MIFF ’08 reflection (part 3)

I’m afraid I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Anyways, here continues my summary of my MIFF experience…

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (dir. George A Romero)

Trailer here.

This played as part of the George Romero retrospective and Romero himself was in attendance. I loved that he is still bemused by the critical attention given to this film. Despite what he thinks, it is pretty great if only for the scene in which the main protagonist bitchslaps the annoying chick who does nothing but scream and cower. So very satisfying.

THE WACKNESS (dir. Jonathan Levine)

Trailer here.

This movie just touched so many of my cinematic pleasure points. It’s a coming of age tale set in the summer of 1994 in New York City. Luke is a loner with a penchant for hip hop who deals to his therapist and falls in love with his daughter. This is pop cinema at its finest. I can’t believe we’re already into 90’s nostalgia. Now I feel old.

TRIANGLE (dir. Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam & Johnnie To)

Trailer here.

The concept for this film is potentially really interesting. Take 3 great distinctive directors and have them make a single narrative film giving each act a distinctive flavour. Unfortunately the writing on this film just isn’t up to par and takes advantage of none of the directors’ unique capabilities. It’s entertaining enough but it’s a missed opportunity.

LOU REED’S BERLIN (dir. Julian Schnabel)

Trailer here.

If you’re a Lou Reed fan, this is a great concert film. It’s pretty much just the live version of the concept album Berlin with some arty footage inserted in. The concert footage was shot by Ellen Kuras who is best known to me as the cinematographer of choice for Michel Gondry on ETERNAL SUNSHINE and DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY. There’s a wonderful guest appearance by Antony from Antony and the Johnsons which is very special.

THE SILENCE BEFORE BACH (dir. Pere Portabella)

Trailer here.

A peculiar mix of historical re-enactment of Bach’s life and surreal imagery of Bach’s music being performed in contemporary environments, the best of which is an army of cellos playing in unison on an underground train. Still, for the most part this movie is fairly dull.

SLINGSHOT (dir. Brillante Mendoza)

Trailer here.

This is a really remarkable film which I fear won’t get as much exposure as it should because it looks like it was shot on digital. The film is a series of interconnected vignettes depicting life in the slums of Quiapo a district of Manila, Philippines while an election campaign runs in the background. It’s gritty, fast paced and switches tone effectively between grim and humourous. There are a few bravura tracking shots which bring to mind the great work Alfonso Cuaron managed in CHILDREN OF MEN and Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. It also manages to poignantly contrast the hypocrisy of the politicians and Catholic rituals with the realities of street life where crime is the real constant.

ASTERIX AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES (dir. Frédéric Forestier & Thomas Langmann)

Trailer here.

Look, this is not a good film and it’s so far removed from the wittiness of the comic book as to be unrecognisable. It’s only saving grace is how strangely homoerotic the whole affair is – There is plenty of muscular men dressed in only loincloths wrestling each other. Yet, what little goodwill won with displaying halfnaked hunks was lost in the final scene where the directors crammed in all their cameos including Joel Schumacher, Zinedine Zidane and Amelie Mauresmo. A bizarre mess of a movie.

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