Friends: No worries about having to endure a retread when it comes to South Korean Kim Ki-duk. In "Breath" his wild and often perverse imagination doesn't go beyond the beyond as it can, but it does go out there. He orchestrates a love affair between a house wife in Seoul with a high profile death row inmate. She may be upset with her husband's infidelity or perhaps is simply responding to a general malaise.
She flees her husband one evening and takes a taxi to the prison, claiming to be an ex-girl friend of the prisoner and asking to visit. She is initially denied but the director of the prison likes the look he sees of her over his closed circuit camera and tells the guard to call her back and let her in. The prisoner can't speak, as he has recently attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the throat with a sharpened toothbrush. She visits several more times until her husband tails her to the prison and attempts to put a stop to their affair, which is becoming increasingly intimate. With each visit she decorates the visiting room with different wall paper of the different seasons (spring, summer, fall) and dresses accordingly. She also brings a tape recorder and sings him a song each time. It doesn't get as bizarre as it might, but it is still plenty out there.
Kim ki-duk would no doubt enjoy the documentary "Zoo," inspired by the 2005 death of a Seattle man from having his colon punctured while letting a horse have intercourse with him. Zoo is the slang term for zoophiliacs, people who have a love relationship with an animal other than their own species. The film features four such men who provide the voice over for this fascinating study that avoids sensationalizing the issue. There is just a brief flash of a video of a horse humping a man. The movie lets these men explain why they are the way they are. One man asks, "Why am I this way, there has to be a purpose." They all claim to have a sincere love for their horses. One of the subjects was drawn to Washington, where until this 2005 case, there was no law against having such relations with animals. The men had an actual farm where they'd gather for their assignations. There are recreations with actors of many aspects of the story, including the gelding of the horse in question so that it could not be adopted by another
The extraordinary career of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair photographer Annie Liebovitz was told in the documentary "Annie Liebovitz: Life Through a Lense." It included remarkable footage of interviews with her from her early days with "Rolling Stone," as well as footage of her on more recent shoots, including on the set of "Marie Antoinette." Most interesting was her commentary of several shoots of John Lennon, as well as on touring with the Rolling Stones back in the '70s when anything and everything went on. Her legendary shot of a naked John clinging to a fully clothed Ono was shot just a few hours before he was murdered. Her recounting of that shoot was just one of many most moving moments. It was exhilarating to hear her reflect back on a life well-lived. She was in the midst of putting together a book of her work. There was all too much to choose from, including many shots of Susan Sontag, who was her partner up until her death.
A simple-minded 40-year old man who works at a small gas station in rural Ireland made for an interesting subject in the Irish feature "Garage." Most of the people he comes into contact with are kind and gentle with him, but there are a few who ridicule his child-like nature. He develops a friendship with a 15-year old boy, who comes to work with him part-time when the owner of the gas station decides to extend its hours. They drink beer together behind the garage after closing. The boy even invites him to join him and other teens drinking out along the railroad tracks around a small fire after dark. The gentle calm of his life is thrown into disarray, however, when a trucker friend gives him a porno video.
There was some semi-commercial fare in Competition today--the Coen brothers "No Country for Old Men" based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, starring Tommie Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson. They all give sterling performances in this tale of a drug deal gone bad. Brolin comes into possession of a suitcase with a couple million dollars in. Bardem, as a most sinister bad guy, is in hot pursuit. Harrelson is in pursuit as well. Tommie Lee Jones is the local sheriff in the same West Texas countryside that was featured in his film "The Three Burials of...," which won him a best actor award here two years ago. Bardem and Harrelson have an impossibly incredible ability to remain on the trail, but overlooking that, the multiple confrontations and verbal jousting are extremely well-written and entertaining. They offered a good jolt compared to much of what has played so far. Unfortunately, it is undermined by a not very satisfying conclusion.
"Dream of the Night Before" was another French film recycling material that has been done again and again and again--the neuroses of a bunch of actors putting on a play. Chief neurotic was the 40-year old woman star of the play who has yet to have a child and knows her time is running short.