Monday, October 11, 2010

NYFF Finale: 7 Word Reviews (Meek's Cutoff, Another Year, Hereafter, More...)

Oh readers. What to do with me? I'm always falling behind. In an effort to acknowledge that NYFF ended this weekend, and fall prestige/early campaign season is already upon us (Toy Story 3 event tonight!), here's everything I saw at the NYFF. I got sick right in the middle so I missed a handful I wanted to see. The films are presented in the order I saw with a brief description and a 7 Word Review. For now.  Surely I'll find time to say something more about two or three of these later. If you've wondered why I've been posting 2 grades for each movie I see lately, it's because it's my current grade (bold) plus the grade I could be talked into / might end up with when all is said and done.

Poetry & Oki's Movie (South Korea) |  Tuesday After Christmas (Romania)

Poetry full review A-/A 

Oki's Movie

A filmmaker recounts a romantic affair and professional entanglements.
7WR: Funny. Repetitive. Aggressively unwilling to engage visually. C/C-

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
full review B+/B

Tuesday After Christmas

A Romanian man loves two women. Must choose.
7WR: Love Wrecked! Incisive, naturalistic gem. Pitch-perfect ending. B/B+

 The Robber (Germany/Austria) | My Joy (Ukraine) | Certified Copy (Various)

The Robber & My Joy
The Robber: an ex-con trains for long distance runs but continues his life of crime.
My Joy: a truck driver gets lost on dangerous allegorical roads.

7WR (x2): Virtuosic filmmaking but autistic experience. Couldn't connect.
Grade? Depends on what we're grading. This is when Nick's VOR would come in handy as both films strike me as worthy sees for commited cinephiles. But they're almost impossible to enjoy because they're so emotionally deficient or at least tonally limited to entirely nihilistic worldviews.

 Certified Copy
The English author of a book on the worth of artistic forgeries, tours Italy with a beautiful married French stranger (Binoche!).

7WR: Transcends its fun intellectual gimmick. Beautifully acted. B+/A-

Of Gods and Men

French monks living peacefully in a Muslim village are warned to leave when terrorists arrive.
7WR: Despite vibrant emotional pulses, touch too sedate. B/B+

The Social Network previous articles A-/A

 We Are What We Are (Mexico) | Another Year (UK) | Meek's Cutoff (USA)

We Are What We Are

A poor Mexican family struggles to keep their "rituals" alive after the father dies in this gruesome horror film.

7WR: Thematically obvious/clumsy but compulsively, masochistically watchable B-/C+

Julie Taymor adapts Shakespeare's shipwrecks & sorcery play.

7WR: Muddy everything: ideas, sound, performance. Visual tourettes. D-/F

Another Year
Mike Leigh! A long married couple in England are surrounded by needy friends in four seasonal vignettes.

7WR: Blissful troupe rapport, comic beats. Weirdly judgmental. B+/B

Meek's Cutoff
Three families in covered wagons get lost in Indian country. They're running out of water.

7WR: Western From Another Planet but mysteriously confident. B/B+

A French woman experiences near death. A British boy copes with grief. An American psychic resists his gift.

7WR: Mawkishly moving but stiff, disjointed, weak storytelling. C-/D+

The Social Network used the fest as its world premiere and then promptly opened to great acclaim and presumptively leggy box office. Otherwise you're going to have to wait until 2011 for these films, apart from two: Hereafter (Oct 22nd) and The Tempest (Dec 10th)... unless you want to count Another Year but New Year's Eve releases are soooo next year if you ask us.


fedai cenk said...

This is really great news. Thank you.

Deus Ex Machina said...

hhmm. Could you elaborate on the "weirdly judgemental" bit for "Another Year". I 've seen the movie and i didn't read that.


I just felt it was awfully harsh to the unwed people, unchildrened people as if it couldn't imagine a fulfilling life for anyone not enjoying a typical nuclear family style of living. and I feel like we get that message so much from lesser filmmakers that when brilliant humanistic filmmakers get reductive like that i feel disappointed. I wanted to hug Lesley Manville but i think the film thinks' seh's totally pathetic.


