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2009

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Filmfestival 2009

 

Wednesday 21

Juno, 4, US, Jason Reitman, Opening film of 2008 and screened again in the moring of the official opening day.  I did not expect much of it last year, but I was wrong. Sharp dialogues, and good acting. The description teenage comedy is not completely appropriate, although the movie is at times very funny. What to do with a baby and how to deal with pregnancy  when you are teenager (and also a grown up man).

 

Hungry Ghosts, 4, US, Michael Imperioli, Opening film 2009: Hungry ghosts refers to a concept in Eastern religions for dead people who cannot say farewell to the living. The term is often a metaphor for people who do not realise that it is increasingly painful and difficult to find happiness if they continue to believe in their illusions. In The Hungry Ghosts, several narrative lines run together. There's a rundown radio presenter (a beautiful role by Steve Schirripa, also from The Sopranos) who keeps on his feet using drink and pills and quarrels with his ex-wife on the phone about their son who has gone off the rails. And many others. A must see! I enjoyed it very much. I also learnt that not the soul is immortal, but the flesh (going back in the form of waste and atoms, even to other human bodies).

 

Thursday 22

JCVD, 4, Belgium, El Mechri. The most popular Belgian actor of all time plays himself - or at least someone who looks suspiciously like him - in this fiction film about the troubled personal life of a public hero. Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka The Muscles from Brussels, has just returned to his city of birth and wants to transfer money at a local post office when he is kidnapped during a bank raid. In no time the police and media make him the main suspect and the result is an international media hype. Funny and well made with many references to Hollywood and his competitor Steven Seagal.
 

The firm Land, 4, India, Chapour C. Haghighat, the director was present and told us that it would be a simple film about simple people that we do not meet very often. A remote village by the Indian Ocean is struck by a deadly disease, aids. While death lurks, the villagers decide to turn to the government for help. But as they feel unable to present their demand by themselves, some men are sent to the capital with the mission of hiring mediators, ‘learned men’, who could plead their cause. Lost in the big city, the countrymen cannot find any help and get into trouble. They are rescued by some street-boys who introduce them to a disillusioned former professor. He pushes the villagers to go and besiege the ministry of health themselves until their complaints are listened to. Working myself in the ministry of health, the picture of the Indian ministry (in the state of Bombay) is rather depressing. Old desks, seperate bureaucrats for written and typed complaints. They are turned down roughly by the administration, stating that their district will be inspected next year and that appropriate measures will be taken when necessary by then. A simple story and simple peasants? Perhaps, but an important story that is unfortunately probably not far from reality. Good acting and good speed for an Indian movie!

 

Babaji, an Indian Love Story, 3, NL, Documentary about an eccentric Indian medical wizard who is allegedly over 100 years old. A portrait based on Indian love songs and conversations with those involved with the man who has buried his wife on his land, in conflict with Hindu custom. He sometimes lies in the grave beside her. The movie has nice pictures, but unfortunately the quality of the screening was so bad that they had to interupt it. It was however a bit slow and the Indian music in between did not really gave the necessary dynamics.
 

I sell the dead, 4, US, Glenn Mc Qauid,  4, Unadulterated buddy movie about graverobbers, bodysnatchers and living dead, situated in the misty and grubby 19th-century British Isles. A dark, atmospheric and infectious horror costume film with a star cast including Ron Perlman and Dominic Monaghan. It was definitely a great movie with a lot of humour. How to rescue your friend when you have lost your head , how to scare even a zombie and how to snatch even a body from mars are just few of the questions answered without affecting the great and dark atmosphere.

 

 

Friday 23

Il Divo (the star), 4, Italy, Sorrentino Il divo is a daring above-average stylised biographical film about the former (seven-times) Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti. After his last term in office, this born politician, who had for more than sixty years left his impression on Italian politics, became involved in a court case about his alleged links to the Mafia and the murder of an investigative journalist. Andreotti has been a member of Parliament since 1945, saw 33 governments pass, and was appointed a senator for life in 1991, as a result of which  he has enjoyed political immunity ever since. Sorrentino allows the leader of the Democristiani, like a spider in the complex web of Italian political norms, to lay his path with apparent commitment but basically utter coldness. With an urgent soundtrack and very masterful camerawork (many detailed shots of great faces), Sorrentino leaves no doubt about how many strings Andreotti could pull. Il divo links Andreotti to countless other accused politicians and businessmen and also provides a revealing picture of 60 years of Italian ‘democracy’

