Sunday, May 27, 2007

SIFF 2007, day 1

The Aerial- Argentina, SciFi

I have a history of seeing memorable silent films at the northwest film forum, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the first movie attended at SIFF 2007 would be a silent film at the northwest film forum. As with all of the other silent films, I was charmed. There is something inherently appealing in silent films that modern movies don't contain. There is a special aesthetic appeal of old black+white film and a simplicity to the story telling necessitated by the pause in action cut with the titles. Guy Maddin is known for making very quirky, modern silent films and The Aerial is another, modern silent film, although there is sound in the film, it is the story that keeps the characters silent.

The setting is a place where Mr. TV is in control and the people have lost their voices. There is one woman, The Voice, who has a voice, but otherwise, all inhabitants of the city communicate through reading lips and the view is given subtitles for all of the dialog which is beautifully framed with actions and mise un scene punctuating the words. Mr. TV is no longer happy with just keeping the city silent for his own gain, but now threatens to take even more from them. Just as suggested in the character names, The Aerial is a satire very relevant for today with themes of fascism and using very familiar symbols borrowed from Nazi Germany.

The Eyes of Edward James, Canada, horror, short

This 15 minute short film played before Them as part of the Midnight Adrenalin series. This is a pretty cool short film where the film captures what Edward James would have seen on the night of his wife's murder during a regression therapy session. The therapist controls where Edward is the in story, so it is revealed early on that a murder is at the end of the story, but the details are only slowly revealed as Edward describes coming home from work, having dinner with his wife and then, moving through the house in search of the source of a strange noise. The result is a rather tense 15 minutes as the details accumulate and I became less convinced that I knew what exactly Edward experienced in the attic or even what the purpose of the therapy session was. Did these events that Edward is describing happen or is it a recurring nightmare? This was a tense and intriguing short that I wouldn't mind seeing again. Maybe it will turn up on-line someday.

Them- France, horror

Clementine and Lucas are French expatriates living in Bucharest, Romania. One night they wake to mysterious noises. They receive some strange phone calls and their car is stolen. Then they believe someone is in the house and they attempt to barricade themselves into the bedroom. Them progresses into a chilling cat and mouse game miles away from help.

At the end, Them claims to be inspired by actual events. I have not been able to find much evidence other than what is at the movie's official web site, but the events that transpose are at least plausible. And a bit unnerving. This was a very jumpy and scary movie that I enjoyed. Them has planned distribution in Europe, but no news of a US release, but if you enjoy a good suspenseful horror flick without the graphic violence or even much in the way of blood, this is a good one. And due to the genre, there is little dialog, so very few subtitles to remember to pay attention to.

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