I don't have children and yes, I wish that that could have happened somewho for me in my life but I don't think that necessarily dooms me to an unhappy life. Nor do i think being single dooms people to an unhappy life.

Brian Darr said...

Hmm. I found it more critical of this drive-for-conformity than you did, it seems. I think the film thinks that she thinks she's totally pathetic, not the same animal at all.

Joe Reid said...

Hrm. I'm not sure I got that from the movie. Firstly, doesn't Imelda Staunton's character talk about having a husband and daughter? And she's the most miserable character on the entire canvass. (And certainly having a son didn't offer Tom's brother much comfort when he needed it.)

And I do think the film has great sympathy for Mary, even if it doesn't shy away from what a mess she is.

I do think the film has an take on people who are alone in their lives, the way they reach out and cling to friendships, and the limits of those friendships when they butt up against things like family and couplehood. Which is an incredibly harsh truth, but not necessarily an untrue one.

cal roth said...

OK, may we finally ask? Manville is leading or supporting?

James T said...

Thanks! 7WR are great when you're feeling like you can barely stand and certainly unable to read something longer than that. Which how i feel these days!

I'm curious. I know you're not the only one who didn't like Eastwood's latest films but considering you didn't love MDB and (if i remember correctly from that Best Pictures...) you didn't love Unforgiven either (Mystic River? I think the same), is Bridges of Madison County the only Eastwood-directed film you really liked? I assume you loved that. Don't remember.

Damn, I'm tired..

Brian Darr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Darr said...

cal roth, if you don't mind a judgement from the peanut gallery: Borderline, IMHO. I'd place her lead but wouldn't diagnose awards bodies with Casey Afflecktive Disorder should she get put into supporting either.

Michael said...

When did you see Meek's Cut-Off? Maybe we were at the same screening this past Saturday?

James T said...

Brian - my vote for comment du jour is yours!


James T -- of the Eastwood movies I"ve seen my favorites are M$B, Bridges of Madison County and Unforgiven which I like well enough (and in roughly that order) but i get confused when people call them masterpieces since I see very obvious problems in all three.

I know that grade for Hereafter assumes I really hated it but in truth i didn't. I cried a few times but the subject matter will do that (if you've ever lost anyone) and I would rather watch it again than Flags of Our Fathers or Changeling but that said, I think those are technically way better movies. This one is extremely stiff. and the screenplay is ...what the hell is it? So much randomness. and the score. Oh god the score. He MUST stop scoring his own movies.

Cal -- to me it's a borderline so i don't much care which way it goes (lead/supporting). The main characters are RUTH SHEEN (total lead) JIM BROADBENT and LESLEY MANVILLE (also leads... or supporting depending on how you define these things) and EVERYONE ELSE is supporting. It's very much an ensemble picture with those three at its core.

Brian and Joe good points. I shall have to think it over. I did like it alot. I'm just determining how much. My favorite Leigh is still Vera Drake by a country mile with Happy-Go-Lucky and Secrets & Lies as runners up. This one maybe tied with Topsy Turvy (another great Lesley Manville showcase)?

Joe Reid said...

We probably approach Leigh's work from different angles, because Vera Drake is my least favorite of them all.

James said...

When will the Eastwood hatred end!?


cal roth said...

@James I don't discuss Eastwwod anymore. I worship him, and that's fine.

@Nathaniel R Is it wise to campaign a British unknown in a borderline role? You have to be an undeniable whirlwind and be in every single frame of your movie to make it (Watson, Blethyn, Staunton...)?

Joe Reid said...

It may be borderline in terms of lead/supporting, but there Manville makes THE dominant impression on the audience, especially given the ending. So long as people see the movie, they'll remember her.

James T said...

