FILMFEST 2000
BEST FILMS:
1. The Rose Seller
2. Flight of the Bee
3. The Highway / Bread Day
4. A Trip to the Country
5. Crane World
6. The Long Vacation
7. Barracks
8. Le Temps Retrouve
9. Color of Paradise
10.Volcano
11.The Return of the Idiot
12.Where the Sky Meets the Land

"A couple of years ago, I started to keep a Diary of films I'd seen; planning to write at least a thumbnail , if not a full review, of each film. Needless to say , I'm way behind - but, because I dig film so much; and because certain people have encouraged me, I'm going to put this stuff up here anyway. Maybe my seeing it on the website'll prod me into working more on it. I see a lot of films. (Due to a couple of local heroes, MPLS is a very good city film.) So, anyway, I'll at least try to rack my mind and remember what I've seen; and keep the list fairly complete. Maybe someone else would like to write reviews and post them up here? Feel welcome if you're inclined (or upright, 4 that matter)"


  Movie Diary


Dec., 1999 Autumn Tale directed by Eric Rohmer  1999 France  color
      June 29, 1999: Central Station - Brazil - Walter Salles, director.  Color.    1998
      A mean, misanthropic old spinster helps a little boy - whose mother's recently been run over by a bus - to find his long lost father. Reluctant to help at first, she sells the lad to some very shady people. After being lectured by her friend, she suffers remorse and steals the boy back. Unable to go to her home because the baddies are looking for both of them, she accedes to the boy's wishes and they set out on the long journey to find dad. Of course, she's changed by the whole thing, becoming nicer.
      Story-wise, this is quite familiar  fare; and, as one might guess, a real tearjerker. Enough twists are thrown in to keep it interesting, though; and the acting is quite good all around. (The boy, of course, is a little too cute, and relies mostly on a couple of standard facial expressions to keep the tears flowing.) Fernanda Montenegro is good. Her face, old and very expressive, is rather mesmerising here, and stays with you.  (She actually looks very much like one of our standard images of a witch; so one way to see this movie, pour moi, is the evil witch story where, instead of eating the kid the witch is turned into a good person by the good kid.)
      What makes this an exceptional film for me, however, isn't the narrative; but the real stuff that fills the screen the whole time. What's truly engaging in this film? The faces of poor Brazilians: Real. The pictures of shack towns, or new settlements with hundreds of look-alike little houses in the middle of nowhere: Real. The brutal slums of Rio: Real. The endless streaming crowd in and around Rio's Central Station;  The emotions of religious fervor on the faces of evangelical zealots - a huge and rapidly burgeoning movement in Brazil;  the breathtaking mountain and desert landscapes; the diverse and colorful styles, of dress, and of people; the houses; the color; the wrinkles; the skin; the flesh; All real, all finely and beautifully photographed


        Hungarian Film Series @  U Film Society
June 13, 1999: Somewhere In Europe - Hungary - Geza Radvani, director. B &W   1947
    A group of war orphans scavanging around war ruined Hungary find a wrecked castle wherein resides an old man who's known better fortunes as a famous composer/conductor. Together they battle local authorities, who're after the children for sundrie small crimes.
   Starts out De sica; gradually becomes bathetic, ending more like a Mickey Rooney flic.
   However, this is a very good movie due to the somewhat unique complexity of plot, and of styles. Strikingly shot in black and white.      Very good.


June 11, 1999: Red Psalm - Hungary - Miklos Jancso, director. Color.   1971.
     "A radically different version of cinematic musical emerges in the colorfully symbolic ballet about striking workers up against an army brought in to quell the revolt..."
                                                      -Dilys Powell, Punch
      Extremely beautiful; using lots of long, panoramic shots,much singing and dancing. Based on a real uprising in 1898, this film is visually similar to Jancso's 1967 film The Red and The White. Unapologetically socialist.
      Excellent!


June 11,1999: Daniel Takes a Train - Hungary - Pal Sandor, director. Color.   1984
      It's 1956; The Uprising has just been quelled. Dani, a naive young (18ish) Budapest Jew, and Gyuri, slightly older but far more experienced (he's a freedom fighter in hiding), get on a train to the west with hundreds of others; as thousands attempt to flee to the west. Dani's on an adventure (his girlfriend, with her family, is on the train); Gyuri's on more serious business, trying to avoid being caught and looking for his long lost father.
       Altho' many of the situations are not unfamiliar, espescially to viewers of east European films of (not just)  the cold war era (secret border crossings, diverse refugees waiting in a small town hotel, rejection by the girlfriend's family, disillusionment when Gyuri finally finds his father, etc.); this is still a well made and powerful film, full of emotional and political potency.
      Very good.


  June10, 1999: The Red and The White - Hungary - Miklos Jancso, director. B &W   1967
       Quite reminiscent of Sholakov's "...And Quiet Flows the Don" trilogy. This very powerful film follows the fortunes of  the White army, then the Red, then the White... and so on.
Definitely more sympathetic to the Red side, the film gradually settles into the story of a group of Red soldiers of mixed nationality (including several Hungarians, of course),  who've escaped their White captors and are being hidden by nurses at a rural hospital/nursing school, while the Whites try to hunt them down.
       Similar visually to Jancso's Red Psalm; i.e. long, deep shots ala Eisenstein; lots of shots of groups of people in the distance (in this case marching soldiers, not dancing, bare breasted hippies).
        Overtly political, this film highlights the arbitrariness, absurdity and pomposity  of the officers running the war, especially the Whites, as well as the pawn-like expendability of the common soldiers. As in Sholakov, soldiers bounce back and forth between armies; many are executed by their own side for seemingly minor infractions; etc. The Reds, of course, are ultimately portrayed as heroes.
      Excellent!


