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Film Festival Day 14: Thursday, 09/08/2012

I feel a bit less guilty about missing my last film yesterday, after managing to get between the Embassy and City Gallery in under three minutes. (Admittedly, a taxi may have been involved.)

Film #66: A Monster In Paris

The short, Snap, was a nifty story about a group of fish-men and a frog. And a plesiosaur. It would have worked perfectly well in Animation For Kids.

The main feature was a fun film, though I was a little distracted by the music for the songs, because while it was good, itwasn’t particularly period-appropriate (which won’t really matter for kids). Paris is pretty, as usual, and many of the landmarks were recognizable (though Sacre Coer had significantly smaller number of beggars trying to intimidate money out of tourists with “friendship bracelets” and menacing groups than I remember).

Sorry, not relevant. It was fun, the small child behind me found it tense, and it kept up a good pace. I will recommend this to my little sister, and will probably pick up a copy.

Film #67: Our Newspaper

A Russian man decides to set up a newspaper, Our Newspaper, in competition to the official one, The Leninist, because he’s a reporter, and they’re not reporting. It looks like they publish a lot of what I’d regard as rubbish – horoscopes culled from the internet (selected for brevity and with the depressing bits cut out), for example, or researching a story about a ghost banished into army tunnels with religious icons (which the locals didn’t seem to have heard of), and they’ve given a column to a local traditional healer, who seems to advise garlic in various forms as the cure for most ills. But they also report on roads left unrepaired, water-towers left broken for months, and butter factories killing fish with their waste discharge.

They say that they won’t report on everything – as it says in the summary I’ve linked to, they want to keep their licenses and car, so the traffic police are off limits. And because they’ve been doing it for a few years, the main journalist seems weary of the constant obstacles, and how easily they could be shut down.

I could have easily watched more of this.

Film #68: Liberal Arts

I really liked this movie. The summary labels it “romantic comedy”, and I guess I can see that, if I squint in the right way; but it’s a pretty unconventional one, if it is. Or rather – I guess it’s a romantic comedy in the same way that Stanislaw Lem is science fiction. It’s more about… well, growing old, and growing up. I also like that it has a magical stoner dude, rather than a manic pixie girl.

If I have a bone to pick, it’s the cliché about there being a secret about no-one feeling grown up. If that’s a secret, it’s the worst kept secret in the universe, seeing as it’s the basic plot for about a tenth of everything committed to celluloid.

Oh, and that the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly are even weirder and cooler than described.

Both those points to the side; I will see if I can take C to this one.

Film #69: Shadow Dancer

A tense Northern Ireland spy thriller. I liked it, and it made me think about how I’d feel about someone who saved me by sacrificing someone I loved. Actors were generally excellent, tension was ratcheted up, and there were interesting details about life there at the time that I hadn’t known; but I’m not sure I’ll watch it again.

Film #70: Bert Stern, Original Madman

If Salvador Dali was a good artist and a bad man, Bert Stern seems to have been a good photographer and a weak man; or at least, a man who let his libido lead him to make poor decisions. But was it the same passion that led him to take beautiful pictures? And make no mistake, one thing that I wished in this film was more time to take in some of these pictures.

As an aside, I don’t think that you have to act poorly to make good art; but people will let you get away with more if you do; it’s good that the people in his life are okay with his tendency to stray.

I thought that it was interesting that the film-maker exposed so much of herself in the film, both figuratively and literally. The interviews were interesting, the old footage was neat (and makes me want to track down Jazz On A Summer’s Day); ideally, I’d like to see a whole bunch of the photos, with an idea of the people in them, and when/where/why they were taken. Failing that, this documentary will have to do.

Film #71: Policeman

An Israeli anti-terrorist policeman is going to have a baby daughter soon; his squad-mate, who is almost certain to die of a brain cancer soon, is taking the guilt for an op where two innocent civilians were killed, and a boy badly crippled. There’s a certain amount of girl-ogling from the men, despite them all having partners; there’s a feeling of a bunch of jocks hanging out.

The other thread is one of the other youth clichés – rich kids who’ve discovered leftist views, who hate their own class, and have decided to take radical action on behalf of the unmet common man. There’s a patronizing righteousness, all tied up with hormones and love triangles; the girl writing their speech calls herself a poet, but is simply adapting an existing piece.

I hadn’t really thought about what all the rich Israeli kids would be getting up to; we see a bunch of punk rockers wandering up a street, kicking off wing mirrors and smashing in car windows, not to steal stereos, but to hear things break.

I’d ask where the nerds were; but I guess they’re the AV club, sitting behind the camera.

I liked the main actors, and the film was fairly good; but I wouldn’t be eager to watch it again.

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