Archive for June 2013

Beyond The HIlls & Child's Pose at Sydney Film Festival


Beyond The Hills (Romania) 

official trailer   

Best Screenplay and Best Actress at 2012 Cannes, that tells you how good this was.

Religion and Homoromatic Love. sounds like a very old school theme but this film didn't emphasise much on the 'homo' part. if the protagonists were of different genders the story would definitely be different, but most likely only a tiny little bit. In this sense the plot was actually quite similar to a lot of Japanese yaoi/yuri manga/novels (which totally awoke my fanboy heart, i mean seriously if you like yuri you'd probably enjoy this film a lot, the first half at least)

The film is based on an actual event in 2005.

The title basically summarises the whole theme. 'The Hills' act as a barrier separating two worlds with different values and beliefs. The film itself focused mainly on the one beyond the barrier, an orthodox convent. While it clearly points out the giant hole in such communities it remained relatively neutral (trust me in the case of this film it could've easily gone way too criticising) and at the same time from a few snapshots of the 'outside' world we can see that it ain't too much fancier. Therefore even though the major cause is still within the convent there's a part of it that mutually exists in the whole society.

To be very honest with you I've never ever liked a priest or reading bible and I really do enjoy films that criticise (some) Christianity but this film i really don't think it went that far. Even though they did terrible things in this film you can still see that the starting point was good. However that cannot justify anything and I guess that's the other theme and conflict brought up in the film. A good cause leads to a tragic ending. Does your bible tell you that it's ok? I don't know but in a society that's built on a legal system this is still guilty. The law says no but what do we say?
-spoiler ends-

Child's Pose (Romania)

official trailer
Golden Bear at 2013 Berlinale. Another amazing film and coincidently another Romanian film. Now i'm just fracking in love with this land and its language.

Same language same country but very different perspective. The protagonists come from a wealthy family, a spoiled son and a spoiling mum, against a family of much lower 'social status'. While it intentionally did a whole bunch of sarcasm of the governmental system the main focus was still on the relationship between the mother and son, or more specifically the mother. How she tried to please her son, help her son and worry about her son. Is she a good mother? Probably not the best. (frankly speaking she's not a good citizen either) But she does share some of the most fundamental emotions that (most) mum carries.

The unexpected blackout leaves the film a kinda open ending. I guess you can go with a more negative explanation of the end but I personally prefer to think that the son could finally relate a bit to the mum, from seeing what his mum did for him or seeing the victim's parent mourning his boy, probably not so much but enough to give him the courage to go out and apologise himself. Did they actually realise what kind of damage they've made to the poor victim's family? Maybe, more or less. They may be snobby and mean and selfish but from some details in the film they're not that stone-hearted.  
-spoiler ends-

Both films are just so beautifully made and constructed and deserve every prize that they've won. I was surprised the cinemas weren't full. Highly recommend to everybody, especially if you are looking for a different taste from hollywood productions.

Extra note: if i have to pick, Child's Pose would be my favourite drama this SFF.

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The Rocket, Closed Curtain & A River Changes Courses at Sydney Film Festival

Four films in total actually but one is short film so I'll put that review at the end of the festival.

The Rocket (Australia/Laos) 

official trailer

Laotian Road movie. To be honest the plot wasn't very creative or impressive but the whole setting made the entire film stand out. All the fascinating Laotian cultural details and historical background differentiated the film from just a ordinary adventurous road film. It was entertaining and eye-catching. The Aussie director Kim Mordaunt's love towards the local culture clearly helped to earn a round of applause in the audience but i think most claps goes to the local actors' convincing acting, or perhaps that wasn't that much of an acting for them. Which was why i felt like rushing to the stage to hug everyone of them when they presented themselves as a 'surprise' after the end roll.

Closed Curtain (Pardé) (Iran)  

official trailer

This is a film i definitely need to re-watch. Weird, confusing yet utterly interesting.

I don't know how to describe this film. The intro text on the festival pamphlet says it better 'a portray of melancholy'. It doesn't have a clear plot, or rather the plot is insignificant in this film. A sht load of surrealistic metaphors and symbolism (or maybe just me reading too much). The film is not to tell you a story, it's more of expressing something. The something could be melancholy or something else that maybe cannot be easily described in a few words, which may be the reason why director Jafar Panahi made this art piece.

