Monthly Archives: October 2011

Przypadek by Krzysztof Kieślowski

Made in 1981, did not make it to the cinema release until 1987 – most probably for political reasons.

We follow the same hero – Witek throughout three different variants of the same story. He runs to catch a train. In one case, he catches the train and we follow his political career in Warsaw. In the remaining two he misses the train but still lives two very different versions of his life. This famous film leaves the audience stunned at the ending which is the same for all the three versions of Witek’s life.

Krzysztof Kieslowski truly was one of the masters of the cinema and this is one of his masterpieces, where every little detail is directed and set up to its magnified limits, where every frame and every shot is carefully studied and has a hidden meaning. Even though I am originally Polish and have been brought up in the 1980’s behind the Iron Curtain, this film is so filled with political metaphors that I could not read the meaning for quite a few of them. Will need to consult the parents for some explanations. At the same time, however, the film sounds painfully universal and plays with fate, chance and how little things or incidents can change the paths of our lives and we never know which way fate will take us, although, perhaps, the ending might be the same. Still, all roads may well lead to Rome, but there are so many of them, that we will see quite different landscapes on each of them.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

The Long Good Friday by John Mackenzie

Catching up, brings to mind what I overheard on the Londonist podcast; “London will be a great place when they finish it”. Looking at the town back in 1978 and in 2011 – there is a comparable amount of cranes in sight!
Setting that aside, ignoring the utopian (?) plans overlooking far into the distant future of the Olympics in 1988 (!), this film brings a new type of female protagonist in the gangster genre. Helen Mirren’s Victoria is smarter and better educated than her mafioso partner played by Bob Hoskins. She almost runs the business for him and she is the one coming up with ideas when Harold is clueless.

Look out for the young and handsome Pierce Brosnan, who I believe utters one word throughout the film (‘hi’).

Well written and with a surprisingly small amount of dialogue (ADR I think) with quite a good sound quality. Nice epoque costumes, score and old cars (only then, they weren’t old!).

A great piece of master cinema. Definite must to watch.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

Caramel by Nadine Labaki

Given her newest film bagged an award in Toronto ( People’s Choice Award for Where Do We Go Now?), I rushed to catch up with Labaki’s previous big project which surprised many audiences around the world.

Caramel is directed, written and stars Nadine Labaki herself. It presents Beirut from the perspective of women. Everything evolves around a beauty salon which is traditionally a centre where they all meet, talk and where a few of them work. The atmosphere is bitter sweet as caramel may get depending on how well burnt it is. Even the colour palette is yellow-brownish the way caramel is.

The women are both young and old and they all have their problems, which mysteriously seem to be evolving around men. And yet, when all fails, they always stick together against all problems brought from the outside world. Beautiful, carefully directed cinema. A must.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

Bonsái by Cristián Jiménez

This film flows as if it was composed and not written. Very poetic, beautifully shot, carefully put together.

There is nothing I would cut. It is a fully finished entity with deep and serious, yet light and natural acting, interesting interiors and costume design.

The tale goes back and forth between now and 8 years before, telling the story of a couple of lovers from university, which is then being retold by the main protagonist who appears in both timelines. He is a struggling writer and is fascinated by Bonsai as well as Proust, whose literature magically connects to his relationship with the former girlfriend from 8 years back.

Beautiful, sensitively told and great magic cinema.

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Raindance 2011

On the Way Home by Emiliano Corapi

An Italian road movie. This does not sound too good. But do not judge the book by its cover and do not judge a film by the genre and country of origin!

This is a great film. On love in marriage, on reality and difficult decisions when it comes to following one’s true self and choosing between conformism and moral ideals. Great acting, setting and an intriguing plot. With a little bit of irony and a wink at American cinema, which is always appreciated, isn’t it.

Recommend!

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Stranger Things by Eleanor Burke & Ron Eyal

A postmodern Good Samaritan story. A very slow and quiet film on homelessness and empathy that we rarely have in these busy times.

The main theme is of a young woman who after her mother’s death has to clean up her house, her clothes, her souvenirs, her drawings, deal with the past and focus on remembering the good things. She is an anthropology student therefore everything is recorded in interviews – when she talks to the neighbour, when she talks to herself, when she talks to the homeless man who moved in into her mother’s house assuming nobody lived there.

Not my taste, but this is not bad cinema.

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Face to Face by Michael Rymer

Classy drama with a concerto of actor performances. A well done piece of cinema with touches of indie mixed with pro.
Built with an amazing suspense.
All is set in one room – the film has been compared to Lumet’s 12 Angry Men. There is, however, a way out into the world through craftily inserted stories pictured as they’re being told.
What sets of as a clear guilt on one of the protagonists, soon comes to become more and more blurry among the ten (!!!) characters.
Excellent cinematography, lighting, drama.
After Face to Face and last year’s Animal Kingdom – I want to watch more Aussie cinema!!!!

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The Black Belle by Brian McGuire

84 minutes long. This film seems like it was a great idea for a short but somebody had the money to make it a feature ignoring the fact that there was only enough material for a short.

It’s lustful and erotic and about 80 minutes too long. Filled with celebrity cast in cameo appearances such as James Duvall for example.

The main character – Belle is coupled with an attractive yet insecure boyfriend and from what we can learn about Belle’s experiences with various men, it is unclear why on earth would she want to remain in the relationship with Franklyn.

The plot falls into pieces and what would be a great idea for three, maybe four short films, was somehow glued together into one noncoherent feature of 84 minutes. No. Don’t.

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Black Pond by Tom Kingsley & Will Sharpe

Two young filmmakers managed to convince well known actors to take part in their indie micro budget production.

The plot is interestingly led through flashbacks and the whole film leads to the final resolution which is shown through various scenes and talking heads.

A good script but had an impression that too little has been cut. There are funny moments and very good dialogues but in all the film drags a little. Bravo for the courage and completion!

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Angel Express by Rolf Peter Kahl

A German accent on this year’s Raindance.

This is a re-cut version of a film that was originally shot and made in 1998.

Although the director was present in the audience during the Q&A’s after the screening, it is not clear to me why he decided to re-cut the same old film 12 years after. Because it is not a Blade Runner cult like film. And unlike the famous example, this film has aged.

As many times in the cinema, this is a story of a few characters somehow connected through work/place/relationships in 1990’s Berlin. There are a few interesting faces and the plot does hold together. Yet some of its elements seem as if cut midway through the characters personal visions and stories.

One of the things worth noting is fantastic cinematography.

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Raindance 2011