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)
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inverting A Classic

by James Hansen

Ever since Ed Halter ever so briefly mentioned the video in his 2007 Year in Experimental Film article for The Village Voice, I have been looking forward to Jennifer Montgomery’s Deliver, an all-female video “remake” (really an inversion) of Deliverance. Although Deliverance was popularized by the classic 1972 film, Montgomery makes it clear that it is not the film, but the book that is her main source of inspiration.

My guess is the near sell out at Deliver’s world premiere at BAM had more to do with John Boorman’s Deliverance (the film) than with James Dickey’s Deliverance (the book), not that it matters all that much. However, the people expecting a Hollywood-esque estrogen driven remake of Deliverance were likely disappointed and will continue to be as Deliver makes the small rounds to other experimental film venues across the country. Deliver is deeply problematic, just as it is meant to be. But, if you ask me, it is fascinating, frustrating, and thrilling, in its own distanced way, all at once.

Montgomery, a terrific, award winning video artist, (her recent work Notes on the Death of Kodachrome (1990-2006) was shown at the 2008 Whitney Biennial) is obviously not interested in the action aspects that dominate Deliverance and make it what ends up being (for better or, if you agree with Montgomery and myself, worse.) Deliver is undeniably more interested in social construction and the overriding forces that shape historical identities. Despite being shot in high def video (Montgomery’s prior work has very predominantly been shot on Super 8), it has the same personal extension and feeling that has been a highlight of her past work. It is ripe with contradictions and paradoxes, particularly in the pivotal rape scene, which will dominate any discussion of the video.

While plenty of people will undoubtedly strike Deliver down for various choices that it makes (assuming people unfamiliar with Montgomery will stick with it once they realize this is not a Hollywood action remake), each choice adds to the video’s identity and manage to confound pretty much every issue that Dickey’s novel and Boorman’s film proposes. In attempting to reconstruct and question the cultural history of a classic literary and filmic text, not to mention gender, homosexuality, and sexual violence, Montgomery forces Deliver to confront a lot in a short amount of time. That it feels like a totally completed work-in-progress goes to show the ever-contracting depths to which Montgomery’s art, highlighted in Deliver, reaches.

I plan on writing about this with some more specific analysis in the future, but I have a word limit writing for The Film Experience this week, so this is all you get for now! I am, however, posting it here before it goes up there tomorrow morning. That's true dedication for you all! And, in case I have provoked you and you are in the Chicago area, Deliver will show at the Chicago Underground Film Festival next weekend. I'm randomly in Chicago next weekend and may revisit this if I can find the time. See you there?
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Let The Right One In" Red Band

In case you haven't seen this yet...

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Busy Busy Week

One more apology for being so slow my final two NYFF posts. They are in the works! Promise! I am swamped this week, but will try and finish them up for all of you. I just don't want to leave out the titles that I find of interest. Perseverance is key! On the other hand, I have double blogging duty this week. I am guest blogging at The Film Experience this week while my friend Nathaniel R is out of town. If you don't visit there already, be sure to do so to see my stuff, along with several other guests, this week.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

How Do You Define Best Picture at Awards Daily

People are apparently thinking about Best Picture a lot these days. In my last post, I briefly went over what I thought a Best Picture movie was and voila! Awards Daily has an entry where they asked critics how they define Best Picture. It's worth taking a look at for all of those who are interested. I am particularly intrigued by the long response by Scott Foundas who really works through lots of the issues. Similar to what I was doing, except Foundas-style. (I typically like Foundas, for the record, and agree with a lot of what he says. My guess is if you don't like him to start with, you won't like the response much. Either way, though, I think it most fully incorporates everything that Oscars and awards shows are about. He's asking for a beating posting that on Awards Daily though...)

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shoulda Been A Winner Meme

I sort of tagged myself to this meme, at the request of MovieMan at The Dancing Image, which started at Filmcability. Basically, you are supposed to go through every year since the Oscars have been awarded and make your selection for what should win Best Picture. Although Filmcability and The Dancing Image decided to revoke all rules for selection, I have chosen not to do so, although, admittedly, every once in a while, I break the own rules I am about to explain. (And just to tout my record for a moment, I actually have seen every film that won Best Picture. It's a project started in high school that I tore through for a while and then slowed down. Last summer I watched Platoon and only recently watched Wings to complete the list! And, from the looks of this list, I sure don't agree with the winners very often. I also learned that I really really love David case you didn't know.)

