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Thread: San Francisco International Film Festival 2011 (year 54)

  1. #16
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    Pang Ho-cheung: Love in a Puff (2010)

    A breezy, light, profane, observant Hong Kong love comedy wherein the couple first meet at a city smoker's hideout with coworkers and neighborhood oddballs.

  2. #17
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    Park Jung-bum: The Journals of Musan (2010)

    Assistant director on Park Chang-dung's outstanding recent film Poetry (NYFF 1010) debuts with a somewhat overlong but powerful depiction of the desperate life of a defector from North Korea living on the outskirts of Seoul, with Park himself playing the role of the protagonist.

  3. #18
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    Lech Majewski: The Mill and the Cross (2011)

    Brilliant recreation of Pieter Breugel the Elder's painting, "The Procession to Calvary," both its sixteenth-century Flemish context, with the oppression of protestants by Spanish occupiers, and the creation of the painting itself. Rutger Hauer, Michael York, and Charlotte Rampling star. A triumpth, which if widely seen may rival Alexei Sokurov's Russian Ark as an art-historical tour de force and make the talented Polish director Majewski an international figure.

  4. #19
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    Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine: Something Ventured (2011)

    A documentary about the role of venture capital in US business since the late Fifties. Most of the key investments came in the Seventies and early Eighties. This is largely a story of Silicon Valley, and also a story of East Coast investors getting innovative companies started in California. Little companies like Apple, Intel, Google, Genentech, Cisco, Tandem and Atari.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-27-2011 at 08:37 PM.

  5. #20
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    Matthieu Amalric: On Tour (2010)

    Big French acting star Matthieu Amalric (Best Actor, Cannes 2007 for his role in Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) depicts a failing French producer touring dismal harbor venues with American burlesque queens in this, his fourth directorial effort. It has gained more attention than previous outings as a helmer and won him the Directorial Prize at Cannes last year. The film appears somewhat directionless to a Stateside viewer, but apparently deeply appealed to the French as a metaphor for their fantasy about the US.

  6. #21
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    Miranda July: The Future (2011)

    Miranda July's sophomore feature again stars herself, this time with Hamish Linklater as an LA couple of uncertain ambitious for whom the decision to adopt a stray cat is so earth-shaking it causes them both to quit their jobs and revamp their lives. July's surreal whimsey is more focused this time than in Me and You and Everyone We Know and takes a dark metaphysical turn.

  7. #22
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    Nikola Lezaic: Tilva Rosh (2010)

    This loosely-slung, authentic-feeling coming of age film shot in a washed up copper mining town in Serbia about a pair of skateboarders who flirt with a girl just back from France and challenge each other in Jackass-style stunts can stand as an essential contribution to the cinema of twenty-first century youth.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-25-2011 at 03:44 AM.

  8. #23
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    I don't believe I have ever had an opinion as divergent from yours as it is the case with TILVA ROS. Half the audience at the MIFF walked out within the first hour.
    I came to my office and read the Variety review:
    "Shallow skater dudes imitate "Jackass" stunts and while away time until one leaves for college in the tedious Serbian slacker drama "Tilva Ros." Though freshman scripter-helmer Nikola Lezaic aspires to say something about contempo Serbian life, his reliance on U.S. subcultures and indie pop songs speak more to the globalization of a certain brand of American idiocy. Auds partial to Lezaic's influences, particularly Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, may enjoy watching stupid people doing stupid things, and the pic's big win in Sarajevo will spur fest play, but theatrical distribution is unlikely."

    And I thought critic Jay Weissberg was being too kind.

  9. #24
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    Thanks for commenting, Oscar. I hope to hear more if there are other ones you've seen or have thoughts on.

    De gustibus.... I don't find your reaction surprising. I am aware I am going a little bit out on a limb on this one. I know that there have been walkouts at festival screenings. However I think I made clear the qualities that distinguish this film, which were perceived at Sarajevo. The emphasis is not so much on the "Jackass"-style stunts as the descriptions may make non-viewers think. It's more about the camaraderie of the two guys and their group. There have been many positive comments on the acting, the naturalness of the atmosphere created. I also found the main character, Toda/Marko, very winning, and liked the relationships of the young men with the older men in their lives.

    Again, thanks for your comments (I hope for more).

