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Thread: Nyff 2011

  1. #31
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    You are my window into contemporary film, Mr. Knipp. It's true, man! This is my busiest year, the last year I am a student and the first year I am a professor. Your reviews and comments are all I have time and energy to read about contempo cinema (except for reviews of the few movies that totally blow me away). I do check metacritic scores just to have an approximate sense of critical consensus. Haven't read Rosenbaum's blog in months.

  2. #32
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    Good, Oscar. I like having readers.

  3. #33
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    Lars von Trier: Melancholia (2011)

    Part I is a very expensive and disastrous wedding. Part II is the end of the world. Kirsten Dunst won Best Actress at Cannes for her performance as Justine. As her sister, Claire, von Trier again features Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was central to Antichrist (NYFF 2009). Their obnoxious mother, Charlotte Rampling; father, John Hurt. Stellan Skarsgård and Alexander Skarsgård, father and son actors, play father and son in the wedding. Alexander is the groom. Kiefer Sutherland is the husband of Charlottes Gainsbourg. Wagner's Tristan und Isolde also plays a key role. This was my second time watching the film. This time seeing it at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, I coulld appreciate just how awesome the soundtrack of this epic film is. The Walter Reade is a great place to watch -- and hear -- a film. Some of us agreed that Part I outweighs Part II, but that's not to say Part II isn't gorgeous and terrifying.

    The end of Peter De Bruge's review in VARIETY:
    For all the tyrannical disdain he's shown other filmmakers over the years, von Trier once again demonstrates a mastery of classical technique, extracting incredibly strong performances from his cast while serving up a sturdy blend of fly-on-the-wall naturalism and jaw-dropping visual effects. Given the film's high-concept premise, things could have been a lot different in the hands of another director, but with von Trier, it's just as Justine tells her exasperated spouse at the end of their chapter together: "What did you expect?"
    My learned friend said I should have mentioned Tarkovsky. Yes, he is an influence too.


    MELANCHOLIA: FROM THE PROLOGUE
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-29-2011 at 11:11 PM.

  4. #34
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    Dreileben

    Note about tomorrow (Sept. 23, 2011). Three features from the New German Cinema will be shown the P&I screenings. One is by Christoph Hochhäusler, whose The City Below, a story of corporate adultery told like a thriller, I loved at the SFIFF this year. These three films are combined under the title Dreileben, and are part of the Spotlight series of the festival. Dreileben was also a part of the Berlinale and Toronto.

    They are actually more like three long short stories, or three linked short feature films. The FSLC webpage explaining, discussing, and promoting them is here.

    I'll post some comments on Dreileben, but not a complete review because these posts are confined to the main slate. The Filmlinc information below should suffice and I will just give my views on the relative merits of the films. We'll just see if again Hochhäusler's isn't the high point.

    You could also see them as analogous to the Belgian director Lucas Belvaux's 2002 trilogy An Amazing Couple / On the Run / After the Life. Or Laurence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet.
    Above all else, Dreileben is an engrossing and intensely watchable experiment in cinematic storytelling. Born of a correspondence between three key directors of the so-called “Berlin School” of German cinema, this trio of interlocking films revolves around a single event, the escape of a murderer and sex offender from a hospital in a small town in central Germany. In genre, style and tone, however, the three films could hardly be more distinct.

    Christian Petzold’s Beats Being Dead (Etwas Besseres als den Tod) is a tragedy of young love between an orderly at the hospital with a promising future ahead of him and a down-and-out, and somewhat unstable, Bosnian refugee who works as a housekeeper at a nearby hotel. The manhunt that unites the three films is mostly relegated to the background as Petzold explores the romantic angst caused by the divergence in the young lovers’ weltanschauungs, only to rear its ugly head in a series of terrifying scenes at the film’s end.

    Dominik Graf’s Don’t Follow Me Around (Komm mir nicht nach) brings the audience closer to the main event by following a big-city police psychologist brought in to help with the search for the escaped convict. However, we are quickly diverted again by her discovery of systematic police corruption in the area and her reunion with an old friend, with whom she is staying while in town. Over quite a few glasses of red wine, the two friends discover that they once dated the same man at the same time without knowing it, a revelation with distinct and important implications for each woman.

    In Christoph Hochhäusler’s riveting thriller One Minute of Darkness (Eine Minute Dunkel), the audience is finally brought into the point of view of the escaped felon himself, as well as that of the gruff police inspector in charge of recapturing him. While the felon creates a surprisingly tender bond with a young runaway he meets in hiding, the inspector begins to question his guilt after studying the original case that landed him behind bars. Laced with visual callbacks to the first two films and a nail-biting concluding sequence, Dreileben’s final chapter delivers ample payoff on the audience’s investment in the series.

    DREILEBEN: ONE MINUE OF DARKNESS
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-22-2011 at 07:13 PM.

  5. #35
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    Dreileben

    I'm afraid aftter a day of watching these three interlocking films they turn out to be disappointing as a group. The highlight is definitely the first, the romance between the orderly and the hotel maid, which is shot in a cool, clean, elliptical style that makes nearly every single frame suspenseful and full of menace. Note that the FSLC summaries that are given in the post above tell you pretty much all you need to know about the basic plotlines of each of the three films.