  June 9, 1999: Merry-Go Round - Hungary - Zoltan Fabri, director. B &W.   1955.
  July 8, 1999: Limbo - USA - John Sayles, director. Color. 1999
  School of Flesh
  Dec., 1999 Sleepy Hollow
  Stormriders  Hong Kong 1999 New computer edited action. Great film
 Taste of Cherry- Kiorastami. Kiorastami remains at the cutting edge - A true master.



      June 17, 1999: The Dreamlife of Angels - France - Erick Zonca, director. Color.  1998.
      Starring:
      The Dreamlife of Angels follows the everyday lives of two rootless 20ish girls who meet at a temporary job. Set in the northern French town of Lille, the film captures the feelings of senselessness and boredom that seems to engulf many small, cold cities, especially for young people on their own. One of the girls, Marie, has a place to stay and lets the other, Isa, stay with her. Both lose their jobs (Marie quits in sympathy after Isa's fired). We then follow their thrown-together-by-chance lives for a few weeks. Most outstanding in this film is the wonderful portrayal of the special kind of bonding that happens between two girls or young women. Common in real life, but rarely seen in a movie, this special relationship is handled here affectlessly and accurately.  As they scuffle together, however, we begin to see cracks in their initial empathy. Both seem to be uncompromisingly anti-establishment (if not antisocial); but where Isa is basically positive, Marie emerges as angrier, more bitter, and somehow desperate. It's an indication of the depth and accuracy of this human exploration that, without it ever being spelled out, we come to understand, simply by their actions as the film unfolds,  that while Isa's had a relatively healthy, nurtured upbringing, Marie has been seriously abused.
       The two things that make this film great are the script (by Zonca) and the acting. The script is great; the acting truly phemononal: The performances are nuanced, detailed and natural to an amazing degree. But the direction by Zonca is no less impressive.  Eschewing arty compositional style in favor of intimacy, Zonca is committed to his vision, and confident in his and his actors' capabilities. (not that the film looks shabby; au contraire, it's very good looking.) If the script was read cold, there would be moments that I'd imagine would seem a bit cliched or corny in the hands of an average director. This is definitely not the case, and Erick Zonca is no average director.
      This is a closely shot, intimate, intense film. The level of reality conveyed is extremely rare. As with the films of Cedric Klapisch and Olivier Assayas, the lives of the characters are so thouroughly and closely studied, so emotionally expressive, so real , that, as real as it is, we know it could't be a film of real people's lives: It's just more than real people could, or would, ever show. This is an interesting contrast to the style of Kiorastami, Makmalbaf, and the  Iranian school, where the "reality" is of such a nature that we don't  know that we aren't watching a documentary.
      The film is a very high achievement, especially for it being the director's first. The credit must be equally shared by the two women who gave such remarkably deep performances.

      Sun. June 21,1999: The Third Man - England -  Carol Reed, director. B&W  1953(?)
      This great classic, in a new print and with eleven minutes added, literally gets better with age. Extremely beautiful black and white composition beautifully and moodily lit; the whole look and feel reflects the main point of the story: that Harry lime, as bad, no, downright despicable a character as he is, still, (and this is key) as played by Orson Welles, elicits our sympathy, just as he is still loved by Anna(?) and by his old friend, Holly Martins.


  June 19, 1999: Three Seasons - Viet Nam  - Tony Bui, director. Color. 1998.
      Set in Ho Chi Minh City in the present, this film follows four separate strands involving four or five main characters: A cyclo driver's quietly persistent attempts to win the attentions of the call girl he's fallen in love with; A ragged little boy's search for a missing box of goods (lighters, flashlights, trinkets); which he sells on the street to make his living; A young woman's involvement with a reclusive, aging poet with leprosy; A returning American ex - marine looking for the Vietnamese daughter he's never met.



  May 4, 2000 Flowers of Shanghai directed by Hou Tsiao Tsien - Taiwan 1999  Color
  Jan., 2000    8 1/2 dir. Frederico Fellini
  Jan., 2000 All About Eve b&w
 Jan., 2000  Dogma   directed by: USA 1999 color.
Well, I liked it !  Esp. Alanis Morrisette as god
  Documentary on Hou Tsiao Tsien Directed by: Olivier Assayas France 1990s Color Great!!
  Jan., 2000 Julian Donkey Boy directed by: USA 1999 color.
  Jan. ,2000 Same Old Song dir. : Alain Resnais France 1999 color.
  Jan., 2000  Stir of Echoes
  Jan., 2000  Summertime directed by David Lean  England 1962(?) color.
  Feb. 2000-The Limey
  Jan 2000The Puppetmaster directed by Hou Tsaio Tsien -  Taiwan  1996(?) color

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