Tuesday, May 01, 2007

IIFF #3: A Doc, A Walk Out, A Tease

OK. I have just a short half hour (as opposed to a long one -what?) before my next screening. I must type fast. Just a few words on the movies this time.

Adrift in Manhattan belongs to my once beloved drama subgenre: strangers lives intersecting. I think I grew up loving the mosaic film because I think it's truthful in basic form and because I love Robert Altman. But unfortunately very very few filmmakers are good at it yet it's all the rage anyway (see: Crash, Babel, etc...) This movie, surveying a half dozen characters who live along NY's 1/9 subway line (very familiar to me) is a mixed bag. There's some great NY details: the apartments seem real for once and it does a fine job capturing the quietness of isolation within a bustling environment but like a lot of these mosaics it also forces its hand, particularly in its final stretch. Good performances from Elizabeth Pena, Heather Graham, Victor Rasuk (who we still know and love as Victor Vargas... though he's now Raised), and Dominic Chianese.
[Funny moment post-screening: One of the festival peeps was talking to me about how much he liked the movie and he said with great relief/surprise "Heather Graham was acting with her face!"]

Disappearances is my lone walkout so far. That happens at festivals when you're seeing dozens of things and short on time. It appeared to be a magical western of some sort about a strange family and whiskey running. The theater was freezing, I was hungry, and I was unable to cope with the first half hour's stilted tone. Genevieve Bujold was giving a performance that can only be described in one succinct adjective: weird. No other word. I wasn't feeling it.

Summercamp! by Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price fits neatly into the Spellbound documentary subgenre of 'kids say the darndest things'. There's a lot of cute moments, one very sad girl obsessed with chickadees and several intriguing characters. Though the movie touches on a lot of fascinating issues (childhood meds, how kids deal with grief, social development, overworked counsellors, and environmental specific friendships) it's more than a little unfocused --dropping a lot of the balls it tosses so enthusiastically up into the air. I think it needed to either zero in a few kids and stay there or not go there at all and concentrate on the communal portrait instead. It tries both. Still, fine stand alone moments and the subject matter make it a fun watch.

Away From Her. I was asked during the fundraiser last month to review this so I don't want to give it short shrift here. I'll say more when I return home. But everything you've heard about Julie Christie's performance is true. She's just... Ahhh. I can't speak coherently about it yet. She completely wrenched my heart out without any cheap over sentimentalized nonsense.

The rest of the movie is quite good, too.

8 comments:

The Movie & Music Xpress said...

I am so excited to hear about "Away From Her". Can't wait to your full review. will Julie be this year's "Silver Fox" of the awards circuit?

Nick Davis said...

Do I get a Best Actress Contest point because you loved her so much that you can't finish a sentence? I'm sure all of us who picked Julie will want to know this?

½ point? ¼?

RC said...

i remember hearing about Summercamp! the same time Jesus Camp, etc. were being talked about.

it is not surprising that you found it unfocused after watching it because i kept on trying to figure out what it was "about" and could find nothing. apparently that's almost how it plays.

Kamikaze Camel said...

So has Heather Graham finally found another role to add to her pantheon of great roles? And by pantheon I mean two. Boogie Nights and Scrubs.

I wish she did more good comedy. She's aces at it.

steve said...

I also thought Graham was aces in Drugstore Cowboy, but I haven't seen that one in a while so who knows.

NATHANIEL R said...

kamikaze --i wouldn't call it a "great role" but i am pleased to announce that she plays a doctor and was believable as such.

steve --i don't remember Graham that well in DC ... it was Kelly Lynch who blew me away in that one.

movie & music --yes.

nick --no points O Greedy One

rc --yeah. "what is it even about?" i guess does settle in after you've been away from the picture for a day. But it's fun --docs can get so much leverage from subject matter. I remember that dancing movie about high school kids (name escapes me) getting raves a couple of years ago. and the movie just wasn't very good but it had a topic that inspired and moved people.

steve said...

Lynch was definitely awesome in DC too. They both made my Supp. Actress list for that year.

David said...

Was just wondering if you're ever going to REVIEW "Away From Her" more than you did in this small post - you said you would talk more about it when you returned from jury duty???