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Film Festival Day 5, 30/07/2013

Film #20: The Best Offer

All forgeries contain an element of truth, claims the main character, because the forger cannot resist injecting a little bit of themselves into their work. This is a film about forgeries and deceptions of various kinds, with an excellent cast and beautiful setting distracting from the fact that some of the people in it are doing things that should make you dislike them.

This is the sort of film that has a section of the credits dedicated to thanking those who lent them furniture. Beautifully shot, and full of beautiful things; I noticed that the women’s portraits were credited as coming from, which I’m planning to check out when I have any time to do things other than watch films, write notes and clear my inbox. 🙂

Film #21: Gardening With Soul

An extended look at a ninety year-old gardening nun that I really enjoyed. One of the topics that the film-maker talked about with her, and one that I found really relevant, was the problem of being Catholic when the Church has been responsible for evil – the cover-up of paedophilia, for instance. And the fact that she had struggled with this, and decided to stay, that this wrong-doing did not wipe out the good that the Church does in the world; and that a good rule of thumb in determining good and right is to look at whether a thing is coming from love. I found it helpful, anyway.

I also liked the attitude that Mother Aubert had towards the church hierarchy, her determination to do what was practical, rather than what the bishop thought was appropriate – like ignoring his dictate that her nuns should ride side-saddle in rough country. I am glad that I’ve supported the Home of Compassion in the past, and hope I will again in the future.

Film #22: The East

A straight-up thriller, polished and clicking along nicely – former FBI agent is now working for a security firm, infiltrating groups to protect large firms from things that might hurt their image or bottom line. But is she doing the right thing? And what about the brooding, soulful-eyed leader of the group?

(It made me realise that not everyone has heard the story of the long spoons – not the “if you’d sup with the devil, use a long spoon” saying, but the one that basically goes: the narrator looks into hell, and sees a delicious banquet laid before the damned, but they’re lamenting because they have to eat it with these spoons that are longer than they’re arms, and they can’t get the food to their mouths. No, I don’t know why they don’t hold the spoon further up; maybe the rest of the shaft is all spiky or something. Or maybe there’s duct tape involved. Look, can we save the questions for the end? Anyway, the narrator then looks into heaven, and is confused, because the set-up is the same, but everyone is having a great time, and then the narrator realises that it’s because they’re feeding each other. It’s about community, I guess. Okay, who do you think I am, Aesop?)

Someone I was chatting to afterwards didn’t like what happened in the credit sequence, and felt it undermined the struggle of the main character in the movie. I think I disagree (and because it’s my blog, I get the last word 😉 – I think that it was just meant to be hyper-compressed, with the bare minimum to sketch what happens next.

Anyway, it has all the beats that you’d expect, and moves along at a good pace; I’d happily be engaged by it on the couch for an evening. Of course, then I’d turn off the TV, and pretty much forget about it. But that’s not meant as a criticism; you don’t always want something that makes you think too hard. I liked it.

Film #23: It Boy (and Friday Tigers)

For the short, a solo Mum takes her daughter to day-care and then goes to her neurology lecture. There’s a friend-and-possibly more in the lecture, and the loser ex lurking in the shadows. Stir, and bring to the boil. Well done, and well acted, with some nifty animations; but nothing that made me want to find it on YouTube to show C.

The main feature is a typical nice French comedy, though perhaps gentler than some. A middle-aged woman is being shut out of running the Fashion magazine that she works at because the current editor thinks she is too dull; she finds that her stock rises when people get the mistaken impression that she’s going out with a slightly awkward young architecture student. To give you a feel for him, the first time she rings, he’s in a pub with his friends; but he has a old beat-up “Hello Kitty” scooter (he protests that the pictures he saw when he bought it were black and white). Knowing that he quite fancies her, you can probably guess most of the rest of the story.

I liked that the movie didn’t think that the relationship was mock-worthy, even though some of the characters had problems with it. It was fun, and I enjoyed it.

Film #24: Upstream Colour

I was expecting this to be difficult, since it was made by the same guy that did Primer, and took him ten years to do. I wasn’t disappointed, though I was a little confused at the very end. I wonder whether I would have understood it better if I knew more about Walden? Most of what I know about this classic bit of Romantic literature, I’m sad to say, comes from Wikipedia and reviews of a computer game intended to make it more accessible – Thoreau talking about how he’s getting back to nature, and living with his hands, while his mum and sisters bring him meals and do his laundry, for example. Maybe I’ll have a look after the festival.

I understood most of it, I think, apart from their decision at the end. But one of the problems with difficult films is that you’re not sure whether the fault of not understanding something lies with the film, or you. Has the film-maker given you enough context to make sense of what you’re seeing? Not necessarily to know all the answers, but to at least understand the questions? I think I can come up with an explanation, but… I don’t know.

However, I liked that the characters didn’t explain what was going on, or use exposition to summarise what I’d already seen, and I thought the initial sequence of the woman and the unseen narrator worked really well. I think I might enjoy it more if I saw it again, and watched it as a story, rather than a puzzle.

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