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    Film Comment Selects, Part 1

    The following is the press release for the upcoming Film Comment Selects series. This relates to Chris Knipp's post on undistributed films of 2004 as the festival is largely comprised of such films. Part 1:

    The Film Society of Lincoln Center's
    Walter Reade Theater Presents

    5TH ANNUAL FILM COMMENT SELECTS
    February 9 - 24, 2005

    The 5th annual FILM COMMENT SELECTS serves up a brilliant and eclectic mix of new films championed in the pages of Film Comment magazine over the past year. This edition will present the New York premieres of cutting-edge movies from France, Japan, Iran, Argentina, Israel, Australia, and Germany, as well as three films that were pivotal in the magazine's November/December special issue on New Korean cinema.

    Schedule permitting, French actress Bulle Ogier, subject of an article in the March/April issue, will appear for rare screenings of four of her films, including Jacques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord.

    One of the country's oldest and most prestigious film journals, Film
    Comment is published bi-monthly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Thanks to Bob Meyerson, Bill Thompson, Neal Block, and Mike Kaplan.



    Oldboy
    Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2003; 120m
    "Cannes 2004 served up Oldboy, a state-of-the-art helping of Extreme Asian hyperpulp, which was awarded the festival's Grand Prize. In this high-concept manga adaptation, already set to be remade in Hollywood (by Justin Lin), a defiantly antisocial misfit (Choi Min-suk) finds himself enmeshed in an infernally baroque mind-bender. He's kidnapped, incarcerated in a mocked-up apartment, framed for murder, brainwashed, and put on a diet of shrimp dumplings and nonstop TV - and that's just in the first reel. Choi stays sane (more or less) by transforming himself into a rage-filled, revenge-ready one-man army. Park keeps the twists coming and handles the kick-ass setpieces with droll flair, steadily building to a denouement whose perversity is worthy of Jacobean tragedy." - Gavin Smith, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 04. A Tartan Films release.
    Wed Feb 9: 4 & 9

    Clean
    Olivier Assayas, France, 2004; 110m
    "Maggie Cheung has rarely looked so bad and hurt so good as in Clean, Olivier Assayas's film about a junkie struggling to kick. A tough look at addiction - its seductions, stratagems, and self-immolating logic - the film stars Cheung as the wife and would-be manager of a faded rock star. When her husband overdoses, she finds herself without money, friends, and facing a prison term. After parole, she hits the road, eventually landing in Paris, where she tries to rebuild her life inch by inch. Slowly, as Assayas peels away his protagonist's protective covering, revealing the all-too-human creature beneath the spit and poses, we understand that - as with many of his other films - Clean is a portrait of aching loneliness, of a radical disconnection." - Manohla Dargis, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 04. A Palm Pictures film.
    Wed Feb 9: 6:30

    At Five in the Afternoon / Panj Easr
    Samira Makmalbaf, Iran, 2003; 105m
    "Samira Makmalbaf goes the allegorical route with her film about
    present-day Afghanistan. She is still working in the same vein as her filmmaker-father Mohsen, but Samira has a much lighter touch. She effortlessly sets up the social structure of contemporary Kabul from the point of view of Noqueh (Agheleh Rezaie), a young woman hungry for education. The film then veers into tragedy, despair, and renunciation as Norqueh wanders off into the desert, her baby nephew and her father
    in tow. Contemporarily relevant and captured with thrilling, heart-
    catching immediacy, At Five in the Afternoon is remarkable for the
    complex, heart-rending performances Makmalbaf coaxes out of her cast of non-actors." - Kent Jones, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 03
    Thurs Feb 10: 4; Sat Feb 12: 2; Mon Feb 14: 6:15

    Vital
    Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 2004; 86m
    Shinya Tsukamoto's latest film is at once one of his oddest, at least on a conceptual level, and perhaps his most nuanced. The ubiquitous Tadanobu Asano (who could be doing anything next - why not The Merchant of Venice? or a biography of Lincoln?) plays a young medical student who has lost the memory of his own name and past but none of his intellectual capacity. He remembers in stages: first, that he was in a car accident; second, that his girlfriend was in the car with him; third, that it's her body he's dissecting in class. Perhaps the only film you'll see this year in which pathology is offered as a form of therapy. A Tartan Films release.
    Thurs Feb 10: 6:15; Sat Feb 12: 6:45

    Downfall / Der Untergang
    Oliver Hirschbiegel, Germany, 2004; 150m
    Featuring a scenery-chewing, powerhouse performance by Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler, Downfall is a gritty, frequently brutal docudrama set in the Third Reich's final days that also contains notes of grim travesty. The film "is a compelling, completely absorbing, and blackly hilarious reconstruction of Hitler's final days in the bunker as the Red Army gradually advances, told from the point of view of der FErer's personal secretary. As the walls close in, the endgame scenario veers between morbid grandeur and high farce. This somber study in the terminal delusions of the soon-to-be powerless recalls Nixon on the brink of resignation, with the ever-rational, calculatingly self-interested Albert Speer standing in for Kissinger." - Gavin Smith, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 04. A Newmarket Films release.
    Thurs Feb 10: 8

    Izo
    Takashi Miike, Japan, 2004; 128m
    Takashi Miike's new symphony of violence, Izo, featuring Takeshi
    Kitano, will not disappoint his fans. Izo is an angel of death
    traveling through Japanese history, leaving a trail of blood behind
    him. "While crisscrossing several centuries he slaughters thousands of victims on the road to deliverance built on the suffering of others. Positively outrageous even by Miike standards, it's a genuinely disturbing film and so packed with invention and ideas that you're constantly dazzled, exhilarated, and in the end, actually enlightened. And I haven't even mentioned the talking flowers or the howling singer-
    songwriter serving as Greek chorus." - Olaf Möller, Film Comment,
    Nov/Dec 04
    Fri Feb 11: 1:30; Sat Feb 12: 4:15 & 8:30

    Le Pont des arts
    Eugene Green, France, 2004; 127m
    From the director of Le Monde vivant comes this classical yet gently absurdist tale of crisscrossing lives in Paris in the 70s, starring Natacha Reigner (Dreamlife of Angels), Denis Podalydes, and Olivier Gourmet. As well as referring to the bridge on the Seine, the title of Green's carefully orchestrated piece in six movements points to the film's leitmotifs: art and transgression, both deeply linked to its young characters' spiritual quests for truth, beauty, and humanity. The film is ambitious and baroque yet beautifully lucid, and encompasses various art forms - music (Monteverdi's madrigals), painting (tableaux-like images), and theater (overtly staged dialogue scenes). Moving beyond formal rigor and ultra-stylization, Green's subtlety and the actors' sincerity ensure that Le Pont des arts is an emotionally moving
    experience.
    Fri Feb 11: 4 & 8:30; Tue Feb 15: 6:30

    Turtles Can Fly / Les Tourtues Volent Aussi
    Bahman Ghobadi, Iran, 2004; 95m
    Iranian cinema's ongoing engagement with the refugee experience continues with this compelling semi-allegorical new film from Time for Drunken Horses director Bahman Ghobadi. Set in and around a Kurdish village and adjacent refugee camp in the mountains on the Iraq-Turkey border, just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its protagonist is 13- year-old Satellite, a budding entrepreneur and local Mr. Fixit who organizes a orphan army of minefield clearers and who owes his nickname to his knack with satellite TV dishes. His authority is challenged by new arrival Henkov, an armless youth who seems to have the power of
    second sight; further complications ensue when Satellite falls for
    Henkov's traumatized younger sister, who has an infant child. With its unsentimental point of view, amazingly committed performances, and stunning, war-debris-strewn landscapes, Ghobadi's film is a powerful vision of life in no-man's-land. An IFC Films release.
    Fri Feb 11: 6:30