Nathaniel - Oh you were very clear in your 7WR that you didn't hate it and that you were touched by it.

And WOW, MDB above The Bridges? I didn't expect that. Probably because eventhough you had said the film (MDB) had grown on you, I thought you would be a big fan of The Bridges. Surely bigger than of MDB which I think wasn't in your top 10 that year. In my head it makes more sense than it seems to :p

vg21 said...

I am getting more and more interested in Another Year and totally agree with you, Nathaniel. I haven't seen the film, so I won't judge it now but my blood always starts boiling when somebody hints that being single or having no children necessarily makes you miserable (and the even more outrageous view: the opposite means inevitable happiness). Since when, I always ask, and even if it is the character that thinks she is pathetic I really feel it should not be generalised (I don't know if the film does that but it seemed so to me, from your review and comment.)

I'm even planning to have a "normal" family (=partner/husband/man/whatever and children) but not any family is inherently normal. It's so much more work than just ticking the checklist of a wife or husband and two kids. Some people just don't notice this, probably because they had nice experiences with their own families or because they don't want to. I don't understand why people keep adjusting to external and formal expectations instead of asking themselves what would really make them happy. Or yes, I have an idea since it requires self-inspection, which is uncomfortable, but still. It's such freedom to come to terms with what you really want and somehow people are afraid of it. It's much responsibility as well, but so much freedom. And the world should not patronise those who may even feel bad about not having the type of life they wish for. I always thought there was a certain dignity in never giving up and it should be respected and not pitied.

Okay, I may be digressing now but I still want to see Another Year, more after this review :).


vg21 -- well, Joe & Brian make good points about it. The more I think on it the more they are NOT saying that a marriage and children make you happy. On the other hand, there are no examples of anyone in the film being happy without those things, and there are several tangential characters in the film. The only happy people are happily married or about to be or some such.

so I guess... it still makes me kind of uncomfortable. But it's true that the film isn't saying you'll be happy with these things: key (imelda staunton)

james -- i haven't seen BRIDGES in a really long time so perhaps i'd feel differently now. but to answer your unasked question, no. I've never had an Eastwood film make my top ten. Like many of his lovers on these boards have implied... I don't "get" him. Or rather "he's not for me". I doubt there's any filmmaker that everyone loves.... maybe Hitchcock?

Dean said...

If you found Another Year to be that way, I'm curious as to why you liked Up in the Air so much and didn't assign the same criticism.

Danielle said...

How is Michelle Williams in Meek's Cutoff? I know you said the movie isn't Oscar-y but is it a performance you would nominate in your own awards?

Roark said...

Hey, we saw a lot of the same movies! Weee!

Agree re: Certified Copy, though I think I'd lean more in the *barely* transcending its gimmick direction.

Meek's Cutoff is a western for people who don't like westerns. Which is not to say that you have to dislike westerns to like Meek's Cutoff, but I think it would help. I myself like westerns, which does not mean that I didn't like Meek's Cutoff, only that I appreciated the effort and thought the Oregon desert was quite beautiful, but otherwise found the movie about as compelling as a dead fish (though less smelly).

Oki's Movie, on the other hand, I thought was mostly delightful. Hong sang-soo is an *extremely* acquired taste, though.

And Hereafter, well... I can't disagree - the script is kind of terrible (and so are at least two of the major performances!), and yet I found the movie surprisingly compelling and successful on its own terms. However, when I asked a friend what he thought afterwards, he pretended to blow his brains out. I suspect that will be the more common reaction.

My favorite movie at NYFF this year was Uncle Boonmee in a walk, followed by Frederick's Wiseman's altogether charming and delightful Boxing Gym.

James T said...

I hope you're just elaborating on your thougths and not "apologising" to me ;)

I'm not a big Eastwood fan though I like him more than you do. Actually, kinda as much as you do. I liked Mystic River more but I haven't watched Unforgiven and Gran Torino seems to me now less good than at first (and i only kinda liked it at first)

Roark said...

