Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dreams of Jinsha and From One Film to Another, a long day on the festival circuit

It was a long day on the festival circuit in New York City for me today. It should have been longer but the prospect of getting out of the final screening around midnight was too much for me. If I wasn't doing a return trip tomorrow....

...but I'm getting ahead of myself, as I tend to do when I am tired, let me start at the beginning.

This morning I attended Dreams of Jinsha at the New York International Children's Film Festival. This was one of the films that was thrown on to the Oscar short list for animated films. It tells the story of a young man with a jade necklace who is transported back in time to Jinsha, a long ago kingdom, where his coming is foretold.

If you're following Unseen on Twitter you already know what my thoughts are: It's the first film that made me ponder why the festival chose it. It's a dull boring movie that had the people around me snoozing or staring at the screen in disbelief.

The first problem with the screening was that the subtitles are white, and unfortunately a good portion of the time they are obliterated by white at the bottom of the screen. Even allowing for the fact that I missed a chunk of the dialog, this is a poor movie. Knowing what they were saying wouldn't have helped much.

Allowing for it's technical deficiencies (poor animation and a color scheme that looks wrong), the story just doesn't work on any level. After getting our hero to Jinsha, not a whole hell of alot happens. He hangs out with a princess until it's time to go. However he can't go because a general touches an evil that will just go away if left alone. The general grows to a huge size and begins to rampage, why I don't know. This death and destruction only ends when for no really good reason our hero leaps onto the rampaging giant general and he falls apart. If that sounds obtuse and confusing because you haven't seen the film, consider I have seen the film and I found it just as confusing.

I HATED this movie. I would have left but I figured since the festival was showing it must have something to it. Nope. It's just bad. I don't think it went over that well with the audience either since many kids were sleeping and the parents looked pained. For the first time in all the years of going to the film festival (which is all the years) I have no clue as to why this film was being shown. None. Nada.Zippo. This film is a turkey no matter how you look at it, what is it doing at NYICFF? I mean it was such a killer film it wiped out any desire to see any more films at the festival.

And what's with the write up saying the film is a homage to Hayao Miyazaki? It's not a homage, it's out and out theft with ideas of Princess Mononoke(the princess rides a tiger instead of a wolf and the giant general resembles the beast at the end). I think Ghibli could win a law suit.

The less said about this film the better.

Speaking of Hayao Miyazaki, Carnegie Hall is running two of his shorts on March 26th at 630 and 830. The total running time is about a half an hour but considering this is the ONLY way to see the films outside of going to Japan you may want to consider going. Details can be found here. I picked up tickets so expect reviews.

From there I went up to Lincoln Center for Rendez-Vous With French Cinema. I was supposed to see two Claude Lelouch films, but I only made it to one.

From One Film to Another is a wonderful film essay by Lelouch on his film career. Starting with an early documentary on Russia the film follows Lelouch's life through film. Actually the film starts with Lelouch's legendary race across Paris on a Sunday morning in 1976. It's a wicked wild ride as we sit on the bumper and race across the city breaking every law. Lelouch uses it as a metaphor his career.

I can't say enough good about the film, and I'm going to expand my recommendation in a later review. If you can see this on the big screen (or any screen) do so, especially if you are a film nut.

After the film ended the director came out for a Q&A. What it turned into was Lelouch holding court and talking for the better part of 45 minutes. It only ended when the manager of the Walter Reade literally got down on his knees and begged for the talk to be ended so the next screening could be loaded in.

Sadly I took no notes during the talk, it just wasn't possible. I was so into what Lelouch was saying I couldn't disconnect to write.

When the screening was done I was ready to see the next film,Lelouch's other new film What Love May Bring. Sadly I had to bail since the film was due to start 3 hours later... and end after 11PM. As much as I wanted to see it I couldn't do a trip home well after midnight. So I came home.

That's it, other than to should out to Pauline and her friend, whom I met waiting to go in. I missed you after the screening. Somewhere in all of the people I lost track of you. I'll be in touch.

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