I think of the Best Picture Oscar as an American film award. It's by no means to discredit it, but when I think "Oscar" Godard doesn't really come to mind. Neither, for that matter, does straight-up experimental film. A film like Ernie Gehr's Side/Walk/Shuttle would easily be my favorite film of 1991, but should it be the Best Picture? If it is accepted in the mainstream can is still be avant-garde? I was getting myself bogged down in a hurry, so I just decided no avant-garde. Unless I felt like I should change my mind...

Anyways, I felt like I should stick with "American" movies. I'm in the clear now, right? Unfortunately, this gets more complicated with American releases from English speaking "foreign" directors and when Hollywood produces work from foreign directors. How do I decide what is American or what isn't? I just can't keep things simple. My mind only got more twisted from here, so I finally just said forget it. If it's American-enough, I let it slide. I am sure there more more issues with release years and I may have flubbed up when this films would have been valid for Oscars in the first place, but let's overlook that for now.

Maybe in the future I'll continue this rather productive meme by selecting foreign films and experimental films from each year. That will lead my mind to a whole variety of other problems with naming them, but I'll save those matters for a later time. Now that I have bored everyone with this meandering, here is my list.

One final note...I have decided to not italicize the titles because it would take a long time to highlight each of them and select it. Oh formatting. You are such a pain sometimes. And if anyone knows how to make italics from Word/Pages transfer to Blogger, please God send me an email and let me know. :)

1927- Sunrise (FW Murnau)
1928- The Wind (Victor Sjostrom)
1929- Pandora’s Box (GW Pabst)
1930- All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone)
1931- City Lights (Charles Chaplin)
1932- Freaks (Tod Browning)
1933- King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest Schoedsack)
1934- It Happened One Night (Frank Capra)
1935- A Night At The Opera (Sam Wood)
1936- Modern Times (Charles Chaplin)
1937- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (William Cottrell & Wilfred Jackson)
1938- The Citadel (King Vidor)
1939- The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming)
1940- His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks)
1941- Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
1942- Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
1943- Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery)
1944- Hail The Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges)
1945- Topaz (Dave Tatsuno)
1946- It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
1947- Out of the Past (Jacques Torneur)
1948- Letter From An Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls)
1949- Porky in Wackyland (Robert Clampett)
1950- Rabbit of Seville (Chuck Jones)
1951- The Day The Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise)
1952- Singin’ In The Rain (Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen)
1953- Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller)
1954- Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
1955- The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
1956- The Searchers (John Ford)
1957- Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean)
1958- Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
1959- Shadows (John Cassavetes)
1960- The Apartment (Billy Wilder)
1961- Something Wild (Jack Garfein)
1962- Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
1963- Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller)
1964- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies (Ray Dennis Steckler) or Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)
1965- Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer)
1966- Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol & Paul Morissey)
1967- Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn)
1968- 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
1969- Salesman (Albert & David Maysles)
1970- Zabriskie Point (Michaelangelo Antonioni)
1971- Punishment Park (Peter Watkins)
1972- Cocksucker Blues (Robert Frank)
1973- Badlands (Terence Malick)
1974- A Woman Under The Influence (John Cassavetes)
1975- Jaws (Steven Spielberg)
1976- Carrie (Brian De Palma)
1977- Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
1978- Halloween (John Carpenter)
1979- Alien (Ridley Scott)
1980- Atlantic City (Louis Malle)
1981- Blow Out (Brian De Palma)
1982- The Thing (John Carpenter)
1983- Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
1984- Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch)
1985- Prizzi’s Honor (John Huston)
1986- Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
1987- The Brave Little Toaster (Jerry Rees)
1988- Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg)
1989- Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh)
1990- GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese)
1991- My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant)
1992- The Crying Game (Neil Jordan)
1993- Blue (Derek Jarman)...avant garde, I know I know...or Naked (Mike Leigh)
1994- Hoop Dreams (Steve James)
1995- Toy Story (John Lasseter)
1996- Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen)
1997- Crash (David Cronenberg)
1998- The Thin Red Line (Terence Malick)
1999- Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)
2000- Traffic (Steven Soderbergh)
2001- Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
2002- Spider (David Cronenberg)
2003- Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
2004- Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood) or Primer (Shane Carruth)
2005- A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
2006- Inland Empire (David Lynch) or Borat (Larry Charles)
2007- There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Wow...this took a long time to put together. Although I don't wish this kind of pain on anyone I tag the following people if they dare take up the task. And since I was working on this, you can push back my final NYFF entries to Friday and Sunday (most likely.) We'll see if I can stick to any kind of a schedule. Oh yeah, and if you wonder why I didn't select something feel free to bring it up, as I may have overlooked the films. I was using Wikipedia's pages for American films of each year so I think I got most of them, but I could always miss something. Thanks for reading!

