Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats)

As some of you that understand French know, movie name is the imaginary love(s) and did translation because film literally is about that subject matter, the love that is more imaginary than real. Very good exploration of this not so-common explored kind of love which confirms that Xavier Dolan has a unique style to tell his stories and most of all a true unique style to visualize his films. After watching so many bad movies this film came like a fresh breeze that delighted my eyes and also my ears with a score totally integrated to the narrative.

Film tells about two friends that “fall in love” with the same guy and how Nico becomes first an object of their attention, later almost an obsession, to finish with both suffering as Nico does not returns their attention/obsession/love. As in his previous film Xavier Dolan does everything including the beautiful clothes that Marie (Nonia Chokri) wears and is one of the leads with an excellent performance. I liked actor’s performances and most pleasant is the little surprise at the end of the film when Louis Garrel does a cameo that starts all over the story.

As a film is very Xavier Dolan with the use of primary colors, beautiful sights of Quebec in autumn, great framing of many scenes, slow pace to allow watching and feeling absolutely everything, with a great music score/songs that will sound too familiar and inviting to sing along. As we know film premiered in 2010 Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section where won the Regard Jeune award.

The film is non-conventional thanks to peculiar and particular Dolan’s narrative and visual storytelling style, so know that is not suited for general audiences but for those that like art in their films. I liked the film more for the visuals than the story that was a little bit predictable for me, but film is not about destination, is about travelling the little details and nuisances of human behavior.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Cécile De France

Lovely, very-lovely, interview with Cécile De France that thanks to Clint Eastwood maybe American audiences will "discover" her as the excellent actress she is. Interview is almost 30 minutes but it's such a pleasure to watch her speaking "imperfect but very charming" English.

She speaks highly about Clint Eastwood and one thing I loved was when she mentions that he's one of the few (Hollywood) directors that dare to shoot silence. Yes dying to see Hereafter for Cécile De France segment, hope other segments are as good as what I know this segment has to be.

Hope you enjoy watching her as much as I did.

23rd European Film Awards – Prix ARTE Nominations

The European Academy announced the nominations in the documentary category and here are the three nominated films

Armadillo, Janus Metz, Denmark and Sweden
Miesten Vuoro (Stream of Life), Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen, Finland and Sweden
Nostalgia de la Luz (Nostalgia for the Light), Patricio Guzmán, France, Germany and Chile

For he first time, the nominated documentary films will now be made available to all 2,300 members of the European Film Academy who will vote for the winner. Winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on December 4th in Tallinn, Estonia.

2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival Award Winners

Recently the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival held its Closing Night Ceremonies, and gave its Black Pearl Awards for the winners in the feature film categories.

The jury presidents who decided the awards for the feature films were Argentine director and producer Luis Puenzo, Syrian auteur Ossama Mohammed and acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman. The awards ceremony was followed by the screening of the Festival’s Closing Night film, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, the new historical fantasy epic from renowned Hong Kong director Tsui Hark.

These are the award winners

Narrative Feature Competition

Best Narrative Film: Ovsyanki  (Silent Souls), directed by Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia "For its poetic depiction of the echoes of a cultural heritage for the people of today, and for the excellence of its cinematic language."

Jury Special Mention: Carlos, directed by Olivier Assayas, France/Germany "For rendering the complex portrait of an era, a region and a controversial character."

Best Narrative Film from the Arab World: Shatti Ya Dini (Here Comes the Rain), directed by Bahij Hojeij, Lebanon
Best Actress: Lubna Azabal in Incendies, directed by Denis Villeneuve, Canada/France
Best Actor: Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romanek, United Kingdom/USA

Documentary Feature Competition

Best Documentary (tie):
Pink Saris, directed by Kim Longinotto, United Kingdom, India
Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia For the Light), directed by Patricio Guzmán, Chile/Germany/France

Best Documentary by an Arab Director or Related to Arab Culture (tie):
Homeland, directed by George Sluizer, The Netherlands
Sheoeyin Kenna (We Were Communists), directed by Maher Abi Samra, Lebanon/France/United Arab Emirates

New Horizons Competition

Best Narrative Film by a New Director: Gesher, directed by Vahid Vakilifar, Iran
Best Narrative Film by a New Director from the Arab World: Tayeb, Khalas, Yalla (OK, Enough, Goodbye), directed by Raniah Attieh and Daniel Garcia, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates

Best Documentary by a New Director: Bill Cunningham New York, directed by Richard Press, USA
Best Documentary by a New Director: El ambulante, directed by Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich, Argentina
Jury Special Mention: Jeld Hayy (Living Skin), directed by Fawzi Saleh, Egypt
Audience Choice Award: West Is West, directed by Andy De Emmony, United Kingdom

That’s it for this year and congratulations to winners of the most magnanimous awards in the festival circuit.

21st Stockholm International Film Festival

Fest will run from November 17 to 28 and here are the films in the main competition.

All Good Children, Alicia Duffy, Ireland, Belgium and France
Animal Kingdom, David Michôd, Australia
Bi, dung so! (Bi, Don’t Be Afraid), Phan Dang Di, Vietnam, France and Germany
Cold Weather, Aaron Katz, USA
Das letzte Schweige (The Silence), Baran Bo Odar, Germany
Eu cand vreau sa fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle I Whistle), Florin Serban, Romania and Sweden
Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats), Xavier Dolan, Canada
Monsters, Gareth Edwards, UK
My Joy, Sergei Loznitza, Germany, Ukraine and Netherlands
Neds, Peter Mullan, UK, France and Italy
Notre jour viendra (Our Day Will Come), Romain Gavras, France
Rubber, Quentin Dupieux, France
Smukke mennesker (Nothing’s All Bad), Mikkel Munch-Fal, Denmark
Somos lo que Hay (We Are What We Are), Jorge Michel Grau, Mexico
Sound of Noise, Olas Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Sweden and France
The Man Who Sold The World, Swel Noury and Imad Noury, Morocco
The Tree, Julie Bertuccelli, France and Australia
Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, USA

To watch trailers and read info for each film go here.

As happens every year iFestival will have the short films competition where we all can watch and vote for the films directly in the fest site. On November 17 and 18 films will be online so we can watch them and vote. To check films go here and make sure to return on above dates to view and vote.

5th International Rome Festival

In two days the fest will start and will run until November 5; these are the films in the Official Selection.

Bie Mian (The Back), Liu Bingjian, France and Hong Kong
Las Buenas Hierbas (The Good Herbs), María Novaro, Mexico
Crime d'amour (Love Crime), Alain Corneau, France (must be seen)
Dog Sweat, Hossein Keshavaraz, Iran
Five Day Shelter, Ger Leonard, Ireland
Gangor (aka Behind the Bodice), Italo Spinelli, India and Italy
Golakani Kirkuk (The Flowers of Kirkuk), Fariborz Kamkari, (no county- ie stateless)
Hævnen (In a Better World), Susanne Bier, Denmark and Sweden
Io Sono con Te (I Am with You – aka Let It Be), Guido Chiesa, Italy
Kill Me Please, Olias Barco, France and Belgium
Last Night, Massy Tadjedin, France and USA (opening film)
Little Sparrows, Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen, Australia
Oranges and Sunshine, Jim Loach, UK and Australia (yes is Ken Loach son)
Poll (The Poll Diaries), Chris Kraus, Germany, Austria and Estonia
Rabbit Hole, John Cameron Mitchell, USA
La scuola è finita (School Is Over), Valerio Jalong, Italy
Una Vita Tranquilla (A Quiet Life), Claudio Cupellini, Italy, France and Germany

Out of Competition
Animal Kindom, David Michôd, Australia
Broadwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese, USA
L' Homme qui voulait vivre sa vie (The Big Picture), Eric Lartigau, France (Duris and Deneuve, must be seen)
Il Padre e lo Straniero (The Father and the Foreigner), Ricky Tognazzi, Italy
Inshite Miru - Nanokakan No Desu Gemu (The Incite Mill – 7 Day Death Game), Hideo Nakata, Japan
Kari-gurashi no Arietti (Arrietty), Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Japan
The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko, USA
Let Me In, Matt Reeves, USA
Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies), Guillaume Canet, France (must be seen)
Tron: Legacy, Joseph Kosinski, USA
We Want Sex (aka Made in Dagenham), Nigel Cole, UK
Winx Club 3D – Magical Adventure, Ignio Straffi, Italy

To read info about each film go here where you can also check the films in the other sections like Focus (spotlights Japan), Alice nella Citta, Extra, etc.

