The acting is fine. There is a strong narrative thrust. But I'm afraid L627 says nothing we didn't learn from The French Connection.

Also, it is 145 minutes long. And there are no car chases. So I'm afraid Tavernier has struck out again.

Ken Loach, a director from England, presented a film called Raining Stones, which had won the Jury Prize earlier this year at the Cannes festival. That alone will assure it of success in Europe.

Raining Stones is about a jovial, hard-drinking, unemployed Irish plumber. He lives in Manchester, England, where it is hard to find a job these days.

He is so desperate to buy his daughter a Communion dress that he borrows money from a loan shark.

The loan shark sells the loan to an underworld figure, who beats up the plumber badly. You can sense disaster coming. But the plumber, in defending himself, accidentally kills his assailant. I was prepared for the plumber to go to jail. But the plumber's fortunes turned when he sought absolution in confession from his parish priest.

How many times have you seen a movie priest advise a lawbreaker that he must go to the police and spill his guts?

This priest, God love him, tells the plumber to pray for the underworld figure's soul. But the priest further orders the plumber not to bother telling the police that he, the plumber, was responsible for the man's death. The ending seemed just right.

Director Loach, who always strives for the offbeat in his films, spoke about how difficult it is for him to get financial backing.

Loach said, "The way the cinema is now structured, the films we get this year tend to be new versions of the ones that made a profit last year. So the range of choices constantly narrows."

He might have been restating Boorman's tale about Richard Gere and Final Analysis.

Wim Wenders, the German director, was also on hand.
Wenders has developed almost a cult following since Paris, Texas, starring the great Harry Dean Stanton. Wenders has also given us films like Hammett and The American Friend. They have proved great favorites.

Five years ago, Wenders directed Wings of Desire, which followed the lives of angels watching helplessly over people in a still-divided Berlin.

Now, in his latest film, Faraway, So Close, Wenders has gathered together some of the same actors, including Peter Falk, to do a follow-up story about angels.

One angel renounces immortality and accepts human life in order to help the human beings with whom he sympathizes. We watch in fascination as his battle with ordinary life destroys him.

"This is not a sequel to Wings of Desire," Wenders said. "I thought for a couple of weeks as we made it that it was. But that made us all miserable. This is merely a story of the same city, six years later, with many of the same actors."
I took Wenders at his word as he told us this. It is his film, and he can call it anything he likes.

However, after viewing the film, I don't see how he can call it anything but a sequel.

After speaking a very few moments, Wenders halted. Like many Germans, he speaks excellent English. Unlike the French and the British, he understands the power of brevity.

"But I'm boring you already," Wenders said.
He wasn't boring us at all. He just understood it was more important for the audience to see the film than for him to massage his own ego by talking at us.

"Believe me when I tell you this is a film that needs your eyes and your heart more than normally. You'll understand why in the course of the film. You see, you must rewrite it in your own mind as you watch."
The Telluride program promised that Wenders' film was the "most beautifully crafted work of pure cinema at Cannes, where it had won the Special Jury Prize."

For once the festival program wasn't overstating the case. Faraway, So Close is a fine film. I don't think it's commercial enough to make big money, but it struck me as one of the most thought-provoking films of the entire festival.

@rule:
@body:I've already seen a dozen films. They have bombarded my perceptions. Right now I don't know which will prove memorable. I have developed a stiff neck and an aching back from staring up at the various screens.

In years past, if you missed the first showing of a superior film, word of mouth would spread around the festival, warning you to catch it on the second showing.

In recent years, the word spread swiftly about Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Stephen Rea in The Crying Game and Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune. Lewis and Irons were later honored with Academy Awards, and Rea with a nomination.

I remember that the first showing of the TV pilot of Twin Peaks proved a sensation. Then it quickly roused howls of dissatisfaction from the audiences when it became obvious we were not to learn who killed Laura Palmer. Come to think of it, I still don't know who killed her. And now I simply don't give a damn. Is that a familiar line?

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