Tuesday, October 03, 2006

NYFF day two: Exotic stuff

Sorry it's taken so long, but there's been the high holy days and some other stuff I had to do. I should have even more stuff up tomarrow:


Written and Directed
by Zacharias Kunuk
and Norman Cohn

This film has no real plot. The year is 19112, and it’s somewhere in the far, far north. The family of the aging shaman Avva (Pakak Innukshuk) and his rebellious daughter Apak (Leah Angutimarik) have been hired to take Knud Rasmussen (Jens Jorn Spottag) and his crew of anthropologists (Jakob Cedergren, Kim Bodnia and Pierre Lebeau) to the island of Iglulik, somewhere near the pole.

The Inuit family sings for the anthropologists, then Avva tells the story of his life, while in the background, Apak makes love with the ghost of her dead husband and insults his successor and her old boyfriend Nuqallaq(Natar Ungalaaq).
For most of the film, scratch that, for ALL of the film, nothing happens. There’s a point near the end of the film where the band sort of converts to Christianity in order to get some lunch, and the ending is completely out of place and badly done. This film is mostly an anthropological reconstruction of Inuit life a century ago and the unfortunate effects of those naughty missionaries. There’s too much exposition and not enough plot. We’re not even sure which white actor is playing the title role, here. What good is that. We’re promised the Journals of Knud Rasmussen, and we don’t even get to find out who the guy is!

The acting is okay, as far as semi-professional productions go. Ms. Angutimarik is very cute, and as the main character, pretty much dominates the movie. Unless you’re interested in Eskimos, give this film a pass.

Inland Empire

Written and Directed
By David Lynch

So David Lynch has done it again. What exactly he has done is hard to say, but he most definitely done it again. The most interesting part is the rabbits, but that’s only because he allegedly had the footage gathering dust for decades and wanted use it. But why would he do that?

The rabbits (voiced by Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Scott Coffey), are on stage in a funny animal sitcom, which is being watched by Julia Ormond [I think], while she’s channel surfing and sobbing over something which may have happened before or will happen later. No one knows, for sure.

As part of a show on a possibly different channel, a mysterious stranger(Grace Zabriskie) who visits a glamorous movie star named Nikki(Laura Dern) in her Hollywood mansion [where the rabbits reside in a different dimension] and starts prophesying about her next movie role.

This prophesy is true, as the great director Kingsley(Jeremy Irons) has indeed hired Nikki and Devon(Justin Theroux) to play the lead roles of Sue and Billy, as well as lending Kingsley’s assistant Freddie(Harry Dean Stanton) money from time to time. For twenty minutes, we have a genuinely coherent movie, including a subplot about our two leads cheating on Nikki’s husband(Peter J. Lucas), then the whole thing falls apart into a million pieces, where the rabbits return and Nikki is sent to the planet of the bimbos and is forced to dance the Locomotion while her husband joins the circus.

But what’s happening in 1930s Poland? you may ask.

Were it not for the great performances, this would be the worst movie of the year. The last third makes no sense whatsoever, we think one thing and are then forced to realize that the entire thing is one big come-on, a giant bait-and-switch in which we get absolutely nothing, and that makes it all the more infuriating.

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