Most interesting is the screening of recently restored Federico Fellini opus magister La Dolce Vita that is having its 50th anniversary, time really flies fast! Also there will an exhibition of 24 titles themed on the nocturnal and “sweet” life in Rome with films that go from 1952 up to 1980 that you can check here.

7th Seville European Film Festival

From November 5 to 13 fest will take place in Seville, Spain and as we know the much awaited nominations for this year’s EFA’s will be announced on November 6th. Festival has many sections with some very interesting films but I’ll list films in competition in the two main categories.

Official Selection

Chicas, Yasmina Reza, France, 2010
De Gelukkige Huisvrouw (The Happy Housewife), Antoinette Beumer, Netherlands, 2010
De Vliegenierster van Kazbek (The Aviatrix of Kazbek), Ineke Smits, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia and Germany, 2010
El Regreso (The Return), Nonio Parejo, Spain, 2009
Flamenco Flamenco, Carlos Saura, Spain, 2010
Hævnen (In a Better World), Susanne Bier, Denmark, 2010
Joy, Mijke de Jong, Netherlands, 2010
Mavro Livadi (Black Field), Vardis marinakis, Greece, 2010 (gay interest?)
Mr. Nice, Bernard Rose, UK and Spain, 2009
Naufragio (Wreckage), Pedro Aguilera, Spain, 2010
Ovsyanki (Silent Souls), Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia, 2010
Poll (The Poll Diaries), Chris Kraus, Germany, Austria, and Estonia, 2010
Son of Babylon, Mohamed Al-Daradji, Irak, UK, Netherlands, France, EUA, Egypt, Palestine, 2010
Szelíd Teremtés - A Frankenstein Terv (Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project), Kornél Mundruczó, Hungary, Germany, and Austria, 2010
Zena sa Slomjenin nosem (The woman with a broken nose), Srdjan Koljevic, Germany and Serbia, 2010

To check info about each film go here.

For the first time festival will honor a film with the Silver Girardillo given to the Best New Director of a feature film and here are the films in this section

First-Films-First

Adem (Oxygen), Hans van Nuffel, Belgium and Netherlands, 2010
Gigola, Laure Charpentier, France, 2010 (lesbian interest)
Harisma, Christina Ioakeimidi, Greece, 2010
Juan, Kasper Holten, Denmark, 2010
Majority, Seren Yüce , Turkey, 2010
Shahada, Burhan Qurbani, Germany 2009 (gay interest)
Sinestesia, Erik Bernasconi, Switzerland, 2010
Third Star, Hattie Salton, Hattie Dalton, UK, 2010
Win/Win, Jaap van Heusden, Netherlands, 2010
Zwart Water (Two Eyes Staring), Elbert van Strien, Netherlands, 2009

To check info about each film go here and to browse all the sections go here where you will also find the section with sixteen (16) shortlisted films for EFA’s top award.

There are many very interesting films in this year festival and if you enjoy European films I strongly suggest you browse the site to check them all.

山楂树之恋 Shan zha shu zhi lian (Under the Hawthorn Tree)

An unbelievable beautiful film by one of my favorite Chinese directors Zhang Yimou about a theme that I have never seen before in his films: Classic Pure Love. Not only the theme is new (for me) but also the film is very different to his previous ones as does not have his grandiose cinematic style or the outstanding cinematography. BUT this is a film about performances and you have no idea how extraordinary is first time acting Dongyu Zhou performing city girl Jing Qiu that slowly, very-slowly, falls for handsome young Lao San (Shawn Dou). It’s such a beautiful love story that I’m afraid will have to label the film –from a western point of view- as a girly film that I’m sure women will love while some men will not.

Seems that Zhang Yimou is exploring new territories as his previous film, San qiang pai an jing qi (A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop aka A Simple Noodle Story), also seems to have a different style; haven’t seen the film yet (yes, dying to see it) but at least from photos and trailer I can say that has some of his master filmmaker trademarks like amazing use of colors, epic scenes and extraordinary use of cinematography , which Under the Hawthorn Tree does not have at all. BUT because of story the storytelling technique Yimou’s used in this film absolutely succeeds to make an intense story out of what could have been a very common and often told story.

Still story allows us a brief vision of what some Chinese lived during China’s Cultural Revolution and how some policies affected their everyday lives. Set in 1975 in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province story tells about a pure, moving and teary (yes, I cried) love story between Jing Qiu and Lao San during their “zhiqing” days towards the end of the Cultural Revolution. Zhinqing refers to young urban dwellers that were sent to the countryside during the turbulent decade, from 1966 to 1976. Jing Qiu’s family has a difficult life after her father was labeled as right-winger and imprisoned; but when she meets Lao San, who has a promising future because of his high-ranking military officer father, her life becomes really complicated as she starts to risk what’s left of a possible future for a girl with her background. Lovely story adapted from a novel by Ai Mi.

If you’re expecting a ‘normal’ Zhang Yimou movie please be advised that this film is not; consequently could disappoint many or could positively highly surprise you like happened to me as is such a lovely and beautiful film that, honestly, is not easy to digest that was done by master filmmaker Zhang Yimou, but it is.

I do strongly recommend the movie but I think is the kind of film that you have to watch when you’re in a ‘special’ mood; a mood that allows you to enjoy the story that yes, has a very sad ending and surely you will shred more than a few tears.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

1st My French Online Film Festival

From January 14 to 29, 2011 the first French Online Film Festival will take place in the net! Here is their first announcement for the VOD fest that will be open to the world.

Unifrance in partnership with Allociné, with the support of the Centre National de la Cinématographie and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is organizing the first French online film festival open to Internet users around the world that will spotlight young French filmmakers.

The objective is to take fully into account the evolution of cultural consumption and to reach a new audience for French cinema abroad.

myfrenchfilmsfestival.com will take place from 14 to 29 January 2011.

The selection comprises ten feature films (first and second films recently released in France) and ten short films, as well as a classic film. Films will be available by Video On Demand (VOD), in original version and subtitled in several languages (German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, etc.).

Internet users will be able to vote for their favorite film.

Three prizes will be awarded at the end of the festival: a prize awarded by the public, another by foreign bloggers, the third by the international press.

The festival¹s website will be online in December and give free access to the trailers and to many exclusive online interviews.


