Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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, 5x2, I could not get into at all because I couldn't identify or find any empathy for any of the people in the film. I just couldn't believe that there was any love in the relationship so I could not feel the tragedy as the relationship was eroded away through years of harsh words and unkind deeds. Time to Leave despite having a sometimes unlikable protagonist, his actions never seem completely unjustified. We don't know whether he has people's best interests at heart, but I always suspected that he did. In fact, sometimes I wondered if I would make similar decisions in my last days on earth in order to protect others from the grief of watching someone die, but also to protect myself from seeing myself reflected.

Time to Leave is a careful meditation on death and it is beautifully made. Not everyone will likely empathize with Romain, but many will and I was greatly moved by this film.

5 of 5


Pierrepoint
AKA, The Last Hangman

Pierrepoint was a reminder of exactly why I tend to avoid biopics. Even when they sound as if the subject matter is very compelling, somehow filmmakers manage to create safe politically correct and often very long films that seem to exist only to show off the acting skills of one or two cast members and to induce sleep in anyone who attempts to watch the film. This was absolutely what was delivered with Pierrepoint

And I'm still stunned. How could a film about the career of Albert Pierrepoint (played by Timothy Spall) be do mind-numbingly boring? He was among Britain's Chief Executioners, doing the hangings that followed the Nuremberg Trials and having a career that resulted in over 600 executions. Just the idea that someone delivered so much death in the service of the government provides fascinating fodder for exploring issues of life and death, justice, and morality. But unfortunately, the film didn't explore anything. Just skimming the beginning of with wikipedia entry for Albert Pierrepoint is much more engaging experience than this film, which I was tempted to walk out on at the 10 minute mark. Just for the record, I never walk out of movies, even when I find them reprehensible or just plain unwatchable, but if I wouldn't have needed to disrupt the film for a number of others, I would have left during this screening. It was that bad.

1 of 5

Backstage

Lucie (Isild Le Besco) is in love with Lauren (Emmanuelle Seigner)in that all encompassing love for a singer that only a young fan can. The kind of complete love and devotion that occurs when there is a belief that the songs could only be written for you and the star is a perfect, pure human being completely deserving of love and admiration.

Backstage could have been about Lucie's loss of innocence with an eye opening experience of who Lauren really is as a person, but instead the film seems to be a little more interested in letting Lucie's fandom be rewarded, allowing her into Lauren's inner circle and her obsessive devotion to Lauren continues throughout the film. Backstage is an interesting character study of fandom, and while I didn't completely connect with this film, I did enjoy it. But then, I cannot help but enjoy any film that stars Emmanuelle Seigner as she is fascinating. She has a peculiar kind of beauty with a sinister quality that is always there, even when she is being a popstar.

3 of 5

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