Inspired by Toby's take on Toronto, I figured why not do the same for this year's New York Film Festival. They start Press Week almost two weeks before the actual festival, so it's good in that it allows to get some word out before the public screenings begin (on Sept. 26th).
ENTRE LES MURS (The Class)
It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year, and at first feels like a typical Dangerous Minds/Stand and Deliver type film en francais - the young teacher who cares, dealing with students who are stymied by varying levels of bureaucracy and indifference. But as it goes along, it gets weirder and more dialectical, and by the end I was pretty much won over. Sony Classics has it for the US, which means it'll get a week at Green Hills.
CRY ME A RIVER
One of the two new films from Jia Zhang-ke at this year's NYFF, and this one is pretty much inert. Students in the 90s, currently adults adrift in their own lives, nobody's happy but they do soldier on. There's some nice tracking shots downa river, though.
WENDY & LUCY
Absolutely devastating portrait of isolation and life on the brink. Michelle Williams is truly amazing here, and Toby is absolutely right when he says it'd make a great double feature with The Dark Knight. Dog lovers, this is the movie for you. Oscilloscope Films (The Beastie Boys' film label) is handling this, so it will more than likely be coming to the Belcourt at some point.
I DON'T FEEL LIKE DANCING
Can you build a film around an extended sick joke? If it's as good and genuinely effective as this one, then yes.
WALTZ WITH BASHIR
Holy shit. An animated documentary with the urgency of an unquiet witness and the soul of the most imaginative of poets, and structured around the basics of psychic exploration in a way that will infuriate Scientologists, this may also be the film that pushes the evangelical Christian faction in this country into apoplexy. It's a remarkable film, funny and devastating, and featuring one of the most haunting sequences I've ever seen. Again, Sony Classics has it, so be on the lookout for its one-week run at Green Hills.
LOVE YOU MORE
The best thing I saw during Press Week I, this short from British artist/Pet Shop Boys collaborator Sam Taylor-Wood (whose only other film I had seen was in a segment of Destricted) is a short and sweet tale of High School lust played out to the sound of the Buzzcocks. With any luck, this might pop up at the '09 Nashville Film Festival.
Simulatneously about the casual violence and horror of life under the rule of Augusto Pinochet and one man's need to express himself through dance and wanting to be like John Travolta, this film is upsettingly violent, features hardcore sex, and at least one disco dancing sequence in every reel. How could I not love it?
The centerpiece restoration (last year's was Blade Runner) of the festival. It's a rapturously lovely film, and also a great metaphor for cinema itself. Unfortunately, just as was the case in my Hollywood and Its Alternatives class at NYU some fourteen years ago, I love luxurious blends of history, film, and sex, but I'm still not feeling this one. Rialto Pictures is handling this one, which means we'll more than likely see it at the Belcourt, if there's any justice.
UN CONTE DE NOEL (A Christmas Tale)
A colleague dismissively called this Kings and Queen 2, but I think it's weirder and a bit more incisive than that. Family dramas, insanity, cancer, sexual frustration, and the arduous process of forgiveness- yeah, it's like that. Higly recommended, though. IFC has it, and with any luck, it'll be this year's big Christmas arthouse hit.
LOVE IS DEAD
A dark, dark French short that is ruthlessly pragmatic and full of the kind of wit that works beautifully here but leaves you wondering if the filmmaker will make the step up to feature-length material.
Kuorosawa Kiyoshi is back, and this time he's made a fairly conventional film- one that takes the issues that form the subtext of his genre material and works with them on the surface. It's a fascinating portrait of this moment in history, and the central cast is pretty damned great. It takes some wide turns in the last half hour, but is still a fascinating development in Kurosawa's body of work.