Although Mr. Hori’s casual lack of concern while meeting with Saori and and the administrators is utterly inexplicable, Kore-eda loops back in time to show events from his point of view, which casts some doubt on who the aggressor is. The director then shows what Minato saw, and focuses on Minato’s relationship with a classmate (Hinata Hiiragi) who, it’s clear enough from earlier threads, might either be his close friend or his bullying victim.
This sort of chronological and point-of-view shuffling is unusual for Kore-eda, and it is interesting to see how he approaches it. He doesn’t quite repeat scenes, but instead generally cuts away just before we arrive at an event we’ve seen before. Where “Monster” ends up is not exactly revelatory, but it does have a lovely, ethereal piano score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died in March. The film is dedicated to him.
Another perspective-bender, but one set almost entirely in a courtroom, “The Goldman Case” opened the this year’s Directors’ Fortnight program. The subject is a famous French appeals case from the mid-1970s, when Pierre Goldman, a radical leftist born to Polish Jews in France in 1944, attempted to prove that he was innocent of the killings of two pharmacists. He admitted to other crimes, but not to that one.
As played by Arieh Worthalter, Goldman, who in prison wrote a book about his case and became a cause of the French left, is a rivetingly belligerent defendant who resists what he sees as the pomp and theatricality of the court’s proceedings. What’s the point of having character witnesses, he asks, when he is clearly a disreputable character? That doesn’t make him a murderer. He wants to make his case on the basis of facts alone. His innocence, he says, is “ontological.” And while fans of courtroom thrillers will get all their favorite staples—witnesses being impeached, passionate closing statements from both sets of lawyers—it’s the devotion to cold precision that makes “The Goldman Case” a superior example of the genre.
“The Goldman Case” turns, in part, on the legacy of the Holocaust in France; it’s been suggested that anti-Semitism played a role in Goldman’s original conviction. This year in the official selection, the director Steve McQueen has a four-hour-plus nonfiction film, “Occupied City,” that presents an exhaustive account of Amsterdam during the Holocaust. It is billed as being “informed” by the book “Atlas of an Occupied City (Amsterdam 1940-1945),” which was written by McQueen’s wife, Bianca Stitger, who is a filmmaker herself (“Three Minutes: A Lengthening”).