Vancouver International Film Festival '04 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
Let's talk about anything media related.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 9th, 2004, 01:54 PM   #1
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Vancouver International Film Festival '04

Vancouverrites, it is now festival time again. The box office is open and the initial schedule has been posted with summaries.

http://viff.org/viff04/c_filmguide/index.html

I've made a preliminary schedule of my VIFF choices here (Excel spreadsheet).

http://www.keithloh.com/webjunk/VIFF_04_KL.xls

As I'm not volunteering this year (too busy, didn't get a call) I can really only afford this much in terms of time and money. I plan to see Primer, Time of the Wolf, Cop Festival: Reloaded, Kontroll, Izo, The Machinist, Good Morning Beijing, Clean, Arahan, and Dias de Santiago.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:20 PM   #2
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Time of the Wolf

I've finished with the festival this year so I'm posting my mini reviews in a digest here:

THE TIME OF THE WOLF - The last movie I scheduled for this year's festival was Le Temps du Loups ("Time of the Wolf"), the stark and disturbing French apocalyptic drama by starring the beautiful Isabelle Huppert.

Huppert plays the mother of a teenage girl and young son who at the beginning of the film arrives with her husband at a cabin, piled with supplies to ride out an unspecified environmental disaster. However, they find that the cabin is already occupied by another desperate family. Within the first few minutes of the film, the husband is dead and Huppert is forced to take her children and flee.

Director Michael Haneke has written a real drama, not an adventure or a fantasy, of what might happen to a middle class family forced to live like refugees in their own country, meeting other real people also struggling to survive in the first few days after striking out into the countryside. With only what supplies and possessions they can carry, the family begs, salvages what they can pushing only a bike for transportation. Although their circumstances are dire, the conflict is almost as extreme internally as it is externally. Huppert's portrait of a city-bred mother is sympathetic even as she makes poor decisions and tries to enforce her leadership over her increasingly rebellious daughter and emotionally wounded son.

The story is eventually taken over by the story of the young daughter who, through her eyes, sees the breakdown in civility and reason among the people they meet and who tries to reach out to a young boy who has become one of the wolves who prey on the others. Although people die and fight in this film, it never contains fake histrionics or fantastic elements. Despite its modern-ish setting it has the faint feel of medievalism. Indeed, in other times (and right now in many places of the world), these events were common place. There are no bikers roaming the countryside or rogue soldiers. The villains in the film are shown to be just as human as any others, just pushed to make the decision to become exploiters or mini-tyrants. One of the end scenes where one character holds the other saying: "everything will be all right", is neither reassuring or entirely cynical. Days after seeing this film I am still thinking about it.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:21 PM   #3
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Arahan: URBAN MARTIAL ARTS ACTION

ARAHAN: URBAN MARTIAL ARTS ACTION - A live action Korean martial arts comic that draws a bit on Shaolin Soccer continuing a tradition of decent wire work, CG magic and comedy to become
the VIFF's real crowd pleaser. In modern day Korea a hapless police trainee has a chance encounter with a high flying female martial artist and decides to join her school for purely selfish reasons: just so he can learn the art of 'Palm Blast' and get revenge on a group of thugs who beat him shamefully at the beginning of the picture. However, her school is decrepit and the instructors are doddering incompetents, or at least they seem to be. In fact they are hiding a 'key' to ultimate ch'i power, a key that a long imprisoned marital arts master who has been freed by a construction crew now seeks. Of course it comes down to the two young students to save the world from the evil master. Arahan rates well in the comedy department and is fair to decent in the fight choreography with a good combination of hand-to-hand, weapons work and wire fighting. The characters are fairly stock, however, and the degree of freshness is well past due. Compared to its progenitors, Shaolin Soccer, Volcano High, and, yes, The Matrix, Arahan doesn't advance anything in the genre.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:25 PM   #4
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Clean

