Leeds Film Festival 2009 - Day 10

Louis le Prince Shorts 5

Someone must have mixed the film reels about a bit because they re-shot Echo, which I saw last night. So I cant count that as part of my total. :(

Silence (Lat) - A rather annoying arty one where a woman enters an art gallery where odd, almost random things happen and people don't act as you would expect them to, except for excessive shushing whenever she makes a sound. A bit like Alice in Wonderland, but without the wonder. 3/10

Vanquished (Bel/Spa) - In a remote Spanish village set in beautiful countryside, a young teen is sent by his mother, now living in France, to live for a while with his aunt, who is non-too happy. When he asks to see his father's grave, he meets with cagey attitudes from the villagers, and the local cemetery has no gravestone bearing his name. Raoul decides to find out for himself who his father was and where he is buried. A small candle of a film highlighting the 400,000 or so missing people under Franco's dictatorship. 7/10

Seeds of the Fall (Swe) - Rolf and Eva are getting on, and bedtimes are not sexy times as once they were. A freak bulldozer accident however, throws the pieces in the air and when they come down, a spark is lit. 7.5/10

Worstward Ho (Spa) - An oddity and tribute to poet and playwright Samuel Beckett. Two men in football strips move through the countryside, and encounter a prostitute. Initially wary like meerkats around a snake, they eventually team up as a threesome and continue on their journey. Absurd but not completely dislikeable. 4/10

Wagah (Ger) - The town of Wagah in Pakistan is the only place on the 3000km border to neighbouring India with a checkpoint. Over the years since the wall's construction (when Pakistan and India separated in 1947), a festival of sorts has grown up around the gates themselves and the act of opening them. Both sides compete in a friendly but heated battle to see who has the best flagsmen, troopers, flashy uniforms and marching style, each trying to outdo the other. The intricate and ludicrous pythonesque walks performed by the soldiers prior to a brief opening of the gate is difficult not to smirk at. After 5 minutes, (and with no-one but guards passing through) the gates close back up again, and the thousands of spectators to the event go home. 7/10

Wunderkammer (Ita/US) - An elderly woman stares helplessly into space in the twilight of her life, as she performs the daily ritual she has done for many decades previous. In a sealed off house with no daylight (but plenty of pet birds), she tends to the needs of her disabled son, whose baby-like needs form a chain around her. Haunting and depressing, but also a tribute to the sacrifice of one soul for another. 7/10

Louis le Prince Shorts 6

Amor (Nor) - Thomas has found a way to make a decent wage every night, and all it takes is a few bruises and a feeling of self loathing. Simply hire himself out as a lecherous guy trying to pick up girls, and then allow the boyfriend to step in and save her with a punch to the kisser. His latest job is turned on its head, when the latest woman reacts positively to his actions. Now what does he do? 7/10

Edgar (Ger) - A widower lives alone in his flat. Past retirement age, he finds it impossible to find a bit of work to pass the hours in an environment where the young-uns are struggling for jobs. He soon learns a trick when he realises that petty theft carries a community sentence.. 7.5/10

Red Sands (UK) - A simultaneously repulsive and compelling account by an aged veteran of Pamplona, home of the Bull Run. Herds of bulls are kept in the farms outside of town, and the Bull Run developed from the act of getting them into the stadium for the main bullfighting event. There are happier moments, like when the bloodsoaked bulls manage to score a hit and stick a horn where the sun don't shine, but it is mainly a macabre play out of the events of the bullfighting ring, attempting to explain the 'nobility' of the bullfighters' honour and skill, and whether the tradition should be stopped or allowed to continue (which, given the expected standpoint of the narrator is surprisingly even-handed). Well worth watching, but at the same time, an observation of the both the bravado and beastliness of men. 8/10

The Shopkeeper (Ind/US) - Mahesh is a small child living in India, who's only love is Cricket, to the extent that he cannot concentrate on anything else. On the same day that a big match is on the telly, his father insists on having him run the family tea shop. After a quick semi-digested talk on what to sell and how much to charge, dad leaves, expecting Mahesh to run it for the rest of the day. However, the match starts soon and Mahesh must engage his brain if he is to sell his wares and make it to the telly. 7/10

Next Floor (Can) - An absurd but funny short about a grandiose meal for fat, greedy rich people, all hunched around the table tucking into an array of luxurious but disgusting-looking meat dishes with much flesh ripping and slurping. Suddenly, the weight of the engorged guests and the overloaded table makes the floor give way, depositing them to the floor below. Not a problem: after the chandelier is winched down a floor and a bit of dusting has taken place, the waiters resume the influx of foodstuffs one floor down, and the troughing continues. But how long can this floor last, and how far up are we? 6/10

Olis Wedding (Rom) - Oli's father lives on the other side of the world to his son, who is getting wed. However, thanks to modern technology, he can see by webcam, and invites a few of his son's old friends over for a few beers to see it with him. A bittersweet tale of the disconnection of modern life and how technology helps to grasp a little of the connection back. 7/10

Romanian Retro Shorts: First Generation

A set of short films highlighting the early films of some of Romania's directing talent. Many of the films, even though they were from the mid-90's onwards, looked as if they had been through the reels a bit. I also missed the first one because the previous short film set overran.

