Monday, May 30, 2011

Sarah's Key (2010)

Sarah's Key (2010)
Director:Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Runtime: 111 min

When journalist Julia Jesmond is commissioned to write an article about the notorious 1942 Val dhal Round Up, she stumbles on an appalling family secret. The apartment she and her French husband plan to move into was once occupied by the Jewish Starzynski family who were sent to the camps in the Round Up. As Julia investigates their fate she begins searching for their daughter Sarah and also for her own place in the world.

Soul Boy (2010)

Soul Boy (2010)
Directors:Hawa Essuman, Tom Tykwer
Country:Kenya | Germany
Runtime:61 min

Abila (14) lives in one of the most miserable slums in Africa. His girlfriend Shiku belongs to a different tribe, as the result of which he is not really allowed to fraternize with her. And then one drunken night his father gambles away his own soul. Written by International Film Festival Rotterdam

Nairobi, Kenya. 14 year-old Abila lives with his parents in Kibera, one of the largest slums in East Africa. One morning the teenager discovers his father ill and delirious. Someone has stolen his soul, mumbles the father as he sits huddled in a corner. Abila is shocked and confused but wants to help his father and goes in search of a suitable cure. Supported by his friend Shiku who is the same age as him, he learns that his father has gambled his soul away in the company of a spiritual woman. The teenager doesn't want to believe it and sets about looking for the witch. When he finally discovers her in the darkest corner of the ghetto, she gives him seven challenging tasks to save his father's lost soul. Abila embarks on an adventurous journey which leads him right through the microcosm of his home town. Written by One Fine Day Films

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Route Irish (2010)

Route Irish (2010)
Director:Ken Loach
Country:UK | France
Runtime:109 min

Fergus (Mark Womack) returns to his native Liverpool for the funeral of his childhood friend Frankie (John Bishop), a fellow private security contractor who has been killed on 'Route Irish', the deadly and now infamous stretch of road between Baghdad airport and the Green Zone.
Refusing to accept the official account of his best friend's death, Fergus launches his own in-vestigation, fuelled by the discovery of a cell phone on which Frankie had recorded the shooting of an innocent Iraqi family just days before his own death.
As his investigation ramps up – via frequent skype conversations with former security colleagues in Iraq and his interrogation of security firm officials in the UK – Fergus soon draws the heat of those he is investigating and a once dirty foreign war is transferred to the streets of Liverpool and pursued on home turf. From: artificial-eye.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse(2006)
Director: Mariya Saakyan
Country: Armenia
Runtime: 74

Maria Saakyan's elegiac, semi-autobiographical slice-of-life drama The Lighthouse (2006) unfolds in the very early '90s, against the backdrop of the Caucasus wars that plagued Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. As the scope of this mass-scaled conflict extends itself to one woman's small village, she is forced to drop everything, move to Moscow, and start over from scratch -- thus bidding farewell to her hometown and way of life, perhaps indefinitely.
(Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide)

A bleakly beautiful landscape of barren rocky mountains and grey-green valleys, its location never specified. Houses half-demolished, their electrical supply unpredictable. Low-flying military helicopters; tracer bullets; train stations bulging with would-be travelers hauling half their worldly possessions as they wait for trains bound for somewhere, anywhere; distraught faces, outstretched hands. These compose the embattled world of Maria Saakyan's film The Lighthouse, shown at the 2006 Moscow International Film Festival. The ongoing war is in the Caucasus, the time is the recent past, but Saakyan avoids naming names: this could as easily be Nagorno-Karabakh as Chechnya, as easily Georgia as Armenia, where the film was shot.

Saakyan's heroine, Lena (Anna Kapaleva), takes a train from Moscow to her childhood home in part to retrieve her past, in part to retrieve her remaining relatives, a feisty and rather hostile grandmother (Ol'ga Iakovleva) and a warmly loving grandfather (Sos Sarkisian). She may also have returned to resolve a more personal crisis: a few lines in one scene intimate a possible pregnancy about which she is ambivalent, but she gets no bigger as time passes, so perhaps not. Once off the train, she trudges along rutted roads, pulling her incongruously modern wheeled carry-on bag behind her, till she arrives at her darkened, dust-cloth-covered home, where she plays old records (“Alice in Wonderland”), dons old-fashioned clothing, and remembers the past.