Oh, and that "music by" credit to Eastwood is a joke since one of the film's major musical themes - the one that plays over most of the scenes with the English boy - is just a simplified piano reduction of (part of) a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. Maybe ol' Sergei is listed at the end of the credits, but it's kinda suspect, either way...

cal roth said...

And, Nathaniel, now you've seen the most talked about female performances from Cannes?

Would you vote for Binoche, Yoon or Manville?

Jeff said...

thoughts on the perormances? Manville, Binoche and Williams

did Binoche deserve the golden palm over Manville?

Manville's awards chances?

Simon said...

Certified Copy sounds like the vaguest possible description of F for Fake.

Deus Ex Machina said...

If "Another Year" emphasized so much on the fact that being “coupled” is better than not, then it would be a complete contradiction with the exact message from Happy Go-Lucky: you don’t need basically anything to be happy, much less a boyfriend/ girlfriend. I think it has to do a lot with aging though, and I think the four season played brilliantly into the film. I also found the film unbelievably compassionate. And the ending is just beautiful.


Cal -- maybe Yoon. But I'd have to really think about it because all three performances are gorg'.

Deus Ex -- oh, see i WISH that I had felt that about it. I couldn't see that unbelievable compassion because I thought it was just so harsh on Manville... particularly at the end.

Jeff -- Manville's awards chances? Depends on which category. I think no one is safe in Best Actress quite yet. But Supporting Actress is wide open.

Roark -- i missed Boxing Gym as it was during my sick week.

Dean -- oh, that's easy. I trust Mike Leigh to be beautifully humanistic so any harshness and I start having flashes of Woody Allen's increasing misanthropy and I get nervous. I don't really expect Jason Reitman to be a master of humanistic naturalism. I view Up in the Air as a movie-movie. I view Mike Leigh films as portraits of real life, slightly heightened.

Plus, I don't totally get that criticism of Up in the Air because there are EXTREMES in world views and that man was really shutting himself off from everyone and having only the most surface of relationships and I don't think that's healthy. So I guess i subscribe to its worldview OK. I don't think you need to be married to be happy but I do think you have to have close human relationships of some sort to be happy.

Arkaan said...

I think Another Year is far more compassionate than Nathaniel said - I'm a little startled at his comment about Leigh's worldview.

The film does criticize Manville, but not because she's single and childless, but because she's not comfortable being single/childless. I think we see that throughout. I also love it's depiction those "in the autumn of their year(s)."

Like Joe Reid, I think Vera Drake is clearly his least major effort, though, so I'd be interested in a fuller review of Another Year.


the way people are reacting to my B+/B, you'd think I hated the movie!

I am a huge Mike Leigh fan. I'm totally glad that other people are loving the movie this much. I must've just had a minority percentage hesitation with it. I do plan to see it again.

cal roth said...

And I'd be totally interested in a Certified Copy fuller review.

Volvagia said...

I like Hitchcock, but I wouldn't put any of his films in a top 100 list. (I prefer J.P. Melville if I'm looking for a thriller. Which means I'd probably enjoy My Joy.)

Kurtis O said...

I watched "Certified Copy" last night, and I, too, greatly enjoyed Ms. Binoche. My favorite moments were those when she stared right at me, and I loved how the use of multiple languages lent itself to the mood and the performances.

Have you seen "White Material?" I ask because I watched it just before "CC," and it similarly makes you want to re-watch pronto. The broken narrative of "WM" is excellent. Super mysterious and begging to be picked apart.

as said...

porfect.. film izle

Burning Reels said...

This is why Another Year has stuck with me - it's incredibly open to interpretation.

To me, it was perhaps the couple themselves who harshly judged Manville's character - are they really so perfect?

But then, i'm not 100% on that thought and more than most films, I find myself learning about others from their perception of the film and it's characters.

The further I get away from this film and the fuzzier my thoughts become, the greater the respect I have for Mike Leigh and his humanity.