Last of the NY Jewish Film Festival, and Several of the First Great Movies of 2008

Well I've had a pretty good week, to say the least. Saw Christian Mungiu's much-acclaimed 4 Months, Three Weeks and 2 Days this evening and it more than lives up to its advance reputation. Obviously, I'll have more to say when it opens at the IFC Center later this month. Speaking of the IFC Center, I was there yesterday morning for a screening of the new Andre Techine, The Witnesses, and that, too, is quite splendid. This is already looking like a potentially terrific year, and it's not even the 20th of January yet.

But let me quickly recommend still another excellent film, one that by virtue of opening Friday is the first great film of 2008, Joseph Cedar's dark, congested war drama Beaufort. You can find my interview with Cedar and some comments on the film here. And you can find the last installment of my three-part review of the New York Jewish Film Festival here. As I suggest in that piece, there were few fully realized works in this year's festival (although Beaufort, which is one of them, would be a standout in almost any group of contemporary films), but what made the festival interesting for me this year is that even the most flawed films had some quality that raised them above the run of the mill. If I can say that about the rest of the year, I'll be a happy man indeed.