Dallas IFF: Sunday (4/18) – ‘Casino Jack,’ The Big Wrap-Up!

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Ah, the runner stumbles even in film review.  After what had been an almost perfect week of movie choices at the 2010 Dallas International Film Festival, I found myself wondering what had happened in those final moments, as I closed out my experience with one of the biggest (and most surprising) failures of the fest.

Perhaps I should have known it couldn’t be that good.  DIFF had played out like something from a dream, cinematically:  I had very little foreknowledge of most of the films I saw, yet was absolutely blown away by a large majority, which just doesn’t seem statistically possible.  The few films I felt didn’t cut it were at least well-made.  The science-fiction tale Earthling just didn’t know how to explain away its promising theories, and felt awkward in its execution despite a great sense of unease that recalled Lynch and Cronenberg.  And the grueling you-won’t-go-to-the-prom-with-me-so-I’ll-drill-a-hole-in-your-head horror film The Loved Ones just became so deadening in its relentless monotony that you wished the amusing subplot would have gotten more screen time.

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An Oscar Postscript

Well, the red carpets have been rolled up and sent to the cleaners, and James Cameron has gone home to count his money…without a Best Director or Picture statue.  Avatar did pick up Art Direction, Visual Effects and Cinematography, which seems odd given the film’s largely-CGI environs.

No, it was Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker taking Original Script, Director and Picture, along with Sound Editing & Mixing and Film Editing.   Six wins for one of 2009’s best films, and a fitting end to an awkward season of pre-Oscar curiosity over the addition of five more picture nominees.  It didn’t amount to much more than the opportunity for Tom Hanks to say “ten great films” without laughing.

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