Archive for July 4th, 2008

July 4, 2008

>Nat Film Festival – Days 7 and 8

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Garage (Ireland, 2007) – Josie is a gas station attendant in a nameless village located in a rural irish region. In this provincial place, everyone knows everyone, but despite the familiar atmosphere, Josie has no real friends and lives a quite lonely existence. Not focusing in an obvious dramatic atmosphere, the film’s tragicomedy plot is subtitle while showing minimalistic every day life moments of Josie, like when he talks to a local horse while feeding it with apples, has a chat with the guys at the pub or even tries to be accepted by a group of teens. He finally finds some companionship in the teenager assistant David, as they share beers at work, but something else Josie naively shares with David will twist Josie’s life, which is already sinked in apathy. Despite touching in the universal theme of loneliness, I found the film’s nuances easier to be comprehended by an irish audience, especially the ones aware of the character’s reality.

Mad Detective (San Tam, Hong Kong, 2007) – Co-directed by Johnny To (from him, I had only see Exiled before) and Wai Ka-Fai, this is a mix of comedy and tragedy that didn’t really work for me, but the festival audience seemed to love it. Inspector Bun (Lau Ching Wan, the film’s best thing) is the mad detective of the title, a cop that works using his supernatural gift of seeing people’s true selves – “I can see a person’s inner personality” – he says, and what he sees is literally on screen, like in the moment he’s in a room with someone who suffers from a multiple personality disorder while the room is occupied by several different people, who are actually just one person. Forced to retire from the force after cutting off his own ear as a “gift” to his boss (!), Bun will use his peculiar investigational methods again in the future, as the story fast forwards five years later, when a clueless office can’t figure out a case and asks for Bun’s help.

Angel (France, UK, 2007) – It begins with a group of school girls walking at the snow, wearing beret hats and carrying their leather satchel bags, and from this moment, I knew I’d love the film directed by François Ozon, who pays homage to the classic Hollywood melodramas making a nearly “vintage” film. Classic, as it’s easy to take the side of Angel (Romola Garai, outstanding), the film heroin, cheering for her welfare and happiness despite her arrogance and petulance, from the first moment she appears, reading an essay in front of the classroom in what should be a brief and plain drescription of the place she lives. Actually her “essay” is an imaginary description of the mansion “Paradise”, where she dreams of living someday. Determined to become a writer, she sends one of her novels to a publisher (Sam Neil), whose relation with Angel is hardly explored along the film, as it focuses on Angel’s search for the same unconditional happiness her novels’ characters achieve. Almost deprived of a sense of reality, dreamer and optimistic, she likes all beautiful things, and not even a war makes her see the world with less bright colours. In this sense, Angel suffers, but doesn’t let the ones around notice her pain, however, as she matures, she becomes clear.

Redacted (Canada, USA, 2007) – This film is not only one of the best I’ve seen in this year’s first semester due to its clear political message – Stop this damn war – but for its sense of immediatism – what’s happening now, what could be avoided right now, which is not often seen in an anti-war picture. It’s not a subjective look of something that once happened, but a forward question about what’s going to be left in the future, and to state this message, director Brian De Palma used images from ordinary digital cameras to videos uploaded on the web, or even a footage from a french documentary about Iraq. Images that are obviously fictional, but outstanding in how realistic they feel, as realism-naturalism is what this film pursues. Some might find Redacted ordinary, manipulative, manicheist, nearly obvious and they could even be right. Some others, like me, will see the film’s simplicity as a virtuosity.

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July 4, 2008

>Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing – Part 7

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Titanic (1997) – Jack & Rose

If you jump, I jump, right?