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New Directors/New Films 2014

Feast on cutting-edge work from around the world


The Babadook

Who brings a children’s book called Mister Babadook, rife with illustrations of toothy terrors peering around bedroom doors, into their home? The answer to that is left deliciously vague in Aussie Jennifer Kent’s expertly unsettling horror psychodrama, one with the narrative chutzpah to show its entire hand in the buildup and then make us squirm as foretold events come true.—Joshua Rothkopf

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The Double

You won’t be calling Jesse Eisenberg a one-note arrogance machine after seeing his vividly intelligent dual turn in this Dostoyevsky-based paranoia plunge, about an office drone whose company hires his charming doppelgänger. The director is Richard Ayoade, extending beyond his cutesy Submarine (2010) into rare registers of panic.—Joshua Rothkopf

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The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, the duo behind 2009’s exhilarating Amer, return to their retro-giallo comfort zone for a mystery about a missing woman. Shot digitally with no apparent loss of Argento-grade lushness, it’s bloodier than their previous work, with multiple stabbings. Groovy soundtrack cues by Ennio Morricone and other legends do the heavy lifting.—Joshua Rothkopf

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20,000 Days on Earth

“This is my 20,000th day on earth,” says Australian rocker Nick Cave as we see him waking up in a luxurious bed and baring his chest in the mirror. Is this At Home with Nick Cave: The Royalties Years? Far from it. Like much in this smart and deliriously strange film, the opening scene embraces a familiar tic of the music doc (here, the pretense of intimacy) but manages to both reject and rework it in inspiring ways.—Dave Calhoun

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The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga

In Jessica Oreck’s captivating essay film, gorgeously grainy footage of present-day Eastern Europe—shot by übertalented DP Sean Price Williams—is interwoven with a pop-up animated retelling of a Hansel and Gretel–like Slavic fairy tale. The clash between new-world fears and old-world longings is provocative.—Keith Uhlich

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March’s annual ND/NF is always cause for cinephilic celebration; this year’s edition is no exception. Start with our handful of picks. New Directors/New Films runs Wed Mar 19–30 at FSLC, MoMA and MoMA PS1. Visit newdirectors.org for showtimes.

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