Friday, May 29, 2009

SIFF 2009, Day 2

I Know You Know (2008) dir. Justin Kerrigan

To Jamie (Arron Fuller), Charlie (Robert Carlyle) is a hero.  He dresses suave, he appears to know everyone, but Jamie knows his father is in trouble.  Charlie confides in Jamie that they are in danger, if they are found, but that Mr. Fisher will protect them.  Through the eyes of the child, the obvious explanation is that Charlie is a spy and Charlie convincingly plays this role.  So convincingly, that he begins to believe it himself.

I Know You Know is an intriguing film.  It was suspenseful and consistently engaging.  Both Fuller and Carlyle were quite good, especially Carlyle who needed to move from creating a fantasy life in order to protect his son from knowing the truth then the development of mental illness, when his lies become his reality.  I Know You Know was a good flick that ended with an emotional punch to the gut that I really was not expecting.   

Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008) dir. Charles Officer

The title is a nice synopsis of this quietly, moving Canadian film about a Jamaican family in Canada.  This was a lovely film, but very difficult to write about.  It follows the lives of an immigrant family of two, a night nurse and her son as she struggles with sickle-cell anemia.  Their lives become entwined with a boxer, Silence, who is boxer finding himself suddenly in charge of a boxing gym after the sudden death of the owner.  The film has little dialog and thus, we learn about these characters from their habits, the music they listen to, and the choices they make.  Probably due to this, Nurse.Fighter.Boy has an intimacy with these characters that is a bit of a rarity.  This was a lovely film, with an excellent soundtrack that can be downloaded at the Nurse.Fighter.Boy official website.

Still Walking (2008) dir. Hirokazu Koreeda

Hong Kong action-cinema may be the genre that resulted in my falling in love with Asian cinema, but it is the subtle Japanese drama that resulted in my complete adoration of Japanese cinema.  Still Walking, or 歩いても、歩いても, is easily compared to Ozu's family dramas, with similar focus on family dynamics and slow pacing.  In the film, Yokoyama Ryota returns to his childhood home during an annual family reunion to commemorate the death of his brother, who drown 15 years before.  He brings his wife and her 10 year-old son home to meet the family.  His sister is already there, loudly entertaining her rambunctious clan as their mother tries to work in the kitchen.  All the while, the family patriarch hides away in the examination room, left from the days when he practiced medicine.

Still Walking results in a contemplation on all of the the promises that are never kept.  Unlike, Tokyo Story, the emphesis is placed on the surviving children.  On the disapointing choices that they've made in life, on their failures, and the things they try to keep from their disapproving parents.  Ryota is unemployed, but keeps quiet on this matter.  But he also makes promises to his parents that are never kept.  But in the end, life goes on and much remains the same and I suspect Ryota has more in common with his parents then he knows.

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