Friday, June 22, 2012
Day One. I started off with a dud in the 2011 Romanian drama Best Intentions. I love seeing films from this part of the world and there's been kind of a surge in great films from young directors coming out of Romania, but this confused movie isn't one of them. Shot with a gimmicky P.O.V. style that comes and goes throughout the film which I loathed, Best Intentions had little to it that makes it worth recommending. My second and third films, while kind of flawed and not world beaters, were at least pleasantly entertaining compared to Best Intentions. Coteau Rouge, a Canadian film set in a Montreal suburb, is uneven but has enough festival styled charm to warrant a viewing. These kinds of low-reaching comedy/dramas from another country seem all over the schedule every time I've gone to SIFF over the years. Last on the schedule was Earthbound, an Irish sci-fi romantic comedy that veered close to being too cute for its own good. The nice ensemble cast, led by an adorable Jenn Murray, saves the day for this one.
Day Two. I love anything to do with computer hackers, so when I saw We Are Legion on the schedule, I snapped up a ticket as fast as my fingers could type on the keyboard. Telling the story of the mostly leaderless Anonymous hacker community, We Are Legion is an entertaining documentary romp through the world of hackers fighting for good and evil [some might say illegal]. Or, they are just getting their lulz. I love reading or watching this kind of techno-mayhem, so this one was right in the sweet-spot. Kryptonite!, an Italian comedy/drama, had an absolutely knock-it-out-of-the-park first 15 minutes, but it couldn't maintain that level. It's still a fun look at Naples in the 1970s as a young boy comes of age surrounded by a family of eccentrics. I ended the day with another documentary, The Mexican Suitcase is about the Spanish Civil War and the discovery of a lost suitcase in Mexico City that contained thousands of negatives from the war by famed photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David "Chim" Seymour. I actually saw an exhibit with these images at International Center of Photography when I was last in New York, so I found this documentary fascinating. It's not only about the civil war, but the dangerous war photography that these three photographers helped break ground regarding the art form.
Day Three. Johnny To is a veteran Hong Kong filmmaker who specializes in tightly plotted crime films and shoot-em-ups, Romancing in Thin Air is a sort of spotty departure for him that has him taking on the romantic drama genre. Full of all the usual emotional over-the-top shenanigans you expect in a Hong Kong film, there's no way you'd ever guess the man behind the lens of this one is bad-ass Johnny To. Glad to see him branch out, but I prefer To's crime films to this one. My last film of the festival was also my favorite, the oddball and wonderfully titled Rent-A-Cat. This Japanese film is a cat lover's dream movie that had the audience eliciting multiple "ahs" of cuteness on the screen when there was some sort of cute feline action. Sleepy cats in baskets? I'm more of a dog person, but even I had multiple goofy grins on my face at some of the cat-related shots. The story involves a lonely single woman who has a lot of cats. She rents them out to emotionally needy people to help them in various ways and then we follow her relationship with these cat-renters. Rent-A-Cat is a quirky charmer, written and directed by Naoki Ogigami, and I'm hoping to catch some of her other films.
Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 4:20 PM