FEATURE FILM SELECTION

Adieu Gary by Nassim Amaouche with Jean-Pierre Bacri In a working class city, abandoned by most of its population, some inhabitants stay in spite of everything because they were born and grew up there: Francis, Samir and Sarah (who believes that Gary Cooper is her father and is waiting for him). -----

Bus Palladium by Christopher Thompson with Marc-André Grondin. A rock¹n roll band, a group of friends who have met with success, and a girl who will disrupt it all **

Complices by Frédéric Mermoud with Gilbert Melki and Emmanuelle Devos. Two police detectives are investigating the disappearance of a teenage couple and find themselves confronted with the problems in their own lives. **

Espion(s) by Nicolas Saada with Guillaume Canet and Géraldine Pailhas. A young baggage handler is hired as spy by the French counter-intelligence agency after being involved in spite of himself in an affair involving the explosion of a diplomatic pouch in an airport.**

La Famille Wolberg by Axelle Ropert with François Damiens. Simon Wolberg is the mayor of a small provincial town, loving husband, overbearing father and provocative son. The film recounts the escapades of this man obsessed with his family.**

L¹Autre by Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Tridivic with Dominique Blanc. Anne-Marie leaves Alex when she realizes they no longer have the same aspirations: he wants to settle down, she wants to keep her freedom. But when Alex finds a new mistress, Anne-Marie becomes crazy with jealousy. -----

Le Bal des actrices by Maïwenn with Karin Viard and Charlotte Rampling. A director is shooting a documentary film on actresses. She shows all their personalities: manipulative, fragile, lying, moving, etc. But she quickly gets involved in their little games, for better or worse. *

Qu¹un seul tienne et les autres suivront by Léa Fehner with Pauline Etienne and Reda Kateb. Three people are brought together by chance in a prison visiting room: Stéphane who was just offered the deal of his life, Zorah who is trying to deal with her son¹s death, and Laure, who has fallen in love for the first time with a convict. ***

Tête de Turc by Pascal Elbé with Roschdy Zem and Ronit Elkabetz. A teenager of 14, an emergency doctor, a cop looking for revenge, a mother fighting for her family, a man crushed by his wife¹s death see their destinies linked after an accident. **

Tout ce qui brille by Géraldine Nakache and Hervé Mimran with Leïla Bekhti. Ely and Lila are childhood friends living in the Paris suburbs. They dream of entering a world they don¹t belong to, where everything seems to shine like gold. *

Classic film not in competition: French Cancan by Jean Renoir (1955) with Jean Gabin

SHORT FILM SELECTION
Babel by Hendrick Dusollier  ***
Cabossés by Louise Prémonville ***
Chienne d¹histoire by Serge Avédikian **
C¹est gratuit pour les filles by Claire Burger and Marie Amachoukeli *
¿Dónde está Kim Basinger? by Edouard Deluc ---
En attendant que la pluie cesse by Charlotte Joulia ***
L¹Homme à la Gordini by Jean-Christophe Lie ***
Mémoire d¹une jeune fille dérangée by Keren Marciano **
Petit dragon by Bruno Collet **
Une pute et un poussin by Clément Michel ***

Since 1949, the Unifrance organization has promoted French cinema around the world. It conducts studies to provide French film professionals with a wide range of information concerning the international film market. It also organizes events and festivals to facilitate the exposure of French cinema to new audiences. Lastly, it supports the distribution of French films abroad.

The project seems very interesting as will be for us worldwide internet audience our very first experience to participate in a festival that will screen full-length feature films, some that I'm really looking forward to be able to watch.

I hope some of us will participate to assure that this fest -as well as others that could follow the example- succeeds. Will keep you all posted with fest news as soon as they become available.

The City of Your Final Destination

This James Ivory film is a good film but definitively is not for general audiences as works like a classic piece of literature that could be too brainy for many or simply not-so-interesting to watch; still because of actors’ performances story becomes quite watchable if not impact full.

Film has an excellent cast with Anthony Hopkins, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Laura Linney and one less known actress that I particularly enjoy, Alexandra Maria Lara. My kudos go to Alexandra Maria Lara as she has a very annoying character that she was able to built so good that you really dislike her Diedre; also with a not so good character Laura Linney builts a distant, perhaps manipulative Caroline quite well, so good that I’m sure many will not like Linney’s performance. No need to mention that Hopkins and Gainsbourg performances are superb. Also here two actresses with smaller roles but that also called my attention great Norma Aleandro and Norma Argentina.

To me this film was more about actors’ performances that about a story, which is not surprising when film looks and feels more like reading a book than watching a film which is not bad, but know that style is not the cup-of-tea of many.

Film tells about about Kansas University doctoral student Omar Razaghi that wins a grant to write the biography of diseased Latin American writer Jules Gund; but Omar has to get the approval of three people who were close to Gund, his gay brother (Hopkins), his widow (Linney) and his younger mistress (Gainsbourg) all living at the writer’s estate in Uruguay. Omar writes for authorization and gets back a rotund denial; but Omar’s girlfriend (Lara) forces him to go in person to get the authorization. As Omar arrives to the faraway from civilization estate he’s not welcomed but slowly as he becomes part of this odd triangle he’ll discover more about himself than about Gund or any of the other estate dwellers. Basically it’s a story about finding your true self.

Can’t say that disliked the film but neither that I love it. As mentioned liked actors’ performances and inevitably have to mention that not often we are able to watch Anthony Hopkins playing (so deliciously) a gay man with a younger long term (25+years) Japanese lover, which definitively makes this film must be seen for those that enjoy the gay interest genre and for those that enjoy films that look and feel like classical literature.

Enjoy!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Queer Frame

Most of us know that is not easy to watch LGBT films as in many countries film will never be in your neighborhood theater. Lately Internet has proven to be a good distribution outlet for films to be watched by VOD, but most sites have mainstream film catalogues and seldom will we find the occasional –but always old- LGBT film available for us to watch.

Since a few months ago I have been following the development of a VOD site dedicated to ONLY LGBT films. Site started with a small catalogue but slowly has been increasing its catalogue with more films. Today site announced the acquisition of seven new films, including some that I’m looking forward to watch, so I decided to share with you all the address of Queer Frame a site open to world audiences that slowly but surely is increasing its catalogue with good films.

I haven’t watched a film yet at the site but I imagine that films will be in their original language and surely will have Italian subtitles as Queer Frame is an Italian site, so if you understand Italian definitively is a plus to use the site as most available films are not originally in English. Anyway prices to stream films start at 0.99 Euros, to download at 3.99 Euros and you can also shop for DVD’s.

If you’re interested in browsing the site go here.

Hope that in the future more VOD sites with only LGBT films will become available so world audiences can find the site that has subtitles in a language they understand and/or that most of us understand, English.

Cheers!

Red

With a fantastic cast and according to trailer what promises to be a fun-to-watch film Red was a total disappointment for me as unfortunately found it not entertaining, full of uninteresting situations and a total underuse of excellent actors with non-interesting characters that had odd-looking performances, especially Helen Mirren that was the main reason why I wanted to watch this film.

I understand that film is funny and hilarious according to some, so perhaps that’s where the film goes wrong for me as I don’t appreciate American humor as does nothing much to me. As some of you know my kind of humor is dark -very-dark- and there is nothing dark in this film. Still I didn’t liked the general or the ‘romance’ between the two Americans and the Brit/Russian characters, not even the boring action sequences or the sarcastic plot twists; I liked nothing in this movie! (LOL!).

I wasn’t going to write about the movie but decided to do so I can keep a record here and to share with those that their kind of humor tends to go to the darkish side, that if you skip this film you’ll not be missing much. Honestly I wanted to have a good escape moment but when film was over all I wanted was my money back and to recuperate the time I spent watching this film.

Red means Retired Extremely Dangerous but for me meant Really Excruciatingly Disappointed! Gosh, been quite a while since I watch a movie that I strongly dislike, hope it takes a very-long time until I find another film like this one.

Sigh.

Watch trailer @MOC

La Doppia Ora (The Double Hour)

A good debut movie by Giuseppe Capotondi that will keep you in the edge of your seat at least in the first part as this film is like two movies in one. Movie one is very good while movie two is a little bit of a downer as is a 'different' replay of what you saw in movie one. Still just for what I call movie one the film is worth watching if you like scenes (one) that will make you jump from your seat, scenes (many) that border on scary alike situations, and scenes that make you wonder what’s going on but as pace is fast you have no time to guess as next plot twist comes quite soon. Movie one is a very good and unconventional mystery, drama, thriller and crime.

