Sunday, September 16, 2007

(My Own Personal) Festival Awards

Best Movie: No Country For Old Men

Best Director:
José Luis Guerín - In The City of Sylvia

Best Actor: Josh Brolin - No Country For Old Men

Best Actress: Anna Faris - Smiley Face
(runner up: Asia Argento - The Last MIstress)

Best Scene: Cafe Faces - In The City of Sylvia

Biggest Surprise: Stuck

Biggest Disappointment: Redacted

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Last Day: Grades

Smiley Face (2007, Gregg Araki) 65

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet) 44

The Edge of Heaven (2007, Fatih Akin) 42

It's a Free World ... (2007, Ken Loach) 56

Inside (2007, Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury) 61

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day Nine: Grades

Back on track after a couple days sick:

Glory to the Filmmaker! (2007, Takeshi Kitano) 53

In The City of Sylvia (2007, José Luis Guerín) 87

A Girl Cut in Two (2007, Claude Chabrol) 66

Son of Rambow (2007, Garth Jennings) 37

Good Riddance (1980, Francis Mankiewicz) 62

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day Eight: Grades

Water Lilies (2007, Celine Sciamma) 67

Margot at the Wedding (2007, Noah Baumbach) 64

You, The Living (2007, Roy Andersson) 80

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day Seven: Grades

Cassandra's Dream (2007, Woody Allen) 52

Redacted (2007, Brian De Palma) 40

Import/Export (2007, Ulrich Seidl) 42

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day Six: Grades

Silent Light (2007, Carlos Reygadas) 67

Paranoid Park (2007, Gus Van Sant) 47

Sukiyaki Western Django (2007, Takashi Miike) 54

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day Five: Grades

No Country For Old Men (2007, Joel and Ethan Coen) 88

Sad Vacation (2007, Shinji Aoyama) W/O
I had a headache and I needed new shoes (oh, and it kinda sucked).

The Last Mistress (2007, Catherine Breillat) 71

Stuck (2007, Stuart Gordon) 82

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Day Four: Grades

Secret Sunshine (2007, Lee Chang-dong) 63

Love Songs (2007, Christophe Honore) 46

The Girl in the Park (2007, David Auburn) 57

Shadows (2007, Milcho Manchevski) 34

The Man From London (2007, Bela Tarr)
Tarr's style in service of material that doesn't really call for it, with long takes expressing little beyond their own technical accomplishment. There is nothing here that even approaches the solar system sequence that opens Werckmeister Harmonies and instead of finding purpose for his long takes here he just lands on faces for several minutes without having them express anything notable (though some of them are great faces). I like the black and white photography with its beautiful chiaroscuro and certain shots have the Tarr magic to them, but this is a major disappointment considering how often Tarr makes films.

Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (2007, Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
A mediation of innocence of the past clashing with the realities of today; video games replacing more innocent child's play, working mothers replaced by nannies, divorce and other such adult troubles. This is just too loose for my taste and it floats around its point without force, while a little more force and rigor might have really touched a nerve. Instead Hou never really seems to say anything with much coherence and the film feels very flabby as a result.

The Mourning Forest (2007, Naomi Kawase) 48
I never really bought the central relationship between the two grievers and that they would be drawn to each other and eventually to their adventure and so, while I admired the photography and the way Kawase sought to express her characters' sadness, I never felt much resonance from their emotional outpourings. Also, I am not convinced that mourning is an interesting enough note to play at such a deliberate pace and with such little variation (both characters get to express a variety of emotion, but they are always just negotiating with their loss). Kawase seems worthy of future investigation though, so I will probably look at Shara sometime in the immediate future.

Les Amours D' Astree et de Celadon (2007, Eric Rohmer) 72
This joins Rohmer's other adaptation films: The Lady and the Duke, Perceval le Gallois and The Marquise of O; and like those films, this one pays close and respectful attention to the style, period and location of the original works. Rohmer tells us as much in the opening text scroll which tells us that Rohmer's experiment is to tell the story as it would be imagined by someone reading the text in the 17th century, which creates a strange temporal dislocation to the charming and humorous story, which is not far from Rohmer's previous morality tales in terms of Celadon's dilemma. I think this is a minor Rohmer work but it is also fascinatingly rich and warmly entertaining, we should all be so lucky to have minor works as major as this.

