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SIFF 2006, part 10

Ah, it was another good year at the festival. And I'm already down to my last films for this year. It is rather sad it is over so soon.

Time to Leave

In general, I adore Francois Ozon's films. Ever since Swimming Pool and 8 Femmes, I have gone out to my way to not miss his films. So I was excited to get the chance to see another of his films at this year's SIFF.

Time To Leave on the surface seems like it might be a difficult film to like. It follows Romain's (Melvil Poupaud) path to exceptance of his own mortality after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the film begins with his diagnosis, we don't really have any idea about his life before, other than he was an ambitious and very successful fashion photographer. But after, he is cruel to his lover, lashes out at his sister, and in general withdraws from everyone in his life, generally through being angry and mean. He seems to insure that he will spend his last days alone.

Ozon's last release, 5…

SIFF 2006, part 9

SIFF Screenings: June 16

Starfish Hotel

Arisu (Koichi Sato) spends his days as just another white collar office worker and his evenings are marked by a distant wife (Tae Kimura) and thus he reads the mystery novels of Jo Kuroda. After his wife disappears, Arisu finds himself at the center of a real mystery, one where a brothel is burnt down, his wife may lead a second life and he may have set it all into motion with an affair two years ago with the mysterious Kayoko (Kiki) at the Starfish Hotel.

This is an absolutely fascinating film. It appears to be a modern film noir, but has some uncharacteristic plot developments at its core. Just don't make the mistake I did and keep equating Mr Trickster to Frank despite the uncanny similarities. Actually, Starfish Hotel does have a bit in common with Donnie Darko, except it is less about figuring out a puzzle and actually has more in common with Eyes Wide Shut. Arisu has begun on a marvelous journey. I'm not certain what is real …

SIFF 2006, part 8

SIFF screening: Tuesday June 13

Eve and the Fire Horse

This was another SIFF film that attracted my attention for being sounding really lovely and has Vivian Wu. I love Vivian Wu, but hadn't seen her in a while. I had initially passed, but when I had a find 6 more films to see thanks to the acquisition of passes that needed to be used, I added this film.

What I have learned is not just to pay attention to whether a film has won awards at other festivals, but to pay attention to which awards. If they are honors like "Most Popular Canadian Film" or People's Choice awards, run far, far away. I should have learned this last year after suffering through Cape of Good Hope, but I did it again this year. "Hey look, this film was really popular at Sundance, we should see it!" Ugh. What I have learned is that the people suck.

This film was horrible. It is about a Chinese immigrant family with two young girls, Eve and Karena. Eve is struggling with religion. Sp…

SIFF 2006, part 6

Screenings: June 10

Three Times

I had planned to not see as many films this year because there are significantly fewer films this year playing at SIFF, that will open wide in just a few weeks, I still owe the government some money, and as of early August, work on my half-sleeve will start and the first session will be a long and therefore costly one, so I really need to focus on saving right now.

Well, plans changed when was given a whole bunch of passes by Scarecrow Video. So we got to add some more movies to our festival, without paying for a ton more tickets. So I added a few titles that I would have skipped, since Three Times is already playing in a few theaters around the US. The film caught my attention because Hou Hsiao-hsien is a respected director from Taiwan and I have not yet seen any of his films.

Three Times is composed of three short films focusing on a relationship between two characters portrayed by Shu Qi and Chang Chen. The three films are stylistically very dif…

SIFF 2006, part 7

Screenings: June 11 - Film Noir Archival Presentations

The Man Who Cheated Himself

The Window

It is very lucky that won those passes, because otherwise, I probably wouldn't have decided to pick up tickets to any archival screenings. I have a tendency to assume that anything that has been made is around somewhere and thus, I could just rent these old films. Plus, I hadn't heard of these films, didn't know the stars, etc.

But this was a really great afternoon at SIFF. While the films were not the greatest that I've seen at the festival, the experience was great for seeing two little known noir films in a whole theater of movie fans. But the highlight was definitely Eddie Muller. He was very funny, informative and gave great introductions to each of the films. Most importantly, he talked about the film noir foundation and their efforts to attention to old films. Knowing that hundreds of films are made and that numerous studio projects get shelved and sometimes a…

SIFF diary 2006, part 5

Screenings: June 9

Linda Linda Linda

Linda Linda Linda is a song by the Blue Hearts, a band that that is an inspiration to girls in Linda Linda Linda. The girls are in an art school and have been in and out of numerous bands. They form a band with a new singer, Son (Du-na Bae of Take Care of My Cat, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance), who is a Korean exchange student and is in the process of learning Japanese.

This is a delightful movie. The plot is simple, a group of girls work on a song for a school performance, but the movie doesn't simply rehash other teen-centric film. Instead of falling into cliches about teen girls, or trying to be a cute fantasy about girls in rock, a la Josie and the Pussycats, it feels more realistic about high school relationships. The girls have crushes, most of which don't develop into anything and are only expressed in occasional brief awkward meetings that feel excruciatingly long, just that way I remember. They have falling outs. They make new fr…

SIFF diary 2006, part 4

13 (Tzameti)

It is a shame that one doesn't usually step into a theater with absolutely no idea about the movie that is about to start. Sometimes, I suspect I do myself a disservice with all of the research, reading reviews, watching trailers. I never go into a film without expectations. And I'm very pleased that I didn't know anything about 13, beyond it being a thriller from France that a few people at IMDB seemed to like.

At the beginning, nothing is revealed except that S├ębastien is a young immigrant working on the roof of a man with a morphine addiction and some mysterious connections with some kind of underground activity. After eavesdropping on a conversation, S├ębastien ends up in the possession of a ticket that could make him a large sum. How, he hasn't a clue, but he follows the directions landing himself in a "game" where he could stand to earn some money, but also is in no position to back out, once he has arrived at this destination.

I'm b…

SIFF diary, part 3

I am horribly slow at keeping my blog at all updated, but I've been just a bit swamped. I keep getting "this close" to landing a better job, meaning lots of interviews and correspondence that doesn't end up panning out. did manage to find a better job though and started it this week. And the film festival does suck up my life just a little. Especially, when I only seem to have tickets to late showings, which is messing up my sleep patterns too.

Frostbite

This year I am taking in a couple of the midnight adrenalin series films. I don’t think of myself as someone who is into gory horror films, but it didn’t take too much arm twisting to convince me to pick up tickets to Frostbite, the Swedish vampire movie.

But now I’m at a loss for what to say about this film. Was it good? Hmmm, I don’t think good really applies, but it wasn’t bad. I was amused and the special effects were much better than I expected. As for whether I would recommend it, I think it depend…

SIFF diary 2006, part 2

Dear Pyongyang

Documentaries are often low on our priorities and tend
to only catch our attention in the case of the film being particularly
innovative, on a favorite subject matter, or the film has attracted a
lot of critical acclaim. But recently, I have been watching a lot of Japanese film and attempting to learn about the culture so it seemed logical to take in some Japanese films at SIFF, including this Japanese documentary about Koreans living in Japan.

Dear Pyongyang did take a little to get into. Too much of the beginning
required reading a tremendous amount of text about the history of Korea, the
differences between North and South Korea, and Japan's place in this
history. This background was much needed for those of us with little more
than a sketchy understanding of the history of Korea.

Dear Pyongyang follows and attempts to make sense of the lives and views
held by the filmmaker's father, specifically his undying loyalty to North
Korea. This is contrasted sharply by their…