FESTIVALS: The Line Up for the 2001 New Directors/New Films Series
Complete Linuep for New Directors/New Films
(as provided by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Department of Film and Video, the Museum of Modern Art):
In BARTLEBY (2000, USA; 82 min), director Jonathan Parker dares to update Herman Melville’s fable of the struggle of individual will and he succeeds stunningly in this hilarious yet deeply touching debut feature. Parker’s synopsis is brief: “He was hired, but preferred not to work. He was fired, but preferred not to leave.” And so unfolds the narrative, as Bartleby begins his new job in a public records company office near a freeway, with an air conditioner that vibrates and a window without a view. His boss cannot cope with an employee who has no ambition, no goal except to do no work at all and to stand still for hours, indeed days at a time, in the middle of the office. Heading the superb cast are Crispin Glover as Bartleby, David Paymer as his employer, and Glenne Headly, Joe Piscopo, and Maury Chaykin as his bemused colleagues. Preceded by UPHEAVAL (USA, 2000. 14 min), in which director Itamar Kubovy sets a story by Anton Chekhov in present-day Manhattan. Starring Frances McDormand as the dysfunctional mistress of the household.
THE CASHIER WANTS TO GO TO THE SEASIDE (Croatia, 2000; 86 min) is the comic heartbreaking tale of shy, sad-faced Barica, who yearns to take her ailing daughter to the seaside, and the ways in which her corrupt, self-absorbed boss thwarts this modest desire. By turns hilarious and touching, first-time writer-director Dalibor Matanic proudly employs the honored tradition of Balkan deadpan humor and satire to point to society’s ills. An everyday woman taking fate into her own hands, Barica turns her dull existence upside down and takes the consequences. This impressive film announces a new director with a wry sense of humor and keen visual acumen. Preceded by SALTY (Australia, 2000. 18 min), directed by Marion Lee. Like the feeling of salt on your skin and your heart in your mouth, so goes young love.
With THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN (Iran, 2000; 78 min), a disturbing portrayal of th the lives of Iranian women, director Marziyeh Meshkini reveals an exciting new voice in Iranian cinema. The script, written by Meshkini’s husband, the consummate filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Gabbeh), tells several stories. The first is about Hava, who on the morning of her ninth birthday is told that, now that she is a woman, she must wear a chador and may no longer associate with her male playmates. In the most remarkable episode, Ahoo, a young wife, is competing in a bicycle race against dozens of other chador-clad women on a hot dusty road. As she pulls ahead of the field it appears that she is desperately trying to escape. Her husband and brothers pursue her on horseback to take her out of the race and no film chase has ever been more heart wrenching. Meshkini examines a society where women are still the property of men and cannot achieve independence without foregoing emotional attachments.
How can poor Daeho escape the rigid routine and humiliation of office work? By becoming THE FOUL KING (Korea, 2000; 122 min), a masked and fearsome professional wrestler. Director Kim Jee-woon takes us on a dizzying comic romp, exposing his hapless hero to absurd challenges in his attempts to escape the real world. Stylish and funny, the film shuttles Daeho between the office and the ring, between bullying bank manager and exasperated coach and his tough but vulnerable daughter. The wrestling matches are fast and absurd in their slapstick approach to pratfalls and mayhem, as the popular Korean star Song Kang-ho reveals his considerable talent for playing physical comedy, softened by the self-aware wryness of the perennial loser. Preceded by COCK FIGHT (Israel, 1999; 14 min), directed by Sigalit Liphshitz, in which an Israeli finds his truckload of chickens stopped at a road block by an Arab who used to be a friend.
The new Europe, symbolized often by black or brown faces belonging to African and Arab immigrants