I've seen a few reviews that the second half gets really confusing and not as good as the first hour. I agree with the confusing part, but to be honest it was the confusing part that thrilled me so much that i nearly couldn't contain myself and had to bend my body over so I could get closer to the screen. So many characters and scenes that hardly make any sense but to me that's what makes this film so interesting. I literally had goosebumps, yes i was THAT thrilled!

As i've said i just have to watch it again. Amazing creativity.

Also if you're reading this, go google the director Jafar Panahi. He deserves respect, and his Silver Berlin Bear for Best Screenplay.

A River Changes Course (Cambodia)  

offical trailer

Another documentary in my film fest schedule. This one focuses around Cambodian villagers as they struggle through life trying to adapt the changing environment and economy.

Being a doc film itself it's slightly less organised compared to Blackfish. It's somehow segmented, which i understand because there were just too many subjects to cover within this topic. But that leaves it a broad intro into the villagers' lives, not that it's bad.

I don't really know how to review documentary as always. And I do always believe that most documentaries deserve watching. This definitely belongs to one of them.

The scene of some garment factory workers made me think, what were they thinking when they were sewing out clothes? One piece of clothing on their hand could cost most than their monthly wage. What were they thinking when they are working so hard and gave up their dreams to work for people they don't know just so their families can have a slightly easier life?

And those companies, their thirst to cut down more forest and clear these villagers lands to make more money. Their world looks oh so corrupt but their world is our world too. Our actions will eventually affect their lives and future and their forest and the animals that live there.

This is why I believe filmmakers continue to make documentaries that are basically repeating one major theme. That's because we need to know, we need to remember and then we need to act.

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Blackfish & Gloria at Sydney Film Festival

A slightly longer review on Blackfish and Gloria

Blackfish (USA)

I still have to say that this is a must see. If you are unsure about documentary, at least check out the trailer:

As a documentary itself I don't know what i should say because I generally love documentaries more than many other genres and scenes of orcas swimming in open water in the wild can easily make me cry like a baby in the cinema. So obviously i wasn't whatsoever bored or anything during the entire film. The background soundtracks were kinda cheating, took me a hideous amount of effort to stop my mental breakdown in the cinema.

I still don't know how to describe this film. I wish someone went there as well so now i can harass your inbox with my enormous sorrow and anger.

The film will be in cinemas/theatres on 19 July in the U.S. so my American friends please check this out! You won't regret it I promise! (dates:

I'm not sure if it's going to have a general release in Australia or other areas of the world but feel free to check out their facebook page Blackfish

Gloria (Chile)  

official trailer

I'm glad i chose this after the heartbreaking documentary. The leading actress Paulina García definitely deserves her Silver Bear (my b*llshit Spanish tells me she's called the Latin American Meryl Streep according to Wikipedia)

Romantic yet bitterly realistic. But I promise you this is nothing depressing. Personally I would put it in a more Comedic Drama group. Besides the silly jokes that cracked up the entire cinema (again the fact that I failed to find any generation gap between me and the other audience (60+) upsets me greatly), the heroine Gloria is just adorable (now it does sound horrifying that I'm using that word on a 58 yr old woman). She might have been lost and depressed and frustrated and done stupid things but at the end of the day (well we all know it always takes longer than a day) she can still stand up and dance to music with a smile on her face. She might not have the strongest heart but she does deserve an applause, which was why we all gave her that at the end of the film.

Two very pleasant hours even though a few unexpected nudities scarred my pure heart a little bit but they weren't anything unnatural or odd, which is really nice (well i don't think explicit love scenes with two 60 yr old wrinkled bodies can attract any audience anyway :b)

And now I really want to go to Chile, or learn Spanish. Maybe I'll do both.

ps. I like the random Swedish reference lol

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Blackfish at Sydney Film Festival

offical trailer

I would be ashamed if i don't rave about this film

This is a film that everybody should watch. I don't even know how to describe the heartbreaking inspirations it gave me. For everyone who used to love training shows in zoos or circus as a kid like me, this is something you need to know. They don't deserve these inhumane treatments they've been given to. All animals deserve freedom and families.

Many Thanks to Sydney Film Festival for the screening.


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What Richard Did at Sydney Film Festival

What Richard Did (Ireland)

 official trailer

i wish it could be longer as to me the film didn't quite dig that much but i guess that's intentional. Instead of spending massive length to discuss morals and guilt etc it was more storytelling. Tells the story of the event and leaves the discussion part to its audience. Which i find quite interesting, though i do wish i wasn't going alone so now i could have someone to discuss to.

On another note, Irish accent ftw.

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