I’ve seen my first near-great film of ’06…shot in ’04 and shown at several film festivals (including Telluride, Toronto and Karlovy Vary) in ’05, and apparently due for release by ThinkFilm before long. “Near-great” because the exquisite wide-screen framing and destaurated color and note-perfect editing make it, to my eyes, the most visually immaculate Holocaust death-camp drama ever made. (As well as one of the most realistic seeming and subtly-rendered in terms of story). It’s called Fateless, and it’s no surprise that director is Lajos Koltai, one of the great all-time directors of photography (Max, Being Julia, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway). Based on Imre Kertesz’s mostly true-life account, it’s about a young Jewish boy from Budapest who ends up in a concentration camp during World War II and just barely survives. It doesn’t have the story tension and rooting factor of Polanski’s The Pianist, but there has never been quite so beautiful a portrait of hunger, despair and the ashy aura of near-death.