Movie one was a total surprise for me as I watched this film because Ksenia Rappoport was the lead actress, whom I really enjoy since excellent La Sconociuta, and wasn’t disappointed as this is her movie plus she has an outstanding performance that gave her the Copa Volpi at 2009 Biennale. Just for her performance -plus movie one- the film is worth watching.

Movie one tells about a couple that meet at speed dating, Sonia (Rappoport) a hotel cleaning lady and Guido (Filippo Timi) an ex-cop. Both look and behave like damaged goods but apparently both are willing to really fall for each other. One day Guido takes Sonia to his current workplace where he works as watchman at an always absent millionaire mansion, everything seems to go smoothly as romance seems to progress. That’s it until everything goes wrong when a group of professional burglars enter the mansion and steal all valuables. Before leaving the mansion we see one burglar starting to rape Sonia and Guido jumping to stop it. We hear a shot, cut to few days ahead to find Sonia alive and Guido dead (point one). What follows is the fantastic and twisted aftermath of the robbery with Sonia having all sort of mysterious inexplicable incidents.

Movie one ends when plot sort of goes back to “point one” and story is replay in a “different” way that’s not as good as the one played first. Idea is excellent but movie one is so good that makes movie two a lot less entertaining, thrilling and definitively not mysterious. Still is a good movie that I won’t be surprised if Hollywood does a remake as is the buzz around the net.

Film was in competition at the 2009 Biennale where got the Young Cinema Award for Best Italian Film, Filippo Timi got the Pasinetti Award for Best Male Actor and as mentioned Ksenia Rappoport was honored too. So it’s a movie that has good and well-deserved credentials and as we know film is also in the long list for the 2010 European Film Awards.

I liked the movie more than I imagined even when I’m not really a fan of scary movies, but this film was well balanced between the different genres director chose to play with so effectively. Maybe what I call ‘second movie’ was a downer but still the film is a good European film and as such I do recommend it to those that enjoy good European films.

Enjoy!!

Watch trailer @MOC

2010 Viennale

Yesterday the most famous Austrian festival opened in Vienna and will present 84 narrative features, 60 documentares, 54 shorts and a comprehensive retrospective dedicated to Eric Rohmer screening 40 of his films, two documentaries about him and Godard’s Il Y Avait Quoi containing quotations from Rohmer. Also there will be three special programs dedicated to Denis Cote, Siegfried A. Fruhau and Silent Masters.

The Viennale will close on November 3 with a gala ceremony where the Vienna Film Prize for Austrian Cinema will be awarded; last year winner was none other than Jessica Hauser’s Lourdes. Also FIPRESCI and Standard Readers honor films with awards.

If you feel like checking the 84 full-length films in the fest go here. Most interesting is the short by Apichatpong Weerasethakul which serves as announcement to the festival and you can watch here.

Lourdes

There are movies that just mesmerize you like this Jessica Hausner film that will absolutely mesmerize you in so many levels that will blow your mind watching the layered story, the astonishing images and most of all the amazing storytelling. I was really dubious if I should watch or not this film, but finally decided to just watch and mentally ‘prepare’ myself to whatever was going to see.

As film has so many layers, let me start by sharing the one that spontaneously got me inside this mesmerizing film. I was born Catholic and was baptized in a rush because died when I was days-old and well, came back as I’m still here; but after my religious fifteen-years-old mass, religion left my life. Still had time to learn a lot about Catholicism so the first and second thirds of this film was a true experience of reliving rites and beliefs that I chose to leave behind and my honest reaction was to nervously laugh at the absurdity –yet puzzling- reactions, rites, belief, faith, etc that people have at was have been called the “Disneyland of Miracles”. The last third marveled me with people’s reactions to the miracle. This is a brief summary with my reactions to one layer of this amazing film but there is another layer that I feel like sharing.

From a cinematic point-of-view the layer that I enjoyed most even above the ‘emotional’ voyage was the one related to an almost perfect film about religion that is not religious. This is an extremely well designed voyage into the nature of miracles very similar to films by Cavalier, Rivette, Bresson, Reygadas and most of all Dreyer’s Ordet, which Hausner confirms was her source of inspiration. Aesthetically film belongs to this group, but Hausner does something different when approaches the idea of miracles with a detached, quizzical eye; this is what makes this film not only really mysterious but extremely interesting to watch if you are or are not familiar with the Catholic Church rites, as honestly maybe the film first third will enlighten you with objective facts that happen at Lourdes. Is the first third of the movie what looks and feels like a Lourdes pilgrimage documentary but also has other layer that works as an introduction to Christine, brilliantly played by Sylvie Testud, with her perspective of everything she’s seeing and living.

Second third starts to explore the small group perspective about what they’re living and doing in this pilgrimage. Most amazing is the joke told by one member from the Order of Malta about Virgin Mary approving God’s idea to go to Lourdes, as she never has been there; this serves as an example of the wry humor found in this segment and sets the mood to many other pilgrims behavior we will watch.

Final third is the most astonishing exploration about human and Catholic Church reactions to a (possible) miracle, which specifically tells about needs and dissatisfaction's of film other characters. Here is where Testud performance becomes the true miracle when her facial expressions and body language tell and reflect absolutely everything that words don’t tell; before this moment Testud performance was marvelously done only with her face as she was paralyzed from her neck down thanks to multiple sclerosis.

Definitively there are more layers to this story that some consider ‘blasphemous’, others call it Buñuel-esque, while others saw a profound yet controversial religious sentiment, etc. To me was obvious that the ample range of opinions prove the deliberate ambiguity of this cinema masterpiece by Jessica Hausner.

How can a filmmaker do this outstanding film? Not really a surprise but I was glad to find that Jessica Hausner was Michael Haneke’s pupil and ‘script girl’ which easily explains (to me) her amazing ability to so objectively tell a story about what many tend to do very subjectively. Chapeau to this outstanding director that shows superb mastery even when is only her third film.

Yes the film absolutely blew my mind and is one that I strongly recommend as excellent cinema that I believe could profoundly engage many even when movie has a slow pace, not much dialogue, many silences (but some extraordinary music score moments like when Bach’s Toccata and Fugue plays or when Herr Jesu Christ plays which not coincidentally is the theme from Tarkovsky’s Solaris –and there are more moments where music score is totally integrated to narrative), and many, but many, mind blowing takes with absolutely beautiful framed scenes. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous.

Have to close with a line that have to share with you all as according to me brilliantly resumes what this film is all about: “The mysteries of life (which some call God) may remain unknowable, but in Hausner’s remarkable film, the needs and doubts of mankind are made all too clear.”

A must be seen film for many that honor me visiting this blog.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Knight and Day

If you do like me and have no expectations about this film probably you will enjoy it as a true American escapist film with all the necessary elements (action sequences, big names actors, exotic settings, romance, bad guys, etc.) to make the film safe to watch. But there is one (important) element missing: a good/credible story; but the odd thing is that even if the plot is pure absurd fantasy and was not really well-developed, story was entertaining and fun to watch probably because lead actors did well their job and characters became alive above the story.

Film tells about a woman that’s used as a mule to pass a top secret gadget by airport security and as she boards an almost empty plane -after having a hard time getting in as was told flight was oversold- she starts a conversation with the man that use her as the mule. That’s how Diaz and Cruise characters meet and from there on you have a ‘normal’ woman releasing and conquering her action skills and a secret agent trying to not get kill by his CIA’s colleagues. Plot gets so absurd that director has to use fade out techniques to allow characters to escape and remain alive, which was funny after all.

