Saturday, October 16, 2004

October Movie notes

1) La Belle noiseuse (aka The Beautiful Troublemaker) directed by Jacques Rivette: Rating 7/10

This 1991 French movie is all about Emmanuelle Beart or specifically Beart’s body. Michel Piccoli plays Edouard Frenhofer, a reclusive painter with his own unique painting style. Frenhofer has stopped painting a while ago but when Beart agrees to pose for him, he finds his rhythm back. There are things about art which are difficult to translate and the same goes for this movie. Some things don’t translate fully but nonetheless a decent movie. Beart’s expressions are spot on as usual.

2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (directed by Michel Gondry): Rating 6/10

A great story idea penned by Charlie Kaufman, Gondry and Pierre Bismuth but a very poor on screen execution. Jim Carrey as expected is great in his role but the problem really is with the movie rhythm. The movie is caught in between a European and Hollywood feel. If it was a truly a French movie, then it would have worked. If it was in the realm of a complete Hollywood movie, then maybe it could have made it. The story is around the idea that people can go to a certain company to erase their painful memories. The journey through Carrey’s brain when his memories are being wiped is a great visual achievement. But in the end, very disappointed.

3) Coffee and Cigarettes (directed by Jim Jarmusch): Rating 4/10

A series of 11 black and white shorts filmed with a common thread of caffeine and nicotine. 10 of the shorts feature coffee, 2 have tea (with one being coffee free). I think only one short does not have cigarettes.

Anyway, the first 6 movies can be discarded. That is a big thing considering the first one stars Roberto Benigni as a severe coffee/cigarette junkie. Jarmusch shot the first few shorts in 1986 and then finished the rest of the films in 2002/03 or so. After movies such as Ghost Dog, Night on Earth, Dead Man, I was expecting more from him. But in the end, most of the efforts are not that great.

The seventh movie titled ‘Cousins’ starring Cate Blanchett in a double role is quite good. This is the only movie which features expresso.
The 8th movie is best forgetten.
The 9th movie titled ‘Cousins?’ is probably the best of the lot starring Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan. This is the only short which does not have coffee but only tea.
The 10th movie starts Bill Murray & RZA, GZA (of the Wu-Tang Clan) and is not bad. This one also features herbal tea.

4) Ju-on: The Grudge (directed by Takashi Shimizu): Rating 6.5/10

I finally watched the original Japanese movie before the Hollywood remake is released on Oct 22. Now, I was expecting a lot more scary scenes from this movie than what transpires. But in typical Japanese horror fashion, the scares are brought on by carefully constructed scenes focusing on background music and tiny details. There is no need for slashing gory scenes to make people jump with anticipation; just simple scenes which slowly unravel the horror works efficiently. The story revolves around a haunted house, which has a curse placed on it because of a murder committed there. Anyone who comes in contact with the house will not survive no matter where they run to. The movie is jam packed with situations which evoke horror even before anything is shown – dark attics, an empty bathroom, closets, dark rooms, etc. It is not a bad movie but I guess what disappointed me was the expectations I had from this flick.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Festival Wrap Up

Well the festival is over. There were quite a few good movies that I saw and I even missed seeing some of the more popular festival movies. My overall pick for the favourite movie was Exiles by Tony Gatlif. But here is the summary of the final few days:

Day Seven: Thu, Sept 30

The Motocycle Diaries (directed by Walter Salles): Rating 8/10

If this movie did not have the name Che Guevera associated with it, then there would have hardly been any hype around it despite it being well acted and beautifully shot by Eric Gautier (truly deserving of his Cannes Award). The movie is NOT about Che but instead about two young men, Ernesto and Alberto, who plan a road trip through Latin America. The motorcycle trip comes with its problems and adventures, and is a life altering experience for both. There are no technical flaws with the movie, but the only thing that weighs the movie down is the hype.

