Daily Archives: April 24, 2011

Gun Hill Road by Rashaad Ernesto Green

The film tells the story of a boy, who feels he’s a girl. Crossdressing, a teenager accepted by his mother, when the father freshly out of gaoul cannot deal with the realisation that his son is exceptional.

The whole story is crafted skillfully with no false tones. The leading role played by a boy undergoing similar transformation to the character in the plot blurs the border between what’s real and what’s acted. The result is a stunning performance and a very true story set in a Latino family undergoing a crisis. Green shows a difficult and painful process for all the parties involved and yet the finish is a beautiful hopeful completion.

Good and important cinema.

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Charlie Casanova by Terry McMahon

This is an amazing story. Throughout. The back end as well as the front end.

Terry McMahon did an amazing job of gathering cast, crew, equipment and all he needed to make a film via Facebook.

There is no lighting, except for two 5 Euro lamps, the film is shot with two video cameras.

The story is tough, as life in today’s Ireland is, apparently. Charlie Casanova is an everyman, but a coward at that. He’s one of a kind and yet, there are probably thousands like him. It is a guy nobody would want to meet at a cul-de-sac. The story is as dark as human nature’s darkness can get. There is no hope, no love, no ray of light. The world is cruel, hopeless and the spectators are helpless, hypnotised by the vision pictured, where an obvious mad man rules their attention and the world on the screen. Charlie Casanova is the puppet master, a clown and a cruel character, whose intensity paralyses everyone around him including the audience.

The experience keeps everyone in their seats until the last long scene which proves Terry McMahon’s point.

A must see.

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The Legend of 1900 by Giuseppe Tornatore (1998)

This one was screened in the “Catching Up” section, starring Tim Roth, who was a special guest at the Off Camera Film Festival this year.

A tremendous project, bringing to mind Cameron’s Titanic. Yet, apart from the setting (i.e. a passenger liner in early 20th century), everything else is very different.  Cheaper (according to IMDB it had $9m as compared to Titanic $200m), but this is not felt.

Tim Roth’s performance is breathtaking, considered by some as one of his master roles (next to Little Odessa), the film is long (170min) but does not get boring. It’s a classically told tale of a natural born piano player who does not know nor does he want to know the world outside of the ship. The world comes to him. An astonishing story, worth a watch.

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One Hundred Mornings by Conor Horgan (2009)

Number two film at the Off Camera festival. This one was screened in the New Irish Cinema section.

The setting lies at an anonymous valley isolated from the civilised world. We observe two couples living in a hut in the woods. One of my immediate connotations was with Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” which begins with a similar secluded world after an unspecified catastrophe.

As the director has put it in the Q&A’s after the screening, he made a film about something that terrifies him.

The general message lies within the realisation of how sustainable would we be if civilisation suddenly ceased to exist. We no longer plant food in the majority of cases and are very much dependent on power supply and do not produce food to survive. Observing the struggle of the four protagonists, which later appear to be surrounded by others in similar situation, gives the audiences the thrills.

It’s an important voice at the beginning of the 21st century, where the society gets more and more detached from nature…

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Between Two Fires by Agnieszka Lukasiak (2011)

Agnieszka Lukasiak is a Polish born Swedish film director.

The film tells the story of a young Polish woman with 11-year old daughter escaping from a cruel Belarussian partner and his gangster mates commercially interested in the beauty of the lovely child.

Magdalena Poplawska, who plays the mother, impersonates a typical brave Polish woman. Having heard of a friend who succeeded after immigrating to Sweden, she decides to go there.

Nothing is ever as beautiful as it sounds, therefore her trip is suspiciously easy until she finds herself at a refugee camp, where tough reality meets the expectations.

The film is a feature debut of the young director and clearly depicts great talent.

The situation of immigrants is presented with a documentalist eye. The ruthless bureaucratic system is like a gravestone that will not move an inch no matter how many tears an immigrant sheds.

Between Two Fires is both optimistic and realistic. Very much like in life, there are beautiful things happening and very dramatical ones at almost the same time. The director’s philosophy seems to flow through the mouth of the female supporting role – Anissa.

I definitely recommend this one. It carries universal truths and values, when the technicalities seem to be transparent and effortlessly deliver a brilliant and important film.

5 stars.

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Off Plus Camera films watched

The International Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera Festival took place between April 8th and 17th. Over a week, two weekends included, screenings held from noon till midnight. Also on rooftops, which was a great idea, but a little optimistic for Polish April weather. However, with blankets and hot tea and most of all – great films, everyone was happy.

Krakow was incredibly windy and cold the first few days. The festival was great despite both the wind and the rain hitting from time to time. The people were great, the venues had lovely atmosphere and it was an honour to host so many distinguished guests. A lot of the festival info can be still found here: http://offpluscamera.com

I haven’t seen a lot of films, but some I have. Will post a brief summary for each of them.

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