So if you haven’t seen the film yet I suggest you do when you get the ‘urge’ to escape reality for almost two hours, as probably you will enjoy the film if you don’t take it too seriously.

Enjoy!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Winter’s Bone

An intense story and great performance by lead actress Jennifer Lawrence make this Debra Granik sophomore film absolutely must be seen for those that appreciate rare American indie films that transcend the indie standards and take you in a visual and narrative voyage that will delight your senses even when story is not necessarily a pleasant one. In a sense, this indie film made me recall the huge and positive surprise with Frozen River and if you enjoyed this film I’m sure you will enjoy Granik’s film too.

Film tells about a seventeen-years-old girl that is forced to look for her father after learning that if he does not appear in court she will lose her house and land that father posted as part of bail. Her search becomes an intense personal voyage into the darkish side of living in an American poor rural area as is set in the Ozarks where moonshine, pot, methamphetamine and OxyContin put inhabitants in the wrong side of the law. Kudos to Granik and Anne Rosellini for a great screenplay based on Daniel Woodrell novel as what could have been a told-many-times story becomes anew in this film.

But it’s Jennifer Lawrence performance what makes this film out-of-the-ordinary and makes this film her film; just to watch Lawrence’s performance the film is more than worth watching so the icing in the cake comes from the well developed story and quite nice visual narrative. Lawrence been getting Oscar buzz and if she gets a nomination will be more than well-deserved as she is really good here.

Film won Grand Jury Prize and Screening Award at 2010 Sundance fest plus the CICAE Award and Tagesspiegel Reader Award at the 2010 Berlinale and don’t doubt that will get more honors during the current award season, starting with the many nominations at the Gotham Independent Film awards, probably followed by the Spirit Awards and surely Oscar that now has 10 slots for Best Film. But this year has been so good for American indie films that races in different awards will be tight.

I liked the film a lot more than I imagined as watch it like in one very long sigh with my eyes glued to the screen all the time. Very intense. Absolutely must be seen for many that read this blog and enjoy strong women stories, but also to those that like very rare but excellent American indie cinema.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Kak ya provyol etim letom (How I Ended This Summer)

A visually breathtaking film by Alexei Popogrebsky that absolutely will blow your mind with many extraordinary sights of real Artic Circle landscapes as film was really shot on a real meteorological station in the Arctic which besides the visual poetry gives so much realism to the very-slow paced story that becomes sort of a thriller between the two technicians that work at the remote station.

Absolutely not a movie for everyone as for two hours you will watch awesome landscape after landscape, with very little dialogue, absence of sounds, only two characters not really getting along, and tension built more from not really knowing why the younger character is doing what he’s doing. You actually will not really know so will be up to you to deduce motivations when you reach the open ended story finale.

For one third of time film tells about the routine of the two meteorologists, one third about the younger one not telling the older the important news and the last third about what happens after the younger man tells the important news. That’s it very simple yet complex story.

Film was in competition at the 2010 Berlinale were won the Outstanding Artistic Achievement in the Category Camera and both actors, Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis shared the Best Actor Award.

I liked the film and was marveled by the beauty of the Artic circle, but at moments lost interest in the narrative as wasn’t sure what to think about the younger man motives and got not many clues to like or dislike what he was doing. Perhaps a little more info will have allowed me to ‘forget’ about the story and concentrate on watching so many outstanding sights. A must be seen film only to those that appreciate art cinema.

Enjoy!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Край Kray (The Edge)

An entertaining film by Aleksei Uchitel that to my surprise is a love story told using all the western stereotypes of Russia (taiga, bears, moonshine, etc) plus one element that I’m sure will excite more some viewers (male) than others (female) showing train races with early 20th century built locomotives.

Set shortly after the end of WWII in the Siberian hinterland among Russians and Germans with damaged personal stories and a strange transformation: the victors seem to be crawling into the skins of the defeated, and vice versa. Ignat arrives to the small village and stirs the population with his ways and driving a locomotive when he was clearly forbidden to do. Eventually he goes to an island to rescue an old abandon locomotive which he succeeds thanks to the help of a German woman that spent the war alone in the island and survived after four years. So, it’s the very unconventional –yet very commercial- love story between Ignat and Elsa.

As Uchitel said in an interview, this is the most commercial film he has done and consequently appeals to a wider audience and unfortunately it’s true as looks and feels like a very-entertaining but very-commercial film. Still there were a few (too few) outstanding and breathtaking scenes that recall how Uchitel can be poetic framing scenes.

I enjoyed the film that grabbed my attention for every minute and didn’t let go until the very end with an extraordinary aerial view of grayish Siberian forest in winter. So commercial does not mean bad, but I absolutely missed visual poetry and slower pace that allows feeling and live everything told in the story. Puzzles me that’s Russia’s Oscar submission, but seems whoever chose this film was thinking in a film that could please Academy voters to –of course- get the Oscar.

So if you’re in the mood of watching mainstream Russian cinema with a very-unconventionally told love story this is the film to watch and I’m sure you’ll enjoy beyond what you imagined. Then I’m positive that men will love also the film for all the locomotive action that the film portraits.

Enjoy!!

Watch trailer @MOC

4th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards Nominations


Today APSA announced the nominations for this year awards, with a total of 31 films from 15 countries and areas. Here are the nominations

Best Feature Film
Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock), Xiaogang Feng, China and Hong Kong
Bal (Honey), Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey and Germany
Báng-kah (Monga), Doze Niu, Taiwan
Paju, Chan-ok Park, Korea
Shi (Poetry), Chang-dong Lee, Korea

Best Children’s Feature Film
Boy, Taika Waititi, New Zealand
Bran Nue Dae, Rachel Perkins, Australia
Shui Yuet Sun Tau (Echoes of the Rainbow), Alex LawHong Kong
Digari (The Other), Mehdi Rahmani, Iran
Udaan, Vikramaditya Motwane, India

Best Animated Feature Film
Ibara no Ou (King of Thorn), Kazuyoshi Katayama, Japan
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Zack Snyder, Australia and USA
Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Maho (Mai Mai Miracle), Sunao Katabuchi, Japan
Hottarake no Shima – Haruka to Maho no Kagami (Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror), Shinsuke Sato, Japan
Piercing 1, Liu Jian, China

Achievement in Directing
Feng Xiaogang for Tangshan dadizheng (Aftershock), China and Hong Kong
Semih Kaplanoglu for Bal (Honey), Turkey and Germany
Doze Niu for Báng-kah (Monga), Taiwan
Chang-dong Lee for Shi (Poetry), Korea
Quanan Wang for Fang Zhi Gu Niang (Weaving Girl), China

Best Performance by an Actress
Xu Fan in Tangshan dadizheng (Aftershock), Xiaogang Feng, China and Hong Kong
Tejaswini Pandit in Mee Sindhutai Sakpal (I am Sindutai Sakpal), India
Seo Woo in Paju, Chan-ok Park, Korea
Yun Jung-hee in Shi (Poetry), Chang-dong Lee, Korea
Yu Nan in Fang Zhi Gu Niang (Weaving Girl), Quanan Wang, China

Best Performance by an Actor
Chen Daoming in Tangshan dadizheng (Aftershock), Xiaogang Feng, China and Hong Kong
Tony Barry in Home by Christmas, Gaylene Preston, New Zealand
Sergei Puskepalis in Kak ya provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer), Aleksei Popogrebsky, Russia
Mark Ivanir in The Human Resources Manager, Eran Riklis, Israel, Germany, France and Romania
Atul Kulkarni in Natarang, Ravi Jadhav, India

To check nominations in other categories go here or here. The film with most nominations (6) is China’s Oscar submission Aftershock that APSA Nominations Council unanimously praised for its ability to deftly balance a large scale epic story with the intimate drama of one family dealing with the aftermath of the devastating Tangshan earthquake and I humble absolutely agree with this well-deserved honor. Haven’t seen Bal that I know will blow my mind as much as Semih Kaplanoglu’s two previous films in this story that’s told backwards, but wonder if the third installment is more accessible to those voting for the awards.

