Los Angeles Film Festival Line-up

laff2009

The Los Angeles Film Festival announced its line-up today, and any fears that its new director might steer the festival–with its solid line-up several years running–in an untoward direction have been put to rest. Some of the highlights follow.

The latest edition of the always excellent “The Films That Got Away” series programmed by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association:

• Musica Nocturna, described by Robert Koehler as “the most realistic depiction of a married couple that I’ve seen on screen since Cassavetes.”

• The Silence Before Bach, which I’ve been dying to see ever since it earned raves at MoMA and the Film Forum.

• United Red Army, which Daniel Kasman compares to Satantango and Out 1 and writes that it “hits the same notes, the same brutal actions again and again, with tremendous results.”

Other films from world cinema:

• Turistas, Chilean Alicia Scherson’s second film after Play–one of my favorite films of 2006–and embraced by Robert Koehler here as “a superb delight, equally light and heavy.”

• A Week Alone, Celina Munga’s first film since her excellent Ana and the Others (2003), which is a droll and socially observant portrait of Argentine youth that plays like a cross between Rohmer and Kiarostami; it’s also available as Instant Play at Netflix and highly recommended.

• The international premiere of Elementary Training for Actors by Martin Rejtman (and co-creator Federico Leon), whose Copacabana documentary I deeply admired at LAFF two years ago, but whose fiction work is among the most highly praised of contemporary Argentine cinema. (I’ve got a copy of Silvia Prieto that I’ll be sure to watch soon.)

• My Dear Enemy by South Korea’s Lee Yoon-ki (This Charming Girl); if you scroll down the link I just gave for Copacabana, you’ll see my warm reaction to Lee’s previous film, Ad Lib Night (2006), which struck me as an unusually sensitive family drama.

• Our Beloved Month of August, the film that graced the cover of the second-to-last issue of Cinema Scope, which featured an interview with filmmaker Miguel Gomes by editor Mark Peranson.

• Crude Oil is acclaimed Chinese documentarist Wang Bing’s 14-hour video installation; I haven’t seen his other opus, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003) yet, but I did have the pleasure of taking in his remarkable Fengming: A Chinese Memoir at the Toronto film fest a couple years ago. I admire LAFF a lot for programming this.

• Advance screenings of films with distribution: Claire Denis’ 35 Shots of Rum (which Rob Davis–interviewing Denis–describes as “wonderful”), Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Still Walking (along with Assayas’ Summer Hours, the most perceptive family drama I saw last year–even if it should end a couple minutes before it does), the Sundance-championed SF film Cold Souls, and Michael Mann’s new thriller, Public Enemies (but let’s hope this is closer to The Insider than Miami Vice).

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