Film Fests Archive for May, 2009

SIFF 2009 Dispatch: Ein! Zwei! Die!

I’ve caught a few films at SIFF that are “hold review” films, meaning although they may have played at earlier fests (and been reviewed from those fests) they now have distribution, so we can’t write full reviews on them at SIFF. I can, however, write briefly about them, so here’s a roundup of three of them.
In the Loop, the festival opener, is a sharp, funny political comedy that’s been called something akin to the love child of The West Wing and The Office. As the Brits and the Americans bicker over starting a war or stopping one, the political tug-of-war among the players keeps up a frenetic pace, with rapid-fire dialogue that’s often completely politically incorrect; insults are hurled back and forth like hand grenades so quickly it can be hard to keep up with it all through the laughter of the audience. James Gandolfini is particularly good as a peace-loving general, but all the players in In the Loop, including his, have alliances and hidden agendas, and the film is biting and often very funny (though when you mull over much of the plot after seeing it, and ponder how close to the truth it likely is, it’s actually kind of scary).

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SIFF 2009 Dispatch: The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle and Burma VJ

Catching up, at long last, with some SIFF updating. I had a busy weekend family-wise, so wasn’t able to enjoy the fest much of its opening weekend, but I did make it to the fest opener last Thursday night: the gala screening of In the Loop, followed by the fest’s always-hotly-anticipated opening night bash, which spilled out from the lovely Paramount Theater and out onto the street. Many popular city restaurants provided appetizer-sized portions of yummy fare, and there was live music and lots of excitement in the air. I, being old and a wimp, knocked off rather early, but I heard from friends who stayed late that it was a great time.
Sunday Night my husband and I got out for a late-night screening of The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle at The Egyptian (quick, raise your hand if you live in a major city that doesn’t have a theater called “Egyptian”). Things got off to an interesting start as director and Seattle-native David Russo kicked off his introduction by telling the audience that he’d been upset when he learned his film was screening at The Egyptian because it has such a awful (f-bomb) sound system by way of thanking the sound crew for making it as good as it could be, under the circumstances. In all fairness, he’s right on the sound quality at the Egyptian but, uh … thanks?

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Why Cannes Matters

indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez has an excellent mid-fest diary up titled “Yes, Cannes Matters,” which appears to be his personal response to the more objective piece up the other day on whether Cannes is still important, in which Hernandez polled numerous film biz folks on their thoughts (including MCN’s David Poland) on the lauded fest.
It’s a good read, check it out. All I have to add on it is … amen.

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“When Bay keeps these absurd plot-gears spinning, he’s displaying his skill as a slick, professional entertainer. But then there are the images of motion—I hesitate to say, of things in motion, because it’s not clear how many things there are in the movie, instead of mere digital simulations of things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a car chase through London, seen from the level of tires, that could have gone on for an hour, um, tirelessly. What matters is that the defenestrated Cade saves himself by leaping from drone to drone in midair like a frog skipping among lotus pads; that he and Vivian slide along the colossal, polished expanses of sharply tilting age-old fields of metal like luge Olympians. What matters is that, when this heroic duo find themselves thrust out into the void of inner space from a collapsing planet, it has a terrifyingly vast emptiness that Bay doesn’t dare hold for more than an instant lest he become the nightmare-master. What matters is that the enormous thing hurtling toward Earth is composed in a fanatical detail that would repay slow-motion viewing with near-geological patience. Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his Transformerized universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities.”
~ Michael Bay Gives Richard Brody A Tingle

How do you see film evolving in this age of Netflix?

I thought the swing would be quicker and more violent. There have been two landmark moments in the history of French film. First in 1946, with the creation of the CNC under the aegis of Malraux. He saved French cinema by establishing the advance on receipts and support fund mechanisms. We’re all children of this political invention. Americans think that the State gives money to French films, but they’re wrong. Through this system, films fund themselves!

The other great turning point came by the hand of Jack Lang in the 1980s, after the creation of Canal+. While television was getting ready to become the nemesis of film, he created the decoder, and a specific broadcasting space between film and television, using new investments for film. That once again saved French film.

These political decisions are important. We’re once again facing big change. If our political masters don’t take control of the situation and new stakeholders like Netflix, Google and Amazon, we’re headed for disaster. We need to create obligations for Internet service providers. They can’t always be against film. They used to allow piracy, but now that they’ve become producers themselves, they’re starting to see things in a different light. This is a moment of transition, a strong political act needs to be put forward. And it can’t just be at national level, it has to happen at European level.

Filmmaker Cédric Klapisch