43rd New York Film Festival – Part 2

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In Part 1 of our coverage of the 43rd New York Film Festival, we took a look at some of the American offerings for the festival and the returning directors, but every year, the festival also presents over a dozen new films from all parts of the globe, many which won’t see U.S. theatres for a number of months.

The most exciting entry this year is the third part in Park Chan-Wook’s “revenge trilogy,” Lady Vengeance (aka “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance”, screening Sept. 30 and Oct. 2), which follows the revenge plot of a woman framed for kidnapping and killing a young boy. After spending 15 years in prison, she’s ready to hatch a scheme that could only come from the mind of the man behind Oldboy.

Paradise Now (screening Oct. 5 and 6) is a powerful drama from Dutch-based Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, exploring the lives of two young Palestinians recruited for a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv.

If you think 911 is a joke in your town, then you obviously haven’t been to Bucharest in Hungary where The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (screened Sept. 24 and 25) takes place over the course of a night. Shot almost in real-time, this film from director Cristi Puiu follows the journey of an ailing elderly man and his deteriorating condition as an ambulance tries to find a hospital that will admit him.

The winner of the Palm D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, L’Enfant (The Child) (screened Sept. 24 and 25), from Belgian auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta), shows what happens when a petty criminal decides to sell and then retrieve his girlfriend’s newborn baby, presuming that they can “always have another.” This is Belgium’s entry for the Oscar foreign language race next year.

Aleksander Sokurov, the mastermind behind Russian Ark, returns with The Sun (screening October 8), which does for post-WWII Japan what the German drama Downfall did for Nazi Germany, showing Japan Emperor Hirohito in the last days before the country surrendered to American forces.

A film about Japan actually made in Japan is The Hidden Blade (screened Sept. 24 and 25), from The Twilight Samurai director Yoji Yamada. It opens a special side-event to the festival, a presentation called “The Beauty of Everyday: Japan’s Shochiku Company at 110,” a 45-film retrospective of the Japanese studio’s film history. Based on the works of the same author who penned The Twilight Samurai, Yamada’s latest is another story set in the mid 19th Century when Japan was going through its own industrial revolution. It’s the story of a lone samurai facing many personal hardships, including the fact that he’s in love with his own maid.

The President’s Last Bang (screening Oct. 3 and 4) is a controversial film from Korea’s Im Sang-Soo, a dark comedy about the assassination of South Korea’s dictator Gen Park Chung-hee by the head of his secret service. It’s being compared favorably to great political thrillers like The Manchurian Candidate and comedies like Dr. Strangelove.

The returning Asian directors include Korea’s Hong Sang-soo, who presents his Tale of Cinema (screening Oct. 1 and 2) about the competition between two film school students after graduation, and Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao Hsien, who offers Three Times (screening Oct. 5 and 6), telling three love stories set during three different periods in Chinese history. Neither has U.S. distribution at this point.

The festival closes with Cache (Hidden) (screening Oct. 9), the latest thriller from controversial director Michael Haneke. It stars Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche as a couple terrorized by a stalker who sends them videotapes of them during their everyday lives, something that David Lynch explored in parts of Lost Highway.

There may still be tickets available for some of the upcoming screenings at Lincoln Center’s FilmLinc, but except for Paradise Now, which will open in New York and L.A. on October 28, you may have to wait until next year to see most of these films.
Lady Vengeance opens on February 3, 2006.
L’Enfant (The Child) opens on March 17, 2006.
The Hidden Blade opens April 14, 2006.
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu opens in limited release on May 12, 2006.
Michael Haneke’s Cache (Hidden) is still looking for a release date sometime later this year.