It's pretty cool that monks in friggin' Bhutan can make movies with modern digital effects. Apparently Bhutanese sorcerers are pretty bad-ass -- in this film we see an entire village consumed in lightning and earthquakes. Nasty. Milarepa, our erstwhile hero, is sent by his grieving mother on a mission of revenge, and you just know that's not going to end well. No sir.
Great performances and jaw-dropping scenery make for a good time; this film manages to be both exotic and universal in its tone. Old women bewailing the uncaring world and young men discovering that sometimes violence hurts -- anyone gets that sort of thing. But the monasteries perched on top of windswept peaks (no digital effects here), mysterious rituals and strange powers, this is right out of The Man Who Would Be King. Only cooler.
By the director of The Cup, so this is a likely DVD release. Watch for it.
Steph and I are suckers for turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg. Alexei Balabanov's Of Freaks and Men was really just the beginning. This film, Garpastum, follows the fates of two young lads determined to build a soccer stadium. The film kind of floats along, dreamy and almost directionless, but you can sense the forthcoming horror right from the get got. It helps that, the film being situated in 1914, you know that history at least has no shortage of horrors in store.
The climax is startling, horrifying and thorough.
The Russians, like the Japanese, never seem to stop turning out little masterpieces of cinema like this. Of all the films at the festival, I think this one has stayed with me the most. Worth seeing, worth thinking about.
When The Road Bends
You know, when you're making a film about amazing musicians, I'd think you turn on the camera, let them play, and at some point, roll credits. What more needs to be done? But both this and the far superior The Sound of the Soul fail to do that. They'll start on a song, and then we have to cut to this, or to that, or whatever.
Well, the Rom musicians in When The Road Bends are pretty awesome, so you forgive the film its foibles. I guess the very-charming director (who when we got up to leave seemed to think we were spontaneously leaping to our feet to congratulate her, and I hope she wasn't too offended when we just smiled and said "Thanks" and kept on going right out the door) just couldn't keep from inserting her "directorial voice" into the picture.
It isn't really that bad. The Indians are so hilarious and the Macedonian woman blows out every hall they play in, the old Romanian guy mists you right up with his attitude ("I'm going to build a pool just like Johnny Depp"), and it's over before you know it. If you like music, you'll like this. Will probably get a DVD release.
Le Petit Lieutenant
This year, the festival seemed to save the best for last. This film is damn near perfect. While Jalil Lespert's young title character draws you into the film's early stretches, it's Nathalie Baye's Vaudieu who ends up driving the film. One of those rare films where halfway in you realise you have no idea how this is all going to play out. No histrionics, no sentimentality, just a straightforward cop movie that leaves you feeling satisfied but vaguely unsettled. The closing shot, and its echo of Truffaut's The 400 Blows invites all manner of contemplation on growing and growing old.
A spectacular film, sure to be transformed into English as soon as someone in Hollywood figures out how to switch the seasoned Vaudieu for some anorexic nineteen-year-old. You'll want to see this one first.
And THAT is the festival for this year. We saw a lot of films, but had to pass over so many. Certainly hope to see many of these films on DVD releases, and some of them theatrically, in months to come.