Despite the circumstances her grandparents do not wish to leave, but they strongly urge her to go and she tries to do so, repeatedly and unsuccessfully. Trains may come, but they rarely go, and her big-city assurance as she demands to see the station manager falters, useless in a reality of hordes of desperate passengers and no trains. In these scenes—a mix of documentary and fictional footage of people thronging the ticket window and the platform, watching hopelessly as a freight train passes with no space for human cargo, clutching children and bundles as they squeeze up the narrow steps into a compartment—The Lighthouse joins the long line of Russian films in which the train symbolized the hope for escape for suffering civilians from war's depredations. Here, as in many others, that hope is qualified, uncertain, and as fitful as the electrical power in the homes people are forced to flee.

Saakyan and her scriptwriter, Givi Shavgulidze, are less interested in Lena's particular story than in the plight of the village and its residents, all of them driven more than slightly mad by the two years of war they have endured. In a scene that could come from a Fellini film or from Philippe de Broca's anti-war film King of Hearts ( 1966), one of Lena's friends, Roza (Ruzana Avetisian), trundles her possessions onto a rickety pushcart. Trailed by a lanky “suitor” who sprinkles her with blossoms, she bids farewell to her neighbors and sets out for the station—every week. Another friend, an elderly neighbor played by the venerable Sofiko Chiaureli, breaks all the windows that remain in her apartment to fool would-be robbers into believing it is vacant: if only one window is broken, she wearily explains her north-by-northwest reasoning, they won't be fooled. Lena's closest friends, a couple played by Anastasiia Grebennikova and Mikhail Bagdasarov, try to maintain some level of normalcy if only for the sake of their young child, but the realities of everyday life—no running water, military planes interrupting an outing, periodic bursts of gunfire—mock the very notion.

The cast of The Lighthouse includes newcomers as well as veterans. Kapaleva, born in 1979, whose expressive face flickers with small changes, studied acting at the Stanislavskii Theater school and has already appeared in a number of films, some made for TV, as well as on stage. Sarkisian and Chiaureli have graced stage and screen for decades, winning every laurel available in both Soviet and post-Soviet times. Sarkisian has too little to do in this film; one wants more of him. Chiaureli stunningly depicts her character, her madness shot through with glints of sanity and a steady undercurrent of altogether understandable anguish.

Director Maria Saakyan studied at the State Film Institute (VGIK); her diploma film, a documentary entitled The Farewell (Proshchanie) , won a prize at the 2003 Erevan festival. She and her cinematographer Maksim Drozdov filmed The Lighthouse in short, often nearly wordless scenes and with a nearly stationary camera. Many of these individual scenes are quite beautiful: a swathe of mist over the trees, the flight of birds that is almost an abstract black-and-white painting, long (and lengthy) shots of rocky hills and empty roads. Often brief intervals of black separate these tableaux. The result, a series of carefully framed and often striking static images, bears the imprint of Sergo Paradjanov's style, especially in Sayat Nova (1968) , enhancing the sense of the physical environment as timeless and enduring, notwithstanding the violence perpetrated against it and its inhabitants. Perhaps because of her experience as a documentarist, Saakyan minimizes plot and character, and the absence of a coherent narrative can be confusing and even irritating. We never understand Lena's motives or much about her feelings, or her grandparents', and the lyricism of The Lighthouse's images does not always compensate for the lack of clarity.

The Lighthouse refers specifically to a small clay lighthouse Lena finds in her house, in which she places a lighted candle, and suggests the beacon that guides Lena's journey back to her self. The film may not work equally well on each of its levels, but it is an impressive accomplishment, especially for a director who has not yet turned thirty—and perhaps a beacon for what she can and will do in the future.
(Josephine Woll - Howard University)

Impressive allegory of war – notably in how it affects communities of the elderly, infirm, children and women left bereft by the absence of their menfolk, either through battle, exile or death – set in an undefined region of the Caucasus, but making clear references to the genocidal Armenian experience. Lena (the expressive Kapaleva) journeys by train to her mountain village, in the aftermath of an unspecified war hinted at by government radio broadcasts, to encourage her grandparents’ departure but finds herself stranded. Beautifully shot in muted colour tones (replete with some extraordinary mordant, misty time-lapse shots of the helicopter-gun-ship strewn landscape), this atemporal requiem, assuredly directed by Saakyan, is played out with a Kusturica-style heightened naturalism, stripped bare of his carnival-esque levity, and deepened by affecting poetic musings on familial and cultural loss.
(Wally Hammond - Time Out London)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Human Resources Manager