 

Day Time drinking, 4, Korea, Noh Young-Seok, A charming and successful low-budget films A young man, Hyuk-Jin, has just been dumped by his girlfriend. He goes out to get drunk with his friends. Enormous amounts of soju are consumed. In order to cheer him up, his friends persuade him to go with them next day to a hotel on the coast run by a relative. But when Hyuk-Jin arrives, his friend did not leave Seoul due to other business and he cannot find the guesthouse of the relative.This is the beginning of a journey filled with misunderstandings and obstacles and goals that keep changing. The shy Hyuk-Jin meets lots of new people to drink with, although not all of them are equally reliable. He loses his wallet and trousers and only  at the very end he is picked up by a car, but that leads to new trouble. Very nice, modern and funny little movie.

 

Paper soldier, 2, Rus, perhaps I was too tired. Set in the early 1960s and featuring an emotionally vulnerable doctor working with the first team of Soviet cosmonauts, this movie remains too absurdistic and I left after 1 hour.

 

 

Saturday 24

 

Last conversation, 3, NL, Noud Heerkens, 25 fixed cameras on the car from which the career woman Anna makes one last phone call to her lover. He had ended their extramarital affair a few days before. The emphasis of the film maker is on the visual effects and therefore the story and acting is a bit underdeveloped and unrealistic (moods change too fast , woman driving witthout TomTom and never losing her way etc.). It was not a bad film but a bit boring.

 

The baby formula, 4, Can, Alison Mary Reid, Anticipating medical science that has already succeeded in mutating the stem cells of female mice into sperm, Athena and Lillith have made each other pregnant. The director chose a light tone and allows the pregnant actresses to portray all the discomforts and mood swings of pregnancy to the full. A pleasant and light movie

 

A Country teacher, 3, Cz, Bohdan Slama, The story of a young Czech teacher who leaves Prague and his ex-lover behind for work in the remote countryside. In search of peace and his own sexual identity, the teacher meets two people who change his life: the peculiar farm woman, Marie, and her teenage son, Lada. The film has been made very well, but the story is not very convincing with too many dramatic moments.
 

Morphia, 5, Rus, Alexei Balabanov, Artistic masterpiece of one of the greatest contemporary Russian film makers based on the short stories of Mikhail Bulgakov, as adapted by the tragically killed Sergei Bodrov Jr. In late autumn of 1917, a young doctor arrives in the Russian countryside in the middle of nowhere. Doctor Polyakov (Leonid Bichevin) comes here from the capital during a very turbulent period (the 1917 revolution). The very first night, he is submitted to the first real test of his professionalism but fails to save a man's life. To get over this first real-life experience and to protect his own health, the doctor prescribes himself a dose of morphine. More soon follow, as he performs his first amputation, trachometry etc. What was meant as first-aid relief for difficult situations soon becomes an addiction, and the pharmacy assistant, his lover and even a companion-in-crime help him all along the way. What can I add? An absolutely beautiful masterpiece with so many details. Film as it should be.
 

Sunday 25

 

Parque Via, 4 Mex, Old Beto lives in one small room in the large house where he has worked for 30 years. The owner moved out 10 years ago with the rest of her staff and Beto has looked after the building awaiting sale. He takes care of the garden, cleans the windows, polishes the kitchen as if life could start up again at any moment. The old lady comes to visit him occasionally and, while not a word too many is spoken during those visits, it's clear that they respect each other. Beto spends his free evenings in front of the television or with his only friend, the lady companion Lupe. Beto appreciates his loneliness and the noisy outside world makes him nervous. Suddenly the house is sold. Therefore he kills the old lady to end his days in prison. Very pleasant easy going movie with eye for detail working towards the final climax.

 

Louise Michel, 2, Fra, Kervern, Black comedy by the makers of Aaltra. In a dismal area of northern France, a group of women suddenly lose their jobs thanks to an unreliable boss. At a trade union meeting where they hear the miserable pittance they are left with, the illiterate Louise suggests putting a price on the boss's head. When this is enthusiastically received, they hire Michel as hitman.. The movie is indeed black and absurd. Too absurd and chaotic.

 

Monday 26

 

Moon at bottom of well, 4, Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Hien, A poetic and beautifully photographed film that follows the fate of a young woman, Hanh. This charming teacher lives in a beautiful area in central Vietnam and is married to Phuong,  Hanh sacrifices herself entirely and, when it becomes apparent she is infertile, she agrees that Phuong should father a child with another woman. To prevent problems, Hanh divorces her husband and he marries the mother of the child. Slowly she breaks down. She seems increasingly influenced by another world, one of spirits and the dead. After that she reappears as a stronger women. However, I could not make it to the very end of the film so I am not sure what happened.