The awards ceremony will be held on Australia’s Gold Coast on December 2, 2010 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre and like last year there will be a Live webcast.

2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards Nominations

We officially start the awards season with the first nominations for indie films and here they are according to the live announcement and press release that can be found here.

Best Feature
Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky (lesbian Interest)
Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance
The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko (lesbian interest)
Let Me In, Matt Reeves
Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik

Breakthrough Director
John Wells for The Company Men
Kevin Asch for Holy Rollers
Glen Ficarra and John Requa for I Love You Phillip Morris
Tanya Hamilton for Night Catches Us
Lena Dunham for Tiny Furniture

Breakthrough Actor
Price Adu in Prince of Broadway
Ronald Bronstein in Daddy Longlegs
Greta Gerwig in Greenberg
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone
John Ortiz in Jack Goes Boating

Best Ensemble Performance
The Kids Are All Right
Life During Wartime
Please Give
Tiny Furniture
Winter’s Bone

Best Documentary
12th & Delaware, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Inside Job, Charles Ferguson
The Oath, Laura Poitras
Public Speaking, Martin Scorsese
Sweetgrass, Lucien Castain-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
Kati with an i, Robert Greene
Littlerock, Mike Ott
On Coal River, Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood
Summer Pasture, Lynn True and Nelson Walker
The Wolf Knife, Laurel Nakadate

There are a total of 26 films that were nominated across the six categories and haven’t seen one single film! There are two that are must be seen for me but I’m looking forward to watch all five nominated for best feature, which is going to be something as I promised myself that I was not going to watch the American remake of my favorite Swedish vampire movie. But I will and honestly hope to not get mad because the destruction of an excellent concept and film.

As always all the films in my favorite category, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, will be screened to the public at MoMa from November 18 to 22. This year the IFP created a new award, The Festival Genius Audience Award; to be eligible a USA film must have won an audience award at USA or Canadian film fest from Nov 09 to October 2010. The Festival Genius community, 200,000 film fans worldwide, will vote online for the winner. The nominees will be announced in early November and the winner will be revealed at the Gotham Awards ceremony.

The 20th Anniversary and awards ceremony will be held on Monday, November 29th at Cipriani Wall Street. Actors Robert Duvall and Hilary Swank, director Darren Aronofsky and James Schamus will each be presented with a career tribute.

Cheers!

4th Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Two days ago the most magnanimous festival (award money prizes are the highest in the fest circuit) had its opening ceremony with none other than Secretariat opening the every year more famous festival.

Most films at the Narrative Competition are known to the blog, but I suggest you check the films at the New Horizons Competition here.

I’ll be posting award winners when announced. Been trying to add a video here but for whatever reasons does not work, if you feel like watching some videos from the October 14 opening ceremony go here.

15th Pusan International Film Festival Award Winners

The festival screened 306 films from 67 countries with 101 world premieres and 52 international premieres which are record numbers for the fest. Yesterday was the awards ceremony and here are the winners.

New Curents Award
The Journals of Musan, Park Jung-Bum, Korea
Bleak Night, Yoon Sung-Hyun, Korea

Flash Forward Award: Pure, Lisa Lngseth, Sweden
Special Mention: Erratum, Marek Lechki, Poland


FIPRESCI Award: The Journals of Musan, Park Jung-Bum, Korea
NETPAC Award: Dooman River, Zhang Lu, Korea
Audience Award: My Spectacular Theatre, Lu Yang, China

To check awards for documentaries and shorts go here and to browse films go here.

Playing with country submissions to the Foreign Language Film

Finally today the Academy released the official list with 65 films that can be considered as ONE of the best films produced in each country and since a few days ago I been thinking about using the list as a database to play a little for fun.

Here is me dissecting the long list for useful and useless data.

Women Filmmakers

With the absence of Afghanistan announced submission, there are ONLY eight (8) films directed by women, which means that ONLY 12.3% of honored directors are women. That’s TERRIBLE!!! Not much happened around the world after and because last year a woman won (for the first time ever) the Oscar for Best Director and her film won the top award.

Countries with films directed or co directed by women: Austria, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, India, Nicaragua, Norway, and Switzerland.

Festivals

Doing a very “scientific research” I used the huge blog database and did a search for each of the 65 films. To my surprise almost half, exactly 47.7%,of the movies come from festivals that are listed in this blog. In this year list there are 31 films that have been at festivals since 2007 when the film submitted by Egypt was a project at Locarno, continuing with 7 films that were in 2009 festivals and 23 that were in 2010 festivals. We can say that when films travel the festival circuit they have some good chance of becoming a country submission to the Oscars.

Cannes is the festival that showcases more films that countries select to submit to Oscars; this year there are four (4) that got its premiere at 2009 Cannes and eight (8) screened at 2010 Cannes for a grand total of 12 films coming from this prestigious festival, or 18.4% of the 65 films. These are the countries that submitted films from Cannes

2009 Certain Regard: Greece, Portugal
2009 Quinzaine: Austria, Bulgaria
2010 Cannes
Main Selection: Thailand, Algeria, France, Mexico
Certain Regard: South Africa, Argentina
Quinzaine: Kyrgyzstan, Belgium

But if Cannes has a good presence in this year Foreign Language Film submissions also the Berlin Film Festival or Berlinale has a significant presence with 6 films or 9.2% of 65 films. Just these two festivals represent almost a third of the submitted films or 27.6%

The other 13 films come from other festivals like La Biennale, Locarno, Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Moscow, Montreal, Guadalajara and Pula. I don’t doubt that from the other 34 films that are not listed in this blog, some were also screened in festivals but that’s something we will not know for sure this year as I know that I haven’t covered many festivals during my long hiatus from posting at the blog. The following is the list of festivals and countries that submitted films to be considered at the 83rd Academy Awards.

2010 Berlinale (6): Turkey, Romania, Germany, Colombia, Czech Republic, Iraq
2010 Biennale (3): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile
Locarno (2): 2007 Egypt, 2010 Switzerland
2010 Rotterdam (2): Estonia, Georgia
San Sebastian (2): 2009 Peru, 2010 Uruguay
2010 Moscow International Film Festival (1): Venezuela
2010 Montreal World Film Festival (1): Kazakhstan
2009 Guadalajara (1): Nicaragua
2009 Pula Film Festival (1): Croatia

Unfortunately have to stop here today, but maybe another day will continue dissecting the list to find that -for example- films produced and co produced by France production companies have the largest representation in the list (or maybe is another country like Germany).

If you have something that you wish to find from this list of films please let me know and gladly will try to find whatever is possible to find.

Enjoy!

83rd Academy Awards – Documentary Short Subject Shortlist

Today the Academy announced that from the 30 eligible entries, eight (8) films have been selected to continue in the selection of three to five that will be honored with a nomination. The following are the eight films.

Born Sweet, Cynthia Wade, Cambodia
Killing in the Name, Jed Rothstein, USA
Living for 32, Kevin Breslin, USA and France
One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey, Jennifer Stoddart, UK and USA
Poster Girl, Sara Neeson, USA
Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, USA
Sun Come Up, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger, USA and Papua New Guinea
The Warriors of Qiugang, Ruby Yang, China and USA

Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25 at 5:30am PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

2011 Oscar Foreign Language Film Submissions Final

Today the Academy released the official list with 65 countries submitting a film to be considered in the Foreign Language Film category and to check the list at the Academy official site please go here. This is the last update for this post that now has become Final.

