CIFF 2012 Day 2

Blind Spot (Lux) (facebook)

The perennial figure of the stressed, broken cop forced to confront his life is explored once again in this drama from Luxembourg.  Olivier's brother is found shot in his car, just as he is booted off the team for a fiery temper - brought on by a combination of a stormy marriage and some personally compromising situations, for which he could soon be exposed to his wife and his team mates.  Sensing an immovable object, his ailing super brings him back on board for the investigation, on a tight leash.

With a slower pacing than Point Blank, and feeling a little like a movie adaptation of The Killing, Blind Spot moves decisively toward its conclusion, predictably with some unpredictable twists messing with your perceptions towards the end.  It won't leave you breathless like some examples might, but its a meaty, satisfying chunk of Danish murder drama. 8/10

Starbuck (Can) (wiki)

David's early adult life was well funded, it seems.  All he needed was a few quiet minutes to himself, a supple wrist and a relaxed mind, and several deposits to the sperm bank later, he was as financially solvent as a teenager ever ought to be.

Many years later this past life is about to catch up with him.  He is older, fatter and generally no more mature.  He can't keep to the duties of his job, his girlfriend Valerie is less than pleased with his attentions, and he has just found out that, due to his unusually virile deposits of yesteryear, he is the father of several hundred children - a good portion of which are bringing a court case to have his anonymity blown.

Fortunately, or not as the case may be his friend Avocat is a lawyer of sorts, not the biggest fan of his own children and slavering at the prospect of a big time case, he takes it on, with David only partly in control of his new destiny, but now with a dilemma - does he let curiosity about his many offspring get the better of him, or remain detached for the sake of keeping his responsibility free life?

It would be unfair to bill Starbuck a 'screwball farce' along the lines of The Hangover, which the CFF brochure did.  It's a far deeper and more satisfying chunk of family drama, curious 'what if'-ery, covered with some sharp comedic turns alternating nicely with genuine moments of pathos. 8.5/10

Fire in the Blood (India) (site)

'Big pharma' has a lot to answer for in the world - much of it good, such as the development of many new drugs for treating illnesses of every kind.  Drugs like aspirin have no doubt saved millions of people around the world, and eased the suffering of many others.  But the major pharmaceutical companies also create a lucrative trade for the patents industry, originally divised as a method for protecting an inventor from others profiteering from his hard work, the patents used and misused in pharma allow them to charge whatever prices they want for as long as the patent lasts.  Thus, life-saving drugs can be placed out of reach of the poorest countries' residents - often those who need them most.

Cheaper, 'generic' drugs can be made at a fraction of the cost but this relies on the national nature of patents and the lucrative laws that stop imports of generic alternatives from nations where the patents no longer apply.  People have been and are in jail for bringing a cheap generic drug into a country where it is not permitted, to save lives.

Fire in the Blood attempts in a straightforward manner to chronicle the ongoing patent war between the developing countries and the west and it's major pharma companies, with respect to the complex drugs used to treat AIDS, from their release in the late 90's to the current time.  Much like Countdown to Zero and Inside Job the bottom line is the driving force of complacency and corruption on one side and the attempts to get round the crazy laws as the third world counts its dead in their millions in the other.  And much like those there are some pretty unpleasant facts being presented which paint the US administration in particular as cold, heatless bean counters on strings.  A fine addition to the investigative documentary genre. 8/10

The Lodger (UK) (wiki)

Alfred Hitchcock is the subject of one of CFFs retrospective strands.  The Lodger is one of his earliest works as a director.  1927 is still in the silent film era and I for one was surprised his body of work stretched back this far (this is actually not even his first directing role). 

The lodger in question is a dark shadowy figure who comes to stay at the house of Daisy and her parents, as the streets are buzzing with news of 'The Avenger', a murdering cad hell-bent on killing every fair-haired young woman in London.  Mysterious and strange, his boyish good looks and dangerous smile capture Daisy's heart and distance her from her helpless parents and hopefully amorous Joe, the local detective and fellow lodger who happens to be on the Avenger's tail.

The Lodger shows influences from earlier silent films and its clear Hitchcock hasn't entirely found his own style at this point, but you can see little flashes of elements from his later films.  It would have been a perfect retrospective experience were it not for the unnecessary 'improvements' made by the restoration team.  The overlaid music was okay except for a few inexplicable scenes where they put a modern drum beat in the background and, even worse had some actual singing.  And the colour filtering on the different scenes was questionable too. 7/10

Tower Block (UK) (facebook)

The residents on the top floor of Providence House, a soon to be demolished towerblock for some reason don't want to leave.  Hardly a community, the isolated residents keep their eyes down and their doors firmly locked at the first sign of trouble.  Such tactics lead them into big trouble one day however, after a young teen is beaten to death and no-one wants to help find the killer.  Suddenly the block becomes a giant shooting range for a mysterious gunman looking for revenge.  No way to call the police and if anyone dares put a finger out the window it is shot off with high caliber fire.  Whoever it is, they don't have much concern for bystanders.

A plucky British offering on a low budget sees Sheridan Smith of 2 Pints fame as an isolated girl thrust into the centre of the chaos, next to a neurotic alcoholic Russel Tovey (Being Human), a possible love interest.  Bonus points go to Jack O'Connell from Skins as the horrible but strangely likeable chav Kurtis.  If you ignore the numerous continuity errors and a couple of mild head scratching moments, and just go with the flow you get a pretty good survival horror with a fair amount of blood splattery. 7/10

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