 

Nanoland, 3 Some short films including the well known big and bigger showing a trevel through our universe. Inpressing was also the fast appearing circles in different colours that almost hypnotised me.

16.00, 3, System overdrive, Series of short films, including 3 from Sweden, urban nightmare, lies etc.

 

Tuesday 27

 

Awaydays, 4, VK, Pat Holden, Paul Carty (Nicky Bell) is 19, good-looking, funny, clever - and bored out of his mind; he spends all his wages on clubs, records, football and gigs. It's at a Bunnymen gig that he meets Elvis (Liam Boyle), who belongs to a notorious gang called The Pack, who dress stylishly, have androgynous wedge haircuts worn with designer clothes. They go on fighting to other groups using stanley knives as weapons, That gives a lot of bloody scenes. Realistic and impressing movie!

 

Dogging, a love story, 3, UK, Simon Ellis, Continuing my depressing Britain day: In the north-east of England an ensemble of characters united by amorous misadventure search for love in all the wrong places. Dan is a university graduate who, having so far failed to secure work as a journalist, sleeps on the sofa of his cousin’s plush city centre flat. He investigates the phenomenon of dogging (sex in cars) via the Internet. While browsing the chat rooms he makes the acquaintance of ‘HORNY GEORDIE LASS’. Depressing from moral point of view but otherwise a rather interesting light movie on this topic, much less explicit than was mentioned in the critics.

 

Wednesday 28

 

No puedo vivir sin ti, 5, Taiwan, Leon Dai. Great movie in black and white, situated in Taiwan but with Spanish titles as that reflects best what the director wanted to say, acoording to him. The story is about a father and his little daughter - or more about how that loving father loses his daughter. Is based on a true story that caused quite a stir on Taiwan.. Fortunately they are living together now.  He does odd jobs on the quayside and lives with his little daughter in illegal accommodations. The child's mother left soon after her birth, but the father and daughter survive thanks to their close bond. You could even say they are happy together. It's only when the girl reaches school age that being together gets tangled up in an unbending bureaucracy. Li cannot prove that he is the father and the child is taken away from him. In the end, he resorts to a drastic act in despair and threatens to jump with the daugther from a bridge. The police avoids this and the child is taken away from him. He sees her two years later because she doe not want to speak any longer.

 

The strength of water, 4, New Zealand, Armagan Ballantyne, The little Maori boy Kimi Kaneha is suffering greatly after the death of his twin sister. He doesn't really accept her death. For instance, he eats for two and hence becomes very fat, all in order to keep her spirit with him. He almost always drags a chicken round with him, one of the thousands from the family farm, as a kind of furry toy. Rather tragic story, but very beautiful pictures.

 

Autumn, 4, Turkey, Oscar Alpan,  Such is Yusuf: in 1997 he was a politically active left-wing student; in 2007, he is a disillusioned misfit. After a decade of imprisonment for his lost cause, he returns to his native village in the eastern Black Sea region. His widowed mother is more than happy to welcome him, but the overbearingly beautiful mountains of his homeland only deepen his self-doubt and isolation. One day, meandering in a tavern with his childhood friend Mikail, Yusuf encounters a similarly wounded soul. She is the ethereal Eka, a Georgian prostitute. Their love does not really get a chance hoever and the movie ends rather sad. It is a slow almost poetic but very beautiful movie.

 

A Cheonggyecheon Dog, 3, Korea, Sex changes, hysterical pursuits and talking dogs; nothing is too crazy in the latest film by the young director Kim Kyung-Mook, whose controversial Faceless Things could be seen in Rotterdam in 2007

Experimental and surrealistic movie that one way or another still manages to let you stay. The 3 however is mosi of all gioven for the 2 short movies barby pop animation of 2o seconds and Dogs dressed like humans in the Parc. Funny beginning of an otherwise disturbing evening.

 

Anaglyph Tom, 1, VS, 3D movie with 3d glasses, that you could best see in one dimension, and 1 minute. Boring! The same picture all over again for 2o minutes, half of the audience was gone by then.