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007, Dario Argento) 50
A mostly enjoyable Argento horror entry that earns some goodwill just because it is the first Argento film in six years that was watchable (Sleepless in 2001). This one shows that while his flamboyant visual imagination may not be what it used to be (possibly due to lack of budget), his imagination for creative violence and expressive gore is completely intact. The reaction from the enthusiastic midnight crowd probably helped carry this one past the lulls that would standout more at home and, more importantly, I certainly can't pan Argento's film on his birthday

Starting Out in the Evening (2007, Andrew Wagner) 39
The above image (from the festival catalog) just about does justice to how terrible the HDTV photography looks in this film, especially the dark interior scenes which have distracting waves, which is especially surprising because a quick look at Harlan Bosmajian's filmography on IMDB reveals he has worked in this format before and would likely be aware of the limitations of his equipment. I don't want to just pick on the look of the film though because it is actually dead in the water with a (mostly) poorly written script and mismatched performance styles (Langella is theatrical and proud, Ambrose not really doing anything interesting). Adam Gorgoni's score is also notably weak; a syrupy Thomas Newman ripoff. There is very little to like here but every now and then a scene will find some truth or an emotional pay-off will strike you offguard but mostly this is very predictable fare and offers very little indication of the talent given to Andrew Wagner.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Day Three: Grades

The Banishment (2007, Andrei Zvyaginstev) 54

My Kid Could Paint That (2007, Amir Bar-Lev) 65

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007, Cristian Mungiu) 68

Ploy (2007, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) 26

Happiness (2007, Hur Jin-ho) 70

Diary of the Dead (2007, George A. Romero) 74

Friday, September 07, 2007

Day Two: Grades

Les Amours D' Astree et de Celadon (2007, Eric Rohmer) 72

The Mourning Forest (2007, Naomi Kawase) 48

Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (2007, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) 57

The Man From London (2007, Bela Tarr) 43

The Visitor (2007, Thomas McCarthy) 22

Frontière(s) (2007, Xavier Gens) W/O

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Day One: Grades

Starting Out in the Evening (2007, Andrew Wagner) 39

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007, Dario Argento) 50

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pre-Fest: Lars and the Real Girl

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007, Craig Gillespie) 51
The version I saw was a work print with a temp score and without final color timing. Grade obviously doesn't reflect the final product but it would take a lot of work to get me out of mixed territory because of its tonal inconsistency and the general feeling that the film was making fun of a character that is more tragic than comic, echoes of my arch-enemy Mike White. Terrific performances by Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider.

Pre-Fest: Flash Point

FLASH POINT (2007, Wilson Yip) 52
Hot Fuzz was just making fun of this kind of movie earlier this year, except clearly here when shit gets real it does so in beautifully brutal martial arts. Over-stylized and hyper-kinetic to disguise how little happens for the first hour and then the film finds its purpose with a climactic eight-minute fight scene that is fairly spectacular. A film for the DVD age because there is no reason to watch the entire running time but you might want to look at the final fight again, especially while among friends.

Pre-Fest: Chacun Son Cinema

CHACUN SON CINEMA (2007, A Bunch of People) 41
The one I was really stoked for was inexplicably missing from this collection (The Coens Bros). Far to many of these shorts tread similar ground and very few actually distinguished themselves from the others. Youssef Chahine either misunderstood the assignment or simply thinks that he is cinema, but his short was a hilarious misfire. Michael Cimino is also in his own world and will hopefully just disappear without another filmed effort. The 41 is for the overall experience, but here is the breakdown for the individual shorts:
OCCUPATIONS (Lars Von Trier)
CINEMA EROTIQUE (Roman Polanski)
AWKWARD (Elia Suleiman)

ONE FINE DAY (Takashi Kitano)
DANS LE NOIR (Andrei Konchalovsky)
DARKNESS (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
UPSURGE (Olivier Assayas)

Not Recommended:
OPEN AIR CINEMA (Raymond Depardon)
TROIS MINUTES (Theodoros Angelopoulos)
ANNA (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
MOVIE NIGHT (Zhang Yimou)
THE LADY BUG (Jane Campion)
THE FOUNDRY (Aki Kaurismaki)
47 YEARS LATER (Youssef Chahine)
IT'S A DREAM (Tsai Ming-liang)
THE GIFT (Raoul Ruiz)
FIRST KISS (Gus Van Sant)
WHERE IS MY ROMEO (Abbas Kiarostami)
SOLE MEETING (Manoel de Oliveira)
A 8 944 KM DE CANNES (Walter Salles)
WAR IN PEACE (Wim Wenders)