One of the cool things about The New Orleans Film Festival is that you get to see certain movies weeks or even months before their actual release dates. Hell, some of these movies don’t even open in New Orleans theaters after the fest. Here are four really good movies that I saw this year at the 23rd Annual New Orleans Film Festival.
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Takashi Miike (Audition, 13 Assassins) remakes Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 original--in 3D no less. This somber samurai drama tells of a mysterious long-in-the-tooth samurai (Ebizô Ichikawa) who arrives at the home of his feudal lord (Kôji Yakusho) and requests a place to perform a ritual suicide. The lord tells the samurai a cautionary tale about penniless Ronin who make phony requests of suicide just so they can get some money before being sent on their way. The samurai then explains his motives. Miike’s fi lm is a well-mounted, heartbreaking saga about revenge, hypocrisy and honor.
It’s a Disaster
Four couples meet for brunch...while a catastrophic event begins to unfold outside. This dark yet playful laugh-out-loud comedy is written and directed by Todd Berger and edited by Franklin Peterson – both New Orleanians – and is a great example of clever low-budget filmmaking. The game cast includes David Cross, Julia Stiles and America Ferrera.
Silver Linings Playbook
After an eight month stint in a state institution on a plea deal, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) and attempts to get his life together. His main goal is to win back his estranged wife, but then he meets kook Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has problems of her own. As romantic comedies go, the story is fairly predictable, but this being directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter), it’s full of offbeat yet honest characterizations and situations.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead delivers a stunning yet understated performance as a young married woman who is a elementary school teacher by day and a raging alcoholic the rest of the time. She eventually goes to AA, and it’s that long road to recovery that director and co-writer James Ponsoldt is interested in. Smashed is a raw drama that is refreshingly unpredictable.