Film Fest 2006: Post 3

Well, the fest is over now but I've still got quite a backlog of films to get through. Let's get started.

Close To Home

Young Israeli women work their tour of duty in the army on the streets of Tel Aviv, asking folks who look like Arabs to present their identity papers and be recorded. The historical irony is enough to make you believe in a higher power; could something like this really happen by accident? Great performances from two very charming actresses, a number of great high-tension moments (some serious, some comic), all of which is pretty much rendered empty by a chicken-shit ending that refuses to take a stand on the situation. Unfortunate.

The Page Turner

Possibly the show of the festival. I don't know why it wasn't described in the program as a "French lesbian Fatal Attraction set in the classical music world," because I'm pretty sure that would have DOUBLED attendance.

And having said French lesbian Fatal Attraction set in the classical music world I'm not sure what more I can tell you. Unbearably tense, confidently cinematic and restrained just to the right amount so that you spend the entire film waiting for the explosion to finally come. It's a silly film, but a silly film done with spectacular flair. Will get a DVD release -- worth catching. Will probably ALSO get a Hollywood remake, but who knows if that'll be worth seeing?


The anti-samurai samurai film. An anti-revenge revenge drama. The Japanese title is Hana yori mo naho, which is how it's listed in IMDB. A sweet-natured, humanistic film that wallows a little bit in sentimentality but provides so much charm and thoughtful insight into the way people respond to tragedy that it's impossible to not enjoy. It's the story of a poor country samurai who has come to Edo to extract revenge from the man who killed his father, but just isn't really up to the task. Beautifully contrasted with the famous story of the 47 ronin (who are hiding nearby, plotting their own vengeance), we watch our young hero find reason after reason why he SHOULDN'T bother taking revenge, and yet the pressure on him to fulfill his social obligation grows ever stronger.

Great film. Will probably play well at festivals all over, and most likely get a DVD release. Don't miss it.

The Post-Modern Life of My Aunt

I'd never heard of Siqin Gaowa before, but Tina assured me she was a great actress. Mongolian, apparently, and I've always had a soft spot for the Mongols, myself. And Gaowa carries this lilting, delicate film effortlessly. Watching her spar with the very-charming Chow Yun-Fat is delightful, and the journey her argumentative, boisterous character goes on is heart-breaking.

But there's this big moon. A couple of times in the film, characters look up into the sky and it's entirely full of a some humungous moon-thing. I don't get it. What is this with Chinese movies and inexplicable atmospheric phenomena? The ending isn't quite what it needs to be, even though it's heartbreaking, but that moon. I just didn't get it.

The Wedding Director

Fellini + Lynch should be good, or at least there's some interesting territory to explore in that part of the cinematic world, but The Wedding Director director, Marco Bellocchio, doesn't pull it off. He had me for the first half or so. An interesting conspiracy/paranoia thing develops as the eponymous director finds strange coincidences surrounding him, and his entire reputation beginning to fall apart.

It's the ending, though. There were at least three different endings, all of which were incompatible with each other -- does the romantic couple escape on the train, or does the princess go through with the marriage, or does the director run for it? Bellocchio seems to not want to decide, and the end result is a confused audience.

Not going to make much of a showing, I think.

Hang on! Still more to come. We still haven't gone to Bollywood, or played soccer in St. Petersburg, or other stuff.