Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's all over

Oh, so sad! The film festival is over for another year. It always goes so quickly. SOD and I have been bemoaning all the films we managed to miss, mainly Screaming Men and Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. The Anatomy of Hell was one that we had tickets to but still managed to miss. That's SOD's story, which I will leave him to tell if he feels like it. Suffice to say, I was pretty disappointed since that was a film on my initial "must not miss" list.

Anyway, I have managed to see 31 films - not nearly as many as I would have liked - mainly cos the daytime screenings that I planned to attend were pretty impossible to get to cos of my workload. It would be so nice to take the two weeks completely off, but it's too hard to do that when you are self employed. You'd think it would be easier, but no - essentially the equation is "no work = no money". Just doesn't work out.

Films I saw (in the order I saw them):
Hero (martial arts eye candy)
Old Boy (over-rated Korean shock-fest, Tarantino-style - morally queasy)
Super Size Me (30 days on Mackers - should be obligatory viewing for all western teens)
The Motorcycle Diaries (Che-the-man in his formative years, on a craZy roadtrip across the Andes)
Touching the Void (True story of grit and sheer dogged determination - if a little nuts)
Aaltra (Belgian road movie in wheelchairs - superb black comedy)
The Saddest Music in the World (genius Canadian Guy Maddin with a tale of a legless woman and the quest to find the most melancholy music. This film was indescribably gorgeous)
Father and Son (Vaguely disturbing offering from Russian Ark director - tale of an obsessive father and son relationship. Homoerotic and gorgeously shot)
The Yes Men (Anti-globalisation hi-jinx - lots of fun and thought provoking)
Control Room (Inside Al-Jazeera - the news we never bloody hear)
Our Music (my only dud film - Jean Luc Godard has lost the plot - overtly intellectual nonsense)
A Page of Madness (huh! Whoever went to Fahrenheit 9/11 missed this gem - 1920s silent era Japanese avant-garde accompanied by twin british duo In The Nursery. My number one film from 2004 festival. I was gobsmacked)
In Your Hands (This year's Dogme film. Made me cry bucketloads. Gutwrenching tale of a spiritual event in a women's prison and the aftermath. Excellent. I think the guy beside me was crying. On ya mate)
Dias de Santiago (Peruvian film - as depressing as they come, but very worthwhile. Saw this straight after In Your hands and was an emotional wreck by the end of the night. Tale of ex-soldiers attempts to make sense of life after four years of jungle warfare. he couldn't)
Tropical Malady (Not for everyone, but I was glad I gave it a go. Sexy boy-love between a worldy Thai soldier and a village boy. Big surreal jungle sequence during the last half. Weird and wonderful. Wish I'd seen his other films)
Intimate Strangers (Quiet french comedy of mistaken identity. Okay, but nothing special)
Any Way the Wind Blows (Cool Belgian film - think Magnolia in it's structure, but add some hipster Belgians, a plot that culminates in one big groovy party and a wicked soundtrack. I wanna see this one again and I'll be buying the soundtrack for sure. I wish I had been at that party...)
Bukowski: Born Into This (What a foul-mouthed sod, but what a poet. Good doco on the life and times of american writer Charles Bukowski)
In My Father's Den (Forecast to be the next "The Piano" or "Heavenly Creatures". I concur. Superb acting, an emotional rollercoaster of a movie. Hope it does well in the international marketplace - it deserves to. Based on a novel by Maurice Gee who was there at the screening)
The Corporation (Two and a half hours of corporate exposé. Conclusion? Corporations are unhealthy for humankind. They need to be disbanded. People need to see this film!)
The Return (Another Russian gem. Creepy father comes back after twelve years to take his kids on a "holiday". Great cinematography)
Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch as wonderful as ever with this series of vignettes all involving coffee and cigarettes. Wellingtonians will love this take on cafe life. Lots of fabulous faces including Iggy Pop, Steve Coogan and the boyz from Wu Tang Clan telling Bill Murray to stop drinking so much coffee as we watch him swigging straight from the filter jug. Loved it. Oh, and Jack and Meg White are in there too. It's all good)
Vibrator (Dark but beautiful story of the meeting of two lonely people - alcohol-dependent early 30s woman who is spinning out and spunky late 20s trucker bloke hit the road in his truck after chance meeting in a late-night store. Neuroses abound. Raw camera work and raw emotions. One of my faves)
Cowards Bend the Knee (More craziness from Guy Maddin - it's hard to describe his films. This one contained ice hockey, amputation, incest, murder, and a breast made of ice. Freaky fun)
Shaun of the Dead (Took two of my kids to this UK zombie spoof. Plenty of gore and laughs. Starring Dawn from The Office and Bernard from Black Books)
The Stroll (I didn't know Russian film could be so bubbly. I heard some people didn't like this - I loved it. Sexy Russian girl and two young men-about-town walk through the streets of St Petersburg flirting. She's a bit crazy and the boys fall in love with her and who wouldn't. Sexy fun)
Ramones: End of the Century (Never been a big fan of the Ramones, but great music history. There's no denying the influence these guys have had on other bands and of course, they were the main influence on the punk movement in the UK. The doco highlighted their early years through to their final demise and the death of Joey. A thoroughly disfunctional bunch of guys)
The Battle of Algiers (1965 classic dramatising the struggle of the Algerian Liberation Front against the french colonialists. Gripping realism, and still entirely relevant)
Hollywood Respliced (My shot of experimental film - small audience, and some that walked out. But for those that stayed, a treasure trove of decontructed/reconstructed short films. Who needs drugs when you can watch film like that?)
Ong-Bak (What's the boy's version of a chick-flick? Whatever it's called, that's the genre for this film. Great Muay Thai fighting scenes and lots of action. I liked it, but it's not really my kinda flick, but it was closing night film, so I wanted to see it)
And the last one, which was this morning's viewing:
Checkpoint (This film had my friend Steve clenching his fists and sweating profusely with anger. We all took a while to calm down afterwards as the four of us sat over coffee and vented. Simple footage of checkpoints on the Gaza Strip, filmed between 2001 and 2003. Makes you understand the reason for Palestinian suicide bombers)

Well, that wraps it up for another year. I'll try and watch some of the stuff I missed on tape if I can.


Aleksu said...


It must be great to be able to see so many films at a festival, I has been a while since I lived in a city that hosted a Film Festival, hopefully that will change in a couple of years.

From all the movies you mentioned I have only seen "Supersize Me", I don't think I will be able to go into a fast food joint again in my life.

Something tells me that "Checkpoint" will not play in the USA.

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