June 9th, 2008

hot buttered popcorn

SIFF Day 16

Saturday was a day of mostly bad movies. I was tired and grumpy all day. But why did the midnight movie have to be so good? I could have gone to bed earlier if it was crap.

The Drummer (Hong Kong/Taiwan) 2007 ***1/2
Yesterday we saw a bad movie starring Tom Hanks' son. Today we saw a pretty good movie starring Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee Chan. The story follows Sid, a gangster's son, who is always looking for trouble. He sleeps with the girlfriend of a rival mob boss and must go into hiding. While on the lam in Taiwan he has a life changing experience when he meets a group of Zen drummers.

Lots of beautiful scenery and some really cool drumming. Then there was a dumb shoot out at the end that kind of ruined the movie for me. I wish there had been more drumming instead, because that was really cool.

Half Life (USA) 2008 *
Stupid movie about a dysfunctional family. The young boy in the film quietly wanders around having animation fantasies. This one came off like a student film- i.e. self consciously arty. The director attended the screening but we didn't stick around for the Q&A because we hated the movie.

Derek (UK) 2008 **
Documentary about British filmmaker, Derek Jarman. The old interviews with Derek Jarman were interesting and the clips from his films were nice. But there wasn't any real insight into his life and work and the voiceover narration from Tilda Swinton was annoying as hell.

When Did You Last See Your Father? (UK) 2007 **1/2
Blake (Colin Firth) has an overbearing father (Jim Broadbent). Blake discovers that his father is dying from a terminal illness. The movie goes back and forth between the present and Blake's memories of his childhood. The directing is intrusive and heavy handed and the story is nothing new. The only good thing about the movie is that Colin Firth takes a bath. I liked that scene.

A Secret (France) 2007 ***
The film is set in the aftermath of the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. A young Jewish boy living in Paris discovers that his family has a big secret. This one was okay. The second film of the day to feature a complicated father/son relationship. My biggest complaint: a shocking under use of Mathieu Amalric.

Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan) 2007 *****
This new film from the controversial and prolific director, Takeshi Miike, is bright and fun. It's a hyperstylized homage to Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns with nods to Quentin Tarentino's Kill Bill. Tarantino even makes a cameo appearance. The story concerns two feuding clans in Nevada in a town that has struck gold. Filmed entirely in English, I'm pretty sure that Miike utilizes every single Old West cliche known to man kind. This one was a lot of fun.

Total Movies seen: 63
Total bags of Popcorn consumed: Popcorn for dinner brings my total up to three! Popcorn for dinner is so much better than eating one of those awful bagel dogs.

*= Unclean, unclean
**= Crap, but doesn't make your eyes bleed
***= Watchable to good
****= Great
*****= Masterpiece/Classic

SIFF Day 17

Secret Festival #3 (Country?) year? **
This week's secret film was originally supposed to play at SIFF as a regular screening but after it was picked up for distribution it was pulled from the fest. Unfortunately, it was not a very good movie. It was in fact quite bad.

The first bad secret festival selection of the year. Ah, good times. If I'd known that it would be crappy I could have gone to Pacific Place to see the last ten minutes of Saturn in Opposition which we unfortunately missed at its first screening due to the fact that the people who run Pac-Place are morons.

Bliss (Turkey) 2007 ****
Thanks steve98052! Because of your recommendation for this film we changed our plans at the last minute in favor of seeing Bliss rather than the Claude Chabrol film playing at Uptown Cinema. This was a lovely movie that would have been a lot harder to see than would an easily accessible French film.

The story concerns a young woman from a small village who is raped. Because she has "sinned" and brought dishonor to the family she must do the right thing by committing suicide. When she fails to kill herself she is sent to Istanbul with a returning soldier who is also son to the village leader. He is instructed to take her away and kill her. Gorgeously shot, good story and the lead actress gave a charming and engaging performance.

Becky Sharp (USA) 1935 *****
Archival presentation of this recently and beautifully restored classic, it was the first feature length film to be made in full (three strip) Technicolor. The story is a very loose (ever so loose) adaptation of the William Thackeray novel Vanity Fair. Vibrant colors and sumptuous costumes fill each frame but the heart of the film is Miriam Hopkins delicious and joyful performance as the conniving yet charming Becky Sharp.

This is one of my all time favorite movies so I've seen it several times. It was wonderful to see it gloriously restored and on the big screen. And on that happy note we went home instead of going to see the Jackie Chan film, The Young Master, as we had originally planned.

Total Movies seen: 66

*= Unclean, unclean
**= Crap, but doesn't make your eyes bleed
***= Watchable to good
****= Great
*****= Masterpiece/Classic