Tuesday, June 08, 2004

LA Film Festival 2004

So it's not TIFF or NYFF or SFIFF or even CIFF, but the folks programming the Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs from June 16-27, deserve some props. The fest is getting bigger and better.

Among the highlights of the program:

* Cowards Bend the Knee, the acclaimed art installation/film from the audacious Canadian maverick Guy Maddin. This is the big must-see of the fest for me.

* Red Lights, from Cedric Kahn, the director of underrated l'amour fou study L'ennui. This one is supposed to be really good.

* The rare 1948 Mexican movie La Otra starring Del Rio, which is supposed to be an acclaimed classic film. Haven't heard of it, but I'm eager to sample a few from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.

* The Mira Nair curated program, which includes two well-regarded movies from always fascinating (if uneven) auteurs: Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table (which I haven't seen) and Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies (which I saw on video eons ago and can't remember even a second of). More notably, Nair's arranging a rare screening of Guru Dutt's Pyaasa, considered by many to be the Citizen Kane of Bollywood pictures. I saw this one on TCM awhile back, a kind of Borzagian melodrama with relatively controlled musical sequences. Enjoyable enough, though given its reputation, a projected viewing is in order.

* A few other programs I may catch are: the no-budget Cannes' buzz item Tarnation, Raoul Ruiz's A Taste of Murder (never know what you'll get with Ruiz); Leconte's Intimate Strangers, which is likely another Tradition of Quality character study; Untold Scandal, the Korean Dangerous Liaisons (reportedly more intriguing in concept); and the eclectic video series.

* Among the ones I've seen: Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Gate Inn is beloved by the Film Comment crowd but is too mannered by half; Hero, an astounding visual feast, demands to be seen on the big screen (and Miramax apparently will finally release it soon). But Zhang Yimou's awkward fusion of Ashes of Time and Tsui Hark and reactionary nationalism put me off. Both are well worth catching in spite my lukewarm response.

* What ever happened to Scott Caan's excellent Dallas 362? It's not playing anywhere.

* If anyone has a hot tip or would like to meet up, drop a note. Or better yet, drop a comment below.