Saturday, January 23, 2010



1.LOS CONDENADOS (Isaki Lacuesta)

I got to know about Isaki Lacuesta from Misterio Abierto's blog:

"Intense, atmospheric drama about a Latin American in exile who returns to his homeland where he fought dictatorship thirty years earlier. He helps look for the body of a guerrilla who disappeared back then in the damp jungle. Or does he want to bury the past?

Martin, an ex-guerrilla who has spent 30 years in Spanish exile, returns at the request of his old comrades Raúl to his birthplace to help look for the body of their friend, Ezequiel, who disappeared during a battle with soldiers. In secret, they go digging in the swampy Latin American jungle. Staying as guests near the clandestine digging are Ezequiel's close relatives. Tensions soon build.

Four years ago, the versatile and productive Spanish director Isaki Lacuesta screenedLa leyenda del tiempo in the Tiger competition. Damned, which won a Fipresci Award in San Sebastian, is his first fiction film. The teacher (and former student) of the master's in documentary making at Pompeu Fabra University made an intense moral fable, beautifully acted by a choice selection of Argentine actors."

2. HOTEL ATLANTICO (Suzana Amaral)

"An unemployed actor leaves without travel plans for the countryside, where a series of unexpected encounters and bizarre situations await him. This stylish film version of a book (based on the novel by João Gilberto Nolls) is Suzana Amaral's third film in twenty-three years.

An unemployed actor leaves the city without baggage or clearly defined travel plans. A tour bus takes him to the countryside - the starting point of a series of unexpected, special encounters and bizarre situations, devoid of any logic. The traveller never asks, but listens and observes. Between encounters, he occasionally roams completely deserted streets and lanes, sparingly accompanied by a clarinet solo. While he's a man of few words, his character unfolds through his multitude of emotions and the strange situations that seem to overcome him: he is goaded to the utmost, afraid, horny and pleasantly surprised.

This film version of a book based on the novel by João Gilberto Noll is both exciting and hilarious - and larded with dashes of action, drama and romance. It's the third film by Suzana Amaral in 23 years and is characterised by atmospheric images and a pleasant kind of absurdity."

3.MANILA SKIES (Raymond Red)

"Just before Raymond Red was the first Filipino to be given a Golden Palm in Cannes for his short film Anino (2000), he read a news report about a Filipino who hijacked an aircraft and then jumped out with a home-made parachute. In Manila Skies, Red wonders what drives someone to such an absurd deed and at the same time why his land just doesn't make progress. According to a news item in the film, 80% of the population lives in poverty. So too the protagonist Raul, a country boy who desperately and vainly searches for work in Manila. With his friends, all sharing his fate, he commits a robbery but panics at the high point and flees before finally breaking out of the vicious circle with violence.

A realistic portrait with several magic realistic moments, filmed with the very sharp Red One system, a reaction to the grainy, hand-held style that is now popular in Filipino independent cinema."

4.MARKS (1995, Sai Yoichi)
(recommended by Chuck Stephens)
"Sai’s adaptation of a novel by Takamura Kaoru has two distinct but converging strands. One centres on Mizusawa, a young man who survived his family’s group suicide on Mount Kitadake 19 years ago and a subsequent incarceration in a mental hospital where he was sexually abused. The other centres on a series of identical but apparently unrelated murders in Tokyo: first a yakuza is found dead in a classy residential district, then the corpse of a Ministry of Justice official turns up in a less classy district, both with small but lethal wounds to the skull. The police investigation, which involves ‘lone wolf’ Aida Yuichiro, is riven by factional disputes and fails to prevent a third murder, although it emerges that the victims all had oblique connections with one lawyer."

5.MOSCOU (Eduardo Coutinho)
"In Moscow, Eduardo Coutinho follows the Brazilian theatre group Galpão as it prepares for the play Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. The film is a documentary, but the basis is fictional: Coutinho approached the renowned theatre group with the idea of learning a play in three weeks. On the day that Coutinho started shooting, the actors first heard which text they were going to have to learn in such a short period. The film director was not interested in the end product but, just as in Chekhov's play, in the difficult road leading up to it. This is shown in exciting shots of workshops, improvisations and rehearsals."

6.NEWS FROM THE IDEOLOGICAL ANTIQUITY: MARX – EISENSTEIN – DAS KAPITAL (2008, Alexander Kluge, 9 hours 30 minutes)

7.NUIT BLEUE (Ange Leccia, France)
"A young woman, Antonia, returns to her island of birth, Corsica, after one of her relatives has disappeared at sea. She is torn back and forth between her old love Ettore and the dumb Alexander. The quest for Antonia’s place in the masculine environment of armed nationalism is an excuse for all kinds of peregrinations in the spectacular landscape of Cap Corse - a landscape that itself becomes a leading character. The plot of this fascinating film, entirely without dialogue, is told in songs such as Ne dis rien by Serge Gainsbourg. With the songs, the maker reveals the psychology of his characters, who seem to be in the grip of an age-old, atavistic melancholy. "

"In a playful, often hilarious mixture of documentary and fiction, the film maker Zelimir Zilnik traces sanctifying capitalism, sold to the Serbians after the disappearance of state socialism as the great new god. As a background for his story, Zilnik uses a number of strikes that took place in Belgrade in recent years and introduces us to several people involved who are allowed to 'play' themselves. That leads to explosive situations. Employees dressed in American football kits come to settle up with their employers with gangs of heavies in bullet-proof vests. But the factories have already been emptied. The arrival of a Russian tycoon and the American vice president Joe Biden light the fuse.
Zilnik's intriguing docu-drama observes with x-ray eyes and in a sharp tone what's going on in the new Serbia. No lazy ideological analysis, but a complex and yet lighthearted portrait of the consequences of globalised capitalism for a country that has only just joined in the game.

Zelimir Zilnik is a great Serbian master and he has been developing his own, idiosyncratic style in docu-drama that he uses in his film works since the 1980. The IFFR has regulraly shown his films since 2000: Wanderlust, Fortress Europe, Kenedi Goes Back home and its next sequence Kenedi Is Getting Married. He is a highly innovative and provocative author making films that make you think. In his films, he concentrates on people of the Central and Eastern Europe and their destinies in the middle of the turmoil of socio-economical changes. A very often used tool of this filmmaker is the active angangament of people in his films acting themselves. In this latest work, Zelimir Zilnik conentrates on the status quo of his own country and the lives of the ordinary people that live in it and are actually caged in it. It's a witty, critical and surprising cinema, something that makes you think differently: about the genre the director is using, and about the world around us."

9.PAJU (Park Chan-ok)

10.PEPPERMINTA (Pipilotti Rist)

11. PIGGIES (Robert Glinski)


13. TOTÓ (Peter Schreiner)

14. THE WAY BETWEEN TWO POINTS (Sebastian Diaz Morales)
(Thanks to May Adadol Ingawanij for telling me about this.)

I wish to see the new film of Sebastian Diaz Morales. I just saw his short film called ORACLE and like its poetic, haunting quality. I think ORACLE can be screened together with some films of Tanatchai Bandasak and Phaisit Phanphruksachat because some of their films are also made of seemingly-unconnected scenes. I also heard that other films of Sebastian Diaz Morales deal with socio-political power more than ORACLE.


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