Darkness Visible

The House of Mirth Gillian Anderson's performance as the marriage-shy, too-trusting Lily Bart, who's manipulated, betrayed, and destroyed by old New York's careless and hypocritical blue-blood society, is a revelation. Terence Davies's adaptation of Edith Wharton's greatest novel moves with severity and grace toward its heartbreaking conclusion. September 23 and 24. (AT)

Body and Soul The most distinguished of the Black Pioneer Oscar Micheaux's jazz-age silents features Paul Robeson in his screen debut (and in a double, really triple, role). To further burnish the collaboration, an Eastman House archival print of this 1925 production will be accompanied by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. September 24. (JH)

Krapp's Last Tape Samuel Beckett's brilliantly self-reflexive solo for actor and recording device seems like a natural for Atom Egoyan, but the director proceeds with a reverential caution that's matched by John Hurt's exceedingly correct performance. It might have been more fun to watch a "personality" like Walter Matthau or Richard Farnsworth play Beckett, but at least the banana-peel gag still works. Screening with Neil Jordan's short Not I, in which Julianne Moore plays Beckett's mouthpiece. No distributor. September 24 and 25. (JH)

Let the creature perform: Björk and Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark
photo: D. Koskas
Let the creature perform: Björk and Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark

Details

Dancer in the Dark
Written and directed by Lars von Trier
A Fine Line release
Opens September 23

New York Film Festival
Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall
September 22 through October 9
NYFF Main Program

The Comedy of Innocence Raul Ruiz doesn't come any more lighthearted or simpleminded than in his riff on the confusion precipitated by a nine-year-old boy with a digital camera and an imaginary friend. Starting out as a philosophical inquiry, this largely unfunny comedy becomes first a ghost story and then a minor psychological thriller. There are a few trademark eccentricities—notably Isabelle Huppert's weirdly polite affect as a mother whose son replaces her with a stranger. No distributor. September 26 and 28. (JH)

The Circle The big prizewinner at the Venice Film Festival, Jafar Panahi's strongest film to date transcends the urban labyrinth of The White Balloon to spend a day switching from one beleaguered female protagonist to the next, ultimately suggesting that, in Iran, all women are born in prison. The old Eastern European cinema lives . . . in the Islamic Republic. No distributor. September 26 and 27. (JH)

Brother Takeshi Kitano's return to yakuzaland transposes Sonatine to L.A. There are several genuinely startling shoot-outs (not to mention the highest NYFF body count since the Big One fell at the first festival in Fail-Safe). That said, the movie is more tedious than it is well wrought. Kitano loses inspiration midway through, although he does makes an indelible impression on his eventual soul brother Omar Epps. September 27 and 28. (JH)

Faithless A tale of adulterous intellectuals is elaborated with a framing device in which an aged filmmaker, Erland Josephson, interviews his characters. The movie, ponderously directed by Liv Ullmann from Ingmar Bergman's script, has the visual texture of a furniture showroom and is grossly overlong—Ullmann could have cut 40 minutes by trimming Josephson's reaction shots alone—but once the drama kicks in, there are some stunning scenes. September 29 and October 2. (JH)

George Washington David Gordon Green's first feature is an unlikely amalgam of Gummo and Fresh—an arty, sincere evocation of preadolescent tragedy on the derelict edge of a small Southern city. Turned down by "New Directors" only to be invited by its big sibling, the film transcends an erratic point of view, a somewhat unconvincing social reality, and several stilted performances to achieve a genuine sense of sorrow and loss unusual among American indies. September 29 and October 1. (JH)

Gohatto The power of sexuality to disrupt social hierarchies is Oshima's great theme. Here, a gorgeous, long-haired young samurai stirs up homoerotic desire and homophobia in a 19th-century squadron. Similar to Claire Denis's Beau Travail in its connection of sexual obsession and the fading of empires, the film is genuinely transgressive, although it occasionally backtracks into camp. September 30 and October 2. (AT)

Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine The first movie in 20 years by long-banned Iranian filmmaker Bahman Farmanara is a humorously death-haunted psychodrama in which the director undertakes an absurd quest to document his own funeral. The kind and portly Farmanara is an intensely sympathetic figure (at least in his onscreen persona), but he would have to be Andrei Tarkovsky to bring off this fusion of memory, fantasy, and social satire. September 30 and October 3. (JH)

Seven Men From Now Long unavailable and newly restored, Budd Boetticher's first Randolph Scott western initiated a cycle that marked the end of the traditional western. No one thought much about it back then except André Bazin, who, in 1957, hailed the film as "exemplary," perhaps the best example of the genre he'd seen since World War II. September 30. (JH)

Pollock Working every moment, producer-director-star Ed Harris treats Jackson Pollock to the full van Gogh. His childlike, self-absorbed, unhappy painter has no charm—just genius and dipsomania. (Marcia Gay Harden's Lee Krasner is equally convincing, albeit less muse than noodge.) The movie is unsentimental, intelligent fun, and surprisingly good at evoking the vertigo of people living on the edge. September 30 and October 1. (JH)

The Gleaners and I A tiny, digital video camera afforded Agnes Varda the necessary intimacy with her subjects—modern-day gleaners, who earn their daily bread by picking through the leftovers of an affluent society. The film itself is a kind of gleaning. Its most stunning moment occurs when Varda, inadvertently, turns the camera on her own weathered hand. October 1. (AT)

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