“Inventive,” “invigorating” and “fresh” are the theme words for this year’s Curators’ Choice series at the Museum of the Moving Image. Starting this Friday, the Astoria venue will screen six films — touching on everything from martial arts to chess to deep-sea fishing — over three days. Consider the following:
- The Grandmaster (above) follows Bruce Lee’s mentor, Ip Man, through major moments in Chinese history, from the end of the Sino-Japanese War to British rule over Hong Kong (January 3rd, 7 pm).
- Viola shows how performers and their roles unravel as young actresses rehearse an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Argentine director Matías Piñeiro will participate in a live video call after the screening (January 4th, 2 pm).
- In Museum Hours a guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, and Vienna’s Kunst Historisches Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city and art. Director Jem Cohen, who specializes in observational portraits of urban landscapes, will discuss the film in person after the showing. (January 4th, 3:30 pm).
- Computer Chess is shot in a black-and-white camera to emphasize the grungy atmosphere of a seedy motel where a group of chess software programmers meet for a weekend tournament. Director Andrew Bujalski, considered to be the “Godfather of the Mumblecore (low-budget productions with amateur actors and naturalistic dialog),” will participate in a live video call after the movie (January 5th, 2 pm).
- Thanks to the use of countless cameras, Leviathan, which is set aboard a fishing vessel as it navigates the treacherous waves off New England, depicts the harsh world of the fishermen in haunting detail. (January 5th, 5 pm).
- A Touch of Sin (below) uses vignettes to dramatize injustice in contemporary China. Based on true stories, one scene shows a mineworker blow up at the apathy of his local politicians and go on a killing spree. A migrant worker turns to murder and theft due to insurmountable money troubles in another. (January 5th, 7 pm).
Top photo: The Grandmaster; bottom photo: courtesy of Kino Lorber