Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day three part one

Yesterday, there was a bit of a mistake in the reviews. The film The Analyst isn't actually in the film festival. The mistake was made because the ads in the Hollywood Reporter website said that the film was screening at Toronto and gave a number of places and times. Apparently the production company was trying to gate-crash.

Now before we get to the festival, there's a review for a regular movie I want to put up, and here's why: The first film is being dumped by 20th century Fox and isn't even opening in New York! Only LA, Toronto, Chicago and Austin, Texas. I blew ten bucks Canadian to see it:


Written and directed
by Mike Judge

Eugenics, the art and science of breeding people, has been mostly taboo subject since the Nazis were defeated back in 1945. Whether or not it's a good idea to bring it up is neither here nor there, but one would think that the last person to try to restart the movement would be the creator of “Bevis and Butthead,” and “In-bread Fred.”

Maybe it's shame for the above works, or it might be that he's just an arrogant sonofabitch who thinks he's better then the people he's been entertaining for the last twenty years or so.

Judge begins with a lecture taking place the late part of the third millennium, in which his eugenic theories are explained. The smart people don't have the time to have kids, and when they finally get around to it, they're too old to have them, and must resort to expensive medical procedures that don't usually work, while morons generally breed with wild abandon. He uses an animated family tree to show exactly what he means, just in case we, his audience, don't understand. So with the stupid not dying out as is the good old fashioned social Darwinist way, the population becomes dumber and dumber and corporate America takes control, but soon the people in charge are just as dumb as the unwashed masses.

Cut to the year 2005, where the Pentagon is doing a top secret project put people into cryogenic sleep until they're needed.
What they need is a test subject that's as average as possible, so they turn to Corporal Joe Bowers(Luke Wilson), who is as average as they come. Since they need a female too, and they don't have any completely average women in the military, they have to go to the private sector, in this case a whore named Rita(Maya Rudolph).

Since morons run the military, the project is cancelled and forgotten before Joe and Rita can be thawed, and they wind up in a garbage dump for five hundred years. When the dump somehow collapses, our hero and heroine are thrust into the brave new world of 2505, where they have some amazing technology, but no one smart enough to actually run it.

The rest of the movie is basically a satirical critique of the current cultural situation. It's a world where people talk in a cross between ghetto jive and Appalachian drawl, few people can read and no one can add, and the crops don't grow because the makers of gatoraide consider water to be too competitive a drink and the crops are given that instead.

The people are not just stupid, but truly morons, our hero's lawyer, Frito (Dax Shepard), doesn't know what he's doing and is a big fan of the violence channel, and President Comacho (Terry Alan Crews) isn't any smarter. There should be some geniuses behind the scenes, but it seems that there aren't any, there are some really funny bits here, but it begins to make one queasy after a while.

It's said that some of the companies lampooned here got so mad that the film was delayed a year and then given only a very limited release [which included Toronto but not New York]. While the cast gives a good performance, Judge's arrogance just rubs the wrong way, and in the end, we've got a mediocre comedy that is going to come and go before we know it. Fox is going to bury it, and it's understandable why.

We now return to our regular programming....


Directed by
Laurent Herbiet

For the French, it always comes back to Algeria. The colonial war between the French and the Muslims that took place between 1954 and 1962 is the core of everything having to do with the relations between Moslems and Europeans for the last half century or more, and is timely for the simple reason that many in the Arab world think that it's the operative precedent for just about everything since.

Costa Gravas does as well, and he and his wife have written a screenplay about murder and war is meant to be an allegory of the War in Iraq. There is no parallel, of course, but the story is, in it's way compelling.

When the film opens, we see retired Colonel Raoul Duplan (Olivier Gourmet) telling someone offstage to get out of his house, which the person does after shooting him.

There is now a murder to be solved and since the colonel died right after making an appearance on TV defending some of the nastier practices of the Algerian war, the French JAG corps appoints Lieutenant Galois(Cécile De France) to investigate. They have nothing to go on until a mysterious package from the murderer arrives, containing the decades-old journal of a lieutenant Guy Rossi (Robinson Stévenin). The action in the diary is filmed in black and white and the ”present day' [which is clearly shown to be sometime in either the 1980s or early '90s] in color, which actually makes a great deal of sense if you think about it.

