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Thread: The 2008 MIami Festival's Comment Page

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    The 2008 MIami Festival's Comment Page

    I've written an introduction to the 2008 Miami International Film Festival and posted it in the Festival Coverage section. All the film reviews will be posted there. As you might know, the Festival Coverage section doesn't allow replies. For that purpose I have opened this thread for any comments and questions. There will also be links here to every film reviewed. And there will be many. Perhaps not quite 56 like last year, but as many as my health, stamina, work schedule and family responsibilities permit. The festival has already started holding press screenings. I will begin posting reviews shortly, way ahead of the festival's opening, and will continue doing so after the festival has closed.

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    How about an anti-war doc to gets things started? The National Board of Review concluded it was the best doc premiering in 2007. Body of War

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    A fiction film that feels like a documentary made by a poet: In the City of Sylvia

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    A Cuban indie: Personal Belongings

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    Cesar Charlone, the DP for City of God and The Constant Gardener, gets on the director's chair (with friend Enrique Fernandez) and comes up with a little gem: The Pope's Toilet

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    A German film set in Poland: And Along Came Tourists

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    The most neglected national cinema in the West is that of the Philippines. Here's a good example of what we've missing: Slingshot (Tirador)

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    In the City of Sylvia was part of the New York Film Festival 2007 and I posted a review of it in the Festival Coverrage section then.

    I anticipated some of your comments--about the "fill in the blanks" aspect and the central role of the city of Strasbourg:
    In the City of Sylvia is beautifully shot, and makes superb use of the chance (and sometimes perhaps imposed) symbolism of street graffiti and ordinary people going about their daily takes. Strasbourg itself is the real subject of this film: in summer, it's open, airy, peaceful, lovely.Another subject is the hunt for love. Is "he" shy and hopelessly romantic? Or is his search for "Sylvie" just an excuse, a sham--or a scam? We have to decide by ourselves. The film is open-ended. You project yourself into it. For me it brought back some very familiar emotions of that time in my own life.
    So far I'm not familiar with any of the other titles you're talking about.

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    *Thanks for your interest, Chris. Obviously we both like Guerin's film and have a fairly similar take on it. I didn't go as far as saying that Strasbourg is "the real subject" but that it has a "protagonic role". No big difference. For me, the central theme would be: "the power of a chance meeting or a fleeting moment on a person's life".

    *Prepare to learn about dozens of films you're not familiar with by reading my MIFF reviews. Like I wrote in the intro, the new director is placing even more emphasis on US premieres (breaking new films into the continent) and getting away from much that has distribution. Maybe the only films left that you'll be familiar with are FADOS and SILENT LIGHT. Maybe one more besides those two and Guerin's. I'm beginning to find stylistic similarities between a number of Catalan films. Although the one I'll be watching soon, BARCELONA (A MAP) by veteran Catalan filmmaker Ventura Pons, doesn't fit into the trend.

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    Yes, "the real subject" is a slight overstatement. "One of the protagonists" is better. But I could have said "at times almost seems the real subject" and that would have been alright too.

    I'm glad you like the new director. You may be glad not all the films are US festival "premieres" when you see Silent Light. It is outstanding.

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    I'll be watching SILENT LIGHT with a festival audience on March 6th because it isn't being screened for press. Can't Wait!

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    Low-key Mexican drama is "not for everyone": Blue Eyelids
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 02-24-2008 at 10:13 AM.

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    Okay, I'll bite.
    "not for everyone":
    But "discerning audiences will likely appreciate Blue Eyelids as a thoughtful, fairly unpredictable, breath-of-fresh-air," so what difference does its being "not for everyone" make? For that matter is anything "for everyone"? I realize this is just a quick grab-line, and not part of your thoughtful and appreciative review. Your description shows this film appeals to you or, as you say, to a "discerning audience." But I was left uncertain about where the film goes after its flashbacks about the relationship.

    What did you think of Casa de Alice? I found it very disappointing despite the alleged "realism" and the famous actress. Not that it's Mexican. But I thought of it in the context of this film you're describing because somebody said it was like a telenovela would be if it were realistic. Variety's Lisa Neelsson:
    If telenovelas were convincingly real, they would no doubt look like the tumultuous world of domestic strife and libido deftly limned in "Alice's House."
    It sounds like on the contrary Blue Eyelids is more an anti-telenovela. Are you aware in your first paragraph you give the titles as "Desperate Eyelids"?

    P.s. Silent Light is "low keyed" also; very low keyed indeed. And yet it is fully of drama and powerful. What's the difference? What primarily makes Blue Eyelids worthwhile--is it the naturalistic details with which the characters are presented? Why would people want comedy here? What about the characters would lend itself to ridicule, as you imply?

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    *Thanks for pointing out the error, Chris. Please continue alerting me when you find any such mistake so I can fix it.

    *I haven't seen the Brazilian film Alice's House but I would definitely watch it if I get a chance. It's in distribution so I probably will.

    *Of course not even Citizen Kane is for everyone. That's why I put not-for-everyone between quotation marks. I didn't use the term in the review. It's meant to convey that the film will be enjoyed by a smaller percentage of the audience than films of similar quality.

    *Blue Eyelids is worthwhile because of realistic characterizations of very average, decent, fairly bland, working-class people (which seldom get center stage in cinema) and how the film depicts with insight and nuance their efforts to form a relationship because it's good for them rather than because they feel passion towards each other. Marina and Victor are treated with respect by the filmmakers, not like sad sacks or nerds or peripheral characters used for comic relief as the "butt of the joke".

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    Good intentions are never enough: The Tree of Ghibet

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