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September 2004 Screening Log - click for reviews, when applicable. Titles of short films listed in bold.

 

01. The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001) 82 [If you haven't seen it a second time, do yourself a favor. With the question of the twist largely out of the way, it's Amenabar's incredible talent that shines through. With only a handful of plot elements, a few well-drawn characters, and a single moody location, he manipulates the audience with the skill of a master. The important thing to note, though, is that he feels like a master from the studio era. The way that he directs his expository dialogue shows that he's not embarrassed by it like so many modern filmmakers are, and that's because he has an undeniable conviction in the story that he's telling. As a result, everything leads up to the twist, which ultimately feels "earned" to me. It doesn't feel like a shock so much as a reprieve from his tortured characters' purgatory. The script here largely recycles "The Turn of the Screw", but it's still much better than anything that Shyamalan has written.] 

 

02. Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian, 1935) 54

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii, 2004) 52

 

03. Story of Women (Claude Chabrol, 1988) 80

For the curious, here's my tentative TIFF schedule.

 

04. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969) 91

 

05. Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (Claude Sautet, 1995) 63

Bound for Glory (Hal Ashby, 1976) 57

 

06. Vanity Fair (Mira Nair, 2004) 39 [What the fuck? As an adaptation of the novel, this is nothing less than an unmitigated disaster, so I tried to look at it as its own object. It's slightly more successful on those terms, but even then it's sort of worthless, slight, and unfunny(!). There's next to nothing at stake here, probably because the thematic threads against Colonialism and the Patriarchy are scarcely dramatized. Thanks to a spineless script, Becky Sharp has been declawed and spayed. As a result, characters suddenly serve no purpose or have motivations that no longer make sense. Amelia's virtue no longer serves as an example, because Becky's almost as saintly as her, Dobbin's hatred of the heroine makes no sense, since she never reveals her nastiness to him, and so on. Everyone keeps telling the sanitized Becky how naughty she is, but there's little evidence of her conniving or her wit. Eileen Atkins, as Aunt Matilda, is the lone cast member to capture the spirit of the novel and easily stands as the movie's highlight.]

Tae guk gi: The Brotherhood of War (Je-gyu Kang, 2004) 61 [In style, structure, and approach it's obviously the "Korean Saving Private Ryan", but at the same time it's more interesting than that. Its opening scenes are so unabashedly melodramatic that it requires a brief period of adjustment to start accepting the unfettered emotionalism that's offered. Those who can manage to put whatever hipster biases they possess aside will be rewarded by one of the most epic and exhausting emotional journeys to hit screens this decade. By flexing the (occasionally creaky) central dynamic between the two brothers the movie achieves an unusually large number of insights into national attitudes on the war. Surprisingly, however, the party line is the least present of all perspectives. All that I know is that by the time the intense final battle was searing its way across the screen, the point had been made dramatically, and not just rhetorically, that the idea of Koreans fighting Koreans is inherently tragic. Whatever its flaws, this is a film that is not to be missed.]

 

07. Gothic (Ken Russell, 1986) 56

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (Paul Mazursky, 1986) 22

 

08. Enduring Love (Roger Michell, 2004) 34 [It's actually a bit like Changing Lanes in the way that its communications breakdown is pushed to the point of sheer implausibility in a bid to increase suspense. I guess you could call either a tragedy of manners. Unfortunately, the approach doesn't work here any more than it did in Changing Lanes, and while the end result is a bit less stupid than that film, you can't help but feel that Michell thinks he's being more restrained than he actually is. It starts out strong with a surprising scene of bliss interrupted, but as soon as that set piece concludes major problems start. The title has a double meaning, and the movie never lets you forget it. The lead character (Daniel Craig) is a college professor who philosophizes endlessly about the nature of love, but nothing he says is more than trite. The twin antagonists in his life are his girlfriend (Samantha Morton) who constantly sets boundaries that frustrate him and a googly-eyed stalker (a non-threatening Rhys Ifans) who seems to recognize none. As his stress level increases, the movie is supposed to get more uncomfortable, but it really doesn't. It only gets shoddier in its construction. The simplistic, "expressionistic" lighting is annoying throughout, but the final act is truly desperate stylistic overkill.]

