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NYFF 07 Review: Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (ThinkFilm, October 26th)
Dir: Sidney Lumet; written by: Kelly Masterson
NYFF public screenings: Friday, October 12th: 6pm, Saturday, October 13th: 12:45pm
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Master filmmaker Sidney Lumet latest effort, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, is the tautest melodrama I’ve seen in quite some time and at 83, Lumet has lost none of his edge. While I didn’t necessarily find this new picture, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, and Rosemary Harris, to be on the par with, Dog Day Afternoon or The Verdict — both among my all-time favorite films — it certainly kept me in its grip from the moment go. The difference between this one and the other two is that this film is story driven while the others are character oriented. The story is as close to Greek or Shakespearean tragedy as one can get and at times the characters seem to be little more than vehicles propelling the storylines forward. But what storylines there are!
The opening sequence finds married couple Andy (Hoffman) and Gina Hanson (Tomei) in an exceptional moment of blissful passion while vacationing in Brazil and their post-coital dialog reveals a clearly unhappy marriage Andy is a real estate executive with a cushy office over looking Manhattan and an unhappy wife, Gina, who replaces feelings of emptiness with expensive meaningless objects and sex with her brother-in-law, Hank (Hawke). This is as much bliss as the picture is going to offer and over the course of the next 110 minutes there is just a sense of menace and dread. Tomei, naked through most of her scenes, might just get her career back on track with this role. Not sure if that’s a good thing or simply a sad case of what an actress has to do get herself noticed these days. Finney plays Charles, the stoic patriarch. Whoever came up with the idea to cast Albert Finney as Hoffman’s dad had a gem of an idea and the relationship between the two is a key element of this tale.
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One Night At Sway: Tully Hypnotizes….

Filmmaker and blogger Michael Tully attempts to hypnotize filmmaker Liz Mermin (The Beauty Academy of Kabul) with just his gaze last Sunday at the Smiths/Morrissey night at downtown New York hotspot Sway following the New Directors/New Films directors party at Lincoln Center restaurant Josephina’s.

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The ND/NF bash was packed and it was Sunday night, but apparently some of us were ready to continue letting les bon temps roulez, because Newport programmer David Nugent corraled about 20 of us to head down to the SoHo club for several more hours of dancing and libations. In fact, word has it that some partygoers danced away until 8am!

A Film Weekend In New York – Man, I Love This Town!

panslabyrinth2.jpgMy man Mike Tully ain’t kidding when he mentions some of the filmic riches to be seen in New York City theaters this weekend. I mean, there’s Old Joy (which I confess to missing in Rotterdam, but promise to see this week) and California Split (which I think I should take in after taking in some of the things mentioned in my previous post), and I thoroughly agree with his take on Pan’s Labyrinth and will be writing more about it, tomorrow. It’s truly brilliant. But that’s hardly all on offer this weekend.

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Film Springs Eternal – NYC’s The Place To Be

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Ahhh! Spring in New York….sort of. The weather in March is just as likely to be gale force winds and snow as it is to be sunshine and daffodils but no matter, as there’s any number of fantastic filmic endeavors for you to experience. French films? Check. New films by new directors? (har!) Check. A new 35mm print of Dirty Harry? You’d better believe it, punk! Not only that, but there’s the third annual exhibition of recent Canadian films, Canadian Front 2006, which opened on Wednesday with a screening of the fantastic C.R.A.Z.Y. by Jean-Marc Vallée and a screenplay by Vallée and François Boulay.

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