Kopps (directed by Josef Fares): Rating 10/10

A hilarious movie set in a small crime free Swedish town. Since the crime rate is non-existent, the local police station is about to be shut down. Facing the prospect of losing their jobs, the Kopps decide to boost the crime rate themselves. Interesting characters all around – well acted and just plain fun.

Slim Sussie (directed by Ulf Malmros): Rating 8/10

Another movie set in a small Swedish town. A brother, Erik, returns to his hometown to find his sister, Sussie. It has been a few years since Erik left the town to head to the city and soon learns that things changed quite a bit for Sussie. Each person has a different version of what happened to Sussie and trying to piece everything together becomes a problem for Erik. The movie is jam packed with references to Hollywood movies (Usual Suspects, Clockwork Orange, etc) and contains some memorable characters. When the pace of the movie slows down, a few songs help pick up the slack.

Day 8: Friday, Oct 1

Facing Windows (directed by Ferzan Ozpetek):

I was late for this movie and since the show was sold out, I was turned away with quite a few other people.

Primer (directed by Shane Carruth): Rating 8/10

A classic festival movie -- small budget ($7000 dollars) & a great idea! Four young engineers work in a garage (outside of their regular 50 hour a week jobs) to come up with the next big thing. What the big thing is supposed to be, none of them knows; they just go with the flow. The start of the movie is impossible to comprehend as technical terms are thrown around, but it is clear it has something to do with freezing temperatures. Two of the men stumble onto something and decide to keep it from the other two. This is where the movie goes off on a different tangent (sci-fi) – the two men find a way to create their very own time machine. It is an interesting watch, even though hard to understand everything. Each person will take something different from this movie.

Day 9: Sat, Oct 2

Exiles (directed by Tony Gatlif): Rating 11/10

The best movie for me at the festival! It stood head and shoulders above everything else. That being said, the movie might be a hit or miss for others. The story is simple as can be – Zano and Naima decide to leave Paris and head to Algeria to find their roots. Their parents were from Algeria and they are keen to return to a land they have only heard about (they don’t even speak Arabic). Their journey consists of heading through Spain and finally sneaking into Algeria (the Algerian border is closed). Since this is a Tony Gatlif movie, the traditional flamenco musical sequences are present. And an additional bonus is the presence of Rai music (not truly Rai but shades of it). A movie with a simple story but brilliant direction (Gatlif rightly deserved the best director award at Cannes). At no point in the movie does anything seem fake – this is a movie made by a person who cares to make a movie, who has a story to tell, who has something to convey. This is not a movie made for money but out of love. A classic!!!!

Lost Embrace (directed by Daniel Burman): Rating 5/10

A disappointing movie! For some reason this movie bagged a couple of awards at the Berlin film festival.

Red Cockroaches (directed by Miguel Coyula): Rating 4/10

A movie made on a shoe string budget, apparently $2000 dollars. The movie is shot entirely on dv camera and was edited by Coyula on his computer. There are some neat aspects in the movie but overall it is hugely disappointing. The movie is set in the future where DNA manipulation can bring back dead people. Acid Rain causes mutations and red cockroaches are the carriers of this mutation disease. Adam immediately takes to a woman he sees in a subway station. But she disappears and all he finds is a tooth. A few scenes later, Adam discovers the woman, Lily, is his long lost sister who Adam and his mother had thought to be dead. Adam and Lily engage in sexual union and once the incest starts, the sci-fi angle is thrown out of the window.

One can say that given the small budget, this is a significant effort. But there are too many loop holes in this one. Now, with a bigger budget, something could be made from this story.

Day 10: Sun, Oct 3

Memron (directed by Nancy Hower): Rating 7/10

A mocumentary completely in the style of Christopher Guest! Memron was once the biggest company on the planet but due to some book-keeping errors (err, stealing money), the company is facing bankruptcy and are forced to lay off more than thousands of employees. The movie shows the plight of the employees and takes a jab at the CEO’s who still continue to be given VIP treatment despite being crooks.

First five Festival days can be found here.