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The 43rd New York Film Festival

September 26th, 2005 (08:14 pm)

© 2005 D. Gordon

43rd NY Film Festival tickets

We're sliding into late September, and it's that time of year again: the New York Film Festival has once again started.

This year I've resolved to write something about each movie. Should work okay on weekdays, but the five-movies-in-a-weekend bit may or may not fly. We'll see.

First up: Steven Soderbergh's Bubble (short: Heydar, An Afghan In Tehran). The film critic for Vogue, who introduced the film (and Soderbergh), pointed out that most indie directors go to Hollywood with the thought that they can always fall back on making cheap movies if need be - but never do. Soderbergh, however, is the exception, which he once again proves with Bubble, the first of a cycle that he plans to do around the country.

Bubble is a story of people on the edge. They work - two and three jobs; they're not on welfare, but there's precious little extra and there's no real safety net. The characters in this story - none professional actors - work at a doll manufacturing plant, but they're far from unionized, and the dolls probably compete with cheap Chinese knockoffs. The story itself starts off slow; the characters carpool, go to work, take care of family obligations, go through the motions. They have fast food in the breakroom for lunch. They're polite and gracious. It's not destitution, but it's more existing than living. And then, with a rush order on them, in comes the new hire Rose, who's the same but not.

Rose isn't like them. She's got the same polite graciousness, she moves fairly easily in the same society, but she wants more. She wants to leave, she wants to get somewhere in life, she's willing - too willing - to bend the rules. On the other hand, maybe she is more like them than you might believe. She demonstrates that beneath the polite surface, this really is Hobbes' nasty, brutish, and short world, with a lot of survival going in on and opportunism one opportunity away.