Sunday, August 10, 2008

MIFF Day 16

Sat 9 August
Pora umierac (Time to Die, Dorota Kedzierzawska, Poland, 2007)
Hîrtia va fi albastrã (The Paper Will Be Blue, Radu Muntean, Romania, 2007)
Sztuczki (Tricks, Andrzej Jakimowski, Poland, 2007)
De la guerre (On War, Bertrand Bonello, France, 2008)

Time to Die
A nice looking film with it's gorgeous black and white cinematography and photogenic subjects (an elderly woman in her deteriorating home and a border collie dog). Somehow, it all seemed a bit too twee. The director played it safe and pulled all the sentimental strings he could. At this stage of the festival, it didn't grab my interest particularly. It's the kind of film that could do well at the Palace Como cinema.

The Paper Will Be Blue
The Romanian Wave films continue to impress and this one is right up there. It has an aesthetic similar to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days though, rather than a social drama, this is a war/political thriller. It depicts Bucharest at the peak of civil unrest and during the revolution that culminated in the overthrow of the communist dictatorship of Ceaucescu. Some of the politics are a little opaque to non-Romanian audiences, which I didn't mind. What was evident was the confusion, mistrust and general peril in the streets.

The film starts with a tragic outcome that the rest of the film leads up to. We follow a military unit as one member attempts to join the revolution, and as his comrades struggle through the urban chaos to bring him back. The film has the realist/documentary feel of many of the Romanian new wave films. We get glimpses into the everyday lives of the protagonists, betraying the director's humanist approach to the subject. The film is a testament to the events of the era. Highly recommended.

A Polish social drama with a slight hint of understated black comedy. This would be a good film for culturally aware adults to take their children to (but it's not part of MIFF's New Gen stream, so kids weren't allowed). The film looks nice with its depictions of family life in impoverished provincial Poland. I would have enjoyed it more outside of the festival context.

On War
This is a very unusual film, and that's a good thing. It's not a conventional story and it's not conventionally told. A film-maker is unfulfilled and stumbles into a cult that transforms his life. He leaves his life as he knew it and things get both weird and potentially dangerous. The film looks great, is unpredictable but I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have due to fatigue. It was at this point that I decided to make it my last festival film. I was planning to see A Christmas Tale on the final day. Better to get a day's rest before I return to work.

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