Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CIFF 2009 preview, part IV

Mary and Max (2009, Australia, Adam Elliot)

It is easy to see why this wonderful claymation film opened the Sundance film festival. The film shows plenty of maturity and effortlessly pieces together moments of beauty, humour and darkness. The story is also a refreshing throw back to the old days of snail mail which allowed pen pals to exchange their ideas across the planet while they patiently waited by the mailbox to get the next letter. The voices of the two main characters are also cast perfectly -- the bubbly young Australian girl gets her vocals courtesy of Toni Collette while the depressive middle aged man is voiced by Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who else?).

Correction Update: Toni Collette voices the adult Mary not the young one.

Amreeka (2009, USA/Canada, Cherien Dabis)

The opening 15 min of Amreeka are poetic and feature some soul stirring music, especially in the scene featured in the photo where Fadi is stopped at a checkpoint. This critical scene convinces Muna that she should move to the US to seek a better life for her son. When the film shifts to the US after that, the story contains some elements which overlap with many recent films examining the immigrant difficulties in adapting to life in the US, be it from a Latino or Indian immigrant perspective. But Amreeka's strength is that it maintains a pleasant light hearted tone despite the bleakness of the situation thereby giving the film depth while also having a feel good factor. The film features strong acting, sharp visuals and poses plenty of thoughtful questions about racism and political bias in the media.

White on Rice (2009, USA, Dave Boyle)

An impressive light hearted indie film that contains some of the funniest scenes to feature in an American film this year. For example, the opening scene of a Japanese samurai film dubbed in English with an American texan accent is downright hilarious. And the presence of some quirky characters ensures that the film never gets dull.


Anonymous said...

Bethany Whitmore voices the 8 year old bubbly Mary Daisy Dinkle. Toni Collette voices the adult Mary.

Sachin said...

Ah thanks for the correction.