Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It must be like withdrawal: it's hard to think about the experience of this year's NYFF. For one thing (as i've mentioned) it just seemed to be unconscionably long. There were a lot of movies of interest, and there were certain trends that seemed to emerge. What was also fun was talking to people after the movies. Even disagreeing with people proved to be fun.

But i'll start with the Romanian film "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days". well, Romania is the new Czechoslavakia. Of course, there is no more Czechoslavakia. But i mean that Romania is the country which, at the moment, has a primacy of what might be called humanist filmmaking. These are unadorned movies about the lives of people affected by extreme circumstances. Two other recent movies: "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" and "12:08 East of Bucharest". There's a minute concentration on the activities of people under stress: the nurse and the dying man in "Mr. Lazarescu", the radio talkshow host in "12:08", the two college girls in "4 Months". "4 Months" is rather harrowing; in these Romanian movies, there's been a directness, and this also signifies an acknowledgement of pain and death presented in stark terms.

Though these films have not been without irony. However, talking about irony, and there is the rather twee preciosity of Wes Anderson and his "Darjeeling Limited". However, i should add that the short "Hotel Chevalier" is rather more directly charming; i think it's a mistake not to show it before the feature, the way it has been done at the festival. (The short was available online; i presume it will be one of the highlights of the DVD edition of the movie.)

If Wes Anderson was twee, then Abel Ferrara was trying for vulgarity. But he's become too much of an aesthete: "Go Go Tales" also smacked of preciosity. Preciousness and vulgarity are an odd mix, and the film was like a drunk wallowing in the mud who still tries to be dainty. For all the copious displays of female nudity, it was surprisingly lacking in true sensuality, and for a movie about a strip joint, it wasn't really sleazy enough. Raucous, maybe (how could it not be, with Sylvia Miles as insurance? that voice of hers has become a weapon, and it's one of the last things in the movie), but not sleazy and grungy.

A lot of filmmakers this year seemed to be trying on styles. In the case of Julian Schnabel: it's nice to know that he must have seen some Brakhage and some Sidney Peterson, because the distorted lenses and the camera-eye viewpoint which were used in the first part to simulate the viewpoint of a visually impaired person were straight-out-of-Brakhage (and Peterson). Certainly, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was an exceptional piece of film craftsmanship, and the acting was superb. Julian Schnabel is aggravating, because he remains one of the most arrogant people around, the kind of person who is such a blowhard you want him to disgrace himself, but he doesn't.

Carlos Reygadas's "Stellet Licht" makes like a Terrence Malick movie, heavy on the doting-seasonal cinematography, and then slowly turns into a Dreyer movie, making a quiet show of its (received) grace. The movie was very well-done, but there semed to be something almost impersonal about it. And the ending wasn't quite as exalting as it should have been, because it didn't seem to come from passion. (With Dreyer, you always knew how intensely passionate he was and how much he believed in the ending of "Ordet".)

A lot more, but (as Audrey Hepburn says in "Love in the Afternoon") "more later".


Post a Comment

<< Home