The Human Resources Manager (2010)
Director: Eran Riklis
Country: Israel
Runtime:103 min

THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER is a dramedy centered on the HR manager of Israel's largest industrial bakery, who sets out to save the reputation of his business and prevent the publication of a defamatory article. It was Israel's official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category. HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER is a Film Movement release, runs for 103 minutes, is in Hebrew. The Human Resources Manager of Jerusalem's largest bakery is in trouble. He is separated from his wife, distanced from his daughter and stuck in a job he hates. When one of his employees, a foreign worker, is killed in a suicide bombing, the bakery is accused of indifference, and the HR Manager is sent to the victim's hometown in Romania to make amends. Far from home, on a mission to honor a woman he didn't even know but has somehow grown to admire, the HR Manager rediscovers his own humanity and his ability to truly care for human resources. Eran Riklis' THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER is based on an Israeli book that was recommended to him-A.B. Yehoshua's A Woman in Jerusalem (a New York Times notable book, and L.A. Times Book Prize winner, among other awards.) Keeping with the book, Riklis made the calculated decision not to name any of his characters (save the deceased woman inspiring the trip) but rather rely on their professions and personal attributes to identify and define them-the HR Manager, The Weasel, The Boy... These character archetypes lack a certain individuality and could, in turn, be any of us. In this act Riklis challenges the conventional and quirky road-trip movie and, in his words, creates a film that is "offbeat and kind of mainstream in a way." He calls THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER "an asymmetrical road movie." It played at numerous international film festivals, including Toronto and Palm Springs, and captured the Audience Award at the Locarno Int'l Film Festival. Riklis' film features fearless performances by a comedic ensemble cast led by the well-known Ukrainian actor Mark Ivanir, whose resumé includes Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST; HOLLY ROLLERS (with Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg), and Robert De Niro's THE GOOD SHEPHERD. -- (C) Film Movement Less

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Totò che visse due volte

Totò che visse due volte(1998)
:Daniele Ciprì, Franco Maresco
Country: Italy
Runtime: 93 min

The film has three stories. First is about local village idiot Paletta, who can not afford the services of a whore and so steals a locket from a holy shrine belonging to local mafia don. Second shows the story of betrayal of Pitrinu (who's dead now) by his lover Fefe. Final episode is about lowlife Lazarus. He is killed by mob boss Toto, but raised from the dead by a local messiah, who is also known as Toto (and is played by same actor). (IMDB.com)

Silent Souls

Silent Souls(2010)
Director:Aleksei Fedorchenko
Duración: 75 min.

Miron (Yuriy Tsurito) has just lost his beloved wife, Tanya (Yuliya Aug). His love for her was so great that he asks his best friend, Aist (Igor Sergeyev), to help her off the ritual of Merya culture, a tradition of the Black Lake region dating back to the seventeenth century. The two men set off towards the lake with that goal and, during the long trek across the desert lands of Russia, Miron is closer than ever to Tanya ... but not ready for the new and terrible truth that rebels before their eyes.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Mourning for Anna (2010)

Mourning for Anna (2010)
:Catherine Martin
Country: Canada
87 min

How to go on living afterwards? It is the end of winter. A young violinist is murdered in her apartment by a stranger. Her mother is in shock. Devastated by the violent death of her daughter, she decides to leave Montréal and take refuge, alone, in Kamouraska, at the country house built by her maternal ancestors and inherited from her mother. She tries to rebuild an interior life by re-establishing contact with Nature, with the house, and with the objects that remind her of her childhood and that of her daughter. But the mother's grief is profound: she doesn't want to go on living. In extremis, she is discovered and saved in the forest by a man while she was letting herself freeze to death. They recognize each other: they knew each other as teenagers. They can't help letting the amorous feelings of those times resurface. The presence of this man and the benevolent spirits of her grandmother...