NYFF WRAP-UP: PART THREE

by tully
October 17, 2005 9:31 AM
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NYFF WRAP-UP: PART THREE

BREAKFAST ON PLUTO ***

Neil Jordan’s latest offering, like a freshly blended smoothie of THE CRYING GAME and THE BUTCHER BOY, is quite tasty indeed. Cillian Murphy is one of those fellows that make me think I might not be 100% hetero after all. Looks aside, his committed performance lifts the film to a higher plane and provides it with some actual emotion. There was an overall “movie” gloss that kept me from being genuinely affected, however. But with a soundtrack like the one that Jordan has assembled, it’s hard not to be engaged throughout. And the film’s celebration of gleeful individualism in the face of brutal adversity only makes it that much more worthwhile. (Note: for all you Wombles fans out there, this one’s a must-see!)

HAZE ***

Shinya Tsukamoto is a weird fuckin’ dude. I walked into this press screening with the second hangover I’ve had since August 15, 2004, when my body told me that if I didn’t stop getting shitsmashed all the time, then it was going to end our relationship once and for all. Needless to say, being reintroduced to that throbbing, unpleasant feeling while watching this film was like trying to withdraw while watching REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. About fifteen minutes into the film, I almost had a full-on claustrophobia attack. Which was not cool. But I conquered that urge and calmed down. Unfortunately, by that point Shinya had met up with some chick and I couldn’t really grasp what was going on. By the end, I felt like my mom watching “The Red Room” scene at the end of the TWIN PEAKS pilot. Say huh???

THROUGH THE FOREST ***

I’ll give Jean-Paul Civeyrac credit. Homeboy can create a mood like the best of ‘em. And the last shot is truly breathtaking. But I felt too detached from THROUGH THE FOREST from the very beginning to be sincerely affected by that ending. In theory, I love a film that’s comprised of only ten extended shots (looking forward to NINE LIVES for that reason alone), but here I was too aware of the camera the entire time. Still, it’s an interesting experiment, like CONTEMPT meets BLUE meets GHOST or some shit. At only 65 minutes, I doubt it’ll be getting an even minor theatrical release, but if you’re into sorta unsettling/kinda erotic French cinema, then this is the film for you!

WHO’S CAMUS ANYWAY? ***

I don’t know why I want to keep this thing downgraded to “movie” and not “film” status, which is where it probably belongs. But I couldn’t shake the SCREAM-ness of it out of my mind, when I should have been in THE PLAYER-ville. The opening shot is astoundingly great, working on about eight different levels, and the film itself is executed quite expertly. The performances are all solid, and the script deftly balances tension and humor and drama. But there was something a teensy bit glossy about the whole affair, which is why I can’t up the ante to Four-Star Boulevard.

THREE TIMES ***

If THREE TIMES had ended after the first segment, I would have given it five stars. Set in 1965 and telling the tale of a handsome soldier who woos a beautiful pool hall employee, “A Time for Love” has what is certain to be my favorite opening shot of the year. But then came “A Time for Freedom,” and Hou Hsiao Hsien’s jumbo jet proceeded to skyrocket up, up, up, and awayyyy over my head. I’m not one of those plot/narrative types who needs to know what’s going on at every single moment, but for some reason even the sheer visual spectacle of the gorgeous actors and stellar production design and lush cinematography wasn’t enough to keep me engaged for segments two or three. But if I can be frankly honest here (I’m not getting paid for this fuckin’ shit, after all), I had an appointment with The Prettiest Girl In The World awaiting me outside the theatre and my attention was understandably drawn to that. Needless to say, the film’s pacing was cramping my style at that point. So forgive me, Hou Hsiao Hsien, but my own love story got in the way of two of yours.

BEYOND THE ROCKS ****

Thank God someone found this lost silent film, for it’s been a long while since I’ve had so much fun in a theatre! Aside from the fact that it took me like twenty minutes to dismiss the thought that Gloria Swanson looked like a dolled up tranny, everything about this Swanson/Rudolph Valentino vehicle was fantastic. Especially what is certain to go down as the most hapless attempted ‘rescue’ in the history of cinema. Perhaps it’s a good thing they don’t make them like this anymore, but I’ll take BEYOND THE ROCKS over anything that’s at the multiplex right now.

(The stunning conclusion tomorrow...)

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