With the First Look Festival starting tomorrow here are reviews of eight of the films
DEPTH TWO (2016)
Ognjen Glavonic's documentary investigation into the discovery of a freezer truck full of bodies at the bottom of the Danube is the one must see of this years First Look Festival. Mixing audio testimony from the people involved in the investigation with shots of the various unremarkable, but sort of related locations this film weaves a hypnotic spell that sucks us into the mystery. Think of it as a nonfiction film similar to Patrick Keillor's Robinson Films or some of the shorts of Peter Greenaway. This is a film that will suck you in and pull you along. A must see.
HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER (2015)
Claustrophobically filmed portrait of a middle aged man child who simply wants to play video games and ignores his family even as his life collapses.
A film very much set up to make a point about how many adults are stunted but it has a script that stacks the deck against our protagonist to the point that none of this is believable. How did this guy get married? How does he have kids? it makes no sense to me since we never see any sign of this guy really being able to deal with anything.
I was lost to the film 15 minutes in because I couldn't relate nor could I understand why we need to be on top of all the characters.
I can't recommend it on any level.
Love it or hate it experimental film that is simply the above image for the better part of 95 minutes while we hear various conversations over it. You're either going to be rapturous or walk out. I didn't much care and walked away after after a while simple because I really didn't care. I completely understand that the seeming idle chatter gives way to discussion relevant to whats on screen but frankly after a while I stopped caring. How this got a best editing award puzzles the hell out of me
Static shots form a portrait of Ecuador where when it happening outside of the shots is as important as whats in it. Another film you'll either love or hate. I liked it but at the same time the static nature of the film wore out its welcome about half way into the 67 minute film.
HELMUT BERGER, ACTOR (2015)
Consider yourself warned this film is true descent into madness as director Andreas Horvath paints a wart (that's all) portrait of the actor and his insane life. This film will rattle your cage - but not in a good way. Nothing is off limits as Berger, rants raves, tries to seduce the director and even goes so far as to pleasure himself for the camera.
While I like to have my buttons pushed there are times when I really want no part of it since there doesn't seem to be a point. Here there doesn't seem to be a point as we watch as Berger goes through his life to no real purpose. I suspect that Horvath had a love hate relationship with the actor and on some level this is a kind of payback- on the other hand you have to wonder if Berger is really this nuts...but he would have to be to allow this to be seen.
While most definitely a film that will affect you I think it's kind of a cinematic car wreck with decapitated bodies all over the place- its something you stop and stare at because it's real life horror but it's not anything that that will have any meaning other than the understanding that as bad as things are I haven't gone that insane.
FEAR ITSELF (2015)
Pretentious trash documentary cum essay about horror films which has a monotone low key narrator babble on about horror films in an intellectual and abstract way (is this the filmmaker's psyche or something else-then again who cares?). There is no food for thought or fear only insane boredom as the too short clips which have no connection to what is being discussed except in the most superficial way flitter before our eyes (I'm guessing the film was hampered by the fair use doctrine). There is no insight, new or old, just meaningless nonsense given an air of importance by how the narration is delivered. I kept wanting to scream at the screen.
What an absolute waste.
UFE (Unfilmévénement) (2016)
When anyone talks about the running time as being too long you know you're in trouble. Even if this film had been shorter than 153 minutes I still would have been blathering on about the run time. Weird mix of theater- the camera is often static- the film has something to do with the making of a film, a political action and the effort to spread anarchy--- or something because the film drones on as if it were the bastard child of Jean Luc Godard and an intellectual plow horse. I was done by the end of the first half hour. For film snobs only.
HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH EVA RAS (2016)
Observational doc follows a film projectionist as she goes through her day, cooking cleaning and running films from the now long gone Yugoslavia. This is a love it or hate it film as a great deal of the time little is said or done. Senna does her thing, including simply sitting and listening to the film she is projecting. I know some people will find this rapturous I fought to stay awake.
For tickets to any of the films or more information go here.