Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CIFF 2009 preview, part II

Euro Delight

My Only Sunshine (2009, Turkey, Reha Erdem)

My Only Sunshine has a beautiful visual language and is probably one of the best shot films of 2009. However, the film’s story is not as strong as that of Erdem’s previous feature, Times and Winds. Still, the stunning cinematography makes this film a treasure to cherish.

Link:Istanbul festival report.

Birdsong (2008, Spain, Albert Serra)

Serra’s leisurely paced film can either be a truly rewarding experience or a painful one. With high expectations from this feature, I let the gorgeous black and white images take over and went along for an absorbing ride. Once the absurdity of the character’s behavior became apparent, then watching them fumble their way through the desert was a humorous experience. It is essential to have the film in black and white because that allows one to pay attention to the characters and forget about the surroundings. This point is demonstrated by the documentary, Waiting for Sancho, where we get to see each locale in its original color and then can compare those shots to the black and white footage. If the film were not in black and white, then the rich colorful surroundings of Tenerife would have dwarfed the three main characters and the film would have lost its impact.

Can go Through Skin (2009, Holland, Esther Rots)

After a traumatic experience, Marieke leaves the city and moves to the country side to rebuild her life. But as per the title and the saying that some things can get under one’s skin, Marieke is unable to bury her past and alternates between fantasy and reality. The film leaves it up to the audience to decide what scenes are real and what are fabricated, although there are some clues as to which direction things are going. This is a stunning debut feature film by Esther Rots that lets the audience get inside the head of Marieke with a dazzling technical package (cinematography, editing) that contain tight close-ups of Marieke and objects directly in her line of sight, thereby giving us an idea of which objects trigger negative and fearful emotions in her. The sense of space that the camera uses is quite amazing and one can understand how Marieke’s environment is crushing her or when she is finally starting to breathe again.

Mid-August Lunch (2008, Italy, Gianni Di Gregorio)

Full credit to Gianni Di Gregorio for making such a delightful film about a topic that may not seem appealing on first glance (“middle aged man taking care of his mother”). Even more remarkable is the fact that Gianni Di Gregorio & producer Matteo Garrone’s previous venture was Gomorra (directed by Garrone and co-written by Di Gregorio). It seems that after working on a hard hitting gangster film, the best remedy for the duo was to pour their energy into this charming appetizing film which is likely to work up an appetite with the loving scenes of food preparation.

Sight & Sound’s interview with Gianni Di Gregorio.
Sight & Sound’s review of the film which gives away plot details.

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