it’s a beautiful experience.

“Farewell my Concubine” stars Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi, whose emotionally charged portrayals of the main characters are incredibly captivating and the film's exploration of love, art, and the tumultuous historical backdrop of 20th-century China is as poignant as ever.

The film also sounds incredible, needless to say that a film about Chinese opera would feature a beautiful score, and with the restoration it sounds better than ever and It’s completely engrossing.

I feel like we’re in a time where classic cinema is being rediscovered and celebrated, and the 4K restoration of "Farewell My Concubine" stands as a shining example of how a timeless masterpiece can be reintroduced to new generations. It's a visual and emotional journey that reminds us of the enduring power of cinema.

The new restoration of Farewell my Concubine is playing at Film Streams starting October 20th.

What Doesn’t Float

What Doesn't Float" is a fresh anthology film directed by Luca Balser and penned by Shauna Fitzgerald, weaving a tapestry of interconnected stories set in the vibrant backdrop of New York, all revolving around the theme of water.

Now, I must confess, I'm typically not a fervent enthusiast of anthology films. However, when one considers the likes of my all-time favorite, "Slacker," it becomes evident that there's a path to crafting something truly engaging and beautiful within this genre. While "What Doesn't Float" may not ascend to those lofty heights for me, it remarkably comes closer than any other recent anthology film I can recall.

The film evokes the sensation of being a meandering stream, coursing through the lives of a diverse cast of characters as they coexist and love in close proximity. Admittedly, not every segment of the film strikes a resonant chord with me, but as a collective entity, it possesses an ethereal understanding of its setting and the people who inhabit it. "What Doesn't Float" feels deeply personal and draws from genuine experiences, an authenticity that I genuinely appreciate.

In terms of cinematography, Sean Price Williams and Hunter Zimny demonstrate a refined sensibility. They recognize that in the digital age, even on a limited budget, it's entirely feasible to create a visually elegant cinematic experience. Their work here is a testament to that notion, enriching the film's overall aesthetic.

One notable standout is the performance of Pauline Chalamet, particularly within one of the more emotionally charged storylines in the film. Her portrayal brings a profound depth and compassion to the narrative, addressing themes that resonate with nearly every woman I've conversed with. It's worth noting that Chalamet also serves as a producer on the film, underscoring her multifaceted contribution to its success.

For those curious about "What Doesn't Float," it's readily available on video on demand and comes in a visually stunning Blu-ray edition courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome. It's an opportunity to dive into a unique cinematic journey that explores the myriad facets of life, love, and water in the bustling heart of New York

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Joshua LaBure is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer and podcaster based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His experience includes having directed and produced several short films, two narrative features and two documentary features, with his works featured at the Lone Star Film Festival, The Bureau of Creative Works and other filmmaker showcases. His most recent documentary had a sold-out premiere and received a standing ovation at the Benson Theatre. Furthermore, he founded the Denver Filmmakers Collective, which hosted local filmmaker showcases, has served on jury for major film festivals and has hosted countless film screenings.