Monster Camp (USA) - Documentary about the Seattle branch of Nero. Nero is a live action role playing group (think Dungeons and Dragons) and is in no way related to fiddling while Rome burns. Though I suppose you could draw that analogy depending on your views... Draws a very human portrait of the participants and does a good job of not making this a, "hey let's look at the freaks" exercise. Not all the folks are completely loveable so there is definitely balance there. You're still likely to feel this isn't the most healthy activity for all the participants, but you'll probably look at it differently than when you went in. (3.5/5)
Exiled (Hong Kong) - action shoot 'em up with a heart. Sequel from a film I haven't seen. Hit man friends sent to kill one of their own. Feel a bit bad about it and sit around with the target discussing how to help his family before they kill him. Some funny scenes, and a bit of gun violence for good measure. All around pleasant enough if observed in a moral vacuum. I'm not a huge fan of the Hong Kong standoff so not sure where this fits in on the quality scale. Seemed like a good collection of likeable hit-men but can't really be sure. (3/5)
My Best Friend (France) - Man realizes he has no friends. Immediately has a mid-life crisis. Either because he has no friends or because he just bet someone over $500k that he can produce his best friend in 10 days. Less a meditation on the meaning of friendship than a comedy. And a good one at that. (5/5)
Golden Door (Italy/France) - Interesting take on the coming to America experience. Way better than the film with Mr. Murphy. (5/5)
The Island (Russia) - Man forced to make a horrible choice by the Nazi's lives the rest of his life atoning for it. Quite, beautifully shot and very, very Russian. In the most depressing way. (3/5) if you're not in the mood, (4/5) if you are.
Secret #1 - You didn't miss that much. Serviceable attempt at a genre, in a country, with actors that must remain unspoken.
Battle of Wits (Hong Kong/China) - Tale of a lone warrior/strategist sent to defend a city-state against forces far superior in number. A more realistic (read as no flying people) view of battle in China. Not usually my genre but very good. (4/5).
The Singer (France) - French lounge singer at the wane of his career. Sort of an interesting view of an aspect of things you don't typically see in the average French export. I liked but didn't love. (3/5)
Fair Play (France) - Sort of a French Neal LaBute play. Competition gets way of hand in a small company. Well done and interesting at times, but I wasn't quite sure what to make of the point by the end. (3.5/5)
Waiter (Netherlands/Belgium) - Waiter takes issue with the crappy life being provided for him by the screenwriter. Barges in to say so. Even though this may sound a bit like a recent film it's different enough to recommend. Though personally I liked the Hollywood one too. (3.5/5).
Takva - A Man's Fear of God (Turkey/Germany) - A simple, very religious man is tapped as the new rent collector for his mosque. He struggles with his physical desires in this new role. An interesting film, though not an upbeat one. Good for conversation post-screening (4/5)
Pleasant Moments (Czech Republic) - Altogether not that pleasant. At times clever, other times just a bit annoying. Shrink sees a steady string of clients all pretty unbalanced. Of course at home she deals with her own issues. If nothing else you'll spend the film wondering why she doesn't buy a lock for her office door (2/5)
12:08 East of Bucharest (Romania) - Citizens of a small town in Romania try to figure out if they'd been active participants in the revolution. I dozed off a bit which is more likely me than the film. I'm giving a bonus point because I might have missed something. A few fun performances, but didn't really leave me caring much one way or the other (3.5/5)
Son of Rambow (UK) - Opening night film. Two unlikely childhood make their own Rambo film after watching a pirated version of First Blood. Sort of fun crowd pleaser that tends to be chosen for the 1st day of the festival. Better than last year's choice IMHO. (3/5)