Saturday, August 11, 2007

MIFF Day 18

The second last day of MIFF 2007, and only one film attended today, but it was a corker. If I attend the four films I've booked for tomorrow, it'll be the first time I've done four in a day. I don't really care to cram films into one day; it's just turned out that way. Two of the films are films that debuted at Cannes: Bela Tarr's The Man From London and Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely. The others are the official closing night film, Shane Meadows' This is England and the nod of respect to the recently departed Ingmar Bergman, The Silence. If I make it to all four screenings, it'll be a late night tomorrow, and with work the next morning, I'm not sure how quickly I will get my report posted.

Snow Angels (David Gordon Green, Canada, 2007)
It feels like it's been a while since a film brought me to tears, and while I wasn't expecting this excellent drama to sneak up on me like it did, it did, and I cried. At first Snow Angels gives the impression it is going to be another slightly left-of-centre American indie film (though it's Canadian), the type that gets touted as a Sundance film. It's not quite quirky, and certainly no Little Miss Sunshine, but a little idiosyncratic. It reminds me ever so slightly of Offset, a film that screened at the German Film Festival in Melbourne this year. Both films give the appearance of going down a well-worn track, yet skillfully avoid clichés and stereotypes, delivering emotional truths and naturalistic scenarios against expectation.

The film focuses on a number of inter-twined relationships within a small town. Glenn (Sam Rockwell, in perhaps the performance of his career thus far) and Annie (Kate Beckinsale, also excellent) are the main characters - their separation has caused much grief. Annie is finding love elsewhere, while Glenn can't let go. There is also a young child in the middle. Other characters have drama of their own. Arthur (Michael Angarano) is experiencing first love with Lila (Olivia Thirlby). The nuanced character development is excellent. There is no good guy/bad guy thing happening - these are real people who are capable of both good and bad (to put it simply).

The story is very accessible and many people will relate to the unfolding drama. What I didn't expect was for some of the realistic interactions and the tragic outcomes. What seems to start as a light and pleasing film packs a powerful punch that left me affected for some time after. For me, the film recalls others such as Paul Schraeder's Affliction and James Marsh's The King. Snow Angels is more accessible than both those films.

I've not seen any previous films by David Gordon Green, though I did note that he was credited as a producer of Shotgun Stories, one of my favourite films at MIFF this year. This film is a real gem and deserves a theatrical release. Hopefully Hopscotch, Madman or one of the other local distributors will pick it up. It should do well at the Palace, Nova or Kino cinemas.

This was the second and final screening of Snow Angels as part of MIFF's International Panorama.

Links: Index of MIFF films reviewed to date / MIFF website


Marc said...

Well now I'm annoyed. I considered seeing this, but had seen DGG's Undertow at MIFF '05 and thought it was a bit of a mess. So i chose to see Beaufort instead, which I wasn't too impressed with to be honest.

Hopefully this does pick up a local release. I suspect having Sam Rockwell & Kate Beckinsale will help.

Matthew said...

I completely understand your decision not to attend, Paul (I;m not seeing anything tomorrow, and I had a whopping five films booked), but it was a shame not to see you at The Pornographers, which was excellent (if not at the same level as Intentions or Narayama). The highlight of the day for me, however (and the last film I'm seeing this year), was the screening of Phantom of the Opera with live accompaniment. Not a remarkable film exactly, but with the organ, well, a remarkable experience.

I also ran into Shaun Micallef in the bathroom of the Regent, which was funny.

Paul Martin said...

Marc, I wouldn't kick yourself too much. It's only my opinion. You might not have liked it as much as myself. Mind you, I liked Beaufort a lot.

Matt, I've been seeing only one film a day for most of this week, with two films on only two days. So, I'm ready to squeeze some action in on the last day. I am disappointed that I didn't see The Pornographers. It would have completed the retrospective and I've heard good things about it. C'est la vie.

Can you repeat the bathroom incident? Or email? While I've never spoken to Shaun Micallef, I've run into him many times. He MCd at my son's school fete this year, and our sons are in the same class. I used to see him regularly walking the pusher when I was doing the same and our kids were infants.

marty said...

Paul, you have to see David Gordon Green's George Washington. One of my fave films I had ever seen at MIFF. Truly wonderful.

Paul Martin said...

Ah, yet another title to add to my mental list of films to see. I just got back from seeing four films at MIFF, the first time I've seen four in a day, and probably the best day I've had at MIFF. Write-ups of Mister Lonely, The Man From London, This Is England and The Silence to follow. In brief, Mister Lonely will probably make it into my top 10 for 2007 - much better than expected.

Lola said...

I really liked "Undertow" screened at MIFF 2005, so I was really looking forward to Show Angels, but I obviously enjoyed it much less than you did. I still think he's definetely a great emerging director to keep an eye out for, he was extremely charming when he was presenting Undertow in person as well, really funny and earnest. He has a great flair for style and control in directing, I just didn't really connect with the stories and I found the "Born again" craziness of Rockwell's character a bit off-putting.

Paul Martin said...

I found the off-putting nature of Rockwell's character quite appealling, if that makes sense. I thought there was real authenticity to it. Religious fundamentalism is something I abhor, and it seemed to me that Green was making some kind of criticism of it. It's not a dissimilar theme that reared its ugly head in James Marsh's The King.