With four Berlinalecompetition films yet to screen, the critical consensus so far is that this hasnot been a vintage year for quality. It's not just that there has been nosingle standout title so far it's also the lack of pleasant off-the-radarsurprises, like last year's Golden Bear winner U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.
But as Nick James, editor of Sight and Sound, warns, this could turn out to be one of thoseback-loaded festivals that Berlin seems to specialise in: 'two years ago wewere all saying what a disappointing year it was... then along came Head On and Before Sunset'. If the sale's buzz the film has been generating isanything to go by, this year's Head-Oncould be another German entry, Hans-Christian Schmid'sRequiem, which purports to offer amore authentic take on the true-life tragedy that inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Two first features, JasmilaZbanic's Bosnian healing-the-scars-of-war drama Grbavica and Pernille Christensen's post- melodrama A Soap,were liked by many. Some critics also warmed to two nouveau-auteur products,Pen-ek Ratanaruang'saesthetic Thai yakuza yarn InvisibleWaves, Iranian anti-hero mystery It'sWinter, and Slumming, Michael Glawogger's edgy study of rich kids who think it'spost-modern to go downmarket. But as in
Even the eagerly-awaited, Candyfeature debut of Australian theatrical wunderkind Neil Armfieldfailed to set the critics on fire, despite what most acknowledged were strongperformances by awards-season darling Heath Ledger and nouvelle-Kidman Abbie Cornish.
For Fabio Ferzetti, criticwith