Next post will be on January 20th when the Academy will announce the shortlist with nine (9) films and on January 25th we will learn the five (5) that will be honored with a nomination.

Albania: Lindje, Perëndim, Lindje (East, West, East: The Final Sprint), Gjergj Xhuvani
Algeria: Hors-la-loi (Outside the Law), Rachid Bouchareb
Argentina: Carancho, Pablo Trapero
Austria: La Pivellina, Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel
Azerbaijan: Sahə (The Precinct), Ilgar Safat
Bangladesh: জুলাই ফারুকী-তিশার বিয়ে Third Person Singular Number, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
Belgium: Illègal (Illegal), Olivier Masset-Depasse
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Cirkus Columbia (Circus Columbia), Danis Tanovic
Brazil: Lula, O Filho do Brasil (Lula, the Son of Brazil), Fábio Barreto and Marcelo Santiago
Bulgaria: Източни пиеси Iztochni piesi (Eastern Plays), Kamen Kalev
Canada: Incendies, Denis Villeneuve
Chile: La Vida de los Peces (The Life of Fish), Matías Bize
China: 唐山大地震 Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock), Xiaogang Feng
Colombia: El Vuelco del Cangrejo (Crab Trap), Oscar Ruíz Navia
Costa Rica: Del Amor y Otros Demonios (Of Love and other Demons), Hilda Hidalgo
Croatia: CRNCI (The Blacks), Goran Devic and Zvonimir Jurić
Czech Republic: Kawasakiho růži (Kawasaki's Rose), Jana Hřebejka
Denmark: Hævnen (In a Better World), Susanne Bier
Egypt: رسائل البحر Rassayel El Bahr (Messages from the Sea), Daoud Abdel Sayed
Estonia: Püha Tõnu kiusamine (The Temptation of St. Tony), Veiko Õunpuu
Ethiopia: Atletu (The Athlete), Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew
Finland: Miesten vuoro (Stream of Life), Joonas Berghällin and Mika Hotakaisen (documentary)
France: Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men), Xavier Beauvois
Georgia: ქუჩის დღეები Quchis dgeebi (Street Days), Levan Koguashvili
Germany: Die Fremde, Feo Adalag
Greece: Κυνόδοντας Kynodontas (Dogtooth), Giorgos Lanthimos
Greenland: Nuummioq, Torben Bech and Otto Rosing
Hong Kong: 歲月神偷 Sui yuet san tau (Echoes of the Rainbow), Alex Law
Hungary: Bibliothèque Pascal, Szabolcs Hajdu
Iceland: Mamma Gógó, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
India: पीपली [लाइव] Peepli [Live], (Peepli Live), Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui
Indonesia: Alangkah lucunya (negeri ini) (How Funny This Country Is), Deddy Mizwar
Iran: بدرود بغـــداد Farewell Baghdad by Mehdi Naderi (not sure if is Khodahafez Bagdad)
Iraq: ابن بابل Son of Babylon, Mohamed Al-Daradji
Israel: שליחותו של הממונה על משאבי אנוש‎ Shlichuto Shel HaMemune Al Mashabei Enosh (The Human Resources Manager), Eran Riklis
Italy: La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing), Paolo Virzì
Japan: 告白 Kokuhaku (Confessions), Tetsuya Nakashima
Kazakhstan: Заблудившийся Zabludivshiysya (Strayed), Akan Satayev
Kyrgyzstan: Svet-Ake (The Light Thief), Aktan Arym Kubat
Latvia: Amaya (Hong Kong Confidential),Maris Martinsons
Macedonia: Мајки (Mothers), Milcho Manchevski
Mexico: Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Netherlands: Tirza, Rudolf van den Berg
Nicaragua: La Yuma, Florence Jaugey
Norway: Engelen (Angel), Margreth Olin
Peru: Contracorriente (Undertow), Javier Fuentes-León (gay interest)
Philippines: Noy, Dondon Santos
Poland: Wszystko, co Kocham (All That I Love), Jacek Borcuch
Portugal: Morrer Como Um Homem (To Die Like a Man), João Pedro Rodrigues (gay interest)
Puerto Rico: Miente (Lie), Rafi Mercado
Romania: Eu Cand Vreau sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), Florin Serban
Russia: Край Kray (The Edge), Aleksey Uchitel
Serbia:  Беса (Besa), Srđana Karanovića
Slovakia: Hranica (The Border), Jaroslav Vojtek (documentary)
Slovenia: 9:06, Igor Sterk
South Africa: Life, Above All, Olivier Schmitz
South Korea: 맨발의 꿈 Maen-bal-eui Ggoom (A Barefoot Dream), Kim Tae-gyun (Revised Romanization: Maenbalui Kkgeum)
Spain: También la Lluvia (Even the Rain), Icíar Bollaín
Sweden: I rymden finns inga känslor (Simple Simon), Andreas Öhman
Switzerland: La Petite Chambre, Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond
Taiwan: 艋舺 Báng-kah (Monga), Doze Niu
Thailand: ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Turkey: Bal (Honey), Semih Kaplanoğlu
Uruguay: La Vida Util (A Useful Life), Federico Veiroj
Venezuela: Hermano, Marcel Rasquin

ALL films have trailers or scenes. Watch trailers @MOC

If you feel like reading the Academy rules for this category go here.

The excellent news is that I have so many good films to watch that I could spend months watching them!!! (lol) Plus I discovered a Very Good video rental store near to where I live now.

Cheers!!!

54th BFI London Film Festival

I was looking forward to be able to go this year to the fest but well, maybe next year; today is the opening of the fest with the Opening Night Gala of Never Let Me Go by Mark Romanek and starring well-known actresses like Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling, and Sally Hawkins which obviously make the film must be seen for me. Film has three screenings and all are fully booked. The other film I’m dying to see has four screenings and yes, all are fully booked so I should be glad for not going afterall. The ‘other’ film is The Kids Are All Right.

I’ve been checking the 200+ films in this fest since they were announced and most are known to the blog as this yearly festival is the unique opportunity that Londoners have to watch the best films from around the world. Nevertheless if you want to check the films in each of the nine (9) sections here are the links to each one.

Galas & Special Screenings
Film on the Square
New British Cinema
French Revolutions
Cinema Europa
World Cinema
Experimenta
Treasures from the Archives
Short Cuts & Animation

The fest in the past gave a limited number of awards but since 2009 a new annual standalone Awards ceremony was launched to reflect the work of imaginative and original filmmakers plus to reward distinctive and intriguing work. This year Awards ceremony will be on October 27.

For the Best Film Award these are the films that will compete for the Star of London trophy.

127 Hours, Danny Boyle
Another Year, Mmike Leigh
Archipelago, Joanna Hogg
Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky
How I Ended This Summer, Alexei Popogrebsky
The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper
Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt
Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek
The Sleeping Beauty, Catherine Breillat
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois

To check films short list for the Sutherland Award go here, shortlist for Best British Newcomer go here and shortlist for Grierson Award go here.

Cheers!

Cosas Insignificantes (Insignificant Things)

Sometimes films that you forgot about it surprise you not only because after a long time you’re able to watch it but also because the film is good. Andrea Martínez debut is a good film for the story, the performances and most of all for the excellent production values that complement a story that would have been very common and make it quite different thanks to very interesting editing that plays crisscrossing with characters stories.

Not everyone will like the editing as probably will surprise –and eventually annoy- many when what you have already seen appears again when following a different character story; but think that if director have not chosen this storytelling technique, story and film would have been common, will look and feel ‘soapy’ and will not be interesting at all. Still what really blew my mind are the occasional extraordinary takes of a Mexico City that never have seen portrayed so beautiful and yet so dramatic. Just to watch the amazing sights of the volcanoes this film is absolutely must be seen.

