I saw one and a half films today: one must-see, and one walk-out. There was an arsehole in the first film, three rows in front of me. He pissed of the woman in front of me with his arrogance when she tried to get past him, and then later holding his mobile phone in his hand with the lights visible. She moved away and after about five or ten minutes, I leaned over and called "excuse me". After repeatedly ignoring me, I called out to please turn off the phone. By this time, an usher thankfully intervened, the phone was put away and the usher remained seated close to the offender. Arsehole offender left soon after, during what is one of the best films of the festival. C'est la vie.
Thu 7 August
Milyang (Secret Sunshine, Lee Chang-dong, Korea, 2007)
La Rabia (Albertina Carri, Argentina, 2008)
I only saw this by changing my program at the last minute (thanks Goran, for the idea). If I'd read the MIFF program more thoroughly, I'd have selected it to start with, as it's by the director of Oasis, one of the very few films I saw at MIFF in 2003 and really enjoyed. As I recollect, that film was bleaker than this one.
The film's title refers to the literal meaning of a town's name that a woman, Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) moves to with her son. It's the hometown of her recently deceased husband. The film starts out as an understated social drama, but turns into something else when another tragedy befalls the woman. The film's focus is then on a crime, but shifts again when Shin-ae discovers religion. This is a very interesting part of the film, as Lee shows great insight and sensitivity in his depictions of how and why someone chooses this path (something I could relate to myself), without placing any personal judgements on religion per se.
Everything changes for Shin-ae when she visits the perpertrator of the crime to forgive him. What then transpires exemplifies the unpredictable nature of the film's narrative. Secret Sunshine is one of the better films at MIFF and though I'd only had 4 hours sleep last night, I was thoroughly absorbed by it for its 140+ minutes. There are some genuinely heart-churning moments that had me in tears. Joen's performance is truly remarkable and I only later discovered that she won Best Actress at Cannes this year for the performance. Her renditions of grief are particularly impressive and authentic. I attended the final screening, but I note that the DVD is available (which I have ordered) from Amazon Canada.
I can't honestly review this film, but I can explain why I walked out in disgust after 45 minutes. It's not unwatchable, in fact, I found its visuals looks quite good. But first seeing one gratuitous tits'n'arse scene, then followed up by an even more gratuitous sex scene really grated. When a third, yet more gratuitous soft-porn sex scene started, I decided if I wanted this, I'd rather go home and masturbate. Fact is, I'd rather go home and sleep. Aside from this, the film aims pretty low, with a commercial audience in mind, and I found it an insult to one's intelligence.