People keep asking me about movies like The Joneses and La Mission, and I have to keep saying, "sorry... it's film festival time." Almost all other considerations are sidelined for two weeks while I dive into the list of 177 films being shown at the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival. (It's still the oldest festival in the Western hemisphere, apparently.) This year I went to the big opening night festivities and saw Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs, with the director in attendance. It was my second time seeing it, and it holds up; it seems less lightweight and disposable. Jeunuet was just as entertaining, with hilarious, self-effacing stories from the frontlines of filmmaking. When I last interviewed him, he spoke French and had a translator, and was not nearly as funny.
As a die-hard Jacques Rivette fan, I was a bit disappointed with Around a Small Mountain, not so much because of the content, but because of the length. It's only 84 minutes, and without Rivette's usual gargantuan running times, it just didn't feel right. The Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (6ixtynin9, Last Life in the Universe) effectively creeped me out with Nymph, the story of a cheating wife who goes on a camping trip to a weird forest with her husband. It starts off with a long, tricky tracking shot that both impressed me and gave me the willies.