    Christian Petzold: Beats Being Dead (Etwas Besseres als den Tod) The essence of this piece is that we don't know much about anybody or anything at this point. We know there's a mad killer on the loose. We know Johannes has met Ana through two encounters with a group of scary bikers, during the second of which she seems their victim more than their accomplice and he befriends her, and they quickly become lovers. As they walk on country roads between the hotel where she works and the clinic where he's an intern, we never know if they'll get through alive. When he's lying naked on a riverbank at dusk after a swim, suddenly the bikers who have knocked him down reappear, terrifying him, accompanied by the girl. Toward the end of the film a party reveals that Johannes wasn't quite what he seemed to be, and Ana's fate is dire. The film ends with more questions than answers, but it makes a great beginning for a trio of interlocking films. Petzold made the admirable The Postman Always Rings Twice remake Jerichow that was included in the 2009 Film Comment Selects and I reviewed it then.

    Dominik Graf: Don’t Follow Me Around (Komm mir nicht nach) Graf adopts a noisy, messy, cluttered style and a screenplay that is as talky as Petzold's was spare and suggestive. We are talked to death as the wine glasses go down and the cigarettes get smoked, and the corruption investigation is another surprise, but it only adds to the clutter of a film that, after the first, seems more irrelevant than expansive, though a brief glipse of Ana and Johannes in a hotel room shows that the time shceme is indeed the same. A big letdown and a bore, desptie plot surprises of its own and foreshadowings of the last segment. Graf's credits go back to the late Seventies and he has worked a lot in German TV, including crime and police series. I don't know if I've seen anything by him before. His style seems less distinctively of the "Berlin School" than Petzold and Hochhäusler's, and the style of this film was a distinct disappointment. Though some found the lengthy exploration of a past love affair (two women friends find they were involved with the same man fifteen years earlier) and possible paternity, this felt like too much telling and not enough showing to me.

    Christoph Hochhäusler: One Minute of Darkness (Eine Minute Dunkel) Hochhäusler, whose The City Below I admired so much and reviewed in this year's SFIFF, delivers a flm that, like Petzold's, is in the cool, spare, elegant New German manner, returning somewhat to the look of Beats Being Dead. However, it's a stretch to say this dogged pursuit of the deranged fugitive and the older inveestigator is in any way "nail-biting." On the contrary, by the end of the film we have lost interest in what was always a foregone conclusion: that the crime alluded to in the first segment was going to be on the surveillance tape. The style is nice here, but the narrative gets a little bogged down, despite the nice moment, too late, alas, when the fugitive is momentarily rescued by a boy who has run away from home.

    There is much intricacy here, but it's only the clean, spare, dramatic unreeling of events in the first film that generates real interest and arouses our admiration.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-23-2011 at 07:20 PM.

  6. #36
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    Béla Tarr: The Turin Horse (2011)

    What happened to the horse Nietzshe embraced in 1889? A Beckettian grind. Tarr's first in four years, since The Man from London (NYFF 2007), and he says it will be his last.

  7. #37
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    Abel Ferrara: 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)

    It's an eco-disaster that is bringing the planet and us to a sudden end. Exactly how, isn't made clear in this film about making peace with loved ones before the apocalypse -- which looks pretty flimsy compared to Lars von Trier's powerful depiction of planetary doom in Part II of his Melancholia.

  8. #38
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    Gerardo Naranjo: Miss Bala (2011)

    Peter Debruge of Variety calls this a "blistering firecracker." But it is enveloping and sad. Through a distinctive style of long, virtuoso takes, it depicts the drug wars in Mexico from the point of a beauty pageant contestant who becomes unwittingly drawn into them.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-27-2011 at 08:40 PM.

  9. #39
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    Roman Polanski: Carnage (2011)

    A film version of the Yasmina Reza play with a new all-star film cast of John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet. Polanski's direction is well-modulated to build to the desired crescendo as the two polite couples gradually reveal their true hostilities, and the whole production is elegant and seamless. The gala opening night presentation of the NYFF.

  10. #40
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    You`re giving us fine refreshment Chris.
    Jealous as hell you are seeing these films. (and relaying their content in fine style)

    Kaurismaki, Tarr, Trier, Scorsese, Ferrara, Nick Ray- AWESOME choices.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  11. #41
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    Enjoy the reviews, and watch for some new names. Gerardo Naranjo is one. Probably Alice Rorhrwacher is another, so far.

  12. #42
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    Asghar Farhadi: A Separation (2011)

    A tangled web of accusations and lies. Winner of the big prize at Berlin, included in a raft of international film festivals and released in a dozen countries. Perhaps the quintessential Iranian film, and starting with the frustrated desire to leave the country.

  13. #43
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    Santiago Mitre: The Student (2011)

    I don't see this as "dry and inconsequential" as Mike D'Angelo did, writing from Toronto. But I can see his point. Mitre gets deep into the nittty-gritty of student politics in Buenos Aires. A "Latin American Aaron Sorkin," Indiewire says. Again, I see their point, but don't agree. A story of disillusionment.

  14. #44
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    Ullirch Köhler: Sleeping Sickness (2011)

    A black Frenchman out of his depth in Africa, and his opposite number, a European doctor who's practiced so long in Africa he can't go home. Good local color but a film that never comes together or builds this contrast between the two men.

  15. #45
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    Nuri Bilge Ceylan: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

    A long and winding road to an autopsy. In Turkey. This shaggy dog auteurist police procedural was co-winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes, with the Dardennes' The Kid with the Bike.

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