This year’s line-up for the New York Film Festival is full of surprises. There is something for everyone’s taste. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is the opening night film and it certainly deserves to be. It is George Clooney’s first masterpiece: provocative, well-shot, superbly acted and raises important issues about censorship. Full Review
STOP!, the short film the precedes it is inventive, surprising, and very funny. Another gem is THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, which is very well-written, true-to-life, warm, dark, funny, and very moving. It also has an excellent soundtrack! Full Review
The film with the best performance of the year is CAPOTE. Philip Seymour Hoffman transforms himself into Truman Capote with utter perfection! The cinematography is also very impressive. Full Review
The mixed-bags are: MANDERLAY- Lars Von Trier is back with the sequel to Dogville, but without Nicole Kidman. Instead, Bryce Dallas Howard plays Grace as she visits Manderlay, where she tries to end black slavery that still exists there. Danny Glover and Willem Dafoe also co-star. Although the performances are all great, the running time of 139 makes it feel excruciatingly long. Full Review.
SYMPATHY FOR MR.VENGEANCE is the sequel to SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, which is just as well-shot and bloody. The opening credits are visually-stunning. There is also some very dark humor and the third act is torturously gruesome. Not for those with a weak stomach. The full review will be posted closer to its release date. Full Review
BREAKFAST ON PLUTO is also very entertaining, lively, and imaginative, but it lacks an emotional core. Cillian Murphy gives a surprisingly good performance as a transvestite. The soundtrack has many well-chosen tunes. It’s no Hedwig and the Angry Inch, though. Full Review
THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG is a very violent film about a political assassination. It promises to be a dark comedy, but only has a few comedic moments. Its last hour has plenty of blood and action, but it not enough character development. Full Review
PARADISE NOW is a very serious and frightening fictional look at how two Palestinians plan a suicide bombing. Surprisingly, it has very little action and gets inside the mind of both men. The problem is that the plot seems redundant at times, but it is still suspenseful. Full Review
THE DEATH OF MR.LAZARESCU is a very haunting and painful film to endure because it is simply about an old man whose health gradually deteriorates as he and a nurse try to find a hospital for him to get immediately treated. It often feels like a documentary set in real-time, which is both good and bad. It is good because it makes the film more real, but it is bad because there are some scenes when very little happens. Not an easy film to endure and not for the impatient movie-goers. Full Review
THE CHILD (L’ENFANT) begins as a drama and ends up more as a cat-and-mouse action movie with not enough character development. It does have its subtleties, great performances, and is moving at times, but, overall, it doesn’t pack enough of an emotional punch. Opens March 24th, 2006 by Sony Pictures Classics.
Unfortunately, TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY has very little to recommend other than that Steve Coogan tries his best to be funny, but mostly fails. The only surprise is a cameo with Gillian Anderson. Full Review
Steven Soderberg’s new movie BUBBLE is very predictable and too awkward. The acting is also mediocre. At least it is well-shot. Full Review THE HIDDEN BLADE- A Samurai warrior (Masatoshi Nagase) falls in love with his family's maid (Takako Matsu) while being ordered to kill his former friend (Yukiyoshi Ozawa). The plot often drags without enough going on to hold your attention. Those who expect impressive stunts and sword-play will be disappointed by the lack of action sequences. The drama and romance also doesn't help to allow you to easily sit through this Japenese film that overstays its welcome at a running time of 135 minutes. At least director Yōji Yamadaincludes includes picturesque scenary to please the eyes.Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens June 23rd at the Cinema Village. Released by Tartan Films.