CLEAN - Maggie Cheung shows she's a good actress in three languages, playing a junkie trying to escape the junkie life she lead which claims the life of her punk rocker husband and has estranged them from their son. On the road in Hamilton, Ontario, Cheung has a falling out with her husband, an aging punk rock legend who dies in an overdose. Their son has been living in Vancouver with the grandparents, one of whom is Nick Nolte who for once plays the responsible older man in a movie about substance abuse. When Nolte informs her that they want her to stay away for a few years Cheung resolves to pick up the pieces of her life. Back in Paris, Cheung is still addicted but to methadone. Blamed for the death of her husband, she is forced to look up even older friends, some good, some bad. The rest of the movie is a series of false starts as she slowly learns humility, responsibility and how to get rid of the habit. Those expecting some grimy sombre story about how a junkie grows up will instead get a film that is always hopeful and on an even keel. Cheung never hits the same kind of bottom you may have seen in other junkie movies and her big come down in the film is that she eventually accepts a job that requires her to wear every day clothes, not the hip 'street' gear she does throughout the film. With a more histrionic actress the film might have raised more 'so what' questions than it does but Maggie Cheung is so radiant, no matter what her situation, you can't help but root for her in her journey to meet her son again. In French, English and Cantonese, whatever she is speaking, she projects the aura of a modern day Ingrid Bergman: always noble no matter the character's position. Oliver Assayas, who directed the glitzy fake corporate world of Demonlover, uses his lens this time to give authenticity to a series of urban settings, Hamilton's gushing steel factories, smoky bars in Paris, cluttered kitch apartments. It's the beautiful world of the not-so downtrodden.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:27 PM   #5
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Cop Festival Reloaded / Nobody Home

COP FESTIVAL RELOADED - This is a sequel to last year's screening of a series of shorts where the directors (all shooting on DV) were asked to follow simple rules for their ten minute masterpieces.

This year the rules were 1) It has to involve a Cop 2) It has to be under 10 minutes in length 3) Something stupid has to happen every minute. In that, all of them were entirely successful. The highlights, "Love Juice Detective", about a woman cop who assassinates criminals by masturbating furiously so she can spray an acidic stream of her juice into their faces .. that is, until she meets her match. "Detective Q", a documentary about an officer who mysteriously attracts people to follow behind him wherever he goes. "Ultramasu Cop" about a cop from outer space whose task is to stick his finger up the ass of director Takashi Miike. There were eight of them and all were good for a chuckle.

NOBODY HOME: The Cop Festival was preceded by an effective twenty minute Hitchcockian short again shot on DV about a young woman who comes home and watches tape of who has come to her door while she was out and left 'video messages' to the security camera. The first visitors are funny and strange but then they become increasingly bizarre until ... well there is a twist that I could see coming but is nevertheless creepy.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:31 PM   #6
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Izo

IZO - Another grab bag, hit and miss effort from Takashi Miike. Around twenty minutes too long, Izo is a nearly formless revenge odyssey leaping across time and space. Izo is the spirit or some kind of spiritual manifestation of an executed samurai who for some reason is now charging across dimensions chopping apart everyone. A typical scene has the warrior blast into a scene, being challenged by other soldiers or Yakuza or samurai or schoolgirls or demons or witches and then chopping them into pieces and then running off, more slicked up with gore than when he entered. There is some giddy fun in watching the first few battles but then I never quite figured out just what the purpose was. There is some kind of metaphysical conspiracy going on involving godlike figures (including Takeshi Kitano as the Prime Minister of the group), some kind of infinite struggle that goes on and on and on. Interspersed is a pan-like character who strums a latin guitar and sings a painfully grotted out folk song. I nodded off more than once.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:32 PM   #7
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Kontroll

KONTROLL - Superb, stylish, comic 'thriller' set in the underground lines of Budapest. Although touted as a thriller, it is mostly a comedy about the lives and misadventures of a crew of ticket checkers who work for "Control"; all of them misfits who have ended up stuck in the ill-lit hallways and platforms far from daylight. One of them, Bulcsú, was a successful ... something ... before he became the leader of his own crew and now goes so far as to sleep in the station, never quite able to ride the escalators to the surface. Working its way through their stories is a pedestrian (sorry) whodunnit that goes half-unanswered. People are pushed in front of trains. But the Kontroll-ers never really task themselves with finding the murderer, only Bulcsú stumbles upon the killer through chance. The real pleasure in this film is in the gleefully absurd follies taking place in the really strange environment of the underground. Kontrollers and their victims, the passengers, fight daily battles over unpaid rides. The Kontrollers have their jealousies, petty rivalries and dangerous games. And they find love in odd places. The director Nimrod Atal has plenty of style to waste. Highly recommended.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:33 PM   #8
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Good Morning, Beijing

