Since the fest is virtual I am making an effort to at least try every film playing at the New York Film Festival. The idea is that since it doesn't cost me anything to go into the city I can simply try everything as it comes my way and see what strikes my fancy. If I don't like it I can just stop it and move on to something else.
Because I am seeing so much (and because I am covering 3 other festivals at the same time ) some of what I saw ended up with shorter pieces than I would have normally produced. I've collected a bunch of these together and I've put them in to a series of posts.
THE PLASTIC HOUSE is a really good look at a Cambodian families green house and the life that transpires inside it. It’s film of quiet power where we find that we are suddenly lost in the sound and image and life of the people working inside it. I wish I had seen this on the big screen.
YEAR OF DISCOVERY is either going to thrill you or bore you. I was intrigued for a while but I kind of checked out about half way in when the three and a half hour run time began to close in. The film is made up of people talking inside a Spanish snack bar in 1992. To be honest I think the reason I checked out was the fact that the film references things I really don’t understand. I know that it was a year of change in the country but I didn’t know the context of everything. I wanted to connect more and understand more than I was doing. If you want to get inside the heads of various people this is for you. If not you may want to pass.
XIAO WU is a stunner. Jia Zhangkr first film it doesn’t feel like a first film. Other than his shooting it on 16mm making the film seem older than it is the film feels as fresh and alive as his most recent films. It is one of my favorite films of Zhangke and one I can’t wait to revisit.
NOTTURNO is Gianfranco Rosi‘s portrait of life in Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon. Shot over three years it’s a film that is an overwhelming visual experience. To be honest I don’t know if the film adds up to much other than as a portrait of life under the threat of violence but at the same time it still manages to hit home as the various slices of life hit home. Since this can’t be seen on a big movie screen I highly recommend this film is you can see it on a big TV screen.