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Precogni-TIFF, or The Festival in My Head

Sunday, September 8


Frida – I was a huge fan of Julie Taymour’s Titus, and Frida shares that film’s seemingly boundless sense of visual imagination. A few scenes early on that make the mind of the Mexican artist a reality had me searching for my socks afterward. Still, there’s no shaking the feeling that some of the messier aspects of Frida’s life are being glossed over, and that’s too bad, because this is one of those rare biopics that actually manages to have a pulse… and get yours going too, on occasion.   


Gerry – Van Sant supposedly is doing a Bela Tarr film here, but I haven’t seen a Bela Tarr film yet that’s quite as empty as this one. What’s designed to be minimalist becomes a bit stultifying in its simplicity. The pacing is deadly, in the best sense, and the scenery is alternatively claustrophobic and utterly dwarfing, but you can’t help but wish for more (even if “more” would go completely against what he’s trying for). Certainly it’s an admirable attempt at greatness, but admirable attempts are all that Van Sant seems to been making out these days…   


Japón – The title of this debut feature has no real meaning, but is instead meant to evoke a feeling. Judging by the film that it’s attached to, that feeling is one that alternates between boredom and exaltation. Some of the images, especially the impressive 360-degree ‘Scope pans, are indelible, however, and in the best moments this vision of a slightly more primitive world evokes Werner Herzog.   


Rabbit Proof Fence – The one-sheet for this one screams melodramatically “WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT KIDNAPPED YOUR DAUGHTER?”, but this tale of an Aboriginal abduction plays out with a bit more panache than that ad-line would suggest. No small thanks goes to the world-music infused score from Peter Gabriel and the work by director Noyce who plays out more scenes on visual terms than you might expect (if not quite moving things into a Malick-like state of grace). If it’s not ultimately a great film, it feels pretty often like an important one (instead of a preachy one) and that’s no small feat.   


La Vie Nouvelle – When I talked about Noyce’s visual aptitude in the above capsule, it was only because I hadn’t yet seen Philippe Grandrieux’s La Vie Nouvelle. With next to no dialogue, Granrieux creates a disturbing and gritty meditation about the emotions we feel and the tolls that those emotions take on our bodies. The storytelling here takes second seat to the look of the film, but the look is so unique and overpowering that you scarcely mind.


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