Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NYFF 2008- Wrap Up and Top 10

Well, I just haven't the time to write up everything I saw at NYFF. Amidst my attempts I realized that most of the films I was writing about will get released sooner rather than later, and my reviews would all benefit from second screenings. So, instead of attempt to write a bunch of short reviews, I am substituting that for this wrap up list of my favorite films at the festival this year.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, a lot of the films this year seemed middle of the road. There was only one film I felt like I really hated (Tony Manero) although even it has its defenders. Aaron Hillis and Andrew Grant named it their favorite film of the festival. Others I have talked to had a similar response to me. Undoubtedly, it is a divisive film. I found it rather soulless, tepid, cold, and, worst of all, horribly uninteresting. Apparently it is supposed to be a black comedy (as you might assume from the synopsis) but I sure missed the boat on that. I understand that being cold, damp, and unsympathetic is part of the point, as the film reflects suppression of...everything... in the Pinochet era, but all it made me want to do was walk out of the theater.

But I digress. After the break, I'm going to be a list-a-holic to at least put the films into some sort of category. I know I am short changing many of them that deserve write ups, but I promise to give them when the films gain wide releases. I'll only list films (besides the top 10) that I have yet to write about. Maybe it will build some anticipation for later reviews.

Thanks to everyone for their patience and for reading these NYFF posts. The festival was a great experience and, assuming I'm in New York next year, I'll be back with a new strategy for trying to write about as many films as possible! Special thanks to Nathaniel R. at The Film Experience and Nathan Lee for talking to me at press screenings.

Top notch films: Wendy and Lucy, The Wrestler, The Headless Woman

Films with issues that are still worth seeing: 24 City, Serbis, Four Nights With Anna (despite its overwhelmingly egregious score), Gomorrah, Mock Up On Mu, Tokyo Sonata

Films with too many issues to overcome: The Windmill Movie, Tony Manero, I'm Gonna Explode, Changeling

My NYFF Top 10

1. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/France/Italy/Spain)
2. Che (Steven Soderbergh, Mexico/USA)
3. Afterschool (Antonio Campos, USA)
4. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, USA)
5. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, France)
6. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, France/USA)
7. Serbis (Brillante Mendoza, Philippines/France)
8. Hunger (Steve McQueen, UK)
9. Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy, Germany/Kazakhstan/Poland/Russia/Switzerland)
10. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, Italy)


Tony Dayoub said...

Hey James,

I didn't catch all the press screenings, but I wanted to comment on the ones I did. Many of my feelings echo yours, and you can read more about them at my site if you haven't already.

Che, The Wrestler, and Summer Hours were among the best I saw there, and I'm especially heartened to see Che near the top of your list. It has its flaws, but it was an ambitious film for Soderbergh to undertake.

The Wrestler was good for the opposite reason. I thought it was significant that Aronofsky showed he is just as capable at riveting us in an intimate story as he is with a grandiose one.

Changeling and I'm Gonna Explode? Great performances in each, but both have uneven scattershot stories against them.

Two I haven't had time to review yet are the great Waltz with Bashir and Ashes of Time Redux, which I fell asleep at due to my own exhaustion (not the film's fault), and would rather see again before giving my thoughts. Did you catch these?

James Hansen said...


Sorry for the slow response. I'm in Chicago at a conference and am swamped, per usual.

Glad to know there is some more love from CHE coming from somewhere. It didn't seem to go over very well overall, but I thought it was really brilliant in a lot of ways.

Agreed on Aronofsky...he needed to tone it down, did so, and nailed it. I don't know if that movie would be very good at all without Rourke...he really makes it work, I think.

I didn't see ASHES OF TIME yet (it's playing in some other theaters in NYC now so I hope to catch up soon.) I thought WALTZ WITH BASHIR was ok for a while, but had supremely major issues with the ending. I wrote about it in my second NYFF entry. All three are listed now on the sidebar under "Special reviews" but here is a link to the one that covers many of the Cannes movies.

Thanks for reading and for the comments! I am really really hoping the Martel film gets US distribution...makes me so angry that it doesn't have it yet! Arghhhhh!

Anonymous said...

Dayam, can’t wait until I move my ass to New York already, NYFF this year seemed especially fantastic. Most of the films on your top ten are in my “must see as soon as freaking possible” list, but I have seen Hunger and Gomorrah and found them both to be really good. I’m glad you had a good time at the fest, and I promise one day when I attend, I’ll talk to you at press screenings ;) lol.

replica gucci online said...

I didn't catch all the press screenings, but I wanted to comment on the ones I did. Many of my feelings echo yours, and you can read more about them at my site if you haven't already.