Category Archives: Off Plus Camera 2011

An amazing event in the most beautiiful town in Poland. Full of energy, students, artists and great little cinemas.

Kaboom by Gregg Araki

Written and directed by Gregg Araki.

Listing the connotations that went through my head during the first time I watched the film (for there will be other times surely!) is potentially neck breaking. I’ll try though.

The main protagonist Smith, Film Studies student, who in a voice-over assessment of his major, admits there is probably little sense studying the cinema in the time and age where in a few years time, the cinema as we know it will probably vanish. This follows with extracts from Bunuel’s Chien Andalou.

The film sets off as Beverly Hills, 90210 (not Glee though), and brings connotations of a mix of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, the classic 2000 Dude, Where’s My Car?, as well as Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Tom Ford’s A Single Man and The Devil’s Advocate !!!

It’s smart, it’s funny, sexy and the faces are pretty. It isn’t short of nudity and bold scenes. The music is great, fantastic lighting, excellent editing, transgressions between dream and reality, great make-up! The main actor, Thomas Dekker fantastically cast as an emotionally and sexually confused 19-year old.

All in all, brilliant.

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The Way Back by Peter Weir

It is a tale, for it is quite far from the original true story, of a path to humanity. From a soviet gulag, through the unfriendly woods and rocks of Siberia, through the desert – to the South, to India.

The film is long (134 min), yet this lenght is difficult to justify with other reasons than the director wanting the viewers to suffer and identify with the heroes’ suffering in the tale.

The characters are hard to distinguish within the team of 6, they are not enough introduced at the exposition and the opening of the story. Colin Farrel, a criminal with the faces of Stalin and Lenin tattooed over his chest is the one remarkable character, whose face stands out. Ed Harris is the other persona with special traits. The remaining 4 characters look all the same.

Also, there seem to be some attempts at adding some pathos to certain scenes through obvious visual comparisons to Christ’s Crown of Thorns, to Virgin Mary, to Pietà.

I’m sorry Mr. Weir, as a viewer, I’m disappointed this time…

It is a pity that a) such an important subject matter is actually treated so lightly and b) that such an amazing artist (author of The Truman Show!!!) provided the audiences with another mainstream Hollywood production quite far from a masterpiece.

TimeOut London gave the film 3 stars. I wouldn’t give more.

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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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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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