Nathaniel R. at The Film Experience
Jeremy at Moon in the Gutter
Ibetolis at Film For The Soul
Adam at DVD Panache
Jacob W. at Mad Crazy Movie House
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DVD of the Week: "La Cienega" (Lucrecia Martel, 2001)

La Cienega (The Swamp), the solid debut feature from Argentine writer-director Lucrecia Martel, immediately shows the strengths that Martel has continued to develop ever since. Driven by its moody ambiance and ever-present atmospheric sounds, La Cienega flows from moment to moment and scene to scene. The film becomes increasingly overwhelming in its propensity to leave characters, and the audience, wandering for answers: a trait that, up to this point, has defined all of Martel’s underseen and divisive works. Although it is her “weakest” feature in my mind (she has only made three and each one has been better than the last), this is a dynamic debut and showcases an assured, still developing talent. Plus, for those looking a place to start, you might as well start from the beginning and get caught up with this fresh voice in international film.

Note: Martel’s most recent feature “The Headless Woman” was shown at the New York Film Festival and has yet to receive distribution. When/if it does, I will be sure to let everyone know. My take on it and the other big name NYFF movies should be posted Wednesday or Thursday. A wrap up entry with a festival top 5 (or 10) should be posted Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned!

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

ADULT.'s "Decampment" Trailer

Is anyone more familiar with these musicians or artists than I am? Looks to be one of the truly unique horror movie experiences ("midwestern horror" at that) you'll find in New York this fall. The film screens at Anthology Film Archives on October 16th at 9 and 11 PM.

DECAMPMENT from ADULT. on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New York Film Festival 2008- Cannes You Dig It?

Most of the reports out of Cannes this year said it wasn’t such a strong year for film. While many big name directors were present, they were turning in middle of the road work, neither masterpieces or disasters. With over half of the NYFF films coming from Cannes, I was hoping to find that most critics were giving the festival a hard time. That with high expectations come slight disappointments and they things were blown a little out of proportion. Nevertheless, I have been having a similar NYFF experience and, with only one week of screenings left, it seems like things won’t change too much. It isn’t that most of the films are bad; it’s just that they have only been good, not great. But, as NYFF selection committee member Jim Hoberman reported, a festival can only be as strong as what is out there. What’s out there, so far, are a lot of good movies, a couple great ones, and a lot of technically accomplished films with some severe issues. I always try and be fair when it comes to expectations, and, considering how little I have known in advance about the films that were screening, I think I’ve given all these films a fair shake. Granted, a lot of the films I’ll complain about are better than most of what I’ve seen this year (it’s been a weak year, eh?) so I’ll be sure and call myself out on unfairness when/if I see the films a second time come their wide release.

Let’s start with the good stuff.

One of the few all out, balls to wall triumphs thus far has been Steven Soderbergh’s 262 minute, two part Che, a film greeted at Cannes, and now in New York, with violently mixed reactions. For the life of me, I straight up don’t know how or why anyone would HATE Che. And while the few lukewarm reactions I have read are perfectly sensible, but they seem to have complaints that have nothing to do with the film. (Glenn Kenny recently wrote about Che and his biggest movie-response pet peeve being when people complain whether films make them care or not. I agree with him, but the reaction that really chides me the most is when people reject the film asking why it was made. This necessity complaint drives me right up a wall and is one I have heard quite a bit regarding Che from plenty of critics I admire.)

So why do I love Che? Technical accomplishments aside (I can’t say anything more, or say it better, than Amy Taubin did in the most recent Film Comment) Che is likely the only film at NYFF that works within the confines of genre and not only reworks them (as did Afterschool, The Class, Gomorrah, A Christmas Tale, Serbis, Hunger, I’m Gonna Explode, and, to a lesser extent, Changeling, and The Wrestler) but also restructures, resituates, and reconceptualizes each genre as well. What makes Che so dynamic is the genre triptych it works under. Che reframes the biopic within the action genre (The Argentine- part one) and thriller (Guerilla- part two), and uses these techniques as a way to problematize and challenge the person, icon, and symbol that is its protagonist. The elliptical, distanced storytelling, especially in The Argentine, recalls Malick’s best work. Che doesn’t ask for the audience to root for Che, but only to exist and flow moment to moment with the events in the film. Many critics have complained that this distance from the characters makes the film tedious, boring, uncaptivating, and unwatchable. This response really baffles me. Che, and its incredibly nuanced camerawork, keep this distance precisely so the audience can hold its own position within the film and the dialectical debate created between the two parts. It is as if we can only drop in on key moments and can only be so close to the action, the characters, and the historicized world of Cuba and Bolivia. This position is affirmed by Mr. Soderbergh when, in a post-film press conference, he stated, “I’m obviously not a communist...there was no place for me to exist in Che’s world.” The artist, and even the
audience, can only get so close to that world, that history, that icon. This is an idea that, and one executed on every level, that of all the biopics ever made, only Che seems to comprehend.

