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SIFF 2008, Blog#10

Cherry Blossoms - Hanami
Dir. Doris Dorrie
Contemporary World Cinema Program
North American Premiere

This is absolutely my favorite film of the festival. Upon leaving the theater, I kept thinking that it touched me similarly to Ozu's Tokyo Story. After further reflection, this is in many ways a remake of Tokyo Story. It is similar in so many ways, but this is in no way a criticism of Cherry Blossoms. It is just as powerful as Ozu's film about the interconnectedness of family. And just like Ozu's film, also made me want to pick of the phone and call my mother.

In Cherry Blossoms, after Trudi receives the news that her husband may not have long to live, she drags him off to visit their children. Rudi would rather stick to his normal routine, but he humors his wife as they stay with their children and do some sightseeing. Eventually, this journey of understanding brings Rudi to stay with his son, who has fled to Tokyo. There Rudi meets a young, homeless Butoh dancer and through this meeting comes to truly know his wife.

This is a beautiful film. I found myself moved so personally by the way the adult children interact with their parents, their life decisions, and also by the couple's lack of understanding of each other despite having spent decades in a happy marriage. So much is taken for granted, that we forget to really look at the other person. This isn't really sad in itself, but just something that happens and like Tokyo Story, this film about a German family strikes very similar emotional chords. And the ending was so sad and beautiful that I left the theater in tears, along with most of my fellow SIFF attendees.

And I definitely wasn't alone in loving this movie. It won the Golden Space Needle for being highest rated this year at SIFF. And it was well deserved.

The Wackness
Dir. Jonathan Levine
Contemporary World Cinema Program

Ever have the experience where you know the movie you are watching is good, but you just cannot find it in you to enjoy it? That was The Wackness for me. The performances were fine, but I couldn't relate to the characters at all. I found no connection and it wasn't shocking enough, funny enough, or even Wacky enough to carry me though. So I'm sure plenty of people enjoyed it. I heard them around me laughing and having a good time, but this did nothing for me.

Gah, I cannot even bring myself to care enough to give you a synopsis. If you want to know more, check out the trailer...


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