    The Ister
    David Barison and Daniel Ross, Australia, 2004; 189m. Screens video-projected on Beta. "The find of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2003, the debut documentary from David Barison and Daniel Ross travels up the Danube River - part of which was known as the Ister in the Roman era. Borrowing their theme from a Heidegger essay on a poem by Hölderlin, the filmmakers travel from the Romanian delta, past NATO-bombed bridges, the Mauthausen death camp, and end up at the river's source in Germany. Their journey, interspersed with interviews with French philosophers Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Philipe Lacoue-Labarthe as well as German filmmaker Hans-JEgen Syberberg, becomes a probing, evasive meditation on time, culture and change, images and actionsE" - Olaf Möller, Film Comment,
    Mar/Apr 04
    Sun Feb 13: 2 followed by a panel discussion

    Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance / Boksuneun naui geot
    Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2002; 129m
    "Park Chan-wook's remarkable thriller Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was easily the highlight within the Korean program at Toronto International Film Festival 2002, a visually bold widescreen schlockfest that unfolds like a hardboiled Takeshi Miike fusion of Raymond Chandler and The Virgin Spring. As a wealthy industrialist hunts the cobalt-coiffed mute anarchist girlfriend responsible for his daughter's abduction, Park is
    given free rein to push the violence envelope, but the pervasive gore is alternated with scenes of true pathos. Almost comic in escalating brutality, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is strangely affecting as an exploration of grief and suffering." - Travis Crawford, Film Comment,
    Nov/Dec 02. A Tartan Films release.
    Sun Feb 13: 7; Fri Feb 18: 8:30

    Secret File / Segreti di stato
    Paolo Benvenuti, Italy, 2003; 85m
    "The scandal film of the Venice Film Festval 2003, Paolo Benvenuti's Secret File recounts the case of the Portella dell Ginestra Mayday massacre of 1947 and the ensuing trial of Salvatore Giuliano's gang in 1951. The work follows a skeptical gang lawyer who becomes a prosecutor of (not for) the state, re-examining evidence in light of newly declassified files. Benvenuti builds his case, constructing a thesis about the true culprits and their motives in a series of exquisite tableaux, picking apart the government's 50-year-old case with the skill of an expert trial attorney. However, he is more interested in the deeper truths behind the case: how a trial reveals the interconnection of church, state, and organized crime - i.e., Italy's black unio mystica." - Olaf Möller, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 03
    Mon Feb 14: 4:15; Tue Feb 15: 4:30 & 9

    Ma Mère
    Christophe Honoré, France, 2004; 110m
    Isabelle Huppert, no stranger to transgressive characters, plays a
    twisted, libidinal mommy intent upon passing the torch of debauchery to her teenage son. "George Bataille's father was an abusive, blind, crazy person. You don't need to know that to watch Honoré's opus - an adaptation of the excremental philosopher's posthumous novel - but if you add the insight to the film's already glorious mutation of Oedipal determinism, fired by the hot-to-cold flashes of Isabelle Huppert, and the raging hormonal confusion of Louis (son of Philippe) Garrel, you get a veritable deluge of psychosexual sludge. There are no guilty
    pleasures." - Chris Chang, Film Comment, Jan/Feb 05. A TLA Releasing
    film.
    Mon Feb 14: 8:30; Fri Feb 18: 6:15