But film has also very good performances by an ensemble cast of Mexican and Spanish well-known actors with special mention to Barbara Mori that also produced film and maybe because being a producer –plus a good director- gave a performance that shows that she can really act. But is Paulina Gaitan (from extraordinary Sin Nombre; outstanding Capadocia and excellent Las Aparicio)who steals the movie with her character Esmeralda and her story being the central plot where all other stories converge. Acting in this film is more about body language and facial expressions that tell a lot more than what words could ever do.

The movie is a feel-good movie as has a non-conventional positive ending but story deals with sadness, unhappiness, illness, rage, no-future, loneliness, despair, unfaithfulness, etc. and how an unconventional incident (a beautiful snow alike ash rain) detonates characters change of heart for the better. Title comes from Esmeralda’s collection of little and insignificant common things stored in a small box.

I liked the movie more than I could ever imagined but believe that definitively is not a movie for general audiences as storytelling style is not ‘normal’ and there is no ‘explosive’ drama that will move viewers. This is a film that can move viewers because the little insignificant-and-significant things that happen in narrative and visually. Definitively must be seen for those that like arty cinema with a Latin American flavor.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

二十四城记/二十四城記 Er shi si cheng ji (24 City)

Among the so-called Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers Jia Zhang ke absolutely is my favorite director and storyteller of ‘ordinary’ Chinese citizens compelling stories, told in what I can call very-realistic style no matter if story is real-life or fiction, or if film is documentary, fiction or a mix of both genres like what happens in 24 City.

It’s very difficult to remain a spectator while watching Jia’s films as characters, story and storytelling technique drag you inside the film quite fast to hold you inside story/ stories until the very last scene where you will feel completely satisfied after visiting the life of some people that exemplifies how China society has changed in the last 50 -or so- years. Using interviewers that we will never see but will hear we will watch amazing performances by actors and non-actors (who tell their real-life story) in what feels and look like monologues with some moments looking directly to camera while others just representing life moments, but all telling their compelling stories that go from how they became factory 420 workers until how the third generation with a more modern lifestyle (very western alike) will live in multi-story buildings with luxury flats at what now is called 24 City and will be built in what used to be factory 420 land.

If you’re familiar with Jia’s films you will recognize the actors from the non-actors as actors have been in many of his films, plus you also have well known actress Joan Chen; but all have great performances, so good that will make you feel and live whatever they’re sharing with you, the viewer.

Have to admit that is not an easy-to-watch style as maybe for some film will look like a series of interviews with people telling some interesting and other not-so-interesting stories; but if you’re familiar with Jia’s films I’m sure you’ll easily grab that film is a lot more than style. So, if you are not familiar with director’s work I strongly suggest you watch some of his films before watching this one, like for example Still Life, Platform or Unknown Pleasures.

I loved the film as a very human tale of China’s transition from a very controlled society to a ‘less-controlled’ society, a change that is happening so fast that learning about it (in films and/or real-life news) will amaze you. Not long ago I was reading about how in 10 years China built a comprehensive (and very modern) infrastructure and how now their efforts will be addressed to create a very-comprehensive ‘human infrastructure’. I feel Jia’s 24 City documents how China was able to address physic infrastructure while not taking much care about ‘human infrastructure’ and imagine that in 10 or so years maybe Jia could tell how the ‘human infrastructure’ was developed. Be sure that if he does I’ll be looking forward to watch his film as a learning experience but most of all as a visual and narrative very complete cinematic experience.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Brune/Blonde

Was going to leave information only in facebook but this exposition is one that strongly suggests you watch live in Paris –the lucky ones- and/or via the virtual exposition that for the pleasure of many is available in French and English.

Just to tease you all into exploring the amazing virtual exposition here is the first paragraph of the expo foreword.

The cinema is a medium that made women's hair a privileged motif for its aesthetics and its mythology. Heir to painting and literature, it protracted this fascination for women's hair and its associated gestures. From the very beginning, film-makers and their directors of photography realised the full potential of the form and matter of hair which could be exploited in the luminous construction of their shots. They appropriated the pictorial and mythological richness of hair and bestowed it, for the very first time, with the excitement of motion. The great immortalisers of women's hair (Hitchcock, Mizoguchi, Buñuel, Antonioni, Bergman, Godard, Lynch, Fassbinder and others) are intersected by the singular emotion aroused in them by women's hair, which holds a part of the mystery that makes their creativity so remarkable and intimate.

The virtual exposition is for you to discover, but I suggest you don’t miss the following clips: Veronica Lake, Safety Styles (hilarious), Buñuel in Mexico, Chantal Akerman plus Hitchcok; well, ALL are so good and more will be available soon.

Hope you enjoy the online exhibition that is an extension to the temporary exhibition Brune/Blonde, an Arts and Cinema exhibition at the Cinémathèque française from 6 October 2010 to 16 January 2011.

To visit the online exhibition go here.  To check the fifty films that will be presented during the three months go here and to read all about this amazing exposition go here and check the catalogue, the gigantic sculpture and more.

This is the video that promotes the exposition.



Enjoy!!!

Photos from Le Vernissage

23rd European Film Awards – EFA Discovery Award Nominations

The European Academy announced the nominations for this year Discovery-Prix FIPRESCI award and here are the five (5) films by young and upcoming directors of their first full-length feature film.

La Doppia Ora (The Double Hour), Giuseppe Capotondi, Italy
Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), Florin Serban, Romania
Die Fremde (When we Leave), Feo Aladag, Germany
Lebanon, Samuel Maoz, Israel, Germany and France
Nothing Personal, Urszula Antoniak, Netherlands and Ireland

Have seen three films and just from those I could have a very hard time deciding which is the best as the three are very different but all are excellent; still think that Die Fremde has to win the award and hope the majority of the 2,300 members of the European Film Academy vote for Aladag’s film. Winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on December 4th in Tallinn/Estonia.

To check the official announcement go here.

Келін (Kelin)

It took me a while but finally I was able to watch the debut film by Ermek Tursunov who used to be a journalist-screenwriter but after watching this amazing film have to agree that is a master filmmaker in the making as this unique film not only has very innovative storytelling but also looks and feels like a very modern Greek tragedy set in the cold/white Kazakh steppe. What’s really innovative is that film has not even one word and honestly you don’t miss dialogue at all thanks to excellent performances by what I believe are non-actors. Exceptional.

I tend to like films with very little dialogue when images and visual storytelling are compelling; this is the most “almost-perfect” film where filmmakers can learn the amazing powerful value of images and how sometimes words are not only useless but also needless when actors can perform with body language and facial expressions absolutely everything. Please remember that the film is set in the steppes, so actors have clothes up to their noses and still, they had excellent body language communication with each other and with us viewers. Amazing.

Film tells about a woman, Kelin that is ‘sold’ by her father to the richest suitor, who happens not to be the man she’s in-love and loves her back. After a dramatic blood pact with the man she loves, Kelin leaves with her husband to her new home where a mother-in-law and a brother-in-law awaits for them. As she settles in her new home she discovers the pleasure and happiness of married life, but eventually the man she loves comes back and a drama like you have seen many times before with lots of words explodes, but here not even one word is said and you probably will feel everything more than ever before.

Extraordinary cinematography and truly magnificent takes of Gulsharat Zhubyeva who plays Kelin make this movie a visual delight, but is the strong silent drama what really makes this film absolutely out of the ordinary and must be seen for many that appreciate great cinema. It’s a beautiful and powerful movie with a ‘common’ story told silently without a single word.

I strongly suggest that if you haven’t watch it yet, don’t wait any longer and immerse yourself into this unbelievable good cinema wordless experience. The film was Kazakhstan submission to 2010 Oscar and film was one of the nine selected in the short list, which now I believe was an honor highly deserved.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

 
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