Category Archives: Raindance 2011

Raindance 2011 – London, the hottest October in history…

Littlerock by Mike Ott (2010)

This print has travelled through many festivals across the US and Europe. The director got the Gotham award, the Independent Spirit Award, the Audience award at AFI fest.

It surely is a very particular kind of cinema – this special kind that festival audiences will appreciated with pleasure.

The most appealing experiment performed here is that the dialogue is played in Japanese and English, but also in Spanish at times and the subtitles are loosely dropped in whenever the dialogue is actually set between two characters speaking the same language. What may be quite risky turned out to bring the magic through and allowed focusing on the innocent and exploratory fresh view at either side.

Two Japanese siblings land in a Californian town of Littlerock with little (brother) or no (sister) English and meet new friends, hang out on their way to Manzanar – an old concentration camp for Japanese held there in 1940’s.

Beautiful light, atmosphere, great performances of writers-actors. The whole ensemble is to watch out for future projects as each of them is active on the American indie scene.


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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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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.


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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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Gabi on the Roof in July by Lawrence Michael Levine

An urban tale of a 20-year old artist on a summer break in NYC before going back to college.Fantastic music, great colours and costumes. Plus an innovative way of story telling.

A warm cordial vision of flatsharing in NYC, of brotherly and sisterly love, of jealousy and the differences between being 20 or 20-something and being 30 or 30-something. Great music, a lot of humour and bitter-sweet situations that mix tears with laughter.

A lot of irony, sarcasm, surprising twists and turns, a lot of dialogue, a lot of talking. A great watch!

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Victim by Alex Pillai

Set somewhere in East End where people live in tall soulless block of flats.

A difficult tale of the vicious circle of violence and crime of which once you’re a part of, you will always come back. London is depicted as the city of extreme contrasts between wealth and poverty and how seemingly easy it is to balance on the edge of both extremes. Somehow a rich daddy’s daughter ends up flatsharing with girls who are partners in crime to three blokes burgling into rich guys’ flats & houses wooed by the girls. Somehow the brain master of the crime owns a high standard large flat and drives a ridiculously expensive car and yet his little sister attends a state school, while he copes with old time debts he struggles to pay.

There is no happy ending but there is a final message which brings us back to the title. A victim can also be the perpetrator because he is the victim of the environment. That seems painfully true even without the experience of this film.

Interesting and intertwined script.

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