Friday, August 18, 2006

I Wanna Be a Part of It

Just in time for my departure from the East Coast, the New York Film Festival announces an especially succulent program for 2006. Fair enough, the write-ups of David Lynch's Inland Empire and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century seem to borrow an awful lot from earlier films by the same directors, but surely both men deserve our immense trust. I'm very curious about the Malian Bamako, which Amy Taubin adored at Cannes; the much-heralded Korean horror film The Host; and, perhaps most of all, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, co-directed by Zacharias Kunuk, the Inuit director who debuted so fabulously with the breathtaking Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner).

In a peculiar twist, I've become really intrigued by the latest films from directors whose previous efforts I only sorta appreciated, like Todd Field's In the Bedroom follow-up Little Children, described by NYFF staff as "loosely adapted" from Tom Perrotta's novel; Sofia Coppola's coltish and stylistically irreverent Marie Antoinette; and Climates, by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose big Cannes hit Distant was strikingly shot but, for me, a little too calculated and... well, distant. By contrast, as much as I've enjoyed or at least admired Pedro Almodóvar's recent career run, I can't muster up any real excitement about the squishy-sounding Volver, no matter how many actresses appear in it. (Note: A longer discussion of Almodóvar is evolving in the Comments section—by all means, please join in!)

Volver, plus all the American titles—except, as far as I can tell, the Lynch—will make their way to the popular commercial market this fall. As for the Kunuk, who knows, and as for Ceylan, Apichatpong, and Sissako, they're lucky when they get any U.S. distribution for their films, period. That means it's up to our lucky New Yorkers to see everything and report back. You know who you are!

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10 Comments:

Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

this isn't really about the NYFF which is a pain in the ass in a lotta ways ticketing wise. *but what festival isn't?*

but i heart this new banner. makes me heart swell.

4:03 PM, August 18, 2006  
Anonymous Goran said...

If you haven't been able to muster up any enthusiasm for Volver yet, you should try harder: it isn't in the league of Talk to Her or All About My Mother, but it's really lovely and I'd say the next best thing he's done.

Aside from some absorbing monologues Bamako is drawn-out and heavy-going in a sadistic way (about 30 people walked out on it at the screening I saw), whereas The Host features my all-time favourite screen monster and is exactly as much fun as you've heard.

10:15 PM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger JavierAG said...

I enjoyed "Volver" more than I did any other Almodóvar picture, and the way he finally chooses to embrace melodrama is absolutely infectious. I say it may be his best work to date.

11:42 PM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger JavierAG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:42 PM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

What if I confess that I don't really care for All About My Mother? Do my prospects of enjoying Volver improve or suffer?

12:04 AM, August 19, 2006  
Blogger JavierAG said...

Well I found "Volver" much more enjoyable, but I'm probably alone here.

10:23 AM, August 19, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Ouch. don't care for All About My Mother next thing you'll be telling us that you kick puppies.

to quote you:
"why you wanna hurt me?"

you know it that film (well, it's poster at least) hangs over my living room and watches over all those swell parties you've been too!

3:45 PM, August 19, 2006  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

I should clarify:

Things I love in All About My Mother: Cecelia Roth (amazing); Marisa Paredes; the whole beginning, leading up to the shot where the son writes the name of the movie, and we adopt the bizarre point of view of his own journal; all of the short excerpts from Lorca and A Streetcar Named Desire; the shot of the cars orbiting each other at the cruising grounds; the production and sound design; the absolutely incredible poster.

But I just don't "feel" the overall thing all that much. Maybe I think it tries too hard? The scene where Antonia San Juan runs through the list of her cosmetic surgery is fun, but to me it feels a little too on-the-nose about the movie's ideas about performance and identity. Actually, that's a problem for me in a lot of scenes.

When it comes to Almodóvar, I just have weird reactions and a spotty history. I looove Talk to Her, I really like What Have I Done to Deserve This? and High Heels a lot, I liked Live Flesh a lot even though I don't remember a ton of it, and I'm relatively cool on the rest of what I've seen (Law of Desire, Women on the Verge..., All About My Mother), despite things I admire in all of them. In fact, I'd call them all good films, I just don't really take pleasure in them.

My mental jury is still out on Bad Education: its parts really fascinated me but added up to much less than I wanted them to, though I'm just about ready for a second try. And I'm looking forward to the touring retrospective, because I want to take a first look at The Flower of My Secret and Matador.

5:03 PM, August 19, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

you're still hurting me. you don't groove on Law of Desire? ouch. I can understand not taking loving all of them but not taking pleasure in them? Blasphemy! he's such a hedonist auteur. Pretty colors. raucous humor. glbt outreach. etc...

as for Matador i'm really curious to hear your thoughts. It's his only film that I don't like at all (I;ve never seen Flower either --the only recent one I missed) but I've been surprised to find that some very smart critics I respect consider Matador one of the best. So i'll be giving it another go.

11:06 AM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I luuuurve:
Talk To Her, All About My Mother, Women on the Verge, Bad Education, What Have I Done, Law of Desire (probably in that order).

I really like:
Live Flesh, Tie Me Up, Flower of My Secret (though don't expect too much; simply let it wash over you).

I admire but don't really dig on:
Matador

I haven't yet seen:
Pepi, Dark Habits, Kiki, High Heels, Labyrinth, VOLVER (4 days to go though!)...

Rob

2:16 PM, August 22, 2006  

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