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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:
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.
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 Dawnlevels 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.
From the author of the historical thriller Kino, a “fast, complex, exhilarating roadster ride through history and time” (Frederick Barthelme) comes a gripping psychedelic mystery steeped in sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.
When legendary improvisational rock band Phish returns to the stage after a five-year breakup, longtime fan and hardboiled hippie sleuth Quentin Pfeiffer has to be there — even though he is older, wiser, and the father of an adorable baby daughter now.
But not everything is sunshine and rainbows in the freewheeling circus surrounding the band’s summer tour: after the millionaire skipper of a drug-drenched luxury yacht goes missing, Q and his crew are drawn into a dangerous intrigue of dreadlocked dames, shady tape collectors, and spun-out wookies chasing after the long-lost recording of a mysterious late-night jam.
Inspired by Raymond Chandler and set during a series of concerts at Long Island’s Jones Beach amphitheater, The Ashakiran Tapetakes readers deep into the spiraling ecstasy of Phish’s epic shows and the seductive underworld of the obsessive fans following them.
Praise for Kino:
“Kino is an intoxicating Euro-brew, written with enormous skill and dedication.” – Frederick Barthelme
“A debut of great intellectual force.” – Teddy Wayne
“A delirious melange of conspiracy, magic, sex, history, bad behavior, and cinema, Kino is a stellar entertainment, and Jurgen Fauth is a writer of rare, sinister imagination.” – Owen King