Rossi is a leftist who joined the army after his love affair ended badly and ended up in Algeria. Here he meets Colonel Duplan, who's job it is to protect the French colonialists, who are under attack by the terrorists/freedom fighters and is hamstrung by the fact that the civilian authorities(Philippe Chevallier and Guillaume Gallienne) wish to pretend that there is no war and believe that the rebels have rights and such. Reidacher(Bruno Solo) the local prefect of police, doesn't quite agree with this, but he's hamstrung.

So the Colonel, his second-in-command Capitaine Roger (Georges Siatidis) and Rossi start doing things off the books, something which Rossi begins to chafe at. This leads to more problem.

Is Rossi, who allegedly went missing in action back in the '50s, the murderer? How are the rules of war to be applied when only one side agrees to fight by them? That was the conundrum posed by the Algerian war and all those that came after. It's clear that to some, only the immediate surrender to any and all resistance movements by the authorities is warranted.

This clearly isn't true, but the argument for it makes for some rather compelling cinema.

Dark Blue Almost Black

Written and Directed
by Sanchez Arevalo

Jorge's(Quim Gutierrez) life has been totally wasted. The reason is pure guilt. He's declared that he doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps and spend the rest of his life as a janitor like his father(Hector Colome). After this declaration, dad prompltly has a stroke, and our hero is stuck for the next seven years taking care of dad and working at a dead-end job he vowed to reject. Meanwhile in jail, Paula(Marta Etura) is taking an acting workshop, mainly to get away from some bitches who are harassing her.

The best way to do that is to get transferred into the maternity ward and the only way to accomplish this is to get pregnant, and fellow thespian Antonio(Antonio de la Torre) is more than happy to oblige.

Unfortunately, it is discovered that he's infertile, so he gets his brother Jorge [you knew the two halves of the story had to converge somewhere] to make conjugal visits and do the job for him, allowing Tonio and Paula to live happily ever after when they both get out.

Meanwhile, Jorge and his friend Israel(Raul Arevalo) hang out on the roof, where the latter snaps blackmail pictures of the massage parlor across the way, and Jorge begins a romance with his old school sweetheart Natalia(Eva Pallares), who's just come back from Germany, and begins looking for a better job. This has the makings for a snarky romantic comedy, but somehow, it isn't funny. The jokes don't work at all, and we're not sure whether or not they're supposed to.

The acting is fine, but the story seems uncomfortable within it's own skin. It's light at heart but too serious in the head. We don't know whether or not this is drama or not. Interesting try, though.

OPERA JAWA Indonesia/Austria
Pyramide films 120min)

Written and Directed
by Garin Nugroho

Central Java is Moslem. This is important to know because otherwise this film would be totally incoherent. Come to think of it, it doesn't matter as the film is that anyway. It's one of those things that doesn't translate, which is a pity, as it's clear that Garin Nugroho is proud of his country's cultural heritage. This is fine, but telling a story is important too.

What the film is, is a musical film adaptation of the Ramayana, a classical epic hugely popular in countries influenced by Hinduism. Now Java used to be Hindu and Buddhist before the Moslems got there, and their literature managed to survive the mass conversions of the 15th century, mainly as the subject of shadow puppet shows, and dances in the gamelan tradition. Now if you don't know what it is, you'll know it when you see it.

The story is about a happily married couple named Siti(Aritika Sari Devi) and Setyo(Martinus Miroto), she's a housewife and he's a potter. It seems that the Evil Ludiro(Edo Supreiyanto) has the hots for Siti and uses his magical powers to abduct her, leading to all sorts of nastiness. Only we don't know how he does it, there's something do with wicker cones, but other than that it's all one unexplainable mess. This despite the introduction which shows us clearly the pig liver the narrator, who leaves immediately never to return, claims to have gotten the entire “truth” from. Cultural quirks like Moslems [who officially HATE pig livers and should have nothing to do with them, nor the rest of the animal] reading animal entrails don't exactly endear us to the veracity of the story, nor the lack of characterization for all but the villain, who seems to be a mama's boy with megalomaniacal intentions.

Not that it matters much, because the damn thing is so confusing that if you don't know the entire story, you won't make heads or tails of it whatsoever. Getting confused isn't why we go to the movies. Ik.

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