Leading me to believe that I might be insane (although it's something I've noticed for a while), I constantly love uber-art house fair that most others dismiss. Anytime I hear "Cannes walk-out champ" (as Jim Hoberman called Pedro Costa's incredible Colossal Youth) my ears tend to perk up. Antonio Campas’s Afterschool, a film greeted with very hostile reactions at the festival, may not have been the walkout champion, but it appears to be the most aggressively disliked at the festival (other than maybe A Bullet In The Head, a film I have yet to see, and Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman. I'll have more to say about the Martel in my next post.) I was talking the film up immediately after its press screening, but, other than Mike D’Angelo and Dennis Lim, I haven’t read, or heard, (m)any positive reviews of the film. I can understand complaints to some extent. Afterschool is, without a doubt, ruthless, risky, cold, and bold. Still, detractors are dismissing the film far too quickly in
labeling Campos a mini-Michael Haneke with some Gus Van Sant thrown in. While these comparisons are fair, and, to my mind, positive, they quickly abandon the originality of Campos’s use of alternative media and some down right amazing camerawork. Oh, but that’s pretentious, right? Too ambitious for its own good? Slant goes so far to call Campos a “borderline con artist” (they lump in Lucrecia Martel as well.) Well, haters, I’m sorry if Afterschool is full of mundane characters and preoccupations. Sure, the camerawork “calls attention to itself”, but who can complain when it is done at such a high level? Or is that precisely why there have been so many complaints? Is it really so egregious today to display some ambition today? Maybe the film is shallow compared to best Haneke or Van Sant films, but I don’t think so. It works within a category that either of those great directors have yet to confront. Afterschool isn’t just another movie about postmodern alienation and voyeurism, although it is about those things too. What Afterschool displays is a digital world so full of “real” images that the borders of reality and fantasy have almost completely broke down. The struggle to differentiate between the two creeps into every facet of life. Afterschool is beautifully rendered and each subject is handled with a muted delicacy that makes the film, despite its obvious ambition, so authentic.

Speaking of films that a lot of people think is ambitious but, unfortunately, takes a third-act turn to the typical, Turner Award winning video artist Steve McQueen’s Camera d’Or winning film Hunger has some really incredible images, some great, tough scenes, but its last third keeps the film out of masterpiece territory. Hunger tells, or, more appropriately, shows in great detail, the story of IRA member Bobby Sands who wages a hunger strike to improve living conditions among fellow prisoners. Hunger is sharp and precise throughout in highlighting how the prisoners live and survive. There are some really brutal scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart, most of which come in the first and last third of the movie. What comprises the middle is essentially two scenes, which are the two best in the entire film. One is a soon-to-be-famous 25 minute long scene (done almost completely in one shot...the use of cigarettes blew me away); a fierce debate between Sands and his priest discussing the meaning, purpose, and decision to pursue the hunger strike. This is followed by an very long shot of a guard sweeping the hallway clean of the urine that is dumped underneath the doors of the prisoner’s cells. These two scenes together are totally electrifying, and I have to be truthful here in saying that I thought that point was the end of the film. One super long, but extremely riveting scene followed by an incredible metaphorical shot. It’s all I needed and wanted. Not kidding, I wrote in my notebook “What a fucking incredible last shot.” Maybe I was thinking that I was in a Bela Tarr movie and got too hopeful in thinking that we wouldn’t see the hunger strike. That it was about the why more than the gruesome how. Given the importance of showing the beatings and abuse in the first part, I thought it had made the point. We know, at this point, that Sands will not falter. That he will go through with the strike and die for this cause. If it ended there, Hunger would likely be one of my favorites of the year. But it continues on to show, in even more precisely gruesome detail, Sands’s deterioration and death. Hunger loses some emotion and narrative drive in the last third and starts feeling a little too much like The Passion of the Christ rather than the unique and biting critique that the first two sections display. There are scenes and images from Hunger that I won’t soon forget (and it’s still a very good movie), but I’ll remember just as strongly the slight frustration I have knowing how great the film could have been.

