The New Orleans Film Festival, which started last Friday and will continue until tomorrow, has provided the city with a smattering of the new releases coming within the next couple months, delivering some form of excitement to the regional film community. I was thrilled, myself, to attend five screenings on the opening weekend.
The festival got off to a shaky start on Friday with the first film of the fest, David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method.” Cronenberg has unfortunately made a film that is not up to his usual standards. “Method,” a story about Carl Jung (Michael Fassbinder) and an hysterical Jewish patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), is severely hampered by Knightley’s overly mannered performance and a poor script.
Saturday was a bit more promising. I saw three movies, one feature and two documentaries, which some fellow attendees missed in favor of what I am sure was a fantastic barbecue. Duty called, and I spent the day missing short ribs but consuming what delights could be found on the festival’s roster.
First up was “Disfarmer,” a documentary about the eponymous artist, a photographer from the deep South famous for his portraits and inscrutability. Mike Disfarmer was so inscrutable, in fact, that the documentary runs out of steam quickly once we realize that nobody seems to know anything about him. “Disfarmer” screens again tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 p.m. at Zeitgeist.
Next came “Puppet,” a film about an avant garde New York puppeteer putting together a show about Mike Disfarmer. This film, given momentum from the fact that it has a story to tell, is a much more impressive work than the documentary, which actually had clips of “Puppet”interspersed throughout its run time. “Puppet” screens again tonight (Wednesday) at 8:15 p.m. at Zeitgeist.
The most exciting film was a narrative feature with which I wrapped up my day: Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” is the story of a man (Michael Shannon) who either is schizophrenic or can see the apocalypse coming. I cannot recommend this excellent film highly enough. Nichols, whose previous film “Shotgun Stories” was an indie darling a few years ago, has matured in this newest release.
Sunday, I had my only viewing experience outside of the Canal Place Cinemas when I went to see Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” at the Prytania. The only movie in the festival to actually be shown on film, “Melancholia” is yet another story about the apocalypse, this time from the title planet crashing into and consuming our own. With this fantastic cinematic event, von Trier has provided another fine addition to his already impressive filmography. “Melancholia” screens again tonight (Wednesday) at 5:45 p.m. at the Prytania Theater.
That brings us up to date on film fest viewings. I have one more movie to go on my six-movie pass. So stay tuned.