    I have seen a lot by now what I'm going to see, and some of the best or most interresting I'd watched before the festival schedule was announced. I have however also enjoyed nearly all the new ones I've reviewed exclusively for this festival.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-29-2011 at 08:51 PM.

  10. #25
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    Otar Iosseliani: Chantrapas (2010)

    In his new film the Giorgian exile in France reimagines his own life and career ironically making his young director's experiences harsher than his own both under the Soviets and in Europe, but his signature charm and rambling, complicated mise-en-scene are consistent with earlier work.

  11. #26
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    The only other film I have seen that you review in this thread is A USEFUL LIFE. Very good review, Chris. It's only slightly more favorable than the review I would write. However, I did go into the theater with expectations that were perhaps too high. If I may point out, there seems to be a sentence that needs correction:
    "The director uses a microphone to broadcast live translations in Spanish of the English subtitles for McTeague and von Stroheim's Greed."

    It reads as if McTeague was also a film and not just the novel on which Greed is based and the name of the protagonist of both the novel and the film.

  12. #27
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    Glad you saw A Useful Life; look forward to the news of what you've seen. I'll correct the mistake with McTeague. Did you see that Italian romance set in the Turin film museum, After Midnight? That setting was amazing.

    I've liked a lot of the new ones in the SFIFF that I hadn't seen before. My top rated ones:
    The Arbor, the inventive UK documentary. Amazing technique.
    Black Bread, the Catalan 1940's coming-of-age story. Classic.
    Jurnals of Musan, the gloomy, heavy, but memorable story of the North Korean defector. Powerful.
    The Mill and the Cross, eye-popping and moving recreation of the creation of a Breugel painting. That one is brilliant.

    I also liked:
    The City Below,Christoph Hochhäusler's cold, tense German Wave drama of banking, greed and lust, which I saw today.

    And probably worth watching:
    Walking Too Fast, the Czech film about the Cold War life. A memorable central character.
    Love in a Puff, light, pop Hong Kong romance that's just very hip and smoothly done.
    Something Ventured is a worthwhile documentary about an important topic. Michuk is very interested, because he's seeking investments for his own starup in Poland now. As a doc however this is not technically or conceptually unusual and I think this fest is top-heavy with docs. I'm running out of narrative features to see.

    I haven't been ecstatic about every single one of my choices. I could easily have done without Miranda July's new one (which has a theatrical release coming anyway), and the doc The Green Wave as well as Amalric's On Tour were disappointments (as I had somewhat feared). But otherwise selecting carefully has paid off. I may not be seeing a lot more though, maybe six or so if time and logistics permit. I still miss the earlier years when they showed many press screenings that were NOT merely distributors' promotions but in fact of stuff we were never going to see in theaters like Los Muertos and Noticias Lejanas. And Alicia Scherson's Play. Daratt was a good recommendation of yours, by the way, from back then, though not a press screening.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-26-2011 at 12:07 AM.

  13. #28
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    Christoph Hochhäusler: The City Below (2010)

    From the German Wave a chilly, elegant, intense film about banks, power, and adultery.

  14. #29
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    You're right about After Midnight. Have not seen the other titles you mention from the SFIFF.

    I wrote a MIFF report for publication in the journal Film International. They don't let me post it (I'll post a link if they make it available online), but I can tell you that my top 3 films from the MIFF 2011 were:

    NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT :a film-essay by master documentarian/political activist Patricio Guzman on very limited release by Icarus Films.
    BEYOND: The directing debut of legendary Swedish actress Pernilla August, starring Naomi Rapace.
    HALF OF OSCAR: Reticent, elegant, understated Spanish drama.

  15. #30
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    Too bad your publication demands exclusivity. Could you write just brief summaries and evaluations of the films you've seen for the Festival Coverage section, as I did above? How about simply a list of all the titles you saw? Film International would not have a copyright on that.

    Incidentally your Festival Coverage link to Film International for last year's MFF does not work. Maybe your coverage is no longer online. But unlike ours, their festival coverage section has no entries for 2011 so far.

    I'll note your recommendation of Nostalgia for the Light. It's a film available here on an SFIFF screner DVD. However I'm running out of time for San Francisco because I'm going to NYC next week. From there I'm going to Paris. As usual I'll post reports on the new films I see there.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-26-2011 at 11:11 PM.

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