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These are my favorite new films that played in Chicago this season (September 2000 - May 2001):




Dancer in the Dark / Lars von Trier

      In his new film, Lars von Trier challenged our concepts of film art showing two different realities in the same film. It was original and emotionally challenging. It was in many ways a sequel to Breaking the Waves (his best film to date), as it was about the same concepts such as "self-sacrifice" and "God's existance". It was, however, much more than a repetition, it deepened the meaning of the Waves.

Yi yi / Edward Yang

      This long film by Yang was the most complex film of the year: a great "meditation" about "human struggles" and "sufferings". Moreover, it was the most "visually beautiful" film as every shot was a composition becoming more and more beautiful in time.



"Must-See" films of the year:

Eureka / Shinji Aoyama

      Eureka, with its 220-minutes running time, was also about "struggles" of its characters. However, with two of its four main characters literally "mute", the emotions and struggles were in the images and not in the dialogues. Every single minute of it was emotionally intense and its long running-time enhanced "our experience".


Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon / Ang Lee

      Tiger, Dragon was probably the best "action film" I have seen. Every scene was more than a wonderfully choreographed fight, maybe a struggle for "power" between the characters. Often, the issue was not "who wins the fight" but "who is the best fighter", and those were not the same thing in this film.


You Can Count on Me / Kenneth Lonergan

     The best surprise of the year was You Can Count on Me. The characters, their interrelations and how those changed with time were the main reasons why it worked so well. The dynamic storytelling of Lonergan (especially the "short-cuts" between the scenes) was unexpected and very much like the "reality" of everyday life, a sense this film had to give to involve the viewer. Laura Linney's acting was the best I have seen for years.



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