    Fixed Bayonet Archival Print
    Sam Fuller, U.S., 1951; 92m
    Steel Helmet Archival Print
    Sam Fuller, U.S., 1950; 85m
    We've chosen to show these two early Sam Fuller movies to complement this year's release of the reconstructed version of The Big Red One. There has been no shortage of great films about war as monstrosity or poetic abstraction, but only a precious few that justly portray the reality of war. Fuller, who made it through Africa and Sicily, who lived through D-Day and helped liberate a death camp at Falkenau, made it his business to show war from a soldier's perspective, as experienced and as filtered through memory. He began with these two blunt, brilliant Korean War movies, one set in the heat of summer and the other in the dead of winter, both centered around a ragtag company
    of GIs boxed in by the enemy and fighting to simply stay alive. "I was driven to turn my wartime experiences into a movie in order to convey the physical and mental upheaval of men at war," wrote Fuller in his autobiography A Third Face. "That's how I ultimately came to grips with my experiences." And made great art in the process.
    Fixed Bayonet Wed Feb 16: 3 & 7
    Steel Helmet Wed Feb 16: 5 & 9

    Los muertos
    Lisandro Alonso, Argentina, 2004; 78m
    "Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso's follow-up to his debut, La
    Libertad, featured at the 2001 New York Film Festival, Los Muertos
    almost wordlessly follows a middle-aged man after he is released from prison and travels upriver to the village where he left his daughter and grandson behind, as well as the traces of a crime that left several young people dead. Shot in long, stationary takes, the film is a minute-by-minute account of regeneration, as the returning prisoner renews his acquaintance with nature, negotiating the shallow rivers that lead to his home, feeding on honey stolen from buzzing hives. Alonso never reveals the reasons for the crime or its extent; motivations are buried in an animal-like psychological primitivism, where all action is pre-rational and forgiveness is irrelevant." - Dave Kehr, Film Comment, Jan/Feb 05
    Thurs Feb 17: 4 & 9; Fri Feb 18: 4:30

    The Salamander / La Salamandre
    Alain Tanner, Switzerland, 1971; 129m
    Marxist novelist and art critic John Berger's first of three
    collaborations with Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner was this brash,
    inventive dissection of Swiss society ca. 1971. The plot is about two writers named Pierre and Paul (Jean-Luc Bideau and Jacques Denis) who think they've found a dynamite subject for a TV movie: a pissed-off, uncompromising working-class woman named Rosamunde (Ogier) who may have shot her uncle. Ogier's celebrated performance is an amazing creation, physically as well as cerebrally, the embodiment of post-May '68 working-class restlessness. Stunningly shot in black&white by Renato Berta and Sandro Bernardoni.
    Sat Feb 19: 12:30; Sun Feb 20: 8:45; Tue Feb 22: 3:15

    Le Pont du Nord
    Jacques Rivette, France, 1981; 135m
    "The cinema consists first of all of capturing something that happens at a certain time and place," Jacques Rivette once said, "and that will never happen again." Said impulse lies at the heart of this seldom seen, utterly hypnotic film (shot by William Lubtchansky). Marie (Bulle Ogier) has been released from prison. Baptiste (Bulle's late daughter, the ethereally beautiful Pascale Ogier) has just arrived in Paris. Fate brings them together, and for four days this oddly touching duo out of Lewis Carroll lives out a kind of board game, as if "Chutes and Ladders" had mysteriously merged with real life. A strangely unsettling
    film, and, thanks to the luminosity of mother and daughter, an oddly touching if not enchanted one. With Pierre Clémenti and Jean-François Stévenin. Music by Astor Piazzola.
    Sat Feb 19: 3; Sun Feb 20: 6:15

    Two / Deux
    Werner Schroeter, France, 2002; 121m
    Werner Schroeter again teams with Isabelle Huppert, as he did on
    Malina, for this "scandalous" film. Ogier gives a typically sharp
    performance as the mother of twin girls played by Huppert, each of whom grows up separately and unaware of the other, both of whom seek human connection through impersonal sex. Like all Schroeter's work, Deux is intense, maddening, and profoundly unsettling, pushing the limits of narrative and psychology, not to mention decorum. Sat Feb 19: 5:45 followed by a conversation with Bulle Ogier; Sun Feb 20: 3:45

