October 6, 2005

NY Film Festival Mini Reviews

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
The audience seemed stunned by the bleakness of this Romanian film about a dying man being shuttled from hospital to hospital in a nightmare of red tape. I was less distressed than most and found the film funny and occasionally brilliant but I heard lots of grumbling as we walked out the door. This one's not for everyone.

The Squid and the Whale
It opens this weekend. Just go see it, you won't be sad.

The President’s Last Bang
Probably the best film I saw at the festival. The Dr. Stranglelove comparison in the film festival's official blurb is apt. Finding deep comedy in assassination of Korean president Park Chung-hee the filmmaker pulls viewers through a roller coaster of a movie with a self confident wit that kept me hooked throughout. I hope it is released in the states so I can see it again.

Three Times
I'm a big fan of Hou Hsia-hsien. This film featuring 3 short stories about love is brimming with cinematic grace. Each of the stories is told quietly almost wordlessly. They each start slowly and work up to subtle moments where profound emotion is telegraphed with the slightest of gestures, but ultimately the 3 stories (all set in different eras but featuring the same 2 leads) didn't add up to much. Still if you are in right mood just turn off the left brain and let it all wash over you.

Something Like Happiness
What is it about Eastern Europeans making films that leave you feeling utterly depressed? Is crushing the soul their idea of a good time? Is life in the Czech Republic really so grim? I'm sure this is a wonderful film but after the ended all I could think about was having a stiff vodka tonic.

Who’s Camus Anyway?
This Altmanesque Japanese comedy did something I don't think I've ever seen done properly on film-it captured the feel and texture of college life without descending into camp. Part of secret was that the actors were actually college aged (and not 25 year olds), part of it was that the kids always seemed to be running everywhere, and part of it was the messy web of relationships spun by director Mitsuo Yanagimachi. This film sort of ran out of steam in the end, but I enjoyed the ride. My only major criticism--muddy camerawork.

Tale of Cinema
I didn't see this film but Jenn did and she loved it. We became big Hong Sang-soo fans after seeing some of his films in LA. Jenn calls Hong Sang-soo the first Korean auteur and I don't think it's just ethnic pride talking. This guy is good.

posted at 01:50 AM by raul

Filed under: film

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