NYFF as Nirvana (The Midway Point)

by tully
October 8, 2004 6:47 AM
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Graham Leggat, Richard Pena, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center are helping to make this one of the best autumns of my adult life. Thank you, gang. This morning, Graham asked us to remind folks that even though most films are listed as "sold out," there are still almost always stand-by tickets available an hour before each screening, and there are also almost always random stragglers trying to get rid of extra tickets just before showtime. My advice? Don't get your hopes up, but GET YOUR BUTT TO LINCOLN CENTER and try to see whatever you can. You won't be disappointed.

A brief recap at the midway point...

Films I regrettably missed: "In the Battlefields," "Triple Agent," "Tropical Malady," "Kings and Queen," "Unforgivable Blackness," "Woman is the Future of Man"

Films I've seen, with a brief opinion:

"Vera Drake" (Dear fucking Christ almighty, in every single way. It feels like every time a new Mike Leigh film is released, I want to call it his "unadulterated masterpiece," but they're all unadulterated masterpieces. Of course, Imelda Staunton will get the annual "British film" Best Actress nomination (ala Judy Dench, Brenda Blethyn, etc.), but this time I would like to see her actually walk away with the trophy. Yeah, right.)

"Or (My Treasure)" (A staggeringly assured debut from Keren Yedaya, with a heartbreaking performance from Dana Ivgy. I wasn't expecting this film to be as unflinching as it was, but somehow it never felt exploitative. I would attribute that to Yedaya's Bressonian direction and the incredibly honest performance of Ivgy.)

"Undertow" (In addition to having one of the greatest opening credit sequences in cinema history, this film features an unforgettably soulful performance by Jamie Bell. David Gordon Green is going to be a legend by the time he's 35. Slow down, genius, and leave some glory for the rest of us. Jerk.)

"Look at Me" (An impeccably acted, bittersweet drama in the tradition of Mike Leigh, Agnes Jaoui's film captures a world that is filled with tender, happy sadness.)

"Tarnation" (Jonathan Couette's feature-length experimental essay works as a companion piece to last year's "Capturing the Friedmans," but Couette somehow manages to retain a hopeful spirit throughout his tragic, traumatic life, which makes the film such an exhilarating, vital experience.)

"Notre Musique" (Jean-Luc Godard's anti-war diatribe takes a completely different approach than "Fahrenheit 9/11," resulting in a film that is achingly humane, and infinitely more effective than Michael Moore's heavy-handed romp.)

"House of Flying Daggers" (I haven't seen "Hero," but after seeing this beautiful and thrilling fable, it has shot to the top of my must-see-pronto list.)

"10th District Court" (Put Frederick Wiseman, "Spellbound," and "To Be and To Have" in a blender and you get this fascinating study of life in a Parisian courtroom. This film doesn't have American distribution yet, which is a damn shame. It's compulsively watchable, hilarious, and poignant.)

"Bad Education" (I have to confess, I am not an Almodovar groupie--although "Talk to Her" did blow me away. While "Bad Education" is deeply engaging and clever and well-acted--Gael looks like a smoking Julia Roberts when he's in drag--it never really punched a hole in my soul. But that's being a tad unfair. It's a fantastic movie, and that's good enough to make it worthwile.)

"The Holy Girl" (My confession regarding this picture doesn't make me proud. I was really drawn to the lead actress, Maria Alche. This is a problem because Ms. Alche is no more than sixteen years old. All Humbert Humbertness aside, Lucrecia Martel's film is commendably brave in its insistence on remaining vague and open-ended. More films could afford to take this approach.)

"The World" (I haven't seen "Platform" or "Unknown Pleasures"--I know, I know, okay, okay, I'm gonna see 'em, I will, leave me alone--but I now believe the hype. Jia Zhangke has delivered the first true "21st Century Film," a sprawling spectacle that captures the confusion of our world without losing the humanity.)

"Rolling Family" (I was expecting this film to be more of a lighthearted comedy, when in fact it's a subtle, Dogma-esque slice of reality. The more that I adjust to it, the more that I like it. Very impressive, touching filmmaking, ala "Monsoon Wedding.")

That's it so far. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

(And, oh yeah, I haven't heard one belch or fart in the past two days--good work, critics! Maybe my rant had an impact???)

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