Friday, September 28, 2007

CIFF Notes, Days 6, 7 & 8

The Edge of Heaven (2007, Germany/Turkey, Director Fatih Akin): Rating 9/10

This was one of the films I was eagerly waiting for at CIFF and thankfully it delivers. Akin has crafted a film which focuses on the emotional ties between Germany and Turkey. At times, the screenplay is too neat and tidy with all the threads tied together; Akin has stripped the film of un-necessary baggage and only put in scenes which are relevant to his story. And the last 10 minutes are perfectly constructed and resonate with a poetic beauty.

Black Butterfly (2006, Peru, Director Francisco J. Lombardi): Rating 9/10

My first Lombardi film! I missed the mini Lombardi retrospective that CIFF had in 2003 so I made sure I would make this screening. The timing of this film is relevant. The film looks at the state of corruption that existed during Fujimoro's presidency in Peru. And considering that Fujimoro has been in the news recently, it makes this movie a worthy watch. The story is a fictional imagining of events surrounding the death of an honest judge within Peru's corrupt judicial system. The movie shows how the judge's fiancee goes about getting her revenge. The revenge unfolds in a seductive, juicy manner and makes for engaging cinema.

The True Legend of Tony Vilar (2006, Italy, Director Giuseppe Gagliardi): Rating 7.5/10

A charming mocumentary about a man's search for a legendary singer, Tony Vilar. Peppe (Peppe Voltarelli, also the film's co-writer) heads to Buenos Aires to find his distant cousin, Vilar, who made it big in Argentina. But he ends up in the labyrinth of La Boca and instead comes across fascinating Tango clubs and interesting characters. Less than 24 hours after arriving in Argentina, Peppe is led to New York where he ends up in Little Italy and even a bigger labyrinth. At this point, Peppe's journey becomes more interesting than his destination (Vilar) because he comes across such an assorted collection of characters that light up the screen. Overall, both Gagliardi and Voltarelli have done a good job in examining the complex and rich Italian diaspora in Argentina and New York.

Hunt Angels (2006, Australia, Director Alec Morgan): Rating 7.5/10

A smart fictional film which looks at the life of Rupert Kathner (played by Ben Mendelsohn), an Australian director obsessed with making ground breaking movies. But just like Ed Wood, Kathner seems to have more heart than skills in film-making. The film is structured like a documentary complete with archive footage, still photographs and shot in beautiful black and white. A funny film which shows how a good idea can still be made into movie with little budget.

Jade Warrior (2006, Finland co-production, Director Antti-Jussi Annila): Rating 6/10

The film is branded as the first Finnish Chinese martial arts film and that is enough to raise eyebrows. While there may be no ties between Finland and China, the movie makes a good attempt to link the two countries through an ancient Finnish legend. It was a surprize to see how well shot this movie was on such a low budget. But the screenplay leaves a lot to be desired.

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