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Posted in movies on September 30, 2013
Before you head out to the Grand Theft Auto music events happening as part of the ongoing New York Film Festival tonight (9/30), here's a bit more about the films I've seen so far this festival:
Some films that did not do much for me:
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism by the Romanian director Corneliu Poumbou -- This was another film about film and the making of a film. It features very long static shots, a trend of the Romanian New Wave of film going on today, of which this director is part of. In fact the whole film is only about 20 takes but did not connect with me at all. loved his last film Police, Adjective though.
Jimmy P Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian --- This one stars Benecio Del Toro and was directed by the French director Arnaud Desplechin whose 2004 film Kings & Queens was one of the best I saw that year. Based on a true story, it is just what the title states, a case study of the psychotherapy of a Native American ex soldier after WWII. Very well acted by both Del Toro and French actor Mathieu Amalric, but it was a completely unremarkable film to me. Another critic put it best to me. This would have been great if it was a PBS American Playhouse production.
The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh was loved by a number of people I saw it with. It is told with the use of both newsreel footage and clay figurines. It's a pretty harrowing story of the Khmer Rouge and their deadly atrocities in Cambodia and the direct affect on Panh, the only survivor of his family who all died in the refugee camps. While striking in content, I could not find my way in to it.
Finally, there were 3 fascinating documentaries I saw:
The Square, which won the audience award at Sundance this year and seems to be high on everyone's list. With startling footage it tells the story of the uprising and aftermath in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak was removed from power. All centered around the occupying of Tahrir Square, it is told through the eyes of some of the main characters involved in the revolution including the actor Khalid Abdalla who was in the film The Kite Runner. While I was familiar with the events and had watched much coverage when it was taking place, the film opened my eyes in many ways. It is a must see.
The Last of the Unjust is the latest from the estimable French documentarian Claude Lanzmann. When shooting the magnificent Holocaust documentary Shoah, Lanzmann interviewed Benjamin Murmelstein for hours . He was the third and last of the Presidents of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt Ghetto and the only one to not have been killed by the Nazis. This "model ghetto" situated near Prague was set up by Hitler and more so Adolf Eichman to dupe the world into not seeing what their real plans were. Murmelstein after the war was deemed a Nazi collaborator which he was tried and acquitted for but never lived down before his death in 1989. For this documentary Lanzmann uses the footage of his conversations - only bits were used for Shoah. New shots were filmed in the areas where the events took place to tell another story of the Holocaust and the contradictions this man faced in trying to save Jews while also personally trying to survive. At 4 hours it is not an easy sitting but one well worth it and rewarding.
American Promise was the last film I saw the other day and it was an eye opener. The African American Brooklyn directors Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, filmed over a period of 13 years (!!!), the lives of their son and his friend as they enter and go through the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan from elementary to graduation. It battles the issues of race, privilege and opportunity. It is very skillfully put together, often jumping back and forth between ages and years. Emotional and educational, though I could not help wonder if their children's lives would have turned out different if they did not have cameras recording them along the way.
That's it for now. Enjoy the Festival and let us know what you see and think, and read my previous fest-related reviews if you haven't already.