Similarly frustrating, but even moreso, is the Israeli animated documentary Waltz With Bashir. Waltz With Bashir follows director Ari Folman’s journey to recover his suppressed memories from the 1982 war with Lebanon. From stories and personal testimony, the film locates these memories and presents them within the scope of what Folma calls “the historical imagination.” I have always been a fan of infusing animation into other filmic forms and how important this can be for showcasing that animation isn’t just something for children. Waltz With Bashir sounded like a huge step in the right direction and, for a lot of the film, it seems to be. Even though I found the much of the film not all that enthralling or meandering, what made it interesting was the animation and the experimenting with different colors (and entirely different color pallets) for returning memories and dream sequences. The lively and distinct colorizations create a distinction between all these different aspects of memory and history. I’ll feel like to much of a spoil sport if I go into much detail here (I’ll have more to say when the films gets it wide release) but I really believe that the final sequence undercuts the entire process and progress that Waltz With Bashir tries to make. What is this sequence doing in here? Why did they choose to show it this way? While it doesn’t remove or change what Folman is trying to say, this last sequence is a total reversal and blatant contradiction of the importance of how it should be said. And, for a film so invested in its technique, this is a gigantic and unforgivable misstep.

But at least I have feelings about that, right? The same can’t be said for my reaction to Chouga, a film from “Kazakh master director Darezhan Omirbayev”. I put that in quotes because I don’t know this director and can’t confirm his mastery. Chouga, a very truncated version of Anna Karenina, shows strong formal elements and has some interesting ideas, but I just can’t work up a reaction. It seems like a perfectly acceptable movie that probably loses a lot in translation. It feels a little flat and has some long lifeless sections, but there are some nice scenes and moments that make the film worth seeing, if only to say you saw a Kazakh movie this year.

You saw a Kazakh movie this year, you say? Haha! I saw two! And if you only see one, it should be Tulpan. “Kazakh master documentarian” Sergei Dvortsevoy’s first feature film Tulpan won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes this year, which was a good sign going in, and I have to say if his earlier work is anything like this then I definitely need to see them. Tulpan tells the story of Asa, a young man who recently completed his naval service and returns to the Kazakh steppe to live with his sister and her herdsman husband. Although Asa dreams of having a herd of his own, he must marry before this can happen. Unfortunately, in the desolate steppe, there aren’t many women around. The only one is Tulpan, but she doesn’t like Asa because of his big ears. Asa refuses to give up on his dream. This is a nice little description and hints at some of the comedy infused throughout the entirety of the film. With some really great performances, particularly by Asa’s boob-loving friend Bali, it’s easy to invest in the people that Dvortsevoy’s film presents. Moreover, the real images that are captured are breathtaking and oftentimes funny. (Tulpan was shot in a very remote section of Kazakhstan called Betpak Dalla.) A dog sits with lightning striking in the background. Dust storms arise in the middle of herding. A ram enters a shack to give solace to a weakened man. A sheep struggles to give birth. There is much more to the images than mere description can provide (the scene with the lamb’s birth is the most important scene in the film) but they all match one another to make one hell of a debut feature. Dvortsevoy’s combination of fiction and reality is fresh. No matter the kind of film he makes, Dvortsevoy is a filmmaker to watch, and Tulpan is a film you should see.

by James Hansen
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Darren Aronofsky Poll Results

Thanks to everyone for voting in our most recent poll selecting your favorite Darren Aronofsky film so far. The poll was inspired by Aronofsky's soon to be released new film The Wrestler, which is the Closing Night film at this year's New York Film Festival. I saw the film this week and, to really get the buzz really going, I have to say that The Wrestler is his most simple, straight-forward film but also his strongest. (Note that I voted for Pi in the poll as I find Requiem to be a one-time, one-trick pony and The Fountain totally ridiculous. I'm not saying that to knock The Wrestler though. Just admitting that I have liked simple more than flashy Aronofsky, and that trend for me here.) I'll save further analysis and discussion for my NYFF write-up and for when the film opens in wide release December 19th. I don't want to raise everyone's expectations too much, but The Wrestler is, without a doubt, one of the strongest American movies this year and should be a sure-fire Oscar contender.

Now on with the poll results! It was surprising to me how well The Fountain did in the poll (almost pulling a major upset!) Apparently many of them film's (small number of) advocates are dedicated readers here! Or am I just being mean? Do more people out there like The Fountain than I think? Even though I don't like that film at all, I'm glad you are all here reading and voting! We had one big time lover and hater of Aronofsky, which are always fun votes to see as well. Anyways, I'll stop explaining the results. You can see them yourself after the break.


Pi- 8 (20%)

Requiem for a Dream- 16 (41%)

The Fountain- 13 (33%)

I don't like any of them- 1 (2%)

I love all of them- 1 (2%)
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