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Although director Ken Loach has not wavered in his decision to boycott this year's 22nd Haifa International Film Festival, which will run from October 7-14, plans for the festival are in high gear. The opening night film will be Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain. The much-awaited follow-up to Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, starring Aronofsky's fianc e, Rachel Weisz, and Hugh Jackman, was called "the year's trippiest film" by Premiere Magazine. Spanning hundreds of years, it goes back and forth between the stories of a neuroscientist trying to find a miracle cure for his terminally ill wife, a 16th-century Spanish conquistador sent by the queen to find the Mayans' Tree of Life and a science-fiction tale.
The closing-night film will be Hollywoodland, a film noir look at the mysterious death of actor George Reeves, best known for his portrayal of Superman on television. Although he was believed to have committed suicide, Hollywoodland follows a detective (Adrien Brody, best know for his Oscar-winning role in The Pianist), as he investigates. Ben Affleck won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival for his portrayal of Reeves. Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins co-star.
The Haifa International Film Festival is especially fun because it mixes high-profile Hollywood fare such as these films with Israeli movies and the best of independent cinema from around the world, especially from the Mediterranean region. This year, 74 movies will take part in the festival's various competitions, including those for Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, Best Television Drama and Best Short Film.
Festival guests have yet to be announced, but if last year's list - which included actor Willem Dafoe and directors Theo Angelopoulos and the Dardenne brothers - is any indication, it will be an exciting event.
THE FALL MOVIE season in the US is in full swing, but the two early high-profile releases, Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia and Stephen Zaillian's All the King's Men, haven't found favor with critics. Dahlia, an adaptation of the James Ellroy crime novel (Ellroy's L.A. Confidential was adapted very successfully to the screen in 1997) based on a real 1947 murder, stars Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank. The movie was hyped as De Palma's return to serious filmmaking after a long period of forgettable Hollywood films. Critics, however, have found it, well, lifeless. Writes Manohla Dargis in The New York Times: "Blood runs through his work, but so does juicy life. In The Black Dahlia, though, that life has been drained from the filmmaking, much as the blood was drained from the victim's body" [See Washington Post review on page 6].
A remake of the 1949 Robert Rossen film starring Broderick Crawford, based on the Robert Penn Warren novel about a character closely based on populist Louisiana politician Huey Long, All the King's Men has received similarly lackluster reviews. Todd McCarthy of Variety calls the new version, which stars Sean Penn and Jude Law, "overstuffed and fatally miscast . . . [it] never comes to life." The classic original film won Best Picture and Best Actor (for Broderick Crawford's intense performance). Sean Penn is good at playing bad boys, but apparently he couldn't carry off such a mature role.
A number of other promising movies are set to be released in the next few weeks. Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, a deliberately anachronistic depiction of the doomed queen (the soundtrack features rock and roll), which stars Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, drew boos from French audiences at Cannes and has divided critics. Forrest Whitaker is being touted as the man to beat for this year's Best Actor Oscar because of his commanding and chilling performance as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, directed by Kevin Macdonald.
Last year's Best Actor winner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, played Truman Capote in the biopic, Capote. In early October, another biography of the writer, Infamous, this one starring Toby Young and directed by Douglas McGrath, is set to be released. This one co-stars Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee (this doesn't sound like brilliant casting, although let's reserve judgment until we've actually seen the film) and Daniel Craig (soon to be the new James Bond) as Perry Smith, the serial killer Capote profiled in In Cold Blood. The movie focuses on Capote's life in high society more than Capote did and is said to be funnier. We'll find out soon.
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