My favorite films of the festival that I watched, either before or during the festival (in no specific order) include:
- Declaration of War (France)
- A Separation (Iran)
- Las Acacias (Argentina)
- Sound of My Voice (USA)
- Headhunters (Norway)
- The Sandman (Switzerland)
- Elite Squad II (Brazil)
- Pariah (USA)
- Bullhead (Belgium)
- Turn Me On, Dammit! (Norway)
- Tatsumi (Singapore)
- Attenberg (Greece)
- Piña (Germany)
And now more detail on some of the films. Given the number of films involved I'm going to break things up into multiple posts. Roughly in the order I viewed them at the festival. If you're looking for details on the films at Palm Springs I screened earlier in the year they're summarized here. I plan to break things up with some longer form reviews of specific films as well. So let's get on with it...
Two friends have a hobby. It works for them. Though probably not the for the folks whose lives they "borrow." One is a master locksmith who hasn't seen a door he can't open. The other is a former movie set continuity specialist, skilled in the art of consistency even after a space has been moved through. Together they relish entering stranger's homes, rifling trough their possessions and just hanging out. Theft is not the goal. In fact it's against their rules. For the most part.
Not surprisingly eventually things don't go smoothly all the time. At which point things transition from what seems like a simple and appealing premise to something less linear in time and a bit dreamier. By the time it's done the picture feels like a criminal slacker slice of life drama crossed with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives. Minus the fish on girl action. I won't say more about the film's title or attempt to explain the recurrent and out of nowhere peacock theme.
There may be three great films stuffed within P-047, all of which on their own I'd like to see. Together they may actually be lesser as a group. While not perfect P-047 was worth the watch. Even if I'm not sure how many folks would agree with me.
write a longer standalone post. I think it's worth checking out when the opportunity presents itself. Enjoyed this film for its frankness, humor and especially due to the strong performance by Helene Bergsholm as Alma. She's both sympathetic and believable in the role portraying the main character as a real, feeling person. An interesting and well integrated soundtrack complements the charming mood. While Bergsholm is a standout by virtue of her need to carry the concept on her shoulders all of the characters deliver. Including Alma's mom whose dealing with her own sexual issues as well as coming to terms with her daughters's. The latter dealing occasionally requiring earplugs.
review of Step Up 3D notwithstanding. But when other folks kept talking online about how incredible the film Pina was I decided to give it a try. The film is a tribute to the famous choreographer Pina Bausch and it's a visually stunning piece of work. Shot in 3D (which is how you should see it) the picture consists of largely nonverbal stagings of many of Pina's (I gather) famous works. I suspect many who aren't dance fans will still be blown away. I'm glad I saw it even though I wasn't that into the dancing. Intellectually it's easy to recognize how impressive it is. Emotionally my heart still wasn't really there. But even so I recognize German's entry for the foreign language Oscar this year as a worthy contender. In Seattle the film will open at the Cinerama theater starting February 10th. That is where you want to see it. No joke. Do not cut corners and see it elsewhere. This deserves to be seen on the big screen and with high quality projection. Even if I personally didn't fall in love with it.
Miss Bala (Mexico) - I'd been excited to see Mexico's submission to the Oscars since hearing a piece about it on NPR. Dealing head on with the horrible drug cartel driven violence it has generated some controversy back at home. A tragic drama about a young girl who just wants to compete for the Miss Baja competition but gets sucked deeper and deeper into a world of violence and intrigue. Of which every part of society is shown as complicit. She's quickly made just another pawn of the drug business, forced to herself commit the crimes that continue to destabilize Mexican society. I'll have a longer form review in the not too distant future, along with a portion of the Q&A I shot featuring the director and producer. The filmmakers indicated they set out to make a statement, and the main (albeit small) criticism I have is that focus may have detracted from deeper characters. The main gangster most notably largely comes across as a caricature. Though one of an incredibly masterful multi-tasker. I met a lot of folks who were more negative on the film than I am. The performances were significant enough for me to care about the predicament that Laura (Miss Bala) found herself in. And the action sequences while not intended to be as pulse pounding as something like Elite Squad II still came across as pretty immediate and demanding of attention. The film didn't quite live up to my highest expectations but didn't really disappoint either. Though I do suspect the Oscar selection status has more to do with the subject matter than the overall film's level of awesomeness. Given the value of reminding folks how serious things are in Mexico that would be a really understandable decision.
That's all for now - more Palm Springs reviews coming as quickly as I can handle 'em...