Also with distributors: Michelangelo Frammartinos austere yet richly pantheist whatzit Le quattro volte, Oliveiras delightful masterpiece The Strange Case of Angelica, Weerasethakuls marvelously eccentric Uncle Boonmee, and Lee Chang-dongs well- (if over-)written Poetry. All four are estimable selections and, along with Carlos, opening in just a few weeks, and Certified Copy, highly recommended. Paradoxically, its the movies with distribution that tend to sell out first. Four of the following six fest picks are still looking for buyers with no guarantee that, once unspooled at Lincoln Center, they will ever receive so fine a projectionor indeed, ever appear in New Yorkagain.
Tuesday, After Christmas
A further example of Romanian virtuosityimpossibly long takes, remarkably disciplined actingRadu Munteans domestic melodrama, just acquired by Kino, has the tension of a thriller. Tuesday, After Christmas is a succession of scenes in which, almost always living a lie, the unfaithful hero alternately interacts with his wife and mistress at length. The turning point brings all three together (in a dentists office, no less), one member of the triangle still oblivious to the triangles existence. That event is topped by the subsequent 10-minute take, in which the husband drops the bomb on her. You wont see better performances in any film this festival. September 28 and October 1
The thorniest of entries (other than what might be in as-yet-unannounced Views From the Avant-Garde aside), Jean-Luc Godards enigmatic film essay is the NYFFs prime head-scratcher as well as its No. 1 must-show (and -see, for some). The first half is shockingly beautifula dense, highly fragmented analysis of recent European history as allegorized by a Mediterranean cruise ship. The second is a bit rocky. The footage (which may or may not have been shot by the 79-year-old Godard) integrates all manner of video, digital, and online material; the dialogue mixes French with Russian, Arabic, and German. Interpolated titles are a form of concrete poetry offering little clarity to non-Francophones. Still, the first screening promises some instant illumination, or at least intellectual vaudeville: Once the lights come up, Godards biographer Richard Brody, former Cahiers du cinéma editor Jean-Michel Frodon, and cinema studies doyenne Annette Michelson will be on hand to puzzle it out. September 29 and October 8
Based on an actual 1845 incident, Kelly Reichardts latest road movie (just picked up by Oscilloscope) is a great leap into the void for this talented, quirky New York filmmakera minimalist Western with intimations of frontier surrealism and manifest destiny madness. The members of an Oregon-bound wagon train (including a severely bonneted Michelle Williams) are misled into the desert by their bombastic, wrong-headed guide (Bruce Greenwood). The movie has a spacey, tranced-out quality, but the political implications, regarding trust given and abused, are unmistakable. October 8 and 9
A murder mystery in which the killers identity is known but his motives are not, Cristi Puius Aurora is an experiment, as well as a test for admirers of the directors Death of Mr. Lazarescu. The premise is absurdist, although only occasionally humorous. The compositions are typically underlit or obstructed; the movies characteristic shot has the action glimpsed through a half-open door. That Puiu stays resolutely outside his protagonist is all the more fascinating since he plays the role himself. Although one would have to watch this three-hour movie twice, if one were going to understand it (or not), theres but a single Sunday-evening showing. October 3
No one who appreciated Pablo Larraíns Tony Manero will be disappointed by its follow-up. Unforgettable as the blank-faced Saturday Night Feverobsessed serial killer in the earlier film, Alfredo Castro returns in Larraíns more overtly political and even more disturbing Post Mortem, playing a blank-faced, purposefully enigmatic Chilean morgue employee obsessed with the nightclub dancer who lives next door even as a coup unfolds against the nations socialist government. Post Mortem shares Tony Maneros shabby atmospherics and viscerally awkward mise-en-scène; it builds in intensity as Chile moves toward martial law and the protagonist is drafted to help perform the autopsy on deposed president Salvador Allende. October 4 and 5
Mysteries of Lisbon
I havent actually seen this, but I plan to. If Raul Ruiz, master of the artfully convoluted narrative, is on track, this four-hour-plus trip through the house of fiction, adapted from a 19th-century classic of Portuguese literature, could be the NYFFs most rarefied treat. Another thats only showing once, on the festivals last day. October 10
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