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Lope is a movie about Lope de Vega, an extremely prolific Spanish author and playwright in the time of the Spanish Armada. This was a fun movie that bends historical fact to create a good story.
Stephen Frears returns to the big screen with the adaptation of Tamara Drewe. This is a delightful comedy with a host of interesting characters.
Vanishing on 7th Street is the latest horror movie by Brad Anderson. There were moments of truly creepy brilliance in this movie offset by lots of failed attempts to be creepy and uneven plotting. Brad Anderson made the darkness too concrete.
Submarine is brought to us by Richard Ayoade. This movie was described as a Wes Anderson movie set in Wales and that was what we got. Very good
The Illusionist is Sylvain Chomet's followup to his Triplets of Belleville. The story of a vaudevillian in a dying business this is a story of loneliness and failure. This depressing content is handled with some lightness and the movie itself is beautifully constructed and painted.
Bunraku is oh so flawed. I think Guy Moshe was trying to ape Robert Rodriguez's Sin City and it didn't work. The style was tedious, the plot was uneven, the editing was weak. Ron Perlman was Ron Perlman; he did the same sort of character he normally does. His character was similar to what he did in I Sell the Dead. Josh Hartnett did a credible job as the Drifter. Demi Moore, Woddy Harrelson and Gackt did credible jobs of their roles. Kevin McKidd was very entertaining has the psychotic Killer 2. But playing psychotic villains always seems fun.
The Trip is an improvised comedy starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as themselves touring through fine restaurants in Northern England. It was brilliant. Bitterly sarcastic, these two share the interactions of two people who have been friends for a long time and take pleasure in making eachother laugh. It was a Brilliant movie.
Camp Armadillo is a base for military operations in Afghanistan. This documentary follows a squad of men through a 6 month deployment into a combat situation. Tearful farewells gives way to the dusty, tedious fear of existing in a guerrilla war 1000m from Taliban living among your neighbours. The highlight of the film was a firefight followed by the aftermath.
A Night for Dying Tigers is director Terry Miles' meditation on jaded excesses and troubled interactions of a quartet of siblings. The eldest is about to go off to jail which forms the pretext for an evening of eating, drinking, fucking, hate, and love. There are no innocents in this movie and all the performances are good. Most of the action takes place in the family home - soon to be sold off - which acts as a character in the show. The writing and editing were good, not great, as was the directing. Overall I enjoyed the film but it lacked that final 10% to put it over the top.
WWII was a different war for the Russians. As we eventually found out up to one quarter of the population was killed and the aftermath allowed Stalin's consolidation of power and the expansion of the labour camps of Siberia. It is in a post-war labour camp where Edge takes place. A shell-shocked train engineer and soldier, Ignat, back from the front is given a sinecure in the labour camp where he makes friends and enemies and where he drinks moonshine like the rest. When he discovers and rescues an old train engine he also brings back a young, beautiful German girl who missed the war entirely in the Siberian Taiga. What follows is a social descent into chaos of the society of the camp when Ignat seeks to protect the girl while staving off his own hatred for her German heritage.
It was a good movie, not a great movie.
Cirkus Columbia is a film by Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic. It is a well balanced tale of a separation and a divorce set against the disintegration of Bosnian society. Contrasting something as deadly as the Bosnian civil war with domestic strife is a tricky prospect and can descend into offensive silliness. Tanovic walks this line with precision expertly mirroring the rising strife between individuals with the rising ethnic tensions. It's always nice when a movie like this has a heart and this one does. My favourite of the festival, so far.
Andrew Lau, co-director of Infernal Affairs, returns with this followup and homage to Fist of Legend. Donnie Yen takes over the role of Chen Zhen in this action flick set in pre-WWII Shanghai. This movies succumbs to some of the usual PRC themes of "Unity of all China including Taiwan" and "Japanese are Evil" (for good reason). But the movie itself had some bad cgi, soundtrack overdubbing or sync issues and, as is often the case, wire-fighting that was just a little too out there.
I'm still waiting for a Chinese/Hong Kong director to play with the standard Kung-Fu movie themes. This was not that movie.
Overall I enjoyed it but it was not great cinema. It was entertaining enough but the problems I mentioned earlier as well as weak plotting and editing drew me out of the film.
Film Socialisme is the latest outing for Jean-Luc Godard. I swear this guy is just messing with the audience. The result of superior craftsmanship, Godard loves playing with the camera technology and sound to produce a disjointed sensory assault. I was happy that it ended.
Vampires of the future take over human society and relegate them to serve as a food source. As the vampires become more numerous the humans start to run out. It is allegories for resource depletion and dramatization of epidemiology and is more of a speculative fiction movie than horror. As with any well made SF the filmmakers - Spierig brothers Michael and Peter - did a solid job of creating a consistent universe.
Who is killing the women of Juarez, Mexico? A female police captain transfers into the city and makes it her mission to shut down the system of abuse. I have to say that I sympathize with aims of the filmmakers; this sort of violence is too common even in first world countries. That being said the movie was at turns harrowing and thrilling if a little heavy handed. The lead actress - Ana de la Reguera - was an excellent lead.
Irish gangster film that has a young tough on a deadline to repay a local gangster while trying to deal with his dying father. Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent and Brendan Gleason form a superb cast for this adventure through twilight, sodden urban Ireland. By turns comical and morose.
Spanish film that based on a play that tracks two couples as they work through their relationships and regularly break the fourth wall and walk off set breaking the illusion of film-making. There were elements of A Cock and Bull story to this movie although the conceit was handled somewhat better in this Spanish film. At play is also the interplay between Spanish, Catalonian and Basque language and politics. There were many, many beautiful transitions between scenes that helped atone for a slightly confused story telling.
Jennifer's Body. Diablo Cody, Megan Fox. Basically Ginger Snaps but the girls aren't sisters so there is a little girl-on-girl action happening. Whenever anyone plays with genre films, which is all of the time these days, it is always interesting to see the ways in which conventions are overturned. Innocent kids are not more likely to survive than not-so-innocent kids. The females are definitely the protagonists. The first act of evil is more a comment on modern kids not wanting to work for their success. That may or may not be true, but I had a lot of fun in this flick.
Nymph, a film from Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Modern middle-class ennui meets woodland spirits. As their marriage fractures May and Nop go off into the woods. A good movie, not a great one. Took too long to get going but entertaining once it did. I found the soundscapes similar to the ones designed for the movie Vinyan which was also shot in Indochina.
Two art pieces/documentaries by Mark Lewis.
Backstory is a documentary about the family business of doing rear projection for movies. It is a series of interviews with the family patriarch, Bill Hansard, and his son Don all done with different scenes projected behind them. These two very human individuals go through life as part of a dying film technique. The father is crusty with some unpleasant bits. In the end the backgrounds are more interesting than the men who make them. Which is as it should be. 7/10
Cinema Museum is a tour of the title facility conducted by curator followed by the wordless camera. It is a story of two veterans of the cinema business who we never see but who hoard everything they can find related to movies houses and movies. The camera floats through room after room of barely organized piles of stuff; some of it valuable and some of it crap with no distinction made between them. At times pathetic and wondrous it is an example of an obsession taken too far that has crossed into the pathological. This might have special appeal to me since I worked in a movie house as a teen. 7/10