I only saw ten films at The AFI Los Angeles Film Festival. Here the are in order of preference
[Alexander Sokurov] - An elderly woman goes to visit her son who is stationed in an Army outpost out by the Chechnian border. Forget the plot it's the subtle editing, intricate and faded sound design and the original reverence and sacredness shown for everything and everybody that makes this film a masterpiece. In any one else's hands it would be a bad comedy or a sentimental mess. In Sokurov's hands it's amazing cinema.
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days [Cristian Mungiu]
- A young woman assists her friend in getting an illegal abortion in Communist era Romania. Tense, affecting, beautifully acted and well paced it's an understated but fine film.
Mr Warmth: The Don Rickles Project [John Landis] - An excellent documentary on the great comedian. Managers to let us see the man closer as well as get an understanding of Vegas in the 50's and 60's. Also plenty of good [politically incorrect] comedy.
Flight of the Red Balloon [Hou-Hsiao Hsien] - This is one of those nothing-much-happens-but-everything is happening type of films that Hsien is very good at. Juliet Binoche plays a frazzeled single mom with a young son. She has just hired a Taiwanese nanny who is a student filmmaker. The camera captures everything as though it were really unfolding in real time. And a lonely red balloon bops around every so often. Much better than it sounds.
Terrorizer [Edward Yang] - Edward Yang's 1980's feature about the terrorizers in urban living. Good taut film at once funny, sad and wise.
Operation Filmmaker [Nina Davenport] - What happens when an Iraqi film student is invited to the Czech Republic as a guest worker on a Hollywood film set? More importanly what happens when the shoot is all over? Is anyone responsible in taking care of him after the shoot? The documentarian thinks so and gets deeper and deeper into trouble.
Munyurangabo [Lee Isaac Chung]
The first ever full-length feature film shot in Rwanda was made by a Korean American attending school in Utah. Good film about two young men who head off to do a deed and are headed off for a while where they learn the value of life. The film won the Competetion prize for best feature.
Heckler [Michael Addis]
The idea is a good one; How comedians deal with Hecklers. However, the film is really about Jamie Kennedy's attitude toward critics who don't like two of his movies. True, some critics could be nasty.
Prince of the Himalayas [Sherwood Hu]
Costume action flic that stunk.
Searchers 2.0 [Alex Cox]