Monthly Archives: April 2011

Black Heaven by Gilles Marchand

One of those films that  upon leaving the cinema you totally forget what was there before you entered the screening room.

The amazing blurring of virtual reality with the outside world. And a surprising ending. It is a story of how dangerous the virtual world might become if one does not take the necessary precautions. And this is not about too few hours of sleep. It’s about neglecting the outside world for the sake of the Game.

Very good fresh acting, great landscapes, fantastic visual effects (of course!), a reasonable portion of reflection on the unbearable lightness of being guaranteed.

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Warsaw Film Festival 2010

Re-encounter by Ming JongKeun

One of a few films shown at Off Plus Camera in the Busan section.

It’s a hunt for the past, an attempt at patching very old scars which will never cure, never get back to their original healthy surface.

A story of naive hope that some things can be fixed, when in fact, they never will. A sad look at a dramatic couple who conceived a child a few years back, whom they gave away for adoption and how life has changed over the years.

There’s a strong parallel between the lives of people and the lives of dogs. There seems to be a concept of transplaced sense of motherhood that the main protagonist exercises on sick and abandoned dogs she takes care of.

A very melancholic and sad experience.

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Laurel Canyon by Lisa Cholodenko

Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale in a not-so-typical tale of a son embarassed by the way of life his mother leads. There is the obvious Chateau Marmont (recently used by Sofia Coppola in Somewhere), there’s Natascha McElhone with Eastern European accent (why?) and all that set in LA at the beginning of 21st century.

The film certainly carries the important cross generational (reversed) lack of acceptance as well as the tribal rites of passage for both the son and his fiancee thanks to his colleague, his mother and his mother’s boyfriend.

An astonishing tale of loyalty, betrayal, doubt and goals in life.

5 stars.

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The Runaways by Floria Sigismondi

Produced by Joan Jett herself (best known probably for I love Rock’n’Roll: http://bit.ly/WgjCv).

California of 1975, where the teenage Joan Jett learns to play the electric guitar and dreams of setting up an all girl rock band. The Runaways play for a few years and tour the world, to soon fall into pieces.

The story flows well, the teenage roles look convincing and there’s a good amount of music in the background. There’s a bit of depth into all with sick members of family, loyalty, rebellion and power of the press.

4 stars.

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Two Gates of Sleep by Alistair Banks Griffin

A film where there’s almost no action. And yet, nobody leaves the cinema. There is something hypnotic about it.

A lot of nature, greenery, river, meadows, two brothers and their mother living in a hut in the woods. Brings to mind William Faulkner’s Light in August.

However, there is so much borrowings in this film that one may truly get a headache. Griffin is an ex-painter. This is visible throughout each frame and shot. The connotations span through the Bible, Caravaggio, Homer (Two Gates of Sleep are directly taken from Homer), Faulkner and way more. An interview with the director talking on this film was conducted by Brendan Harris from Filmmaker magazine and can be found here: http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/news/2011/03/alistair-banks-griffin-two-gates-of-sleep/

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Me and Orson Welles by Richard Linklater

With Zac Effron, Claire Danes, made by Richard Linklater (who’s responsible for bringing to life Before Sunrise and Before Sunset).

The film offers a look at the personnality of Orson Welles himself through the eyes of a teenage aspiring actor accepted to join Welles’ Mercury Theatre. Depicts the famous author of Citizen Kane as a visionary difficult to understand by the surrounding people, who nonetheless assume him to be a genius.

It is a pleasant costume film set in 1930’s New York with the omnipresent music of the era. A bit lengthy but overall 4 stars.

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Lynch by Krzysztof Lukaszewicz

Inspired by true events, a result of long talks with the life-witnesses of the whole story.

In a region, where the police station is so far that it cannot physically secure a fair and family violence issues lives a 60-year old man who terrorises a few villages in the area. He is witty at hiding in the woods when the police arrives, spotting when the postman arrives with his ex-wife’s pension, beating up female shop assistant when she refuses to sell him vodka on credit.

The hospital is also far away and the doctor does not care about the reasons for more and more women being brought for his help. He will not certify.

The local community is left to themselves. After one attack too many, they take the issue in their hands.

The real story was widely covered in the media back in 2005, when the lynch took place. Why bring it back?

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Off Plus Camera 2011

The Drummond Will by Alan Butterworth

An update from Warsaw Film Fest 2010 (Free Spirit Competition).

Black British comedy. Hilarious. One of those films where there is no end to ridiculous situations. It just goes on and on into the abyss of laughter and tears running through your eyes, yet it does not cross the border to excess.

There’s everything as per grandma’s recipe for the genre. It’s black & white, it’s low budget, there’s a dead body (and then another one…) a bag full of money, a pub, a church, a constable, a priest and a lovely barmaid. Also (inevitably) digging graves at night, fantastically paced comic dialogues and a surprising ending. Mainly surprising because, on the run, there is no real time for reflection as to what’s going to happen next!

Strong recommend to the lovers of the old school Brit cinema and especially the classic Brit comedy.

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Prosta Historia o Milosci by Arkadiusz Jakubik

In other words: A Simple Love Story.

Not as simple as the title would suggest. The love story happens on (at least) three levels. There is a scriptwriting couple telling the story from voiceover, there are two young people, who meet after many years and there are two roles told by the first couple, played by the second one.

Jakubik challenges the audience to read as much into the story as possible adding one more level – of actors being interviewed as improvised monologues. The blurring between what’s written, what’s improvised and what’s played is so twisted that at some point each of the spectators will gladly surrender to the master hands of the film’s author.

A brilliant idea, made for own money, a truly indie cinema in skillful hands.

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My Australia by Ami Drozd

Story of a young boy, who in 1960’s Poland together with his brother and friends participates in young Jews harassment. A rich aunt living in Australia ignites his imagination with stories of boxing kangaroos visible on the received postcards. One day, he sets out on a journey to Australia with his mother and brother to never return.

To his great surprise, it appears that neither does his aunt live in Australia, nor is he Polish and the ship lands in the new country of Israel.

The tale flows nicely through the internal struggle of both boys and how they attempt at adapting in the new environment. A captivating tale told from a different perspective than many other films on the topic.

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Off Plus Camera 2011