1. SAINTS AND SINNERS
The emotional topic of same-sex marriage is given a sensitive focus in this remarkable documentary from Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg, which details the struggles of a gay New York couple seeking to affirm their relationship in a Catholic wedding ceremony. This film is one of the most effective, intelligent and romantic love stories to come across the screen in many years. STATUS: Theatrical and festival presentations slated for 2004.
2. MILLENNIUM MAMBO
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s drama about a young woman’s emotional decline into a disastrous hedonistic existence is among the most sublime works of cinematic art to come about in a long time. The ultra-gorgeous Shu Qui gives a star-making performance as the woman who is too absorbed with herself to realize her shallow world is collapsing around her.
STATUS: U.S. theatrical premiere on December 31 at Cinema Village in New York, followed by additional theatrical playdates and a DVD release in 2004.
3. LA VIE PROMISE
Isabelle Huppert, arguably the world’s greatest living actress, gives the performance of her career in this astonishing drama about an amnesiac prostitute in search of the missing pieces of her recent past. It is impossible to imagine any other performer who is brave enough (let alone talented enough) to steer this multi-textured role with the subtle skill that Ms. Huppert possesses.
STATUS: U.S. theatrical release in March 2004 via Empire Pictures.
4. MARY CASSATT: A BRUSH WITH INDEPENDENCE
An extraordinary documentary celebrating the life and art of the highly influential painter, with stunning HD videography that captures her brilliant paintings with a breathtaking detail that brings each subtle brush stroke into a new level of vibrancy. This wonderful film raises the standard of biographical documentary to a new high.
STATUS: Available on DVD from Home Vision Entertainment.
5. BEN HUR
It is a pity this highly entertaining animated feature, based on the Lew Wallace warhorse, went straight to video without stopping in theaters. Charlton Heston gives a vigorous vocal performance, recreating his Oscar-winning role, and the film’s decision to focus on the theological elements of the story rather than the spectacle makes it more challenging than your typical animated fare.
STATUS: Available on DVD from Good Times Entertainment.
Get the rest of the best in part two of THE 10 BEST UNSEEN FILMS OF 2003>>>