Festival Express

New York Film Festival highlights

Belle Toujours

The world's most active 97-year-old director, Manoel de Oliveira has been making his "last film" for decades. Belle Toujours is one more of these—a droll tribute to a movie the Portuguese maestro surely considers a masterpiece, Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour. Some four decades after they last met, Henri Husson (here, as in the original, played by Michel Piccoli) tracks down the mysterious Severine (Bulle Ogier in a blond wig, standing in for Catherine Deneuve). "I'm another woman," she tells him. Belle Toujoursis all about substitution; the perversity is something other than sexual. As Piccoli's not-quite-rueful roué promises a sympathetic bartender, "I'll tell you a story of what didn't happen." New Yorker has acquired the movie; it's showing once, October 5.

Syndromes and a Century

He's not exactly what you'd call a master of suspense, but Apichatpong Weerasethakul's enigmas are anything but predictable. Known to his pals as Joe, the Thai avant-popster returns to the NYFF two years after the critical success Tropical Malady with another two-part brain tickler. Are these parallel tales a Buddhist romance in which dual sets of more or less congruent personalities experience two different sets of lives working in two different hospitals? An attempt at 3-D narrative depth? To add to the mystery, the filmmaker has called the movie, commissioned by the New Crowned Hope festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, a story about his parents before they met. No distributor and only one showing, October 7.

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

Zacharias Kunuk's follow-up to his sensational ethno-epic The Fast Runner, featuring many of the same actors and co-directed with cameraman Norman Cohn, is a sort of sequel in which the Inuit enter Western history. A shaman and his family fall in with a pair of Danish arctic explorers. Despite its title, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is no less steeped in the Inuit worldview and dense with the minutiae of igloo life than The Fast Runner; it is, however, a far more troubled and demanding movie. The action is largely philosophical until, in the final 40 minutes, the Inuit shaman is compelled to abandon his spirits, having been starved into Christian conversion. No distributor yet. October 8 and 9.

 
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