Paulista's Hand - As an electronics store is hijacked by a burglar, it all looks as if the job will pass off without a hitch. The security guard is tied down, his wife is hysterical on the phone, and the situation is under the burglars control, until he claps eyes on a big TV showing his favourite soap opera? 6/10

Bucharest-Wein 8.15 - Niki, a young man with a wife and child has persuaded his longtime friend Cretu to come with him to Germany under forged passports, where they can earn some cash to support their families for a couple of years. However, events on the way to the train destabilize Cretu's confidence and he tries to bail out at the last moment. Can Niki keep him focused on the job? 7/10

A Trip to the City - A battered yellow Lada transports a young teacher and the assistant to the local village mayor to get a computer and a toilet from the city some way away. Flashing around the cash in a stopoff cafe derails the situation and they have to innovate. 7/10

The Yellow Smily Face - A lovely film to show to your computer-wary parents if you have that kind. A completely computer-illiterate mother and father attempt to switch on and use the computer their son had installed in the house, using only a set of commands which, while obvious to someone au fait with technology, would stump you if you had never done them any more. Their son is waiting by the webcam if they manage to decipher the code. 8/10

The Big Adventure - A simple black and white film about two young and hormonal lovers trying to find a quiet corner in a block of flats to give each other a good seeing to, but wherever they try, a pair of eyes seems to find them. 5/10

Cigarettes and Coffee - The winner of the Golden Bear for short films in 2004. Mr. Tomescu hurries to a fancy restaurant to meet with Vlad, who may be able to get him a job. Mr. Tomescu has been recently dropped from his delivery driver job, and needs another 2 years work on his record to qualify for his retirement benefits. The impatient Vlad has no time for chatter, but all is not quite as it seems. 7.5/10

Superheroes (Ger) (site)

Fathers for Justice have a similar style, but the self-styled Superheroes of Germany's cities have a different purpose in mind. They are the creative activists, who act as modern day Robin Hoods, taking items from supermarkets and redistributing them to the poor, whilst kit up in home-made superhero-style costumes to ensure the authorities cannot stop them (short of being caught). This documentary interviews three of these people, showing the generally negative news coverage they receive, and also follows the lives of some of those on the poverty line who are not superheroes, but might be thinking of becoming one if their situations don't improve. One opinion suggested that the Superhero ideal has evolved from a rejection of the overused symbolism of that famous ideologist, Che Guevara, mixed with a society still built around the idea that people will have a job for life, when clearly, they don't any more. On leaving school, students nowadays have to consider internships, voluntary work, anything to put them one step ahead on the CV pile. Society must change, and the superheroes have a simple goal; achieve change through peaceful disobedience: Breaking rules is the only way to change them. A bold documentary that exposes this particular 'stick it to the man' approach that only ideological youth can manage before the cynicism and shoulder-shrugging of old age kicks in, and at the very least, it was allowed to be made, so there is some democracy left in the world. 7.5/10

Ander (Spa) (review)

Ander is middle-aged and supposedly the head of his rag-tag household. Present also are his bossy mother and younger sister, both called Arantxa, although sis is shortly to leave as she is about to get married. They all live in a farm in a quiet village in Catalunya amongst the beautiful rolling hills, he tends the vegetables and milks and shepherds the cows, and also holds down a job in the city making bicycle parts, with no time left over for the ladies, aside from an on-off menage with Reme, a woman of similar age with a child and a runaway husband. After a nasty fall from his favourite lunching perch overlooking his land, he winds up in bed with a broken leg for a couple of months, right when he needs to be helping his sister and mother prepare for the wedding. On a recommendation from a friend, they get Jose, a Peruvian workhand in to help with the jobs and lighten the load. Though mother is suspicious of the foreigner, Ander feels an attraction, and the two become closer, although Ander needs to thrash out some of his feelings about where it is all going, and what this change in sexuality will mean for his place as the family head. A change in the family structure is about to take place, and Ander needs to realise now is the time to speak up for what he wants.

Ander played like a gentle tale, the clanging of the cow bells in the fields reflected the unhurried nature of the film as the two become closer and loyalties to friends and family change. The Y2K bug in the background acts as a metaphor for his stepping into the unknown and whether it will all work out or not, which was a nice, if predictable device to tell us things work out in the end. However it was a very relaxing and positive end to the night. 7.5/10

Film Count: 102/150

1 comment:

scott davidson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.