GOOD MORNING, BEIJING - Very raw and obviously first-time feature by a Beijing filmmaker relating the darkly humorous and bitter story of a salaryman travelling all night trying to make a deal with the hostage takers who have taken his girlfriend for 10,000 Yuan. Two end images are striking from this digital video production: the end shot of an angry woman tearing the black tar paper masking an apartment window from the grey towers of Beijing beyond; the salaryman throwing a cloud of fake money he was going to use to fool the criminals into the air. Somewhere in the amateurish lighting and composition is a better feature waiting to be remade. The director was in attendance and was apologetic about the production values through the Q&A period. Asian films programmer Tony Rayns discussed the standard of censorship in China today and made the interesting comment that the state censor board ignores video productions and so directors like Jianlin Pan could make a deeply cynical movie without much backlast - only there would be no distribution.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:35 PM   #9
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
The Machinist

THE MACHINIST - Brad Anderson's creepy and sometimes funny Hitchockian psychothriller about a machinist who hasn't slept for an entire year who becomes convinced that others are out to get him.

In a 'beyond the call of duty' physical performance by Christian Bale, the machinist is a skeletally thin man who still manages to keep his sense of humour at work, where he is part of an assembly line of metalworkers at "National Machine", and in his private life where he conducts a parallel relationship with a prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the waitress at an airport coffee bar. His life becomes unhinged when he is blamed for an accident in which a fellow worker has his arm ripped off in a lathe (YUCK). His life then becomes a steep spiral downwards as he pursues a strange new worker who no one else is able to see, convinced that everyone is persecuting him.

It's hard to believe but at the end of the movie Bale's character looks even worse, beaten up, bleeding, even thinner. Bale's physical sufferings aside, The Machinist is a movie cooked in cool blue-green gels, giving everything a dark tone of a nightmare. Fair comparisons could be made to Mulholland Dr. Brad Anderson's Session 9 had the same feeling of a waking dream where characters wander in and out of miasma, but The Machinist has more overt Hitchockian influences and setups. The end does not come as a real hammer blow as it might have been intended but on the whole, The Machinist is well done and worth a look for its style and Bale's performance.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:37 PM   #10
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Dias de Santiago

DIAS de SANTIAGO - A bleak, predictable Taxi Driver-like story set in Peru. Santiago, a Peruvian 'Navy Seal', returns from fighting guerillas and the Ecuadorians to face no work opportunities, a crappy family, former colleagues who want to knock over banks. If that wasn't enough, his own inner demons prevent him from connecting with his estranged wife and with the many chicas who nevertheless want to do him if he would only stop snapping and trying to manhandle them. I've told you everything.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2004, 01:39 PM   #11
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Primer

PRIMER - The $7,000 science fiction film that won the Sundance festival. This little film about a group of bright engineers who accidentally create a time machine in a garage is a bit too dense for its 78 minutes. Once the two main characters discover what they have on their hands, there is too quick a ramp up to inevitable questions of abusing their newfound power. What is good about the film is the atmosphere of geer-ism that anyone who has ever hung around smart individuals working in tech companies knows. A bunch of young, smart guys trying to invest something that will make them a lot of money in a consequence-free environment. Only this time they create something that has the potential to change everyone's life. The authenticity is there. The time machines, their equipment, is all stuff you would see in any university lab. However, I never felt close to either of the main characters to root for one over the other.
---

Those are all the movies I saw this year. Last year I saw nearly 40 but this year I was working. Actually, I thought the selection was a bit poor this year. I like more crowd-pleasers like "Arahan" and "Kontroll". This year's VIFF was dominated by documentaries which are not really my interest.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:33 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network