 

Thursday 29

 

Tokio Olynpic, 4, Jap Riichiro, Virtuoso animated satire on the Olympic Games as a media spectacle. In the form of a news broadcast, the strangest sports, rituals and participants are included. The maker invited several animation artists to provide contributions to this truly colourful procession. Fun, e.g. Johan Kluivert in a contest of throwing off your (woorden) shoe as far as possible from a swing (schommel) won bronze medal, typing sms messages of 1000 characters as fast as possible and so on.

 

Still walking, 5, Japan, Kore-Eda turns out to be a versatile film maker. After films such as the very original drama After Life and the idiosyncratic and realistic Nobody Knows,. Every year, the Yokohama family withdraws to a house on the coast in order to commemorate the death of the eldest and most beloved son. For the other son, these encounters are a trial. He'll never be able to live up to his idealised brother. His parents regard his profession as an art restorer as being unworthy of a Yokohama and don't accept his new wife, who has a child from a previous marriage. The eldest son was drowned when he saved a child, and that child is also obliged to come every year to pay a visit. These are the painful moments that are casually interwoven into the narrative. The film also contains funny dialogues however with a light touch. It is long, sometimes a bit too slow, but looking back one of the better films of the festival!

 

 

Friday 30

 

Turistas, 4, Chili, Alicia, Scherson, On her way to their holiday destination, it becomes clear to thirty-something Carla that her marriage to Joel brings her more sorrow than is good for both of them. As she recovers from their quarrel outside the car, Joel drives off. Rebellious and sad, Carla continues her journey on foot. At the Siete Tazas nature reserve, she meets the Norwegian backpacker Ulrik, who invites her to camp in the beautiful Chilean reserve with its seven waterfalls. Hopefully, calm and inexorable nature will bring her peace. But the park turns out to offer more than trees, water and beetles: there are also the unscrupulous nieces Susana and Susana and the park warden Orlando, a former top 40 star. In the mini society in the woods people fight, make love, party and badminton.

Nice little movie in a beautiful scenery.

 

April showers, 2, Portugal, Ghosts from the time of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution come back to life when the theatre maker Pedro, after making a discovery in his grandmother's old things, goes looking for the facts. What was his revolutionary father doing in Spain? I really don’t know as I fell deeply asleep after one hour during this rather slow and boring movie.
 

Nun Ko, 3, Japan, Kumakiri, Non-ko is a light Japanese drama. The title is the stage name of an actress whose private life and career have got stuck. She returns to her place of birth, where she only starts to enjoy life again after a while. But at the end she runs away from the two men that want to continue life with her. Not a very good movie but standable.
 

Saturday 31

 

Maman est chez le coiffeur, 4, Canada France, Lea Pool, Summer 1966. It's time to enjoy the summer holiday, total freedom, running free through the meadows and giggling with friends. But while she becomes increasingly aware of the dreams, worries and lies of people around her, Élise discovers that the sudden departure of her mother completely disrupts the family. In the meantime, her brother Coco waywardly seeks solace building a super racing car and her youngest brother Benoît throws himself into his own inner world. The father seems absolutely knocked out by the situation. Funny movie, nice acting and nowhere over the top.

 

Native Dancer, 3, Kazachstan, Guka Omarova Natural healer has to leave her land because the Mafia thinks the location is suitable for a filling station. A harsh battle between the supernatural good and the earthly evil ensues. The story and acting are not very convincing, but on the whole it is still a pleasant movie to watch. The scenery is well chosen.
 

The market a tale of trade, 4, Turkey,/UK Ben Hopkins, In this dry-comic road movie, we see the appealing villain and black market trader Mihram (an incredibly powerful role by Tayanc Ayaydin), who does his very best to change. He wants to stop drinking and gambling and become a respectable husband in the eyes of his wife. He is always trying to dream up how he can make the most possible money in the least possible time; comparisons with the rich West are never far away. When a doctor asks him if he can buy medicine for her abroad in order to heal children, Mihram seizes his opportunity. With the aid of his uncle, he sets off on a journey that could make him a fortune. Great movie for economists.

 

Sunrise, Sunset 3, Russia, Mansky combines unique footage of his informal conversations with the Dalai Lama and the chronicles of His Holiness’s public audiences with scenes of daily life in Dharamsala. The person we see in Mansky’s film is a charismatic but rather poor philosopher who preaches peace by challenging conventional truth.  I was not impressed by the analysis of the Dalai Lama. A simple man, although he raises the right questions and considering them on a global scale. But that everything is relative has been proved already by Einstein.