Skip to content

Film Festival Day 7, 30/07/2014

Getting up today, the radio was talking about the increasing Ebola death toll.  When I got out of the shower, the news had moved on to talk about doctors working when they’re sick, so as not to put pressure on their colleagues.

If this is foreshadowing, they’re being pretty heavy-handed about it.

* * *

Oli Missen was a short about a NZ youth ambassador for World Vision. He’s grown through the work, his family is proud, people need our help, wealth is distributed unequally, done.  I’m not sure that I learned anything much.

On the other hand, the film about Human Rights Watch, E-Team, felt much more informative and interesting.  People going into incredibly dangerous areas while the crimes they’re investigating are still going on, gathering documentation and witness statements, trying to be very cautious about how much they claim and what actions they call for — but still prepared to go to Russia to have a press conference about the Syria situation, and point out that Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times (that the rebels used sarin on their own people to gain sympathy) was rubbish, unless he had a way for those rebels to have stolen the shells and launchers used from the army, and then somehow acquire the hundred tonne of gas that was used. (That’s setting aside the number of people who would have to act in concert to make that work, and convincing all those people that killing their own mothers and children on that scale was a better idea than trying to kill the soldiers trying to kill them.)

I mean, I don’t doubt that the KGB could do something like that, which is why Putin keeps saying that people are doing it (like his pointing at the Ukranians when the Russian-backed rebels shooting down the Malaysian Airlines plane).  If you are a crook, you expect other people to believe people are crooks.

The investigators are brave in ways that I am not, and I hope that they continue to do this important work.  I kinda wish, in addition, that the International Criminal Court had investigators; and I hope that organisations like BellingCat can help to keep governments slightly more honest.

The film ended with a plea for one of the cinematographers to be freed from Syria.

* * *

When you make something into a policy, and put a bureaucracy around it, weird things happen. Mothers is about the way villages are required to find a quota of women to sterilize, a quota set by the local town.  If the village falls below quota, there’s a fine; if a woman with a child doesn’t agree to the surgery, that family must pay a fine each year they’re of childbearing age.  Perverse incentives, indeed.

We saw a number of the sort of cult-of-personality ceremonies that Chairman Mao apparently still gets — you get the impression that the Communist party is still strong out in the country, though how sincere the devotion is, who knows.  What is sincere, though, is how strongly people want to keep their job, and how willing they are to browbeat people into obeying rules that they don’t necessarily believe in.

The one-child policy dates from the 80’s.  Coupled with urban flight, who knows what will happen to China’s rural population?  Or their aged population, come to that?

* * *

Person in seat K-14 for the 4:15pm showing of Locke – you are an unpleasant man-child.  I do not need your vapid commentary during the movie, and if anyone else hadn’t picked up on the fact that, for example, a wife telling off a husband is annoyed with him, they’re not going to follow the rest of the movie either.  I enjoyed the movie far more once I moved far, far away from you.  I hope someone accidentally cuts your power in the middle of a game that you’re enjoying, or someone puts a poo in your letterbox.  And/or, in fact.

Ironically, Locke is a film all about taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions, even if it’s disastrous for you personally.  It all takes place in a car, with one character on the phone (or occasionally monologuing to the empty seat behind him as if it was his dead father, and isn’t it symbolic that he wasn’t imagined in the passenger seat).  Something has happened, and the Ivan Locke of the title has to try and deal with it, along with everything that was already happening in his life.  He’s passionate about his job, and loves his wife and kids, but he has to do the right thing; ideally, all the right things.

I wish that it hadn’t been spoiled by the guy who thought that his mates definitely needed all his thoughts on the movie right that second.  But even with that, it was a good movie.

* * *

I enjoyed The Green Prince immensely, even though I’m not sure whether I believed it.   The documentary was about the son of a founder of Hamas, how he was persuaded to work for Israel, and his relationship with his handler.

The film itself was very well made, and the footage they used was compelling; but it was extremely unclear how much was real, and how much recreation. And the interviews were well done, well shot and well edited… but it was just the guy and his handler, so smoothly put together that I wondered whether they’d got actors in to replace them.

I liked the film, and I enjoyed the film; but I don’t think I trust the film.

* * *

There are some actors that tell you nothing about the quality of the film that you’re about to watch, but you can depend on to take what they’re doing seriously.  Nicholas Cage is one of those actors — he’ll bring an intense energy to the role, and whether or not that works will depend on the script or the director.

For Joe, it works.  Joe is running a work gang poisoning trees (so that the land owner can cut them down and replace them with pine). He drinks too much, tries to avoid fights because he enjoys them to much, has trouble accepting the law’s authority (though he seems to get on fine with the ones who aren’t telling him what to do), and we see him try to do what he thinks is right most of the time. He meets a boy with a drunk father, and the boy works hard; Joe befriends him, and tries to help him.

(There is a sequence at the beginning that I assumed was a flash-forward, but I now assume I simply didn’t understand.)

I quite liked it.  One of the villains is almost pantomimish, with his scars and posturing, but that works in the context of the film.  I wouldn’t call it the deepest film I’ve seen at the festival, but I enjoyed watching it.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *