Film Comment Selects (February 20th - March 5th, 2009)
Please click here to buy tickets to the festival
Directed by Michael Almereyda.
(Opening Night Film) This "work in progress" compilation of footage filmed with a video camera. The footage includes two kids having fun outside of a mosque, a bird flying around in the dusk, children trying to burn a tree branch while an adult looks on in apathy, someone capturing a lightning bug and many more episodes. Even though those segments seem so different and even random, the more you watch them, the more you become aware of their significance and purpose as part of the whole film. Events from life itself can often be quite boring and mundane, but in between those moments of mundanity there's some parts that stick out and compell you to think or feel or just immerse yourself in it. Each of the segments here captures those inexplicably interesting moments in life, some of which are quite beautiful to observe while others less so. Admittedly, only truly patient viewers will be able to gradually appreciate and feel strangely engrossed by Paradise while others will find it to be tedious and dull, like watching a bits and pieces of people's home videos. Number of times I checked my watch: 3. No distributor, yet. Screens on Friday, Feb. 20th @ 6:30 PM at the Walter Reade Theater.
Directed by Paul Schrader.
Based on the novel by Yoram Kaniuk. In 1961, Adam Stein (Jeff Goldblum) becomes a resident of an asylum for Holocaust survivors. He flirts with a sexy nurse, Gina Grey (Ayelet Zurer), unbeknowst to others at the facility, while distracting Dr. Nathan Gross (Derek Jacobi) with his crazy, long-winded speeches. Thirty years earlier, Adam was a cabaret singer, magician, minder reader, and clown who entertained many different audiences. One of those audience members happened to have been Commandant Klein (Willem Dafoe), a Nazi officer who had witnessed his show and enjoyed it immensely. Adam recalls these past events throughout his stay at the facility and the more he recalls them, the easier it is to grasp what truly haunts him into behaving so insanely. He can barely recognize his own self and reacts frightening by a young boy (Tudor Rapiteanu) who acts like a dog at the asylum. Although that scene feels very strange and confusing at first, it becomes more coherent and purposeful once Adam remembers how Commandant Klein had forced him to be his slave during the Holocaust by acting like a dog in exchange for his survival. Screenwriter Noah Stollman infuses the genres of magical realism, drama and dark comedy with mixed results. Jeff Goldblum impressively masters a broad range of emotions from sadness to joy, fear and bewilderment. It’s hard to take any scenes with him seriously, though, because of director Paul Schrader’s awkward editing style that juxtaposes flashbacks too distractingly in a way that induces nausea. A poorly developed subplot involving Adam hitting on a sexy nurse doesn’t quite gel into anything particularly interesting. Comparisons to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are inevitable during the scenes in the asylum, but you never really get to know any of the patients besides Adam. Adam Resurrected ultimately manages to be a well-acted, sporadically intriguing drama that has a few poignant moments as Adam recalls the traumatic events from his past, but its convoluted, unfocused plot fails to pack an emotional wallop as a whole. Number of times I checked my watch: 4. Released by Bleiberg Entertainment. Screens on Tuesday, March 3rd @ 9 PM at the Walter Reade Theater.
The Mugger- Directed by Pablo Fendrik.
In Spanish with subtitles. A middle-aged mugger (Arturo Goetz) enters two elementary schools and holds up a few employees hostage while stealing money. After the first stick-up, he goes to a café where a waitress (Barbara Lombardo) accidentally scalds the top of his hand with a hot liquid, so he goes to a local pharmacy to have it taken care of. In his feature film debut as a writer/director, Pablo Fendrik heightens the dramatic intensity through cinéma vérité, keeping the camera up close to the mugger so that you're able to see all sorts of nuances, such as his facial expressions, sweating and even his breathing pace without the use of a musical score. Throughout the film, you'll wonder about the mugger's background information such as his real employment and whether or not he has a family. Arturo Goetz delivers a raw, intense performance which keeps you riveted. It also helps that his face has very interesting, animate features that reflect his mood and personality, so, the more he's humanized, the you'll almost be able to actually sympathize with him. The Mugger doesn't drag nor does it overstay its welcome at a very brief running time of 67 minutes. Number of times I checked my watch: 0. No distributor, yet. Screens on Friday, Feb. 20th @ 9:15 PM and Sunday, Feb. 22nd @ 1:00 PM at the Walter Reade Theater.
The Tiger's Tail- Directed by John Boorman.
Liam O'Leary (Brendan Gleeson), a wealthy owner of a real estate development company, repeatedly sees his double throughout Dublin. His wife, Jane (Kim Cattrall), doesn't believe him and thinks he's crazy when he mentions the double while his teenage son, Connor (Briain Gleeson), struggles with his own issues of rebellion and Communism. Through a series of events which won't be spoiled here, his double manages switch places with Liam, so now the real Liam is confused for the double and the double hops into bed with Jane. The whole scenario would have worked much better as a comedy because, as a drama, it lacks credibility and becomes more unintentionally funny as it progresses with some gimmicky and implausible twists. Kim Cattrall does a sub-par job of speaking in an Irish accent and seems somewhat miscast in her role, although she does look quite sexy as always. Only Brendan Gleeson's sensitive performances in dual roles helps to keep you mildly engaged at least, but it's difficult feel truly moved or immersed in the story given John Boorman's often contrived, convoluted and messy screenplay that leaves a lot of plot holes along the way.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4. Released by Outsider Pictures. No release date, yet. Screens on Satuday, Feb. 21st @ 1:30 PM and 8:30 PM at the Walter Reade Theater.