Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miami Film Festival: Day two

As was said before, I was actually IN Miami to screen a bunch of film, here's the first batch:

Tartanfilms 90min R

Written and Directed
by Anders Morgenthaler

I can see the reviews after this film is shown ”Animation: It's not just for children any more!” It never was actually. Adult themed cartoons have been around since the medium was created nearly a century ago, and animated porn isn't all that rare, especially in Japan, so what interesting here, is that a Denmark, which is supposed to be extremely laid back when it comes to all things sexual, is shopping around an ultra-violent attack on the porn industry. In Europe, most films receive SOME government support.

When we first meet August (Thure Lindhardt) he's an animated clergyman in full uniform, and he's coming to collect his pregnant sister Christina (Stine Fischer Christensen), a porn star called The Princess, (who's filmed in live action). She tells him to go to hell. Cut to the opening credits, returning to the action some five years later. Chiristina is dead, and August is picking up his niece his 5-year-old niece, Mia (Mira Hilli Moller Hallund), whom, he has discovered, is thoroughly familiar with her mother's line of work. This makes the ultra-prudish August really mad.

Unfortunately for him, “ the Princess” is the biggest porn star in Scandinavia and her visage is pretty much everywhere. So in order to protect Mia's dear little eyes from what she's seen millions of times before, Aug decides to ask, her company Preben (Tommy Kenter), managing director of Chiristina's company Paradise Lust, to destroy everything with his sister's face and body parts on it, and since Preben and his partners(Christian Tafdrup and Soren Lenander), won't do because it's worth somewhere around 25 million bucks.

So, with Mia in tow, August starts blowing stuff up. Why is he doing this?
The tale is told in a series of live-action videos where August, Christina, and her boyfriend and soon-to-be-mogul Charlie(Tafdrup) doing some pretty rank stuff. Guilt can get one to do some pretty strange things.

Aside from letting Mia's stuffed bunny dance around, there was really no reason for the animation, aside for adding contrast to the live-action videos. The whole thing is sort of like a car wreck, you can't take your eyes away even though it's hard to watch in places. It's understandable why this thing got into most of the major film festivals.

The Minder (El Custodio)

Written and Directed
by Rodrigo Moreno

Ruben(Julio Chavez) is a bodyguard. He works for the Minister of Planning (Osmar Nunez), making sure his person is secure as well as his family. The Minister is a bit of a prick who cheats on his wife(Elvira Onetto) and so is his daughter(Julieta Vallina). But the Minister is a Minister and Ruben and the rest of the detail(Marcelo D'Andrea and some others) have their a job to do. The work is boring and the film is about that particular side of the job.

Which brings us to a major question: How do you do a story about boredom without itself being boring? Well you can't. Yes it was in the evening and I had gotten up early in the morning, but that shouldn't have changed anything. If the story was in any way compelling, I would have had no problem fighting that urge to fall asleep that started to to invade my consciousness around twenty minutes in. Ruben and the Minister go to a meeting and Ruben remains to guard the parimeter. Ruben accompanies the minister to his seaside retreat and the latter makes an innocent request, Ruben and his boss to a TV station to be interviewed. Been there done that.

Sometimes, we see Ruben in his off hours. He talks with his sick sister(Cristina Villamor) and niece(Cristina Villamor), both of whom think the latter is a great singer. Ruben gets some recreation. It's predictable. The entire film is one long act of waiting for the inevitable. There's no suspense except when what's going to happen happens, and while the waiting goes on, there's really nothing but tedium.

The performances are excellent, Chavez can do more with his eyes than many can do with their whole bodies, but the performances aren't enough to make what has to be one of the most boring stories to come out of South America this decade any more interesting, but hey, this is art, a painfully boring, non-entertaining film is something new and exiting, especially if it comes from a distant land. NOT.

Colombia, 102 min, 35mm, 2006

Written and Directed
by Felipe Martínez

Dark comedy is sometimes the best form of the genre, you can do pretty much anything in one of them, the meaner the better. Not every one works as well as it should, and while this is by no means a failure, it's no laugh riot, I guess that's why it's being advertised as a drama.

Nicolas(Federico Lorusso) has not been the best of boyfriends. If he was, he wouldn't have found his girlfriend Margarita (Catalina Aristizábal) having a tumble in the hay with his boss Pablo(Victor Mallarino), when he stopped home on an errand. Instead of being grateful about his being cuckolded, he's not only thrown out of his house, he's fired as well.

So, Nick is in a bad way, and the only way to scratch that itch is revenge. This is done by spending the next year stalking the pair, who are now married, and finding something which one can find to blackmail them.

He finds it when he catches Pablo screwing with Alexandra(Carolina Gómez), a ditzy actress, who wants to end the affair because Pablo still won't leave his wife. Not only this, there are unrelated complications...

Nick's landlady Rosemary (Verónica Orozco) is having an affair with a married cop named Walter (Luis Eduardo Arango), who doesn't know that Nick is living there. This is important, as when Nick tries to blackmail Pablo, the latter, who knows that Margarita knows everything and going to leave him, asks Nick to hill her, she having everything in her name for tax reasons and she'd take him to the cleaners for whatever is left.

Dark comedy means that there are corpses lying about, and with Nick hiding in his room, he sees Walter accidentally kill Rosemary, and discovers a way to win Margarita back and screw Pablo royally. What he doesn't know, is that Walter is going to be the detective in charge investigating what happens next.

So auteur Martínez has constructed a classical bedroom farce of sorts with a bunch of handsome men and beautiful women cavorting around mistaken identities and looking rather pissed off. Like I said, it's not nearly as funny as it could have been, but there are a few good laughs here and there. The acting is actually pretty good, especially Arango, who makes a really sympathetic villain. Aristizábal as Margaritia is consistently pissed off, something which is understandable, but what isn't is why anyone would be unfaithful. But then things are different in Columbia. Still, it's a nice thing to see Columbians are trying to start up a movie industry.

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