Second Critics Academy piece, more NYFF films

My second piece as a member of the NYFF Critics Academy has now been published over at Criticwire. If that piece does not make it clear enough, Amour is a masterpiece, a film that I have not gotten out of my head since seeing it on Friday morning.
I also caught Not Fade Away, which is energetic and well-edited, but simply too messy to amount to anything of note. At times it’s about politics, other times just about rock and roll, sometimes the romance is heavy and sometimes it’s barely there at all. At its best, it’s about art, in all its forms, and how we relate to it, but these moments are few and number and cluttered in one sequence of the film. If you don’t dig the music, there’s nothing to see here. If you do, it’s a fun ride but one that does not live up to the hype.

Worse, however, is The Paperboy, which is every bit as bad as the worst reviews have made it out to be. o say that the film is incompetently made, as if it were created by a group of high school students, would not be far from the truth. There is no rhythm to the shots are either close-ups or incredibly awkward angles that have no adherence to basic editing rules, and which have nothing to say in breaking the rules. We have three kinds of narration: Subjective, omniscient, and nonexistent, the beginning flirts with documentary aesthetics and then abandons them completely, and that the film seems to be about civil rights until some point when I had already lost all interest is silly considering the film is not about racial tensions at all. Throw in terrible acting from everyone involved, and wow. I hope I don’t see a worse film all year. I hope nobody does.
Ginger & Rosa, on the other hand, deals with sexual issues intelligently, creating real, complex characters where The Paperboy opted for cliche, and touching on existentialism to create a beautiful small drama. It was my first Sally Potter film, and it’s certainly enough to get me to look for more. Elle Fanning and Christina Hendricks, give their best performances yet, and Annette Bening is great as usual. Check this one out while you can.

Lincoln…I, for one, was not impressed with the acting. It’s fine, nothing about it is particularly bad (though Sally Field’s Mary Todd Lincoln is certainly overwrought a bit), but even Daniel Day-Lewis is just another guy playing Lincoln. The sets are pretty, but the film is far too talky, and treats the audience as if we should perpetually be in suspense. Unfortunately, there is not likely to be an audience member who does not know that Lincoln freed the slaves, and so the film instead has a startling lack of drama. Kushner’s script would be great if this were a play, but it’s not.


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