New York Stories – Enough Said / The Wind Rises / After Tiller

Enough Said

By Glenn Dunks
September 25, 2013

The Manhattan Report: The biggest film fest in the biggest city is about to kick off with the 51st annual New York Film Festival. Like seemingly every other festival on the planet, New York’s has grown rapidly over the recent decades since the wave of independent filmmaking of the early 1990s and the increased globalisation of cinema. NYFF has gone from a relatively scant 25 flicks in 1989 to nearly 100 in 2013 (not to mention the seemingly endless supply of shorts). I’ve had the chance to catch some early screenings and can especially attest to the brilliance of Rithy Panh’s clay-figure recreations in The Missing Picture, Jia Zhang-ke’s Cannes prize winner A Touch of Sin, and Frederick Wiseman’s sprawling four-hour documentary At Berkeley. There’s much more to come, so stay tuned.

EnoughSaid

Enough Said: It’s really hard to dislike Nicole Holofcener’s latest, Enough Said. I mean, who wouldn’t be charmed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini as Eva and Albert, mid-life losers in love who discover each other when they least expect it? Thanks to Louis-Dreyfus’ years on Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine – which Enough Said surprisingly most closely resembles – there are plenty of chuckles to be had if rarely outright laughs. She has mastered being both charming and selfish and makes the material zing more than it otherwise may have.

Despite its charms, however, Enough Said still feels like a regression for Holofcener. After the tricky class issues of Friends with Money and Please Give, this movie’s erring to sitcom territory is disappointing. Gandolfini, in one of his final performances, Catherine Keener, and Toni Collette (who thankfully gets to use her natural accent for a change) make for a fine ensemble, with Gandolfini especially finding a gentle tenderness to Albert that is lovely to watch unfold. Enough Said is ultimately a modest success, but audiences who identify with Eva and Albert will especially find much to cherish. (It arrives in Australian cinemas November 14.)

3/5

The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises: Hayao Miyazaki claims The Wind Rises will be his final effort, following his retirement announcement at its Venice Film Festival premiere. Such news certainly lends the Japanese animation master’s delightful period piece extra poignancy, although it also reads as a rather glum indictment of his movie-making career. “Artists are only creative for ten years,” notes his lead character. If we’re to believe his own words then maybe retirement is for the best. And if he really is done then The Wind Rises is a fine and thematically relevant picture to bow out on.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalised account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a man who slavishly devoted his life to building the perfect airplane (he could never fly due to bad eyesight from childhood). That the final product is a fighter jet used by Japanese forces in WWII – instructed to never return – makes Jiro’s plight all the more one of frightful folly. Beautifully rendered in a swirling rhapsody of colour and featuring a cute love story, its last-minute anti-war stance falls somewhat short. Nevertheless, this remains a fond farewell and a highlight in a rather dull year for animation. (It arrives in Australian cinemas in 2014.)

4/5

After Tiller

After Tiller: The debut feature documentary of Martha Shane and Lana Wilson is not the type of movie one watches on a lazy Sunday afternoon. With its controversial late-term abortion subject matter, After Tiller will simply be too much for many viewers, no matter what side of the choice/life debate they fall on. Focusing on the doctors who perform the procedures as well as many patients telling their confronting stories, it will likely ignite discussion and fiery opinions like few other documentaries this year.

The “Tiller” of the title is Dr. George Tiller, a doctor assassinated in 2009 by an anti-abortion protester. It’s his message that forms the basis of After Tiller, documenting the tribulations associated with being a doctor in this lightning rod profession in America. While Shane and Wilson never specifically target the religious right-wing factions that are opposed to these practices, it is very clearly a film with a pro-choice agenda. Sometimes documentaries are better for not taking sides, but it’s clear that the passion this issue arises makes sitting on the fence rather impossible. The doco has been assembled in a standard fashion but gives access to a world many never want to see. Like Jesus Camp before it, After Tiller is a confronting portrait of the modern world. (This does not yet have an Australian release date.)

4/5

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