Saturday, August 08, 2009

MIFF 2009 Day 16 - 8/8/09

  • La nana (The Maid, Sebastián Silva, Chile, 2008)
  • Zift (Javor Gadev, Bulgaria, 2008)
  • Das Flüstern der Bäume (The Whispering of the Trees, Tom Lemke, Chile/Germany, 2007) + Salt (Michael Angus/Murray Fredericks, Australia, 2009)
The Maid
Psychopaths are everywhere, even in our own homes. That's the message of this film about Raquel, a jaded and bitter maid to a middle-class Chilean family who's been around a little too long. Twenty years in fact, since a year before the oldest daughter was born. When the parents decide to get another maid in to assist Raquel, she sabotages all their endeavours but the mother is too attached to let Raquel go.

I found the film a little frustrating, because I hate this kind of character (I've seen my share of corportate psychopaths) and wanted to see successive maids overcome the obstacles put in their way. I also hated how the maid mostly gets her way each step of the way, but none of this is a reflection of the film. It's an OK story, nothing special and the film was enjoyable enough without showing any great insights.

Film noir, Bulgarian-style. Aside from some sub-titles that disappeared into the print, this is a tremendously enjoyable and satisfying film that uses every noir cliche, but uses it with style, tongue-in-cheek and with a strong, dark Balkan flavour.

I was keen to see this short (28') on recommendation and also after winning a festival award (don't ask me which one). The visuals of Lake Eyre, including time-lapse photography are absolutely inspirational and I'd love to be able to recreate what Murray Fredericks has. I also loved the personal nature of his story, the video-journal nature of his record and his frankness. A beautiful story and film that I highly recommend. This screened prior to The Whispering of the Trees. Check out the official website for some amazing examples of the time-lapse photography.

The Whispering of the Trees
I knew nothing about this film and went sight unseen on the strength of its accompanying Salt. I had planned to attend the Closing Night film, Bran Nue Dae, but figured I'll see it when it gets its inevitable (but yet unscheduled) release. With a fascination for indigenous cultures, I found it a very endearing documentary, about a slowly disappearing culture in southern Chile and Argentina. This remote community survives entirely by their harvesting of pine nuts, a dangerous job that has sustained them for generations.


Glenn Dunks said...

I found "The Maid" to be such an unpleasant move to sit through. Like, something was just making me feel sad. Strange feeling to have in a movie that appears to be gunning for the comedy side of things.

Paul Martin said...

Glenn, I didn't find it comedic at all. Sure, there were funny moments, but it didn't feel funny. I found the protagonist quite depressing and it was disappointing that she kept getting her way. I think the last maid was a device to show us that there were redeemable features in Raquel, but by this stage she's lost on me and nothing she does could endear her to me.

Glenn said...

Oh I definitely think it was going for comedy, at least in the early stretches with the other maids.