I remain hopelessly behind in my posting, and again I hope to catch-up a bit this weekend (but no promises). I did attend a press screening of Marie Antoinette this morning: that's right, I sat through it for a second time which was a fascinating experience. I really enjoyed the movie when I first saw it a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it even more this time, although it has a few unfortunate flaws. I also believe, as I continue to speak to people, that it will be unfortunately and unfairly criticized as being not much more than anachronistic eye candy. I was surprised at the depth of detail (and I don't mean in art direction) that I saw in Sofia Coppola's film the second time around. I also found much more to respect in Kirsten Dunst's performance, a genuine surprise since I felt she was one of the film's primary weaknesses the first time around. Marie Antoinette plays tonight and tomorrow at the New York Film Festival, and it opens in theaters next Friday. Before then, I will have a more complete review posted.
I also still have comments to write on several other New York Film Festival selections, particularly Pedro Almodovar's good but slightly disappointing Volver; Hong Sang-soo's wonderful Woman on the Beach; Jafar Panahi's Iranian film Offside; Tian Zhuangzhuang's tedious and just plain dull The Go Master; Marc Recha's painful August Days; Abderrahmane Sissako's well-meaning but nuance-lacking Bamako; Michael Apted's brilliant 49 Up (now playing at the IFC Center); Satoshi Kon's anime Paprika; Otar Iosseliani's peculiar Gardens of Autumn; Manoel de Oliveira's sublime Belle Toujours; Alain Resnais's stagy, talky and just mediocre chamber play Private Fears in Public Places; Barbara Albert's dreary cliché-ridden Falling; Johnnie To's intriguing Triad Election; and Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's gorgeous Syndromes and a Century. Plus, there's still more to say on Alberto Lattuada's 1962 satire Mafiaso. (Whew … I saw that many movies the last few weeks? And still missed three or four I think? No wonder I'm tired.) I did write about Little Children, which happens to open in theaters today.
And yet, tomorrow at Noon is another festival highlight: Lino Bracka's 1976 Filipino drama Insiang. If you love Fassbinder but have never heard of Bracka, you should check out Insiang. The film has a very similar feel both in its storytelling and style. Bracka presents a Philippines that is (or was) clearly a male dominated society even though the women do all the work. The trials of the young woman Insiang, having to fight against the neighborhood men, her mother and her mother's younger lover, are agonizing to watch, and when the film culminates by becoming not much more than a revenge drama, the ultimate revelation is that no matter how good you are or hard you try, breaking out of the society's chains – wherever you are – is a feat that not even the strongest willed and most honorable can always accomplish. Insiang is a powerful film, and the opportunity to see it on a big screen at Alice Tully Hall should not be missed.
Meanwhile … tons of new releases this weekend about which I also have to write. The latest version of Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood arrives: I really wanted to like Infamous in order to further help illustrate why last year's Capote is so flawed. Unfortunately, writer-director Douglas McGrath had other ideas and has created a film that does some things much better and others far worse.
Also opening today at the IFC Center is Tideland. Oh Terry Gilliam, where has your talent gone? Why is it that better films can be made documenting the failure of you to make a film than what you've produced recently. If you were just trying to prove that The Brothers Grimm is in fact watchable by giving us this which is not …. I left the screening of Tideland and rushed right out to buy the Mitch Cullin's novel upon which the film is based. Could the book be as painful as this movie? I'll let you know one of these days.
And then there's still The Departed. Ah how I love that movie. Worship it even. I will hopefully find a time to pray in front of its flickering images again this weekend as I have not been back for that second viewing. If you have not yet seen Martin Scorsese's return to true genius, please visit it before taking stock in Robin Williams or more Americanized Japanese sequel remakes.