Sunday, July 25, 2010

NYAFF 2010 Capsule Reviews Part 4 -Rappers,angels, decorators and the dead. Some films not to be forgotten

The festival is over and the films have been sent back to the distributors, however I just wanted to remind you of a few films that really you need to keep an eye out for in case they show up on DVD or in a theater near you. I wrote up brief little pieces when they played but I just wanted to take the time to impress upon you not to forget these films even though I’m only giving them a few lines. They may get a few lines but they are really worth your time (and some are the best of the year)

A Little Pond (2009)is the Korean film dramatizing one of several massacres by US forces in 1950 during the Korean War. Brutal, heartbreaking and almost unwatchable in its sadness, this is one of the best films of the year. This is probably the one film of the festival that hung with me the longest, coloring everything I saw after it that night and the next day. If you want to know how tragedies of this sort happens this is a perfect explanation. A masterpiece that I never want to see again. (This is also a film that resulted in a near riot at the end of the film when some one in the back of the auditorium began shouting about how the US was still doing this sort of thing. This prompted a shouting match which got more and more heated as it spilled into the the lobby. The cooler heads of the Walter Reade staff threw everyone shouting out saying if they would have to take it outside.)

Sophie’s Revenge is a charming comedy you’ll forget an hour after you see it but which will make you laugh while its on. The basic plot has Sophie trying to win back her ex and take revenge after he leaves her for a high profile actress. It’s a wonderful version of the romantic comedies that Hollywood turns out with regularity, but done better than Hollywood has managed of late. See it before its remade.

Symbol is a wonderfully off kilter comedy about a man trapped in a white room and Mexican wrestlers. How the two parts fit together is the movie. Containing some of the biggest laughs of the year toward the end of the film, this is a film better to see than read about. If you can be patient and go with a really off beat film where ever it goes, including through existential loops, this is a film for you. Look it up on You Tube to get a taste of the weirdness.

Tian An Men was described by Marc at the Film Festival as a movie about home decorating. Its about the men assigned to decorate the Tian An Men Gate for the Founding of the Republic ceremony in 1949. It’s a propaganda film from mainland China and is way better than you think it is thanks to a great selection of characters who touch your heart and make this very much a human story. Best of all its true. This is exactly precisely the sort of film I wanted to highlight when I started this blog, the small film that doesn’t have a snowballs chance of being seen by many people and really needs to be. I was moved by the real emotion and the very real characters. If you ever get a chance to see this, do so. Its not a great film, but it quietly rewarding.

8000 Miles (2009) and 8000 Miles 2: The Girl Rappers (2010)are two films that taken together are one of the best films of the year. Look, forget that the music is rap, it’s the characters that matter here. The first film is about a bunch of guys in the sticks who do their best to live their dream and become rappers in rural Japan. It’s a darkly comic film that plays more like a slice of life about two guys and their friends who are trying to hold on to their dreams. It’s a film tinged with the reality of living a life too far away from where you should be. It’s a film that asks the question what happens when reality and your dream are forced to fight it out. The film has haunted me since I saw it.

The second film is a more conventional style story about some young women in their late 20’s who want to recapture the spark they felt when they were performing rap back in high school. Their desire to recapture the spark is kicked off by the appearance of the two lead characters of the first film who come to town on a pilgrimage to find a sacred site where a deceased friend performed a legendary concert (which the girls had attended). It’s a deeply affecting movie about trying to find your way back home to the place where the passion of your youth burned the brightest. Do we have to give up those things that make us happy and give our true selves voice? I can’t recommend the films enough, particularly if you can see them in close proximity which will allow the themes and ideas of the two films to play off each other. As I said, taken together they are one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far.

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