NYFF08: Che Guevara and Debussy to a Disco Beat



As the 46th New York Film Festival slouches towards its final weekend — one more movie, one more party, and Catherine Deneuve in the flesh — it’s time for a little roundup. I’ve mainly posted capsules to Worldfilm, with the exception of Che, which is on track for my favorite of the year and required something lengthier.

Here’s an overview of what I’ve seen, with a few movies that still deserve reviews, including The Wrestler, Agnes Jaoui’s wonderful Let It Rain, and – not at the fest — Charlie Kaufman’s absolutely wretched Synecdoche, New York. In order of preference:

Che. Steven Soderbergh, 2008. ****
Let It Rain. Agnes Jaoui, 2008. ****
Tony Manero. Pablo Larrain, 2008. ****
Waltz with Bashir. Ari Folman, 2008. ****
Summer Hours. Olivier Assays. 2008. ***
The Wrestler. Darren Aronofsky, 2008. ***
Serbis. Brillante Mendoza, 2008. ***
24 City. Jia Zhangke, 2008. ***
The Headless Woman. Lucrecia Martel, 2008. ***
Chouga. Darezhan Omirbaev, 2007. ***
Gomorrah. Matteo Garrone, 2008. ***
Wendy and Lucy. Kelly Reichardt, 2008. **
Ashes of Time Redux. Wong Kar-Wei, 2008. **
Bullet in the Head. Jaime Rosales, 2008. **
Four Nights with Anna. Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008. *
Synecdoche, New York. Charlie Kaufman, 2008. *

Marcy also saw Changeling (*), The Class (***), and Happy-Go-Lucky (****). Photos soon.

I was faced with a choice at a difficult age…

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7hdS_qaGIQ

The Week in Moving Pictures











Wild Reeds/Les Roseaux sauvages. André Téchiné, 1994. ****
It Happened One Night. Frank Capra, 1934. ****
Recount. Jay Roach, 2008. ****
The Long Good Friday. John Mackenzie, 1980. ****
Ikiru. Akira Kurosawa, 1952. ****
Hamlet 2. Andrew Fleming, 2008. ***
Autumn/Automne. Ra’up McGee, 2004. ***
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, 2008. ***
Mildred Pierce. Michael Curtiz, 1945. ***
Choke. Clark Gregg, 2008. **
Sukiyaki Western Django. Takashi Miike, 2007. N/R

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

It’s no secret that I love Star Wars — and not just “the old ones” but all six movies: their mythic scope, their conceptual and visual inventiveness, the cheesy characters and blunt dialogue, the structural complexity, the joy they take in speed and color. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the all-new animated Star Wars adventure, is a worthy addition to the original six-film cycle, staying true to the spirit of the series while overhauling it in a number of important ways. Read the rest of my review on About.com.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Dave Filoni, 2008. ****

Also recently seen:

The Dark Knight



Christopher Nolan and Maggie Gyllenhaal just aren’t enough of an indie connection to cover this on Worldfilm, so I’ll just say this here: godawful. Two hours and twenty minutes, a gazillion dollars, a sterling cast, and an eight story IMAX screen weren’t enough for this movie to tickle a single thrill out of me. Instead, endless turgid tripe about vigilante morals, heaps of vicious violence, Gotham City politics that play a little bit like The Wire, only stupid, and muddled action sequences that are — and I say this without hyperbole — duller than the scenes in which Bruce Wayne is having dinner.

What else? Christian Bale doesn’t go anywhere near Rescue Dawn levels of intensity, poor Maggie is wasted, Aaron Eckhart pays for his sins in Thank You for Smoking with a nasty case of Visible Man, Morgan Freeman turns into a FISA-protected wiretapper, and Michael Caine will always be Michael Caine. Heath Ledger’s Joker, a sadistic freak with curious facial ticks, is the most compelling person on screen, but tragedy or not, he can’t beat Jack Nicholson dancing in the pale moonlight to a Prince track.

Tim Burton knew how to have fun with Batman rather than turning it into plodding, puffed-up kitsch mistaking itself for profound psycho noir that the source material won’t support. As Hellboy 2 amply illustrates, there’s nothing wrong with fun — but there’s none to be had here. Previously: Batman Begins.

Prince, Jack, Keaton, Burton:



The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan, 2008. *