 

09. Throw Down (Johnnie To, 2004) 50 

See TIFF Diary for capsules for films until 9/19.

10 on Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2004) 40

Five (Abbas Kiarostami, 2003) 47 

The Phantom of Henri Langlois (Jacques Richard, 2004) 51

 

10. Notre Musique (Jean-Luc Godard, 2004) 65

Automne (Ra'up McGee, 2004) 26

Antares (Gotz Spielmann, 2004) 56

Turtles Can Fly (Bahman Ghobadi, 2004) 36

Creep (Christopher Smith, 2004) 52

 

11. Le Femme de Gilles (Frederic Fonteyne, 2004) 58

Clean (Olivier Assayas, 2004) 77

Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heavenís Gate (Michael Epstein, 2004) 45

Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004) 33

My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004) 53

 

12. 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2004) 67

A Hole in My Heart (Lukas Moodysson, 2004) 54

Yes (Sally Potter, 2004) 43

Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004) 42

The Raspberry Reich (Bruce LaBruce, 2004) 51

 

13. Kinsey (Bill Condon, 2004) 50

Schizo (Guka Omarova, 2004) 37

Astronauts (Sanri Amodeo, 2003) 28

Cinevardaphoto (Agnes Varda, 2004) 63 

The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel, 2004) 61

Brothers (Susanne Bier, 2004) 43

Dead Birds (Alex Turner, 2004) 35

 

14. Lila dit ca (Ziad Doueiri, 2004) 62

Mondovino (Jonathan Nossiter, 2004) 60

Days and Hours (Pjer Zalica, 2004) 36

Promised Land (Amos Gitai, 2004) w/o due to technical difficulties

9 Songs (Michael Winterbottom, 2004) 55

Dead Man's Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004) 37

 

15. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004) 46

Double Dare (Amanda Micheli, 2003) 57

Moolaade (Ousmane Sembene, 2004) 68

Le Cou de la girafe (Safy Nebbou, 2004) 52

Land of Plenty (Wim Wenders, 2004) 40

Kontroll (Nimrod Antal, 2003) 34

 

16. Calvaire (Fabrice du Welz, 2004) 48

L'Intrus (Claire Denis, 2004) 69

Niceland (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, 2004) 31

Stray Dogs (Marziyeh Meshkini, 2004) 44

As Follows (Federico Veiroj, 2004) 22

Whisky (Juan Pablo Rebella & Pablo Stoll, 2003) 45

 

17. The Sea Inside (Alejandro Amenabar, 2004) 48

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (Asia Argento, 2004) 65

5 x 2 - Cinq fois deux (Francois Ozon, 2004) 51

Duck Season (Fernando Eimbcke, 2004) 63

Vital (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2004) 38

Rahtree: Flower of the Night (Yuthlert Sippapak, 2003) 59

 

18. The House Keys (Gianni Amelio, 2004) 52

Sucker Free City (Spike Lee, 2004) 25

Eros (Stephen Soderbergh, Michelangelo Antonioni, Wong Kar-Wai, 2004) 50

Brodeuses (Eleonore Faucher, 2004) 41

Saw (James Wan, 2004) 53

 

19. You Got Served (Chris Stokes, 2004) 12

 

20. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette, 2003) 58

 

21. The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir, 1936) 76

 

22. Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995) 90

 

23. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Alexander Witt, 2004) 36

Cellular (David R. Ellis, 2004) 59

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Kerry Conran, 2004) 78

 

24. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970) 75

 

25. Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller, 1957) 85

 

26. Slacker (Richard Linklater, 1991) 69

It's Impossible to Learn to Plow By Reading Books (Richard Linklater, 1988) 80

The Sugarland Express (Steven Spielberg, 1974) 40

Elephant (Alan Clarke, 1989) 54

The Forgotten (Joseph Ruben, 2004) 41

Wimbledon (Richard Loncraine, 2004) 43

Mr. 3000 (Charles Stone III, 2004) 44

Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) 48

 

27. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1933) 79

 

28. Broken Wings (Nir Bergman, 2002) 38

 

29. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004) 87

 

30. La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995) 89

 

 

January 2004 - February 2004 - March 2004 - April 2004 - May 2004 - June 2004 - July 2004 - August 2004 - September 2004 - October 2004