    Mistress / Maîtresse
    Barbet Schroeder, Australia, 1973; 112m
    Bulle Ogier is a professional maîtresse, or dominatrix, with whom
    Gérard Depardieu carries on an increasingly perilous love affair.
    Critic Tom Milne writes that "Schroeder's classic of underground love sits well alongside the masochistic Last Tango in Parisc. The whole thing is lent more than a little frisson from the knowledge that some of Ogier's clients were real." Shot by Nestor Almendros, who offers a wonderful description of the opening shot in A Man with a Camera.
    Sat Feb 19: 9; Tue Feb 22: 1

    The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Le Charm discret du bourgeoisie
    Luis Buñuel, France, 1972; 102m
    A masterpiece of satirical wisdom as superbly envisioned by an
    authentic old master. A group of friends tries to have dinner together, but endless bizarre interruptions them. Buñuel's incomparable cast includes Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Michel Piccoli, and a very young, beautiful Bulle Ogier. "Perhaps the most perfectly achieved and executed of all [Buñuel's] late French films." - Jonathan Rosenbaum
    Sun Feb 20: 1:30

    Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel
    Eyal Silvan and Michel Khleifi, 2004; 5 hours with intermission.
    Screens video-projected on Beta. "Filmmakers Eyal Silvan and Mihel Khleifi went on a road trip in the summer of 2002 from just outside Gaza in the south of Israel up through to the Galilee in the north, along Route 181, the original partition boundary established by the UN in 1947 that was abrogated in the 1948
    war. Bridging surface differences - Silvan is Israeli, Khleifi is
    Palestinian - they let their videocam rollcto capture a truth about
    Israel deeper than that...on daily newscastscThe result is a
    decontextualization of history." - Harlan Jacobson, Film Comment,
    Jan/Feb 05
    Mon Feb 21: 1; Thurs Feb 24: 1

    Memories of Murder / Salinui chueok
    Bong Joon-ho, Korea, 2003; 130m
    "An unexpected hit in 2003, Bong Joon-ho's brutal, striking, and funny film is based on the real-life hunt for a small-town serial killer in the late 1980s. It's centered on the fierce yet absurd police investigation and the authorities' extraordinary failure to ensure public safety - in an era of pervasive surveillance and harsh police tactics in which the state seemed to be suspiciously watching everyone. Memories of Murder is the last word on an era in which Koreans, caught in the grip of the Chun dictatorship, could do nothing but watch helplessly." - Kim Young-jin, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 04. A Palm Pictures film.
    Mon Feb 21: 7; Wed Feb 23: 1 & 9

  2. #2
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    Re: Film Comment Selects, Part 1

    I have watched these 3 Korean films and RECOMMEND you watch if you are free ...
    -- Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2003; 120m)
    -- Memories of Murder / Salinui chueok (Bong Joon-ho, Korea, 2003; 130m)
    -- Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance / Boksuneun naui geot (Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2002; 129m)

  3. #3
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    Thanks P, you beat me to it. I've also seen the 3 Korean films hengcs mentioned along with Samira Makhmalbaf's At Five in the Afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't find any of them truly deserving to be included in this series. Memories of Murder is slightly better than average, but Old Boy is one of the most overrated films I've seen recently . The award it won at Cannes was mostly because of Tarantino.

    2 films I'm looking forward to are Clean, and Los Muertos from Argentinian youngster Lisandro Alonso, remember this name! Hopefully I'll get the chance to see them.
    Last edited by arsaib4; 01-19-2005 at 10:14 PM.

  4. #4
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    *I'll be posting very shortly about the film that should've won at Cannes: Wong Kar Wai's 2046 and plan to watch next week my import dvd of the film that won:Oldboy.

    *Got stuck in traffic driving to the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival to watch Turtles Can Fly but it will play at my hometown fest next month along with the very promising Los Muertos, which seems unlikely to gain distribution.

    * Not impressed with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance but others may like it. I agree with arsaib, it seems undeserving of inclusion.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-19-2005 at 10:09 PM.

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